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Re: Can you write more about it?

Posted by posted by Thinker on January 13, 2003 at 13:11:06:

To me, these are the basic issues that I think differentiate our stances. Of course we are all individuals, so perhaps some of these do not apply to all active FG former members, however, these are my opinions on the issue.

1. The well-being of the individual comes first.
To me what is most important is that individuals who have suffered so much already are safe and supported. Talk shows, tabloids and other exploitative media can be very harmful to someone who is already hurting. I was quite appalled by the talk show I participated in (the CBS show was entirely different) and more so by the fact the FGs there saw nothing wrong with the presentation of the issues. To parade people who have been exploited so much already as freaks for the entertainment of a studio audience is abusive IMO. While raising awareness through the media can be effective, the personal cost is huge. I can tell you having done this myself that to reveal your most intimate and shameful hurts to strangers can make you feel violated, and when there is nothing to show for it but people knowing your story, to me, that’s not worth the cost. One of the more outspoken former members here was at one point in contact with a young man who was suffering from a mental illness. He attempted to negotiate a confrontation between this young man and his mother on Jerry Springer. There are few things more repulsive to me than exploitation of the vulnerable for a “cause”.
Speaking to the media is something I am willing to do, if I feel it’s appropriate but I would never ever recommend that anyone else do so, and certainly would not “get them” to do it.
The only person any of us owes anything to is ourselves. I think that people need to first and foremost take care of themselves. When people are struggling with so much already, to be pushed or pressured into anything for a cause is wrong.

2. I am not a former member.
I do not consider myself a former member of the Family. My parents are members and I was raised in that environment as my culture of origin. There is not yet accurate terminology to describe our demographic, so my references to myself and my peers as SGs or exmembers is due to that. There was no choice for me in regards to my being within Family communities. To be grouped with those for whom there was a choice is not helpful IMO.
To explain that the Family did not start out as a cult, or that the abuse happened bit by bit, or that people were slowly brainwashed is irrelevant to my own issues. I am saying that religions cannot violate the rights of children just because they choose to be on the outside of mainstream society. The same standards must be applied to them as to the rest of society. I don’t care if the Family’s doctrines are biblically sound or not, or if they want to masturbate to Jesus or not, or if they want to engage in promiscuity, prostitution or other deviant behaviours as adults. I do care about the rights of the children who have no say in what is done to them or where they are growing up.

3. Motivation in speaking out.
We all have our own motives for what we do. It does seem though that some of the FGs who have been active in “fighting the Family” have blood on their hands. Ed Priebe wrote the “Deceivers Yet True” document, which was used extensively in teaching children to lie to protect their parents and other adults from the consequences of the abusive acts they committed, James Penn wrote the statements that are used today to whitewash the Family’s beliefs, observed the abuse of Merry Berg and did nothing to help her, and testified as a representative on the Family’s behalf in the UK to things he knew were untrue. Rick Dupuy molested an 11 year old girl.
With so many members and former members content to just forget their own compliance and participation, these people taking action to attempt to undo the harm they caused is admirable. However it seems sometimes that some FGs are looking to explain why they stayed in the Family for so long and to explain why they did what they did there. This is not my reason. My own motivation is to say “what was done to me was wrong and I will not keep the secret anymore.”

4. Empowerment and dignity.
I think it’s very important that we as victims of abuse are now empowered to find our own solutions and healing in our own way and in our own time. To me, the essential element of the Moving On site is that it is by us, for us.
We need to have a place to speak our own truth in our own words and to respect the opinions and experiences of each other, especially when they differ from our own. Obviously that doesn’t always happen there, but it is my personal goal. The common thread is our shared childhood being raised in the unique Family environment, not what we think about the Family now or even experienced in it. Obviously some of the other young people disagree with me on this issue, but for me “destroying the Family” is not the goal of why I am involved in these issues regarding my past.
Unless we ourselves have the strength and support to heal from this point on, we will never be able to sustain going back into these other issues. Even if no further action is ever taken than moving on to a healthy, happy and successful life as individuals, that in itself speaks volumes and by doing so, we overcome the evil we have experienced, which is for me the ultimate goal.

5. Confidentiality and respect
In regards to deeply personal issues such as childhood abuse, the people who have lived through these things themselves need to own their experiences. When private correspondences are published without the consent of the author, when the stories of youth are repeated, with things being lost and added in the retelling, when people take it upon themselves to tell another person’s story or personal details regarding them without their permission, I think this is wrong. It’s a betrayal of their confidence. The story must never overshadow the person. We are much more than the sum of our experiences, and any effective action must take this into consideration.
If the effort is truly to better the lives of those children and young people still in the group, then their own opinions must be taken into consideration, not discounted as “brainwashed cultists”. I am in touch with a number of SG current members, and I think what they have to say on these issues is important.

IMO this is what has been wrong with action taken so far. It has been obsessive, intrusive and crusadic and with a high personal cost. Although maturing and healing is an ongoing process, if we are not okay ourselves, how can we hope to reach out to others?