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FIRST PERSON -- A Cult of Two

A reporter sifts through the ashes of what she once believed was an ideal relationship

Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writer
heart.JPGThe first thing many women do when jilted by the one they love is decide they need a therapist. I decided I needed a deprogrammer.

Moments before my boyfriend broke up with me on the morning of New Year's Eve, I had thought we were best friends. He'd sent me roses and a love note two weeks before. He told me every day that he loved me. We were going dancing that night, and he suggested that I wear the red dress he'd bought for me.

He was as exciting to me as if we'd just met. But we'd been dating for 12 years. When he abruptly ended our relationship, I felt like Charly in "Flowers for Algernon" after the medicine that raises Charly's IQ wears off. Without my boyfriend's eyes I couldn't see. Without his mind I couldn't think. Nothing was good and nothing was bad without his imprimatur. Yet I knew that something was terribly wrong.

"You've been in a cult of two," was the diagnosis of Dr. Margaret Singer, one of the nation's leading experts on group-think and charismatic leaders.

I called her because I felt brainwashed, as though my life had been under someone else's control for the past dozen years. My boyfriend had encouraged "loyalty" and "long-term thinking" about our romance for so long that they had become the mantras around which I built my life. Yet such mental manipulation seemed impossible. As a reporter, I ask questions of the grand and


Psychological & Sexual Abuse in a Cultic Relationship

doll.JPG My journey into hell began months before this trip was even undertaken. my former romantic partner had set his sights on me and made a decision that I had the necessary qualifications to fulfill his agenda and goals. As a result I became the unwitting prey in his snare of deceit and manipulation.

I have found out that he had been stalking me before we even met -- asking my co-workers and friends about me. Finding out my likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. This left a clear power differential in the relationship -- he could and would tailor conversations and activities with me based on what he knew. The courtship (brief as it was) was "magical" -- this was a person that knew what I wanted and treated me as a princess. After I made my commitment to him regarding the trip and the marriage, the dynamics of the "magic" shifted. I have now entered the Twilight Zone of fulfilling this person's demands and control of me and my time.

The time line regarding the beginnings of the relationship between us goes as follows: started dating in April/May of 1985, were engaged in June 1985 and the trip was undertaken during September/October 1985 with the marriage being December 1, 1985. From April to the end of October I was involved in preparation for the trip. During this time I was deliberately distanced from my friends and family due to his demands of me.

The book that follows, written by former partner, is copied in its entirety, spelling and grammar errors are the author's and are not edited. I have changed the names of all person's involved in this trip for their own privacy. The additional commentary regarding the book are copyrighted to Pamela Fitzpatrick, unless otherwise specified.

Article temporarily under construction due to threatened legal action. continued....

Unique Characteristics of the Cultic Relationship

Mind Control and the Battering of Women

badge.JPG In the following excerpt from the article "Mind Control and the Battering of Women" by Teresa Ramirez Boulette, Ph.D. and Susan M. Andersen, Ph.D., I felt that my experience in the cultic relationship with my former romantic partner was clearly explained. Boulette and Andersen make a distinction between the battering that involves deliberate methods of mind control from other types of battering that can occur in relationships. As I understood the article to mean, a cultic relationship's dynamics differ from what the general public understands to be abuse. In a cultic relationship the abuse is intensified.

I'm finding that in a cultic relationship, the abuse is solely for the power and control that the abuser can weld in the relationship -- the abuser uses manipulation techniques most typically are found in a cult leader. There is the tendency to dominate using words and intent to action on the abused as opposed to sheer physical dominance.

With my former romantic partner it appears that his abusive behavior was condoned and allowed with the assistance of courses he participated in by a popular Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT) company. He also appears to display traits that have been attributed to cult leaders. A couple of these are his intense need to be the "center of attention" and "better" then those around him. The organization promoted this belief system by reinforcing the concept that "you are your own god, you create your reality." These seminars fed on that part of his abusive ego that needed justification and permission for his abuse.

