Today and Tomorrow; 8/20-8/21, CULT CHILD is free for download. Get your free copy today by clicking here: https://www.amazon.com/Cult-Child-Vennie-Kocsis-ebook/dp/B016L2HE8G
At the 2014 conference for the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), I was in a conference filled with cult survivors. We were sitting in a large circle, some of us child survivors, some parents who had been lured, yet all of us had one commonality, we were victims. We shared openly, and a comradely connection swept through the room.
There was a man with a great sense of humor who seemed to interject at just the right time with softly funny quips that seemed to break moments of heaviness. He had a gentle smile and kind demeanor. John Huddle, survivor of Word of Faith Fellowship cult and author of LOCKED IN, ended up spending time with our group of survivors. It was a great connection of healing and realizing that none of us were alone. I was thrilled to meet another author, and we exchanged our books with each other.
Huddle’s book, LOCKED IN, opens with a young John, innocent minded, with a heart to do good in his community, a working man who volunteered at his local church. He meets a like-minded woman and soon marries. Life seems fulfilling, with Christian oriented goals of giving and helping in the community. But this simple life quickly takes a turn when a woman named Jane Whaley enters the scene. John’s church, formerly led by Gerald and Linda Southerland, merges with the Whaley ministry and morphs into what would be re-titled as Word of Faith Fellowship. Jane Whaley rules her congregation with an iron fist. Her intensive and extensive set of rules are strenuous, dictating everything from styles of dress to her members’ employment, relationships, how children should be disciplined and much more. In time, John and his wife have a family, but as his family grows, so does the sadistic, abusing and controlling environment and rituals set out by Jane Whaley. The congregation travels to Brazil on recruiting trips. Over time, John becomes conflicted. He struggles to come to terms with the truth of what he is embedded in. Eventually, John is forced to make a decision that will ultimately change his life forever.
LOCKED IN is an excellently written, compelling and fast read. Well-crafted with a style that can be related with, LOCKED IN allows the reader to follow the slow unfolding of religious based mind control on an adult. The question of how an adult is slowly lured, turned and trapped into an abusive cult is lain out with brilliant precision. With an informative forward by Lorna Goldberg, L.C.S.W, Psy.D, former President of International Cultic Studies Association, and quoting cult experts such as Janja Lalich, PhD, LOCKED IN tells the story of how innocent humans are preyed upon by swindlers who use religion to extract everything they can from their victims.
On behalf of Freedom Slips I recently had the honor to guest host one of their broadcasts and sit down to talk with John about the experiences he details in LOCKED IN. John also discussed the current court case involving assault victim, Matthew Fenner by members of Word of Faith Fellowship. Click below to listen to John’s interview.
John’s blog is a hub which details the history and the current drama involving the criminality of WOFF. To stay abreast with the current events of the WOFF criminal case, follow John’s blog. Word of Faith Fellowship has been deemed an extremely brutal cult and is currently charged with human trafficking of its Brazil members.
How does Dissociation work? Is it okay to Dissociate? What happens during Dissociation? So many questions are posed toward the phenomena of trauma Dissociation.
The scientific process of Dissociation is a brilliant function of a human being’s DNA ability. There are many aspects which could be deeply examined in regards to the phenomena of Dissociation.
- Where does the DNA brain and body energy go when it leaves?
- Is the ability to Dissociate related to how much torture/pain a human can endure?
- Can Dissociation be controlled by the carrier?
- What happens during the Dissociative process?
- Why do some abuse victim’s Dissociate and not others?
In my memoir, CULT CHILD, I go into great detail about my Dissociative memories. These are real experiences which are extremely clear and prevalent in my memory. They have never changed. They have only been verified.
My Dissociation process as a child did not disappear, but instead, evolved as I became an adult. When I begin to feel my energy separate from my body, a myriad of physical signals happen first.
Sounds disappear. My body feels as though it is floating. My heart rate speeds up. I begin to see my current reality in third person perspective, as an outsider looking in. This happens in a matter of seconds. Then in a blink, I am elsewhere in my mind. I, personally, tend to travel to a dimension outside of my current realm.
