“If it’s so bad, why not just walk away?”

Undue influence creeps up on you. It wasn’t so bad at the start; in fact, it was great. I felt truly alive and wonderful. I had a new sense of purpose in life and a feeling of certainty for the future.

Friends and family tried to warn me off, but I felt so good that, after failing to convince them, I distanced myself from them. It was easier than dealing with their disapproval.

Later on, when things started to happen that didn’t feel quite right, I dealt with it by assuming it would all work out, if only I worked at it a bit harder. I’d already invested so much time, emotion, energy and money: I felt committed to carrying on. Also, the idea of being alone in the world was something I simply couldn’t face up to. On top of it all, the vision of admitting to myself and everyone else that I was wrong all along was simply unbearable.

Now that I’ve finally had to accept my dire situation for what it is, I have nowhere to go and no more of my own money, so I basically go through the motions, day by day, hoping that one day, I’ll find an escape route I can actually take. What seemed like a golden opportunity to understand life and belong to a group committed to helping mankind can turn into a nightmare trap. For many long-term cult members, and for those in toxic relationships, that trap has closed.

So I hope you can see that sometimes walking away isn’t an option.

“If it’s so bad, why not just walk away?”

I’ve only recently come to realise what an emotionally impoverished life I’ve had so far. You see, I was raised in this situation, so I just accepted what I was told and what I saw as being normal. I knew no different. How could I have? Most of the outside world, the real world, was blocked off from me, but I didn’t know that.

As I grew up I got more contact with this outside world, and I saw a lot of love and happiness in others that had never come my way. It slowly dawned on me that what I’d been repeatedly told about outsiders not being nice people, not living their lives correctly, just wasn’t true.

By the time I’d become painfully aware of being thought of as different and detached, it was too late to make proper friends, like all the lucky normal ones did.

These days, I feel very bitter about what I obviously missed out on, not to mention the expectations placed so heavily on me now. But I have nobody outside to turn to, and no money of my own. Maybe one day I’ll be in a position to make the break but right now I can’t just walk away. I have nowhere to go.

Editor's Note: While we at OMF value all free expression of opinion, the views expressed by our contributing authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OMF, its board members, or trustees.

What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Do you have a story about staying in an abusive group that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you!