I moved this weekend. It has been a challenging transition, as I have had to go through an arduous process for acceptance into my new residence. I was down to the wire with my time window. My anxiety was peaking. I didn’t have a way to have a back up plan for my plan. I had to contend with myself. So, I moved through the process in the following ways.
Tip One: Acceptance
Accept that whatever situation you are in is, in fact, an anxiety causing situation. Don’t deny yourself that truth. Don’t feel ashamed about feeling anxious. Everyone was telling me that it would all be okay. They were right. It was. Yet, in that moment that it was NOT alright, I had no guarantee that it would be. So, I just said “Yeah, you’re right, it’ll be okay.” But I didn’t mean it. Inside I was very anxious.
So, I accepted that yes, this was a stressful situation, and my feelings of worry were valid. Things weren’t set in stone yet. That’s an unsteady feeling for anyone, much less a trauma survivor. My first step of dealing with the transition was to accept that it absolutely was a valid situation to feel anxiousness over. I did not war against this emotion in me.
A step beyond acceptance is radical acceptance. This is when I have accepted that there is nothing I can do to change the current situation. It is in this moment that I breathe a lot. I stay very inward focused on my physical body. I stay aware of tenseness in my muscles, a sign my agitation might be growing. I listen to my heartbeat. I pay attention to my physical feelings as well as my emotions.
Tip Two: Self Soothing
It is great to have people we can vent our worry out with. Yet, I find that most often, doing so can cause my anxiety to rise. For me, the act of too much discussing of my worry and anxiety is almost a fueling of it at times; especially if it’s not a solution based anxiety, meaning there is no specific solution. Only patience is the answer. Now I must carry myself through this act.
During self soothing I focus on my thoughts. I avoid negative thinking like:
- Nothing ever goes right for me
- It’s probably all going to fall through
- Do I pack?
- This is too much chaos!
- I’m freaking out!
Instead, I live and think as if it is already happening. I packed. I imagined myself in my new space. I jumped on Pinterest and looked at some ideas for my new space. I envisioned the pallet I was going to create. I imagined my art in the walls. I saw myself finishing the sequel to Cult Child and making more art with new surroundings and inspiration.
I had a message telling me for sure I was approved, just a few signatures needed to be finalized. I just didn’t want to have to be left with just two days to move everything. I knew the many trips and hauling in a short time would leave me sore. I knew this was the root of my anxiety. So, I sat with that. I asked myself.
What is the worst that can happen? Sore muscles and back? I listed the ways I would soothe; baths, resting, laying down, hydrating, taking it easy unpacking. I focused myself away from the worry of being left to move in a short time to the fact that even if I get sore and exhausted, it passes and life continues on. I thought about how lucky I am to have a great friend and family to help me.
When I was a child, I wasn’t held when I worried or cried. I didn’t have anyone to tell me that it’s going to be okay! So I can forget to reassure myself.
I radically accepted that this transition was not going to go exactly how I wished it to go. I accepted that I would survive moving with IT, instead of it moving with ME. I breathed and said okay, I’m stepping into this change. I left complaining behind for reveling in the joy of a transition I’ve been waiting a very long time to make.
Tip Three: Celebrating!
When the change is over, absolutely do NOT forget to celebrate yourself. Not in a, collapse on the couch and and say “whew, I got through THAT!” kind of celebrating. No. Take time to sit and really revel in every moment when you wavered and worried and kept going. Laugh with it. Tell yourself, damn I’m amazing. What seems like a small step to some is a major step for us. We deserve to celebrate.
Order some take out if it’s been a while. Buy a new shirt; go Goodwill hunting. Write about it. Make something new as a gift to yourself. Something. Anything. Pause to take a moment and really truly celebrate that you got through that thing you worried so much about.
When I was a little girl, no one ever said, “Good job! Wow!” I wasn’t asked about my hopes and dreams. I wasn’t told I was exceptional in any way. Because of this, I can forget that it is okay to humbly celebrate myself.