Because I dissociated so much as a tortured child, it seemed like a natural and smooth transition to evolve the methods I used to transition, into my own meditative states. If my environment is right, I am able to push through the physically uncomfortable Dissociation transition to access differing sectors of my brain. Now, it is a willful and purposeful action.
The most pertitant element has been grounding to insure I am not left with aftermath; that I can come back to my present reality and be able to function at my own current level. Therefore, before using this technique I usually hold an object in my hand.
For me, there are now two types of “Dissociation”. One, emerged out of a childhood fear, fight/flight instinct, which I used as I was universally assisted through surviving cult inflicted torture.
The other would emerge as a flipping of those ritual tools, utilizing the survival abilities of my childhood abuse as newly assistive methods through which I now freely access the other dimension.
So, from my experiences, there is no set answer to the “What happens when you dissociate?” question. There are too many mitigating factors.
- a human’s level of pain tolerance
- a human’s mental strength
- an abuse victim’s environment
- an abuse victim’s DNA
- the type of abuse enacted
For instance, my Dissociations found me continuously returning to the seventh realm, as I know it, while another abuse victim I am friends with jumps to a planet within this galaxy. Yet another abuse survivor I know remains on the ceiling, watching the full extent of their abuse. One element I observe in regards to the extent of an ability to control Disaociation seems to also include a human’s personal evolvement. The more evolved human deals with less fear, thereby being able to travel easier.
To answer how one dissociates would be to speak with every abuse victim who has used Dissociation to cope. While our experiences and circumstances are all differing, what we do have in common are the physical signs, as described above.
Possibly, when we master the skill of traveling, not in fearful Dissociation, but in an ability to focus, using Dissociative abilities to access the levels of our own existence, we have come to explore our memories from a place of empowerment.
This takes work. It has taken me years to evolve my methods. I am still evolving them as I am determined to access more of my mind’s caves. It takes being healthy so the body doesn’t fall ill. One must be able to be in a soothing environment to do this work. Because it is emotionally laborious, most Dissociation carriers avoid the exhaustive journey.
Yet, I say that if one chooses to face the layers of their own dissected childhood, that through the exhaustion, tears and haunting images, learning to stay grounded and traveling into Dissociation has been one of my strongest developments.
“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Lily Tomlin
Accented with unique and relevant art by Jonathan Weiner of San Francisco, CA,”Dead Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir“, by Zack Bonnie, reveals with precision the mind bending abuse enacted inside of the youth reform industry. “The Cult That Spawned the Tough-Love Teen Industry”, by Mother Jones, explains the birth of this industry and provides the following graph. CEDU had roots in Synanon and began in 1967.
It was indeed an industry of profit as parents were indoctrinated with the belief that any slightly “off” behavior by their teenager was a sign of serious problems, resulting in parents not only giving away their children with the belief they were helping them, but additionally being swindled out of millions of dollars.
“Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” opens with Bonnie taking a ski trip with his father. Subsequent events find a fourteen-year-old Bonnie checked into a youth reform facility in Idaho. He is tricked, and left there against his will. Thus begins the enactment of Bonnie’s mental shattering. Overnight, he joins the ranks of the large number of throwaway youth in the eighties, who eventually were labeled “Generation X“.
With every phone call monitored and Bonnie’s parents receiving false reports of his progress, he becomes trapped in an intricately woven scheme of abuse. He has no means of escape. He is unable to relay his alarming conditions to anyone. Forced through bizarre, psychological techniques to become emotionally naked, Bonnie is often left confused about what is real in his mind. The children are left unsure of what a right answer to staff questions should be. They are love bombed, then verbally abused, with severely psychotic mind control rituals. The CEDU facilitators often use the children’s personal family dynamics to manipulate them.
“To not share would be to betray them and the confidences that they shared. I said the most innermost things that made my voice tremble to admit, bringing an ancient anger and self-hatred to the surface. It wasn’t just the situation; it was where it was taking me, inside myself.
“Who used to say that to you?” Keith’s soft voice back at me.
“Your father called you useless?”
Had he really? Yes, he had.
“Say it again. ‘My father said I’m useless.’ Good. It hurt you? Yeah. You can say that again, that’s riiiigth.”
