An abuser’s number one tool is ISOLATION. When they have you isolated, it’s then when they begin to tell you whatever they want you to hear. Whatever their agenda is. You see, at this point, the abused has no frame of reference to measure up against what the abuser is telling you. I was at this point for several years. I will tell you at some other point how I got to this point, but right now I need to tell you what happened.
The place I was at was named, “The Lord’s Farm”, This was a five hundred acre working farm. When people hear that you were part of a CULT–yes, that is exactly what this was– they generally step back a bit and look at you like you are an alien. Actually I think an alien might receive more positive feedback. Did I ever think I would be a part of a cult??? Not in a million years!! It happens so slowly. At first it appeared to be a group of good people who were tired of hypocrisy in the church and just wanted to live for God. Simple enough.
As time went on though, faith was replaced by fear. The fear of NOT pleasing God became a constant thing in your mind. Because if you did not please God then you were evil. Instead of using the whole word of God…. pieces of the Bible and certain texts were used strategically to control you. As the years went by you could pick out good things that were happening to rationalize the things that were wrong. Such as, when we started going here we were in alot of debt. We learned how to live within our means and we paid off all of our debt in a very short time. Also, though we were isolated, it was all our children knew and they were always content and good hearted kids. I never ever heard the words, “I’m bored” from any of my children ever. They knew how to appreciate the smallest of things. I read to my children at least two hours a day and all five of them loved it. My kids learned to have an incredible work ethic. They also never complained. So, in pointing out some of the positives, I wanted to be sure to paint an entire portrait of where we were.
On the other hand though, we would be singled out and taken to a back room where Joan and Adrian (the leaders) would verbally strip you down to nothing. Whatever horrible deed you had done was brought before you and you were verbally attacked and told you were nothing, how horrible of an example your were, how far away from God your were. How hopeless your case was. A scripture here and there to back up what they were saying. Always using scripture that talked about having a hard heart, rebellion, having your own thoughts or opinions. Using scriptures about denying yourself daily and taking up your cross to follow Jesus. These scriptures are definitely part of the Bible, but when taken to an extreme, it becomes death. The scripture where Jesus says, “Let the dead bury the dead”–was used all the time to tell us that we could no longer attend funerals. Even if it was someone from your family. The verse that says, “Come out from among them and be ye separate”–well that was their mantra. “Don’t keep company with evil doers.” “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”—“Bad company corrupts good morals.” I could go on and on. I have heard them all. More than once.
So, remember what I said at the beginning of this blog? ISOLATION Over the years we became more and more isolated. We had “church” services three times a week. All mandatory. These services lasted a few hours each. We generally ate at every service. None of our schedules were our own. All of our time was given to them. So including homeschooling five children by myself, making all of my and my daughter’s clothes and some of my young sons also, I made all of our meals generally completely from scratch. Using any boxed foods was frowned upon. I had to keep up with laundry from a family of seven. I had to keep my house spotless. I canned hundreds and hundreds of canned foods every year. We all also worked in the gardens constantly. Planting, weeding, harvesting, and washing the produce. We also grew flowers and dried them to make floral arrangements and wreaths for the farm to sell. We never got a single dime of the profits. I made clothes for them to sell, I crocheted doilies and baby clothes as well for them. All of the items that we made were inspected by Joan and if she found an imagined mistake, we were condemned, ridiculed.
I know for me, I would get in trouble for wearing sunglasses (they said I was trying to look like a Hollywood star), putting on bug spray, using a food processor–it was lazy!!, buying a cordless phone-totally unnecessary for a mom of five!!, not having my house completely spotless–something spilled in my fridge once and Joan yelled at me in front of everyone…ugh!!, putting wrong ingredients in a recipe–Joan would decide certain ingredients hurt her stomach so we couldn’t use them, putting sponge curlers in my daughter’s hair–which btw were given to me by Joan’s daughter Haley!!, not having my kids under complete control, questioning the leaders on things I didn’t understand, reading another book beside the Bible, being nervous, having physical ailments, my young son getting migraines–I was always told that he got migraines because I was a bad mother, talking to people outside of the farm, buying the wrong items at the market, getting sandwich pepperoni with the outside skin still on, or using ranch dressing in a macaroni salad! I was told that I did not know how to walk with God….over and over and over. I was told that if I didn’t make it there, then I would be doomed to hell. I was told that if I left I would lose my kids. My best friend left and she lost her kids. This terrified me. Completely terrified me.
Before you judge me, remember…… I was isolated. This was ALL I heard. I didn’t have anyone else’s opinion. When you hear something day in and day out for over twelve years straight….it greatly affects you. This is all a very tiny bit of what I went through. Many others were there and all have their own story. But I will not tell theirs, only mine.