How we trauma survivors are able to move through change, or sudden change, is centered within the confounds of our own thoughts. We learn the art of self mindfulness and awareness. We learn to put our needs first in a way which keeps us healthy.
Acceptance. Soothing. Celebrating.
Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to take care of you. Do not shun yourself. Love yourself.
I soothed myself through my transition. Now, as I write this, I am peacefully soaking in my new living room view and the beauty of my city.
In August of this year, there will be an Alaska seminar to help educate law enforcement and local government, along with state citizens, about Sam Fife’s Move of God cult, still very strong and yearly using state funds and subsidies for their own profit while religiously trafficking humans through free labor and mind control. This cult is not just doing this in Alaska, but also in Georgia and other locations in the United States as well as other countries. Because of this seminar, I decided to join a group filled with residents of Fairbanks, Alaska.
The subjects of cults arose when one of the group members recently posted this:
“OKAY I have a question… every year around the same time I always end up having these kids come to my place of work. They claim they are fundraising for mission trips through their church. They try to sell ornaments or this year they were selling cheap cheesy holographic posters for $20…Yesterday, a boy came in and I gave him $5 hoping he would leave. He then continued to walk around asking [people] for money. WHO are these kids and WHAT church is this?? I really do think this is just a scam and I’m genuinely concerned about these kids who walk around town for money. Is this a cult? Are these kids kidnapped and being forced to ask for money. I am genuinely wondering if anyone has any information on this as it reoccurs every year and it is dangerous for kids to wander around Fairbanks asking for money.”
Someone in the group decided to investigate and was able to find out the following:
“They are Moonies. Yes. They are still around. One was scamming at the Post Office last year and I went in and told the clerk there was a Moonie soliciting in the Post Office and he didn’t even know what a Moonie was.”
Out of everything I read in this particular group thread something stood out to me the most.
“He didn’t even know what a Moonie was.”
In case you don’t know what a Moonie is, here is their Official Website.
As an activist who is very focused on doing work regarding the specific cult which abused me; a cult which is still in full operation; Sam Fife’s Move of God, I cannot understand why there are no activists interested in the grave problem facing these religiously trafficked children. So many questions swirl in my head when I think of all these kids.
Where are the ex-Unification Church/Moonies who are focusing in on their own ex-cult, since they would know their system best?
Why do law enforcement, government officials or social services not know about the issue of religious child trafficking? Why aren’t there education seminars for this? What the hell have cult experts been doing for the last 60 years?
I messaged Steve Hassan, an ex-Moonie/Unification Church cult leader and a self-prescribed cult expert. Mr. Hassan has been on national television talking about various cults in the news, mainly Scientology. Mr. Hassan has also dealt with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was and still am very interested in understanding why an ex-Moonie, who seemingly cares about the cult problem, is not actively involved in focusing on the children of his ex-cult; a cult using child labor trafficking for profit.
I decided to message Mr. Hassan to hopefully receive some honest and forthright answers for my questions.
May 24, 2018
I am currently writing an article about religious child trafficking. It was inspired by a post in an Alaska group I’m a part of, where someone witnessed dozens of children selling certain items around parking lots and stores. After investigation, it was found out the children were Moonies who were bused all over to different cities in America to make money for the Unification Church.
A common question which was directed at me was why no one was doing any work to help these children.
With you being an ex-Moonie and cult expert, I plan to mention you in the article. So I wanted to pose the questions and give you an opportunity to respond in your own words.
1. Have you done any work with the federal government in regard to religious child trafficking such as what is the practice of the Moonies using child labor?
2. Do you know of anyone who specifically zeroes in on this cult with focused time to fight it?
3. Have you ever testified in a trial against the Moonies for child trafficking?
4. Can you educate the reader on your understanding of why the federal government allows for or doesn’t fight against the religious trafficking of children?
5. In your opinion, what is a plausible solution to begin protecting these children?
Thank you in advance for your time.
I received this response, not from him, but from someone who is an administrator at their Freedom of Mind organization.
Thank you for contacting Freedom of Mind.
How did you hear about us?
Have you read Steven’s book Combating Cult Mind Control, 2016 edition?