Tess and Keith repeated what we said a lot. Just about every time a kid in my group said something, Jasper, Tess, or Keith was there to repeat it. This is how we always seemed to get roped into going deeper within ourselves.
Rituals involve teenagers verbally confronting themselves and each other. Every detail of their life is invited to be shared as their overseeing handlers note them to use against the children later. Rounded into groups, they are put through almost daily, mind bending sessions of unimaginable attacks as staff strategically controls the children into turning on one another.
Zack describes session after session, as every part of the children’s emotions are controlled and manipulated.
“Bianca, what do you remember about your mom? She used to have a name for you, too, didn’t she?”
“I guess so.” Bianca Taylor picked up her cue from Tess.
“Yeah. What was her favorite nickname for that beautiful little tyke? Can you remember for me?“
“She used to call me Rainbow...” Bianca started crying. I wanted to start crying from watching Bianca, who I’d never really even talked to. Seeing raw sadness like that felt like a punch to the solar plexus.
The berating of kids is a carefully crafted tool. Broken down into nothing, with their self-image lost and lacking any emotional worth, the children become easier for the staff to manipulate. Using every piece of their fragile lives, the staff takes as many opportunities as possible to verbally abuse the children.
“I can’t hear you, Bianca. A spoiled little bitch? Spoiled little bitch. LITTLE BITCH! Why did he call you that? That’s right, let me hear you.”
“Go for it, Wally…GET IT OUT, PEOPLE. That’s RIGHT!”
“A SLUT! Who said that to little Daphne? You really let that little girl down, didn’t you?“
“Yeah? When? After the abortion? Say that again, Narissa – you’ve got to stop being that girl with the reputation? Look at her!“
“Here’s some tissues, Bianca. Let it go.”
Catch terms such as “bans“, when children are forbidden to speak to one another, and “bad rapping“, children saying bad things about each other, are among a plethora of rituals used to manipulate the minds of vulnerable teenagers. Meanwhile, the children are allowed to smoke cigarettes and other self-harming behaviors, geared to feed into their anxiety, which grows, the longer they are forced to remain inside of the program.
Bonnie’s writing style allows his reader to easily flow between what he is forced to witness happening to other children and the silent thoughts he is disallowed to ever let leave his lips lest there be intense punishment. The children are trained to adhere to a system filled with mistrust and expected betrayal of one another. They are strip searched upon admittance to the program. They are heavily worked. They are humiliated in front of one another.
Yet, even trapped inside such a sordid system of complicated tier goals, systematic punishments, humiliation and anger, Bonnie’s resilience becomes his counter weight as he journals.
“Guess what I went through my truth prophet August 9 & 10 and I found out that I basically I was a dick at home. I have been mulling it over in my mind and I know the point of raps and prophets. Just to make you cry a lot so naturally being the way I am I didn’t cry. – Author journal entry, 11 August 1988 (one month at RMA)”
Through this writing, Bonnie brilliantly flows between descriptive enactment of the program and his attempt to retain a critical thinking mind. Bonnie takes his reader’s hand and pulls them directly into the center of his deeply intense experiences.
Bonnie navigates the CEDU system until he can no longer withstand the thin line between the reality in his mind and the constant psychological belittlement he daily endures. One day Bonnie decides to go on the run. Will he make it out?
“Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” reveals the sadistic truth of the youth reform’s use of mental and physical abuse to control children. Never has a book had an impact on my own teenage memories since I was a young person reading “Run, Baby, Run” by Nicky Cruz. The detail through which Bonnie brings his story to life is exceptionally mapped out.
“Dead, Insane or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir” is guaranteed to make you intensely feel. You will be outraged. You will ask why and how a human being can do such things to children. You will laugh, and you will cry. You will cheer for the incredible strength and courage Zack journeys into as he brings his teenage memories to life on the pages of this exceptional book.
Zack Bonnie is in the process of re-launching his website, complete with an audio-book of DEAD, INSANE OR IN JAIL: A CEDU MEMOIR, which is available in paperback and e-book. Additionally, he is beginning the publishing submission process for the sequel, entitled: DIJ: OVERWRITTEN. All of Zack’s work can be explored at his WEBSITE.