Defining Mind Control in a One-on-One Cultic Relationship Using the Hassan Model

"'Mind Control' and the Battering of Women"

Teresa Ramirez Boulette, Ph.D. Susan M. Andersen, Ph.D.
Abstract This paper describes one variation in the battering phenomenon which was initially observed among low-income women. The strategies of coercion and deception utilized by the abusive male


A Woman Battles a Cultic Relationship -- and Wins


by Marcy Greene
ring.JPGIn April, 1995, I became deeply involved with Don. We knew each other for over 4 years through mutual friends. After Don separated from his wife we began to spend time socially. Despite differences we complemented each other and our relationship evolved. At present we share a life that is rich, stimulating, and traditional. Last June for my 46th birthday Don offered to pay the $1000 fee for me to learn [a New Age meditation]. He prefaced his offer by telling me that if there was one thing in the world that he wanted for me, it was [this].

It caught my attention for many reasons. Most people I know would want me to quit smoking. In fact my smoking was an obstacle for Don initially. I


From the
Editor's Desk


sun.JPGMy vision for this is to be a place where information and research can be presented to better understand what happens in a cultic relationship. I felt so alone when I started my recovery process but then found out through conversations that I was not alone -- but I had to speak up to even find that out. Some are not able to do that, this place is for you. I want you to know that you are not alone in your pain or your recovery process.

To explain my history, I was involved in what is considered to be a "Large Group Awareness Training" (LGAT). This particular group heavily stressed "commitment" and "keeping your word." The person that recruited me into this group ended up being a former romantic partner.

I was indoctrinated into what he believed "keeping your word" and what "commitment" meant...



star.JPGThis is your place to tell me what you would like to see in future issues, discuss what has worked for you in your recovery process and let me know if I did good (hey, it's nice to know!)

I also would like this to be a place for what isn't getting discussed regarding cultic relationships -- how you feel if you are seeing your loved one in such a relationship. Or share with us what is working. All postings will be anonymous if you request and will not be stored/saved once posted.

These are just some ideas to get us started here. Email me at

Pam Fitzpatrick

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Please address any questions or problems you encounter on this site to p.fitz@worldnet.att.net. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of trancenet.net, all-info.org, its staff, volunteers, or donors. Please send letters to the editor to p.fitz@worldnet.att.net. All editorial correspondence becomes the property of trancenet.net -- unless requested otherwise -- and may be edited for purposes of clarity and space. trancenet.netTM is a trademark of trancenet.net Society, an unincorporated nonprofit organization. Neither trancenet.net Society nor its editorial staff conclude that any group discussed on this site is necessarily cultic in nature. We provide suppressed and alternative information so that you may make informed decisions for yourself. Copyrighted works are reprinted with permission as noted or are made available under the "fair use" exception of U.S. copyright law, for research and educational purposes only.
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Have you or someone you know ever experienced the following by a boyfriend, husband or intimate partner?

  • name-calling or put-downs

  • isolation from family or friends

  • withholding of money

  • actual or threatened physical harm

  • sexual assault

These are examples of domestic violence, which includes partner violence, family violence, spouse abuse, child abuse, battering, and wife beating.

This violence takes many forms, and can happen once in a while or all the time. Although each situation is different, there are common warning signs - "red flag" behaviors - to look out for, including those behaviors listed above (see Section 4 for a list). Knowing these signs is an important step in preventing and stopping violence.

In this booklet, we will focus on domestic violence as partner violence, defined as violent or controlling behavior by a person toward a partner, usually a wife, girlfriend, or lover. Although the partner is the primary target, violence is often directed toward children as well, and sometimes toward family members, friends, and even bystanders in attempts to control their partner.

