How we operate
The Family Survival Trust helps the families and victims of cults.
- We listen to or read what our enquirers have to say.
- We do not force anyone to come to us - we offer advice when asked, within the scope of our abilities and the information and knowledge we possess.
- If we do not have answers, we will not pretend that we do.
- We may sometimes refer to specialists or practitioners better qualified to give specific advice in specific circumstances, but only with the consent of the client.
- We do not ask for money for any time, information or advice we give.
- We do not claim to be "cult experts", nor do we claim to offer "the truth". We aim to assist our clients in finding their own answers and independence.
- Enquirers can come and go as they please, and ask for information and advice as suits them. We never make demands of a client's time.
- The welfare of the client or enquirer is of paramount importance to us.
- We will speak on the telephone, by letter or email and, when we are asked and we are able to do so, we can meet families and individuals to talk with them face to face.
- In certain circumstances, we will mediate when asked, by mutual consent from both or all parties, in order to facilitate reasoned discussion.
- As a charity, we do not (and cannot by law) campaign or agitate, but we do seek to provide frank information or advice where asked.
As an overview, we provide below an overview of some of the facts we consider most important.
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of CULT is a "System of Religious Worship, devotion or homage to person or thing."
A cult can be any group, large or small, which is united by an idea, concept, place or person. Abusive and totalitarian cults differ from benign cults and groups through gaining members by recruitment and deception. Unsuspecting individuals, who do not have prior knowledge of the group, can find the promise of a new and different way of life attractive.
Deceptive methods of recruitment can create dependency on a group. Individuals are encouraged to give up their free will, their ability to make life-enhancing choices, and their financial independence. This method of recruitment can create barriers within families and many auspicious, bright young people can become estranged from previously loving families. Long and tragic periods of family conflict can then occur. Education, careers, friendships can all be put at risk and many valuable and crucial years might be lost. It is not unknown for the health of parents to be at risk during these periods of cult involvement. Remember to look after yourself and others who are not in a destructive cult, not just to worry about the person who has been recruited.
Families find that previously close relationships break down under the strain of efforts to understand what has happened. The Family Survival Trust advises families how to embark upon fresh initiatives so that a greater understanding of unfamiliar circumstances can emerge and damaged family relationships can be restored.
Families need to comprehend
- the process which has rapidly evolved in the mind of their relative;
- that remaining calm while observing a transformed loved one is paramount; and
- that bold criticism of the cult or group must be avoided.
Avoiding criticism of newly found religions or philosophies is an essential part of the skill of reaching out to gain a response. To be able to guide and encourage reasonable discussion and enhance the atmosphere within the home is vital, so that a cult member feels sufficiently secure and at ease to begin a dialogue.
Families must try to avoid anger and accusation. New ways of questioning and discussing, without causing further stress to individuals, must be discovered at this time. It can be a good time to tell the new cult or group member, gently but firmly, that the family still remains very strong and is essentially the same as it was before the discovery of a new religion or philosophy. Also that new-found friends and new ways of life will not change the family.
Much support is required for families during the period of learning to combat the cult involvement of a loved one. Handling what might appear to be an intrusion into the family can be tedious. Tenacity and patience are essential. Normal lives must continue to be lived. Strength will be gained by the acquisition of knowledge and resolve to keep the door open for a loved one will help towards a possible happy ending of the problem.
If time together can be arranged, it is essential to listen very carefully to the cult member, and to gently and firmly question what is being said. Statements made about the group should always be followed with questions which require answers. This is, usually, a new way of communication for a family and if it can be done, in a non-confrontational way, confidence can be established and more discussions will follow.
Friendships which might have been abandoned can be renewed and efforts to re-kindle friendships together with invitations to participate in family events can be helpful. Reminders of friendships and events from life before the cult, if sensitively done, might bring about welcome changes in the perception of the cult member.
If a young person is determined to join a group, then families should insist on the completion of academic or vocational training, before further moves are made towards full cult membership. Time spent at home with family and friends should be gently but firmly encouraged before final life-changing decisions are made. At this time it is essential to bring together as many friends and family members as possible. No pressure should be applied but opportunities for the cult member to consider what is actually at stake can be helpful.
Families should resist invitations to enter the cult or to talk to cult members unless several members of the family are together in a meeting. Families should never be in a position where they are outnumbered by cult members.
Family property and money must be protected. When it becomes clear that a family member has been recruited into a cult, legal advice on inheritance should be sought, in order to protect family property and possible future legacies. Families should never give money to a cult member or to one contemplating entering a cult or group. Gifts of clothing or essentials can be given if necessary.
Family documents and letters should be protected. If documentation is requested photocopies and not original documents should be supplied. If possible, photocopies of passports should be kept at the family home.
Families should never allow themselves to feel guilty, intimidated or blamed in any way. They do have rights and should not be afraid of, firmly and fairly, expressing opinions and feelings. Families should be aware that many other families are having to deal with the same problems. They are not alone.
The Family Survival Trust has grown and its activities are also educational as well as supportive of families who request our help. The Family Survival Trust is willing to talk to families and advise them how to combat and survive the stress of the cult experience. The Family Survival Trust is also available for cult members if they wish to talk to us in order to provide advice and information regarding their own decisions and future. The Family Survival Trust never seeks out cult members, nor does it ever use any kind of coercion. From the beginning it was agreed and consistently sustained that The Family Survival Trust would never be involved in so-called "deprogramming".
Information is constantly updated and exchanged in this country and internationally. Many journalists consult The Family Survival Trust on key issues.
The Family Survival Trust's leading members attend seminars and conferences throughout the world and a seminar or conference is held annually in London. In 2009, a one-day conference entitled "Scientology: Deception and Infiltration" was hosted, with professional speakers from the United Kingdom and other parts of the world; and in 2010, the annual FECRIS conference was hosted by The Family Survival Trust. Please see the Events page for further details of past and future meetings.
The Family Survival Trust mailing list contains medical experts and scholars in all parts of the world and information and advice is constantly being exchanged. All our workers are volunteers.
The Family Survival Trust has been privileged to work with many world renowned cult experts and its aim is to offer sound advice and help to those who are abused by cultic organisations.