Regardless of your intelligence, there are always those with bad intentions and are incredibly manipulative. A group of Reddit users who experienced life in cults shared their breaking points.
No one is immune to becoming a victim of a cult. However, some who were part of them managed to escape, and their stories are beyond any horror movie.
Similarly, our curiosity about religious cults only makes them more popular. That allows them to be visible and prey on their victims.
Some people were born in cults, and their lives are wholly shaped by the cult's rules. Even if they escape, they need time to adjust.
Here are stories of Redditors who came to breaking points after the cults they belonged to exceeded their usual manipulations and fear-mongering.
Remember that escaping a religious cult is not easy, as many face consequences, which are often worse than anything they have experienced while they were part of it.
One Reddit user wrote that their breaking point came after they experienced "difficulty coping with my arranged marriage."
The Redditor wrote:
"I explained to her the abusive aspects of the relationship and how much it was breaking me down, and her response was that it was my job to be quiet, and if God wanted to change my husband, he would."
"I suddenly realized, sitting across from her and looking her in the eyes, that she had let my father take my childhood innocence and had zero qualms about my mistreatment now at the hands of my husband."
"I knew when I hugged her goodbye and cried all the way home that I would never see her again. It's been four years since I ran away."
Jehovah's Witnesses' Ignored DV
A Reddit user was in Jehovah's witnesses. For them, the breaking point came in 1995. They were a victim of domestic violence but was advised to be a better wife merely:
"I was confused, and it didn't compute that my entire life's beliefs changed overnight. I struggled on awhile until shortly after my then-husband beat the s**t out of me, and for some reason, HE called the elders over to help, and the elders told me, " Be a better wife, so he doesn't get angry" I was done then. DONE."
Choosing A Cult Leader Over Your Child
Another Redditor had decided they did not want to be part of the cult after a talk with their mother. They wrote:
"After watching The Day After in the 80s, I asked my mom if we knew the nukes were coming, who would she rather spend her last moments with, the cult leader or me. She chose him. I came up with my own survival plan after that. I was going to skateboard to safety."
Letting Your Child Die
While this is not a first-hand experience, it is traumatic and tragic:
"This happened to my classmate in the fifth grade. Her family were Jehovah's Witnessers. She needed a blood transfusion, but the family refused, and she died. I don't remember the specifics of her condition but WTF. The whole class cried for weeks. Try wrapping your little 11-year-old brain around that."
A victim of sexual assault was done with the cult, as they wrote:
"I got punished for my own sexual assault. I was victim-blamed. The abuser was twice my age (I was mid-teens). I was forced to repent. For what, I am not sure as they wouldn't answer that question."
"As I got older and looked back, I realized that everything they'd told me was a lie. If you do everything you're supposed to, you're supposed to be blessed. If you break the rules, you have challenges/obstacles/lessons and must repent."
"But if Jesus dies for my sins, why do I have to repent? And what am I repenting for? I didn't consent I any of that. Nor could I from a legal standpoint."
Eventually, the pain turned to rage:
"The only obvious answer was that it was all bulls**t. Then years later, a widely publicized case with similar circumstances became international news. And the victim's clergyperson stood up on CNN and said she was forgiven. Forgiven. For being raped."
"I had noped out years before, but when I saw that particular press conference, I had to get therapy to deal with all that rage."
A Reddit user said the breaking point was "When we were told that we couldn't go to college."
"I was about 15 when I realized we weren't allowed to. The elders said it was because of the end-time coming and wasting time, and worry about fellowship in the world. It is because they want to keep us stupid. That was the year I left."
"That was compounded because the same year, my cousin tried to kill herself, and they told us not to visit. I hadn't been baptized yet (you wait until you are old enough to study and consent), so I told the elders that if we weren't allowed to talk to her in her greatest time of need, they could shove it."
No Family Allowed
For one Redditor, the breaking point was that they had to cut ties with family since they were not part of the cult. They said that the "Elders" told them "I could no longer speak to my younger sister anymore because she was in 'bad standing' with the organization."
"She's the only family I have left. They made her out to be this monster just because she wasn't actively going to church. That's when the glass shattered for me."
The Redditor had an excellent message for everyone:
"I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses and my sister, and I are still close. She's doing great things for herself, and I do not regret my decision at all. Don't let someone else make decisions for your life, you'll be much happier!"
Let Your Child Die
A Redditor simply wrote their breaking point was "When my parents told me they'd let me die rather than allow me to get certain medical procedures."
Abuse Is Alright
This Redditor knew they no longer belonged in a cult "when my mom said that I was so bad at housekeeping that if I got abused by my future husband, 'he would be within his rights as head of the household'."
"Fundie cults are the worst."