Are you a freelance writer? Do you have an agreement with any major news outlets to publish your article?
Have you contacted the National Human Trafficking Hotline?
Please reply when you have a moment.
There I was, staring at a response promoting a book and asking me if I’d contacted the Human Trafficking Hotline. I was left with an even deeper curiosity of why Mr. Hassan had worked on other aspects of human trafficking, but the issue of the trafficking of the Moonie children was nowhere to be found.
As an author and activist myself, I would have openly shared the work I’m doing in regard to my ex-cult. I would have shared what other survivors are doing. I would have been concerned and thanked the person for bringing it my attention, because why wouldn’t I want to “combat” religious child trafficking still happening in my ex-cult? I’m currently working toward a campaign targeted at changing laws; something that cult experts should have done decades ago.
I explained in my reply that I am an activist, author and blogger; had conference presented before, was familiar with Mr. Hassan’s book and offered my website for further exploration of me on their end. I then stated:
I’m specifically looking for direct quotes from him, if he’s willing as an ex-Moonie to answer the questions I sent since that is what I am writing the article about, in order to understand what past and current work has been done specifically by ex-members of the group.
I was met with silence. Not another response or word, and as I began to research the patterning of cult experts, I understood why. Most of the self-identified cult experts are adults who helped start cults. Some of them have even capitalized on studying what they started or helped start. Yet, I couldn’t find work any of them had done to change laws which would help to protect the child victims of cults; like ending religious exemptions laws; laws which allow for faith-healing into death, a problem currently being fought in Idaho, helping work on legal bills which would demand stricter child abuse laws or supporting individuals who do actively work to figure out how to change these laws and deal with current religious cults practicing child labor trafficking.
I realized when it came to activism, there really wasn’t any. There was just academics for other academics, publications not being used to change laws; and even worse, publications passed off as “new”, which were actually filled with recycled information from years past. How disheartening to see such capitalization on the suffering of humans.
In my extensive research, I have not found anyone in the last 50 years, associated with work to investigate extremist cults, or who identifies themselves as cult experts, aside from Jan Heimlich, author of Breaking Their Will, who has zeroed in on the cusp of the problem; religious child trafficking. In my quest to find a group doing active work to change LAWS; to focus in on the criminality of this issue, I have continuously hit dead ends. If anyone has been overlooked, by all means message me. I’d love to connect with you.
When I first entered the anti-cult society, I had expectations. I expected to find dedicated activists who had been working to change laws that would protect children. I expected to find support. I expected to find people who really cared about finally getting to hear the voices of us cult children. I expected to find people who were truly interested in knowing how some of us went through so much torture to come out strong, out here fighting against the people who hurt us.
I did not find that. I found an inflated, regurgitated, extremely wordy, academic publication library, which seemingly was more geared toward studying and building “models” for their own problems, the ones many of them helped create in their younger days. Has this been their way of paying penance, to study what they were apart of and/or helped create? They are seemingly clueless in regard to the true depth of what we cult children have experienced, and they’re seemingly only willing to listen for a fee.
I found gossip and manipulative behavior. I found individuals who were grossly damaged and still deeply rooted in their own trauma base, yet passing themselves off as therapists. I quickly learned that a degree in psychology does not a therapist make, and a PhD doesn’t guarantee a person’s ethical system. Anyone can earn a degree. Anyone can learn anything they wish to learn. However, applying it in a manner which creates growth, healing and radical change is what truly earns my respect.
I found an anti-cult society who in essence needed you to vote like them, be like them, believe like them, act like them, do what they say, take counseling from them, read all of their very dry and boring books and stay the little victim cult children we’re supposed to be, because that makes for better earnings and for some, ratings. The more damaged the survivor, the better, it has seemed; that way you’ll keep coming back; keep spending the money; keep the organizations alive and give the experts something to keep themselves relevant.
I say with open criticism that in my experience the current cult experts are the people who helped sensationalize the problem of extremist belief and now want to charge us victims a fee to heal from the aftermath of that same problem.
