As mentioned in my previous article, The Sexual Exploitation of Women, “submission” is an integral part of sexual exploitation of women in a cult environment. Throughout history, women have been raised and taught to believe that they are inferior to men; that God intended for them to submit to the authority of all men. This simply is not true and is a flagrant corruption of scripture and total disregard for history and culture to support this premise. One of the major issues that church leaders use to control women in the church and the home is “submission”.
According to the Cultic Studies Journal, “sexual exploitation in cults takes place on both the group and personal levels. Sometimes everyone in the group must exhibit certain attitudes and demonstrate certain behaviors.” For those of us that have exited an abusive cult, we understand this to be true. The “thought reform” process that was mentioned in my previous article, causes members to act and re-act according to the attitudes and beliefs instilled by the cult. This can be highly dangerous in a family unit. The concept that women are inferior, less intelligent and must submit to men can cause young teenage boys to rebel against the parental authority of the mother. It can even lead to the child blatantly treating that same parent with contempt to the point of raising their hand to strike her in times of disagreements. I know this to be true from experience. In the groups setting, we find that those that do not “submit” to the rules are treated with similar contempt as well. They are ostracized and shunned until the desired attitude and behavior change to match the cult “mentality”.
The Cultic Studies Journal also went on to say that, “Since cults are essentially mirror images of the central leader figure, how this transpires in each group will depend on the whims, preferences, and predilections of the man in charge.” It even gave a list of control strategies used by leadership to enable the leader to fulfill his desire for power and control. The following are control strategies that turn up repeatedly in Lalich’s study of cults and in reports of former cult members. This list reflects Lalich’s findings as published in The Cultic Studies Journal.
By controlling sex, marriage, and procreation, the cult is better able to control its membership. Rules of all sorts will be put in place to govern the member’s daily lives, including their intimate relationships. This can range from standards of free love and free sex to strict behaviors. Some cults literally instruct their members when and how to have sexual intercourse.
Oftentimes cult policies will clearly define personal and sexual behaviors. Female members may be expected to dress a certain way (e.g., wear long skirts and look “womanly”), behave a certain way (e.g., never look the men in the eye, always look down when in the presence of others, be passive and joyful at all times), and speak a certain way (e.g., refer to the leader as “Master”). Other regulations may provide specific guidelines for dating, cohabitation, marriage and divorce, sexual relations, and so on. Female cult members are sometimes used to procure recruits through seduction and sexual favors. Some cults force women into prostitution to help finance the cult leader’s personal lifestyle. In others, men regularly flirt with and seduce women into friendships or relationships in order to recruit them into the cult; once in, the woman is usually turned over to someone else to “handle.””
In many cults, leadership decides who should have children and how many. In some, women are discouraged from bearing children, with sterilization or abortion used as means of birth control. In others, childbearing is expected and sometimes ordered by leadership in order to bring about more little cult members. Cults that particularly deride “the family” will have children taken away from their birth parents to be raised by other cult members, or sometimes even sent away to non-cult relatives or foster homes. Marriages and partnerships are arranged and broken at the whim of the cult leader. Members merely become pawns in an abusive play, where the leader gets to act out.”
I would like to add to these statements by Lalich that leadership will also send children off to a cult-operated boys or girls home to be “forced” into submission to the rules and attitudes of the cult and its leaders. In these types of homes, the children are treated as if they are in “concentration” camps. They are severely punished for disobedience. They are isolated from anyone that could “save” them from the punishments. And, the very strict rules are oppressive and many times, abusive in nature. How many countless children have been physically and sexually abused in these types of homes? We know of quite of few and they can tell the horror stories of that abuse. Please see: Simone’s Story, Kim Holt’s Story, and Aaron Anderson’s Story.
Another point that needs driven home that Lalich has stated is that “children are taken away from their birth parents to be raised by other cult members”. How true! Especially in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult that I came out of. If the birth parents were having trouble making a child “conform”, that child would be placed in another members home to be raised and nurtured in the ways of the cult. Under this type of scenario, a false “love” and “acceptance” is employed by the cult family and used as a weapon to bring about conformity to the rules. This can often lead to the child looking at their own parents with a contempt because they do not live up to the standards and rules like the cult family does.
There are two popular control mechanisms: “The demand for sexual abstinence or celibacy, and the enforcement of certain prohibitions (for example, against homosexual relationships or other unsanctioned relationships). At first glance such rules may provide relief from the confusion of trying to master the intricacies of sexuality and intimate relationships, especially for young adults who may be struggling with these issues. In reality, however, the rules merely serve as yet another manipulation” (Lalich).
Ultimately, Lalich points out that once someone has been led to accept the cult leader’s philosophy, then just about anything goes. He calls the shots, and members are expected to go along with the program “or get out.” Threat of expulsion gets equated with losing a chance at salvation!
Tomorrow, I will talk about another strategy used by cult leaders to get members to submit – personal abuse.