Promoting Child Marriage
A Reddit user shared:
"It's hard to pick a first time but I knew I needed to run when I was taken shopping for a wedding dress at 12 years old."
Your House Is Their House
Another Redditor explained how they lost a second home:
"Scientology. When they took our second house."
"They're headquartered in Clearwater, Florida. They basically own all of downtown and then some. Driving through there is such an eerie experience. Some of their high-rise buildings have bars on all windows. I'm sure a lot of malicious stuff goes on in there. I don't understand how in this day and age these things are allowed."
Every Woman Must Have The Leader's Baby
"Every woman needed to bear a child with the cult leader. We were given drugged sweets, such as cookies, for food."
For this Reddit user, the point of no coming back was "When the leader kept my mom up for 2 days straight."
"He was making her cook, clean, be on his hand and foot all while berating her. Yelled at her, she was an evil woman going to hell, he was too godly for her, etc. 3 am, and I hear him screaming at her, all biblical bs, and she's crying. She broke down, and he drove my mom, my sister, and me to the ER and said she had to check herself into mental health because she's psychotic. We are there for 3 hours. They turn her away, and she comes out with abuse pamphlets."
Don't Ask Any Questions
For this Redditor, the point of no return was "When my brother started asking (politely) how our religion was founded and how our family got involved and generally just questions about life: they don't believe in evolution or kissing before marriage."
"And they would bite his head off about it at age 11. It made me realize they were being defensive because they had no answers. If you can't explain why you're in a religion, you get the f**k out."
Every Step You Take
Another person wrote what made them realize they were in a bad situation "when I realized that the doors to the 13-story former hotel building we were all living in were locked and you had to sign out to leave."
"No one (from children to adults) could leave without an explanation of where they were going and when they'd be back."
Control And Fear
A person who said they were in Jehovah's Witness told other Redditors:
"My first hint that something was wrong was the amount of control exerted in our day-to-day lives. No beards, no long hair for men, no tattoos or piercings, no shirts with "edgy" artwork like band shirts or shirts with skulls, no entertainment they don't approve of, etc."
"Other witnesses are trained to report you to the elders if you're not following their guidelines, such as if you have a position of respect in the congregation. Still, if someone sees that you have a rated R movie, they'll report you to the elders, and you could lose your position and good standing, which will change the way the congregation treats you."
What really got to them was "their doctrine that all non-witnesses deserve to die at Armageddon by gods hand, simply for not being witnesses. Armageddon is supposed to be urgently imminent, and over 99.9% of the world will die just because they're not witnesses. That didn't sit right with me. I had been working in retail for some time, and the people I worked with were every bit as intelligent, compassionate, and loving as any witness I knew."
The more issues came up:
"Eventually, these issues became too great for me to bear, and I committed the ultimate sin, researching the information that criticizes religion. We were taught to be terrified of anything that remotely criticizes the religion and its leaders. I finally pushed against that fear and did the research. Woke up instantly. Realized why they taught us to fear "apostate" information so much, it's because they know it's all true, and they don't want us to see it."
No Friends Outside The Cult
A Redditor shared:
"I wasn't supposed to make friends with any other kids unless they went to our church."
Give Us All Your Money
A Redditor wrote they were not in "a cult per se, but was in one of those evangelical megachurches. Started as a nice corner church; the piety was genuine."
This is their story:
"I don't think that the pastor planned the whole thing - he seemed a genuine preacher until the church grew exponentially. Like going from a few hundred members to 15,000 in less than 2 years. Then his main focus was maintaining (entertaining) the masses, which drove him to do stupid things."
"Many weird things started happening. Especially, one day he "had a revelation" that the congregation needs to expand further and members have to, I am serious, give out all the GOLD they were wearing. I know a lady that got into serious trouble with her husband because she gave away her gold wedding band."
"My last straw was when he promoted himself to Apostle and renamed himself, Paul. Apostle Paul. Okay."
Follow Our Rules
Another Redditor said they were done "When I was told doing independent research on the doctrine would lead to being shunned by my friends and family. i.e. fall in line bitch. Jehovah's Witness."
No Children Out Of "Wedlock"
This Redditor was done after their sister fell pregnant.
"Jehovah's witnesses. When my sister got pregnant out of wedlock, went to the elders (group of old men residing over the congregation) to confess and repent. They decided to disfellowship her, meaning all other Jehovah's witnesses had to shun her, even her immediate family. When asked why this was the decision, they reinforced to us how they basically communicated with god by the spirit and this is what God intended. I knew it was bs. Left very soon after and never had anything else to do with them. All of my immediate family eventually did, one by one, and last year I celebrated Christmas with all of them together for the first time since 1999."