I found a refusal to truly hear what we cult children have to say, some of it critical of their lack of action over the last 50/60 years. They hold no accountability, but they’ll hold our money at a conference, and they’ll feature presentations at that conference, geared toward cult children in order to reel in these unsuspecting cult children to pay for that conference.
This, as I have experienced, is somewhat of a racket, what I now view as the “cult of the anti-cult world“. Their love bombing tactics are outrageous. Their shunning tactics are even worse, should you dare question or have a critical statement that goes against their self-made, elitist society. The personal behaviors of some of the leaders are appalling. The acceptance of these activities by those who stand by and/or fence sit is complacently just as bad.
I could tell you many disgusting stories of a final anti-cult conference I attended, where donation envelopes were lain out on a table. A symbol of tithing at an anti-cult seminar? Shocking, really. I sat in the bar at the hotel as the adult cult children spilled out of the conference room, talking among themselves, enraged at what they’d seen. I listened to all of their complaints. The emotion seemed to quickly pass for them. Even survivors who swore on that day that they’d never give another dime to this organization, have messaged me asking me if I’m going to this organization’s conference this year. Absolutely no way. I said it then, and I say it now, that I won’t support unethical people or organizations after I have personally witnessed their behavior.
I do look back on any negative experience with a severance of thankfulness, because when I get to see the reality of what something or someone is, I have just been protected in my own way of going forward. I have just been handed a crossroad which is curved in my favor because truth has been revealed. It’s up to me to take the proper path, even if I take it alone, or with a very small group of others. Some say there is strength in numbers. I say there is just strength, and the strongest have resiliency for the long run. I say there is strength in the willingness to stand up against non-action and to reveal truth in a critical way, even if it results in more shunning and more blow back.
I recently heard this from one cult expert:
“Anyone can join a cult. Anyone in a vulnerable position can join.”
In regard to adults, this is somewhat truth. However, this is an incorrect absolute which rules out children. Children do not get lured or willingly join cults. They are born into them or like myself, are taken into them at a very young age. Experts are seemingly virtually lost when it comes to deeply understanding the reality of the child cult experiencers. It’s an unfortunate dynamic, since many of us have much to share if only these experts placed their egos aside long enough to listen. We could tell how we survive each day; what we go through; how we cope; how we’ve integrated ourselves; how we become happy and even more, how so many of us have found healing.
After a local psychologist read Cult Child she shared with me that it was the first of its kind for her, since it is a book written from the first person viewpoint of the child, giving a very poignant view of what it’s like to live in the mind of an abused kid. Stories I wrote of being just nine and brutalized sexually in a potato dugout, then straightening my skirt and lugging the pail of potatoes back to the kitchen to keep working allowed her to know my thoughts during this incident, for instance. Details that are important for people who want to work with children or adult children who have survived abuses in these very specific environments can be found in the understanding of the way we think.
I find that most therapists reading my story are people completely unrelated to cults, yet wanting to learn about us since there are more and more of us children seeking therapy. My story isn’t only for cult children. It is helpful for all kids who’ve suffered sexual, physical and mental abuse in differing situations. To know us, is to really understand how we think as we are being abused. To understand us is to read our stories.
Even the experts can’t answer pertinent questions as to why there are no legal ramifications against religious human trafficking specifically, steering clear of the subject to focus on non-religious human trafficking.
When therapists are open to listening, that is when learning happens. A therapist who is not learning from their patient, may not be an open-minded therapist.
Children and adults are being religiously trafficked on a daily basis. When a cult expert was contacted, the response to me was an attempted book sale and a referral to a hotline who, after some discussion, knows very little about working with cults specifically, which gave me a new understanding of where more work is needed. So the call was fruitful and opened a doorway for me.
The young girls and boys who walk all day to evangelize in neighborhoods are not paid for their work. The young boys and girls selling wares in parking lots are many, not even old enough to be working. Where is the fight against this religious trafficking?
I’ll never forget what was once said to me at a cult conference. “We are here as a resource hub, not to rescue children in cults.” In the chambers of the cult child world, we call these people the Talamasca of religions/cults.
