The Difficult Way Out Of An Abusive Group (sects)

An abusive group, a cult or also known as a sect, is a group where psychological abuse is applied; hence its name. Psychological abuse is understood as a process of systematic and continuous application of strategies of pressure, control, manipulation and coercion in order to dominate other people to achieve submission to the messages dictated by the group.

In this way, through manipulation, domination, control, exploitation, abuse and coercion, abusive groups operate. We have recently experienced the case of Patricia Aguilar, who was captured by an abusive group in Peru, where she remained for more than a year. The young woman was found alone and in the care of several minors, including her son, in a house located in an area considered dangerous in the Peruvian jungle. All of them were in unsanitary conditions and the youngest were out of school.

“It was too late when we found out. They are psychopaths who enjoy being sadistic with their victims ”.

-Family of a victim of an abusive group-

The psychological abuses of abusive groups

The adepts remain in the abusive group deceived. Normally, the sect leader at first asks for nothing and gives a lot (promises a lot). Thus, when they want to realize where they are, they have developed a total dependence and regaining independence is a steep uphill climb. According to Álvaro Rodríguez-Carballeira and his team, abusive groups exercise the following abuses :

  • Isolation: it is about isolating the subject in the psychological, social and physical fields. It is intended that the person disassociate himself from the outside world and lose his social network. Thus, the individual distances himself and becomes detached from close people, from his values, from the past and, as a consequence, from his own history.
  • Control and manipulation of information: access to information from the media and certain readings is limited. In addition, the information of external events is reinterpreted without providing evidence that could give rise to different interpretations. The group also supervises and controls early childhood education.
  • Control over the person’s life: they control their activities, their money, their time, their emotional and sexual relationships and they monitor their behavior. In addition, they control your physical and mental health in order to weaken them. The first objective is to have as much control as possible over the person so that, when the requests begin, they cannot be denied.

“You are blind, you are a puppet and indoctrination prevents you.”

-Ex-member of an abusive group-

  • Emotional abuse : to achieve greater submission, the feelings and emotions of the “deceived” are intervened. For example:
    • The positive emotions they feel intensify;
    • They use intimidation and threats;
    • They promote emotions such as contempt, humiliation, and rejection;
    • Guilt is manipulated
    • They are urged to confess “deviations” and then forgive them.
  • Indoctrination in an absolute and Manichean belief system : previous ideas are discredited, instilling in them a closed belief system and the feeling of having been chosen to be members of a group that possesses the Truth and is superior to the rest of the world.
  • Imposition of a unique and extraordinary authority: an absolute authority is imposed on which all power is centered. Followers must obey without question.

The profile of the adept in an abusive group

In Spain it is considered that there are around 150 abusive groups, although it is not ruled out that there are more. Cults adapt: ​​they are able to use technology to find those victims who may be most sensitive to their influence . It must be understood that not all sects are massive, there are some made up of few individuals.

On the other hand, it is a mistake to claim that an adept joins a sect because he is vulnerable or weak. The adepts are not psychologically weak, much less stupid. These beliefs function as a defensive mechanism that separates us from the people who have been victims of that influence.

The reality is that anyone can be caught, drawn in when going through a bad time. Then, more than vulnerable people, we could talk about people who are going through a particularly delicate moment and who are looking for support. “You enter because these groups have something that interests you; at no time do they tell you that it is a destructive sect or that they are going to ruin your life ”(ex-member of an abusive group).

“80% of the followers of the sects present technical studies at higher levels”, as José Miguel Cuevas tells us. Among them are lawyers, doctors, civil servants and marginalized people. Abusive groups “look for brilliant people with the ability to enrich the group; few go to look for people who are not potentially beneficial ”.

“It’s like they took your heart, covered it with shit and threw it in your face.”

-Ex-member of an abusive group-