No Protection From The Pedophiles
This Redditor's breaking point was "When I was the one who got shunned for defending a child from a pedophile."
Curiosity Is Out Of The Question
Children are curious, and often more perceptive than adults. For this Redditor, the whole thing collapsed "When I was pulled out of Sunday school and scolded for asking legit questions about our so-called prophet. I was 8 years old and couldn't wrap my head around how some guy could translate a lost language using a hat and a stone."
They laugh about it now:
"I used to be a Mormon lmao."
Forget Poor People
Another person shared they have had it "When my youth group leader said that telling poor people about Jesus was more important than feeding them or housing them."
Only Males Are Leaders
It is not hard to grasp why most cult leaders are men. And it can be a breaking point for some members, as this Redditor proved:
"When they kept telling me that only men could be leaders, and women were supposed to be silent, demure, secondary, and subservient. I looked around and saw so many dumb a**es I wouldn't trust to lead me out of a burning building without copping a feel and claiming it was something I did that caused them to stumble, such as wear a tank top or pants."
Some people need a smaller push to want to get out of a cult. One Reddit simply "realized that medication and painkillers existed, that other people gave them to their children when they were sick and that my parents could have helped me when I was suffering but chose not to."
"And that watching television doesn't make someone a bad person haha."
A Gay Person In A Cult
One person revealed they were down with the cult "When I found out I was gay and because of that, I would forever burn in hell, regardless of the fact I didn't choose to be gay."
Gatherings During The Peak Of The Pandemic
Here is what made this person choose life over a cult:
"They told members to park behind the church to hide their cars so they wouldn't get reported for gathering during the height of the pandemic."
"Then they made the choir sign NDA's over hymns."
"Then got really control-y during online services. They made you angle your camera-specific ways, wear certain clothes, not sit so close to your spouse, etc."
"In a prayer, said they loved the leader of the church more than anyone else."
For this person, the pandemic "helped my family and me to step back and really examine the organization we dedicated our lives to."
Multiple Wives For A Guy
This former Mormon had had it "when I was told in order for me to reach the highest level of heaven I would have to participate in "The Blood Atonement" inside of The Mormon temple and that my husband would be required to have multiple wives to reach that same heaven."
They got out:
"I YEETED THE F**KITY F**K OUT!"
Praying Away The Molestation
Another tragic story made this person leave a cult when "my stepbro only had to pray for forgiveness after molesting me, no other actions were taken."
Their Truth Vs. The Truth
"I realized I had been running two versions of "truth" in my head my whole life. One was the empirical, fact-based reality we actually live in - the other was my church's version of that reality. One day, it clicked that both can't be true and I was living a lie."
The Redditor left and started new life:
"I left and had to reevaluate how I wanted to live my life, and I found my genuine life."
"I was fortunate to have a spouse who was not a member of my church to support me. My family, not so much."
Evil Harry Potter
"My church made me throw away all of my first edition hardcover Harry Potter books because they were evil."
"I wasn't even allowed to sell them so that I wouldn't cause others to 'stumble.'"
"I think about it probably once a week..."
This Chilling Confession About Rape Victims
A Redditor lost it "When I learned that, if a woman was going to be raped, it would be better for her to kill herself than risk having her 'blood lineage' tainted."
Loss Of A Mom
The Redditor wrote that their mother was a Jehovah's Witness. They wrote:
"She raised me alone, without my father. I was just a kid (around 6-9 yo) and I was not comfortable with everything and everyone. I felt something was wrong, the way they talked, the way they smiled. When she got cancer, at the very beginning she refused some treatments, she even went to a "brother" doctor who claimed he could treat cancer with herbs."
Things only got worse:
"When she became very ill, they begin to "let her go" and focus on me. At that time she was at home, with my aunt and my nana with her. When my aunt and my grandma gone crazy about them and were forbidden to come to the home for me, they just disappeared."
"The sad side of the story was that she lived in the community for years, so she didn't have other friends than them. Who just dissolved, leaving her alone. She died in 1992."
"I think the first time I realized something was wrong was when THEY realized that I realized (sorry for the game of words), the whole community start acting strange, too much attention, too many smiles, very creepy."
Behave Or Else
"I was raised with the belief that if I followed all the rules and was a good person, I'd feel a confirmation of everything. 7-year-old me was well aware that I had yet to feel it, and that was one of the many things that led to becoming depressed at the age of 12. I kept having questions that I had no answer for other than "God works in mysterious ways."
"Eventually, I found a YouTube channel where the person told about how they left religion and I realized my whole life was a lie and that I no longer had to try and believe in something that never worked for me."