After observing the lack of activism and the Hollywood chase by the anti-cult world, I knew that this society, made up mainly of ex-cult members and religious minded individuals selling their own brand of faith, was not where I would find the people doing active work, as I originally believed. I swiftly changed my direction, and I found where the action is happening, a society of individuals who were abused kids just like me, yet in different scenarios. I have met more ex-cult children in this arena than anywhere. I was surprised to find that the majority of adult cult kids are also in an arena more focused on sharing their experiences and healing.
I met an amazing cult family at one of my local shelters where I went to donate some copies of Cult Child, and I was able to get on their list as an emergency contact for cult families specifically. It means I will drop what I’m doing if possible and come to support and listen to their experience with understanding, should a cult family arrive at the shelter and need support. I deeply connect with the children, because I understand how scary the world is after growing up or being taken into a cult. They needed to talk to someone who is like them. I can speak their language. This is where we adult cult kids have so much to offer in this arena. I urge cult survivor children to make contact, if at all possible, as shelters are always looking for volunteer support people. Those of us having cult experience as children are the best suited to connect and support these children.
There is a small army of us who refuse to be compliant with the old guard, anti-cult society’s need for control and the dictating of what the truth of child cult survival is like. We stand on the side observing, waiting, watching to see if action follows their attempts to momentarily sensationalize various stories. We wait, because after they are done, after networks have made their money off of the sales of commercial slots, giving little back to those individuals who shared their heartache openly, who have families to support, trying to send children to school, pay bills each month and live the every day semantics of life and have to return to their regular lives and keep moving on and surviving in this world, we will still be here, strong, to step in where we should have been asked to step in right from the beginning.
It is these observations which keep me proudly independent and unafraid to criticize or be criticized.
I also encourage you to find your local CASA chapter and join to be a child advocate specifically for cult children. This is a need in many communities across America. It can also be a very cathartic process when our hearts are open and understanding with these children. Change starts with action. Let’s end religious human trafficking.
Remember that there are many generations of cult children who exist. The cult of Christianity helped found America. So the trauma of cult life is centuries old. There is no title to fit that. I know an adult who is a fifth generation child born into a cult. Every cult survivor is different. There is no one model to fit us. There may be a model to fit individuals who start and help start cults, but there is absolutely no one system which will ever apply in regard to the coping mechanisms and healing for the victims they left behind.
In battle, small platoons take hold positions. Their leaders converse and strategize. It is neither a battle they plan to fight nor a war they wish to start. It will be a complete conquering, and this must be a smooth sweep.
Such things are not decided upon quickly. Every angle is inspected thoroughly and repeatedly. This takes skill and strategy. The aim is to hold awareness of the whole. Forward movement of this kind must be slow.
The building of momentum need be quiet and reserved in a space of occasional observation. Each step should be focused on, momentarily pushing others aside until their turn arrives. This the weaving of human life.
There are targets to decide. Which ones hide and which ones are irrelevant? In this battle the score is the core. Straight in. No diversion. Implosion. Precise decision.
Wait and wonder is a skill that works in sync with timing. When the unknown is contained, let it view itself free. Then enact the deeds piece by piece, strategically.
The way of the warrior sees all. It holds integrity and passion. It surveys the landscape quietly, momentarily, while dancing still in movement. Invisible, the warrior slides into position, hidden and becomes the all of what is to come. They each arrive alone, gathering to become the storm.
I loved you
like the grass
like liquid mercury
inside of blown glass
i loved you
like soft snow
like you were
the chosen one.
i loved you
where lilies grew
through rock quarries.
i loved you
innocently like lambs,
openly like rain clouds
sun come out
i loved you.
i loved you
like disease accustomed to,
like rabid dog bites
oozing with foam
because the pain
had become my home.
i loved you
somewhere in the distance,
like tart lemons
and bitter beer faces,
i loved you,
and then i loved another.
i loved another,
like the same as you,
same brick walls,
trapped inside the absence.
i loved another,
like more tears on baby cheeks,
more bruises on scraped knees
like open wounds
and belly screams on
roller coaster rides,
i loved another,
and then i loved me.
i loved me,
like wistful memories,
like fading sunsets.
i loved me,
and joyful smiles,
to keep from hiding,
i loved me,
now i love them.
i love them
like figuring it out,
like accepting the afterlash
of my actions.
i love them,
like understanding choices,
like intent of thought,
like harsh truth,
from singing voices.
i love them,
because i loved you,
who taught me to love another,
until i learned to love me,
so i could love them.