Approximately 95 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women. However, violence also happens in both gay and lesbian relationships. and in a small number of cases, by women against men. 4. Warning List This list identifies a series of behaviors typically demonstrated by batterers and abusive people. All of these forms of abuse, psychological, economic, and physical - come from the batterer's desire for power and control. The list can help you recognize if you or someone you know is in a violent relationship. check off those behaviors that apply to the relationship. The more checks on the page, the more dangerous the situation may be. Emotional and Economic Attacks *Destructive Criticism/Verbal Abuse: Name-calling; mocking; accusing; blaming; yelling; swearing; making humiliating remarks or gestures. *Pressure Tactics: Rushing you to make decisions through "guilt-tripping" and other forms of intimidation; sulking; threatening to withhold money; manipulating the children; telling you what to do. *Abusing Authority: Always claiming to be right (insisting statements are "the truth"); telling you what to do; making big decisions; using "logic." *Disrespect: Interrupting; changing topics; not listening or responding; twisting your words; putting you down in front of other people; saying bad things about your friends and family. *Abusing Trust: Lying; withholding information; cheating on you; being overly jealous. *Breaking Promises: Not following through on agreements; not taking a fair share of responsibility; refusing to help with child care or housework. *Emotional Withholding: Not expressing feelings; not giving support, attention, or compliments; not respecting feelings, rights, or opinions. *Minimizing, Denying & Blaming: Making Light of behavior and not taking your concerns about it seriously; saying the abuse didn't happen; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior; saying you caused it. *Economic Control: Interfering with your work or not letting you work; refusing to give you or taking your money; taking your car keys or otherwise preventing you from using the car; threatening to report you to welfare or other social service agencies. * Self-Destructive Behavior: Abusing drugs or alcohol; threatening suicide or other forms of self-harm; deliberately saying or doing things that will have negative consequences (e.g., telling off the boss).. * Isolation: Preventing or making it difficult for you to see friends or relatives; monitoring phone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go.. * Harassment: Making uninvited visits or calls; following you; checking up on you; embarrassing you in public; refusing to leave when asked.. Acts of Violence * Intimidation: Making angry or threatening gestures; use of physical size to intimidate; standing in doorway during arguments; out shouting you; driving recklessly.. * Destruction: Destroying your possessions (e.g., furniture); punching walls; throwing and/or breaking things.. * Threats: Making and/or carrying out threats to hurt you or others.. * Sexual Violence: Degrading treatment based on your sex or sexual orientation; using force or coercion to obtain sex or perform sexual acts.. * Physical Violence: Being violent to you, your children, household pets or others; Slapping; punching; grabbing; kicking; choking; pushing; biting; burning; stabbing; shoots; etc.. * Weapons: Use of weapons, keeping weapons around which frighten you; threatening or attempting to kill you or those you love.. from "Domestic Violence: The Facts" - A Handbook to STOP violence (courtesy of Peace At Home (formerly Battered Women Fighting Back), Boston)

Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Categories of cults that are recruiting successfully today include:

Eastern meditation: characterized by belief in God-consciousness, becoming one with God. The leader usually distorts and Eastern-based philosophy or religion. Members sometimes learn to disregard worldly possessions and may take on an ascetic lifestyle. Techniques used: meditation, repeated mantras, altered states of consciousness, trance states.

Religious: marked by belief in salvation, afterlife, sometimes combined with an apocalyptic view. The leader reinterprets the Scriptures and often claims to be a prophet if not the messiah. Often the group is strict, sometimes using physical punishments such as paddling and birching, especially on children. Members are encouraged to spend a great deal of time proselytizing. (Note: included here are Bible-based neo-Christian and other religious cults, many considered syncretic since they combine beliefs and practices). Techniques used: speaking in tongues, chanting, praying, isolation, lengthy study sessions, many hours spent evangelizing, "struggle" (or criticism) and confession sessions.

Political, racist, terrorist: fueled by belief in changing society, revolution, overthrowing the "enemy" or getting rid of evil forces. The leader professes to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Often the group is armed and meets in secret with coded language, handshakes, and other ritualized practices. Members consider themselves an elite cadre ready to go to battle. Techniques used: paramilitary training, reporting on one another, guilt, fear, struggle sessions, instilled paranoia, long hours of indoctrination. -- Captive Hearts, Captive Minds, Lalich and Tobias, Hunter House, 1993.