A Person Who Recently Left A Cult
"I'm 41 years old and kind of had the blindfold pulled that a lot of the "evangelical" organizations I've worked with in my life have been cults."
The Redditor explained how being in a cult was normal for them:
"In my teens, we went to a church that told you who you could hang out with, what you could watch on TV, what movies you could see, and picked who within the church you could be friends with. 99% of the leaders told you how to run your family but had kids who were either teenage pregnancies or a baby daddy, illiterate homeschoolers, high school drop-outs, or drug addicts."
Their lives were micromanaged:
"There were stretches where we went to church two times a day - even during the week. They encouraged people to get their kids out of school for revival meetings, homeschoolers postponed their classes - it was consuming. They started arranged marriages, with several families petitioning my parents for me to marry their daughters - they almost went for it but stopped because it seemed 'weird'."
After managing their followers, the cult was ready to use and abuse them:
"As I moved off to college they recommended a megachurch they got a lot of their messages and such from. This church did more of the same. They encouraged high school seniors to put off college for a year and PAY THE CHURCH $3,000 for an opportunity to work there for a year for an internship program that guaranteed ministry work experience."
"This program micro-managed your life to the hour, including intense hazing for new members that routinely sent students to the hospital and stacked them all into student housing so that you could focus more on the program."
Seeing Your Leader On The Camera
A Redditor saw the light when "The lawsuit-after-lawsuit and Australian Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse and seeing one of the 'leaders' lying on camera. Made me squirm in my seat watching."
"Not to mention the 'no blood transfusions' policy + shunning former members."
There Is No Right Religion
This person knew they were in trouble, "When I heard myself saying, 'I'm so lucky I was born into the right religion."
The Insane Rules
A Redditor shared they were out "When I started attending a school run by my cult after years in public school, and it wasn't just the rules that were different, but the social norms."
They shared their experience:
"Example: only allowed to sleep 5 hours a night. Intense bullying for talking to boys after breaking up with my boyfriend. Odd forms of physical/psychological punishment when students broke rules. Being taught that masturbation is unhealthy, that getting piercings put holes in your aura (that can only be filled with diamonds, lol), and that sleeping with men puts holes in a woman's arc line (which impacts her ability to bond with her infant)."
"Most of the things were relatively benign at the beginning. Rumors floating around over the years were always dismissed as people trying to disparage the image of our teacher or profit financially, or they were 'crazy'. It wasn't until the beginning of last year that the truth about the abuse and corruption in the community started to surface!"
Friends Helped This Person Out
"Most of my friendships were isolated to church members until middle school."
"I started going with my other Christian friends to their churches which were all similar to each other. When they came to mine, they were uncomfortable, and they all started telling me my church was weird."
"Around 13 years old, a friend's mother asked me a few questions about my church, and I had recently gotten the internet, so I started asking questions about my church, and the questions were not welcome."
"My church was an offshoot, home-based, from what is known as "The Way" ministries."
"Recently, a coworker told me a long story about almost getting indoctrinated into a cult while he was in college. I mentioned how it sounded like "The Way," and his eyes lit up."
"Raised in a very culty Church of Christ congregation. At 13, I realized how judgmental everybody was and that nothing anybody did ever seemed like enough. I began suffering from depression because I realized nothing I do will ever be enough."
This user explained that cults thrive on other people's vulnerabilities and any sense of normalcy.
"I tried to be perfect, but it was never good enough for the church or for "God." I noticed the gossip and negative attitudes toward one another when backs were turned, but when speaking to each other, everybody pretended they weren't just talking s**t about them."
"I noticed it was unusual that we were not allowed to hang out with anyone other than people who were in our church. I was weirded out when people from church started arriving at my house unannounced and inviting themselves in to talk about my church attendance recently."
"Noticing the s**tty attitude and weird social rules of the church was eventually followed by realizing none of it made logical sense, either, as I slowly became a lover of science."
Leaders Love Young Girls
Another chilling confession came from Reddit, as the person wrote:
"Nothing is wrong. Our Supreme leader knows all and loves us all equally. Sure, he only has sex with the cute teenage girls, but that is his right and responsibility as the one true representative of God. May his seed be strong and plentiful."
A Cult Sent A Hitman After Its Ex-Members
This person confessed what we suspected. Cults hire assassins, which was the last drop for them:
"My mom being like 'we are NOT a cult! I mean, sure, ex-members got hitmen sent after them a couple of times, but that does NOT define us!' Yeah, also the fact that even though my siblings and I repeatedly asked what our religion was, our parents refused to tell us until we were all 16-19 because they didn't trust us not to look it up or tell other people."
Anyone can become trapped by a cult. We cannot pretend they do not exist, which is why we are thankful for these Redditors and their confessions.