I sit in the silence
of a million swirling thoughts.
I don’t accept this separation, and
I chew on the assumptions
like they are the last supper.
I see ghosts pass me,
they flatter me by choice;
their words swirling like
raindrops that make my hair moist.
I am alive with decisions
as the voices whisper,
calling me to stay on path,
”don’t get side tracked.”,
and I listen intently.
I kneel beside a flower.
She is starting to die.
I hold her lovingly
as her petals cry.
I wish to breathe for
every fish that has expired;
wish to Love for
every soul weary and tired.
I open my arms to
receive the Moon.
I am spiraling sunlight
where my skin is anew.
I let Love become me.
I am one with the leaves.
I look into the Mirror
to see the divinity in me.
There is a world around us.
It breathes and weeps.
It is filled with open wounds
from the pain that seeps.
Unable to feel hate only
which give way to forgiveness;
as I step through the gate
where Love awaits.
I hold moments in my palms
like diamonds of time
that teach me to smile
so the rough waters will calm.
I wash tears with compassion,
sprinkle relief on lowered faces,
I am passing out rations,
a taste of a new day.
I am touching momentary madness,
turning it into sanity,
where the children skip,
and the sadness becomes happy.
You bathe me in acceptance,
and for the first time ever,
awakened to my worth,
where actions blend with words;
where beauty comes
in forms of laughter
like alabaster bath houses,
where the skin is released
into the steaming sea;
where we Love freely;
because time has gifted us
walk with me beside the ocean.
it’s been a while since we’ve spoken,
and i was hoping we could remember,
the days when we danced together.
(written in 2011)
When I was a small girl and well into puberty, I lived an abused, contained life through which I was disallowed any individual choice or voice. As I grew into my early preteen and teenage years, I found secret ways to write small poems and release emotions I needed to purge. In the Alaskan tundra, down off of Richardson Highway, on a cult compound, deep inside forests of evergreen trees, are the remnants of thirty five-year-old paper journals I hid there as a child.
After leaving Sam Fife’s Move of God cult, I spent my life writing, not as a forced concentration, but as a part of who I am and was. I have always written in journals, on remnants of paper, glued or tucked inside of those journals, and jokingly laugh that when I die, my sons and grandchildren will have a field day going through my writing. I sometimes envision my granddaughters as older women, laughing as they read my thoughts and the most secret parts of my heart.
When I decided to open up my online store, Designs by Vennie, I passionately wanted to have products which are unique to the inspiration of writing out our trauma and documenting our triumphs. I also wanted to wear my cause, Survivor Voices.
Last year was a year of creating digital art and taking photographs. I was releasing so many of my memories through the layers and collages I created. I chose the ones which impact me the most as covers for my journals.
I created t-shirts and matching caps to support wearing this cause of us survivors being able to own our voice. We have the right to speak our truth. We have the right to be believed. We have the right for justice and respect. We are not mentally ill. Our abusers are. I want this apparel to be a simple statement which can start a strong conversation.
I loved this watch because it has multiple colorful bands to choose from and brings color into my wardrobe. It’s also sporty and inspires me to go take walks, since it is sweat proof and sporty. We survivors deserve to love ourselves. We should go outside and get into nature to remind ourselves that life is worth living. Wearing a watch is also good for the writing process. If you have a memory or thought to write in your journal, you will be able to immediately note the time, which is an important part of documenting our journey.
May your life be filled with color. May your pages be filled with the truth of you. May you proudly wear your voice, start a conversation and without shame, tell your story.