The followup from the film Jesus Camp provided some responses that seem almost identical. More articulate than I have been. I am still trying to figure out what happened. Let me know if you figure it out. I’m not kidding.
“Was it child abuse? Yes and no, I think they had the best of intentions, but I see it as sick people trying to treat sick people. It’s their coping mechanism for figuring out why we’re alive. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, though, because it allowed me at such a young age to question my existence.”
“They showed us what it meant to really feel deep emotions for life… Some people would say that it was all fake, but when I look back on it, our belief in it had made it real. It really taught me the power of belief.”
– Participant of Jesus Camp 10 years later
“One of the problems with faith-based teaching is it teaches children not to trust their own reason and intuition, undermining their ability to have confidence in their own knowledge and ability to process information. There is a lot of psychological damage that follows when people are trained not to trust themselves.”
I also listened to an interesting talk by Daniel Shaw. Many great things in it, the part that stuck out the most is how followers of groups with narcissistic leaders are meant to feel shame about dependency and abandonment at independence.
This ties in exactly with Ben and Jock’s teaching. In particular, in calling the needs of children for love manipulative and entitled. In terms of independence, teaching that they are the authority on life itself with every action and word analyzed and dissected by leaders, as well as with leaders taking on the role of mother/nurse, ever rewarding sickness and immaturity. Doubt the value of their insults and you don’t understand yourself, the world or caring. They erase the self by making it the sole focus.
He also talks about the inescapable badness that results.
It is important to note that The Haven is different from other groups because it only meets the criteria for a cult for those which they take under their wing. This makes it harder for people like me because it is much harder to find people with similar experiences and harder to be believed. It is cult-ish for all, but only abusive to some.
It is also interesting to note that employees may be at higher risk than participants at The Haven. It is always easier to explain the consequences of the neurotic compared to the narcissistic.
I grew up around narcissists, was vulnerable, was neither employee, participant, faculty or staff, so I was very susceptible. I was whatever was needed for those with power.
I have heard some struggles from others, I leave it to them to choose to share their stories. They probably won’t and I can hardly advise them to, given what I have been through. I would only advise trying to be heard for someone for whom there is no other option left. Just the attempt can be an act of rebellion and a new way of life. But those people will do it regardless of what they are told, and true rebels are rare these days…
Was I courageous? Not as much as people think. Courage implies options. I waited until I had none of those left.
Very long but can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TISvFOq-kMw&spfreload=10