People Who Were Raised In Cults Share Their Realizations That All Was Not Well (20 Stories)

The whole idea of cults absolutely infuriates me. They take advantage of vulnerable people and exploit and abuse their insecurities, all under the guise of “helping” someone.

And getting out can be incredibly hard, especially if you’ve been raised in these communities. u/Havok1717 asked the AskReddit sub:

“Redditors who were raised in cults, when was the first time you realized something was wrong?”

Let’s get ready for a deep, dark look at some of the worst parts of humanity.

1. Buddist Cult

I was born and raised into a not so known buddhist cult (although whether its a cult or not is contested by a lot of people, still) called “SGI”. My mum was practicing it when she was still preggos with me. Thus I was considered to be a “fortune baby” as they say lmao. I didnt think too much about it as a kid. We went to our meetings every week and met people but at some point I learnt the religion had a whole political thing going on in Japan and I was so confused. Also, ive had extensive mental health issues and over the last couple of years I realised my mum who has been practicing this religion for 20+ years is still a narcissist who has never shown an inch of wisdom or any kind of forgiveness as our religious text said. Ive slowly moved myself away but its hard because anywhere I move to my mum will always try to “get me connected” to a local member and its a lot


2. Incredibly strict Christianity

I was raised in a very strict manner by Church of Christ parents in an extremely legalistic Southern Baptist church. I was extremely sheltered, allowed only one movie (maybe) and one hour of TV a week, ONLY Christian movies, books, TV shows, radio, etc. I never interacted with kids outside of the church bubble, as my parents started a Christian school so that I “wouldn’t have to go to the evil public school and be brainwashed.”

For me it was when my pastor and my youth pastor took me aside during a church camp and said they were worried about my salvation as I hadn’t led anyone in the sinners prayer and didn’t go on “visitation,” which was door knocking on Sunday afternoons to talk about Jesus. Instead, I played harp as part of the instrumental group every Sunday and Wednesday and sang in the choir when I wasn’t playing, which practiced during the same time as visitation.

They basically told me that since I showed most of the other fruits of the spirit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc., they thought I was Christian but since I openly boycotted visitation and hadn’t borne any of the “bringing new sheep into the flock” fruit by leading anyone in the sinners prayer, I couldn’t possibly be a full Christian and they wanted me to work on that. I was 15! I never interacted with non-christians and was part of the instrumental group and choir which practiced during visitation! How could I do that if everyone I knew was already Christian?? 🤔

It led to some serious questions, but I couldn’t really do anything until I escaped to college 3 years later.


3. Not the bad guy

When it came time for me to leave for my own mental health. I became the villain and when confiding in my college tutor she was horrified to learn even a fraction of what I had grown up with. She was the main encouragement I needed to gtfo when I did


4. Jehovah’s Witness

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 but 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 tipped it over the edge for me though 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.

Eventually, these issues became too great for me to bear, and I committed the ultimate sin, researching information that criticizes the religion. We were taught to be terrified of anything that remotely criticizes the religion and it’s 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


5. You Can’t Leave

When I realized that the doors to the 13 story former hotel building we were all living in was locked and you had to sign out to leave.

No one (from children to adults) could leave without an explanation to where they were going and when they’d be back.


6. Accusations

When I was five and the leader, who claimed to receive messages directly from God, accused me of doing something I knew I had not done.


7. The Way

When my other friends came to my church for the first time. 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 at 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 to a cult while he was in college. I mentioned how it sounded like “The Way” and his eyes lit up.


8. The Elders

When the ‘Elders’ told me that 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.


9. Me or Him?

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 me or the cult leader, she choose him. I came up with my own survival plan after that. I was going to skateboard to safety.


10. Seems Culty

Ok so I wasn’t raised into a “cult” , but from age 5-8 I lived with my mom, her 3rd husband, and her parents who were all a part of a 100+ member sex group in the late 90’s early 2000’s. It was a lot like a cult though, they had to sign waivers to join, recruited (and had recruitment expectations), wore specific outfits, encouraged family members to join, encouraged not having friends outside the group as it endangered their lifestyles… Anyway I first knew something was wrong when mom brought me on a yacht and when it started pouring rain she forbid me to enter the lower deck to escape the rain. I was like 6 and they couldn’t stop the uhh meeting going on so I could stay dry. Of the people who were at the home and who I met during meetings 6 of them within the last 20 years have served time for sex crimes and every time one of them was arrested they had meetings about it to help destroy computers and stuff. I’m not sure if it fits the exact def of a cult tho


11. Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Weird

The blood card. I was handed a blood card when I was 7 that says if I ever needed blood that I will not accept it in case of an accident -this was for medical personal to find if my parents weren’t around to tell them. I had it signed and in my wallet for one day. I got terrified of dying because of a card so I ripped it up and threw it away



When my parents told me they’d let me die rather than allow me to get certain medical procedures.


13. Scientology

I had a brief run in with scientology when I was 18. I was living with my grandparents at the time. I later found out that after I left they would call my grandparents’ house once a week looking for me, my grandmother never told them I had moved out because she didn’t want them to look for me. After she died I started getting the scientology magazine at my house, I imagine because they DID look for me after her phone number was disconnected. I still get the magazine. I went to classes there for like 2 months when I was 18, I am now 40. Don’t mess around with those people.


14. Truly f*d up.

When I learned that, if a women was going to be raped, it would be better for her to kill herself than risk having her “blood lineage” tainted


15. If you can’t explain it…

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 realise they were being defensive because they had no answers. If you can’t explain why you’re in a religion, you get the fuck out.


16. Punished for assault

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.


17. Learning = Shunning

When I was told doing independent research on the doctrine would lead to being shunned by my friends and family.


18. 7th Day Adventists

My aunt and uncle joined a radical sect of the 7th Day Adventists. Seventh Day Adventists don’t allow dancing, cards, chess, checkers and most board games. They can’t go to plays, or partake in anything that isn’t “harmless” but it isn’t clear what is holy and what is profane. That means that sports and even watching TV are really unacceptable unless somehow religiously-aligned.

My cousins were fascinating. Their parents joined the Global Mission arm and became Missionaries (professional) and lived in Argentina, Thailand and Africa. My cousins would come to North America every so often to see family but were so bizarre because they had no cultural references. They were raised in a cloistered community with little-to-no outside influence, so they didn’t know music, arts, or pop-culture. They had never heard most music or even seen a Gilbert & Sullivan play. They would come to us and talk about the Church but there was no way me or my other cousins would give up our lives to live in some quasi-monastic world.

Their parents abandoned the Church after a number of years and became Mainliners, but for a good 7 years, my cousins


19. Does not compute

When my youth group leader said that telling poor people about Jesus was more important than feeding them or housing them.


20. More assault

When my mother ignored my molestation by a member because they were a member, and they would never do anything like that, and even if they did it, they were a member.