Personal Note: Sometimes a book is so well written, it sinks into the skin of a trauma survivor like me, who found incredible familiarity in the words I read. This author touched my heart deeply when I met him. The ache in his eyes was familiar. The strength was admirable. The energy was filled with the passion for advocacy. So, dear Zack, please forgive my delay in this long overdue review of your book. I truly wanted to give you the honor you so rightly deserve. Love, Vennie Kocsis
by Vennie Kocsis
I don’t quite understand these constant holidays, dedicated to moms and dads and bunnies and love. I see them as marketing scams, a way to boost economy almost every month, by throwing in a Holiday.
But hey, maybe I’m bitter.
On these days I am reminded of my absent mother. See, not only did she pass away in 2007, her mother’s soul was stolen when I was three.
Recruited by an ill-intended woman into a sinister cult, my mother was forced to be separated from her children, initially physically starved through food rationing. After years of brutal torture, all of our spirits were broken.
Emotionally, I never had a mother. In cult life, I was rarely allowed to express my feelings to anyone. This was considered to be self centered behavior, a feeding of the flesh and a sin in the eyes of God.!!If by some chance I caught my mother in a listening mood, my emotions were most often turned back around on me.
“Suck it up, buttercup.”
This was one of my mother’s favorite phrases.
These days feel so distant to me. Social media is filled with flowery and adoring words dedicated to mothers. They are loved and adorned with the flowers of sparkly attention.
I wonder if those mothers are supported every single day as they raise children, work and juggle schedules. I wonder if they have their own mothers to love them.
My mother is not here to love me. If she were here, she would most likely be in the midst of her Queendom, wearing her dark “Godmother” sunglasses which she’d taken to wearing for her glaucoma.
She would be the center wheel, the rest of the family mothers in her shadow, as she preened. There is a wince inside of my star heart, a little ache to return, back into the portal where my real home awaits.
I see the outstretched arms of my celestial Mother, her lips parted into a smile reflecting light from her pearly white teeth. She is waiting for me. She is proud that I succeeded in my mission.
“Welcome Home.” She says softly.
There is no banner or trumpets to celebrate my return. We are not a star family of false pretenses. She gives me the intimate connection which supersedes any material gift.
She holds me inside of her love, and as her arms wrap around my body, I sigh a heavy breath into her chest. I am home again.
To the mother in the starlight, who visits my dreams at night, soothing my cries, stroking my holographic hair, I am alight in your glory. We will see victory in this round.
There are people who learn to trust the streets. I think of their lives, how they have made darkness their day and daylight their night so they can stay alive.
Where is the safe space when the alleys are teeming with the unloved at night, ravaged by the anger in their souls, screaming out their behavior and trying to numb the pain?
I understand why she sleeps in the day, quiet beneath an office building eave, on a porch never used. I watch the employers walk quietly past her, making sure not to wake her as they enter their offices.
This mixture of compassion and hopelessness fills my observation. She is sleeping soundly where she feels safe. Somehow, there is a silent understanding of this, and so she is left to rest.
I wonder of her story, who hurt her heart, body or both. I wonder when she gave up, how old she was and what would make life different for her.
Caught in a moment around my city, I see the humanness of humans. I feel the dance of empathy and indifference from those who walk past. If they let her sleep, they’ve done enough.
And I feel a woman with a ghost story, thankful for a tiny porch and the chance to sleep in quiet, beneath a mound of blankets, escaping reality for a few short hours.
Around my city, she sleeps, the wind weeps and minds escape into dreams.
I rarely share my personal, hand-written journal pages. They are private and raw, exposing trails into myself that I don’t necessarily want others to walk upon.
As I continue the journey of writing through trauma, I’ve connected with other survivors looking for outlets for their pain. I believe deeply in journaling, mainly because there are endless ways one can journal. There are no rules. We get to customize it to fit our own need, and it can look like anything.
I have differing journals for varying states of mind:being. One contains dreams I’m either lucky or unlucky enough to remember. Another contains childhood memories. This one is graphic in nature, and I would not share most of these pages publicly.
I write daily in my gratitude journal to keep my self-love balanced. Another journal is filled with letters written to a stranger. A slam journal holds pasted pieces of moments to remember, like movie tickets, a leaf shaped like a heart found on a walk, a cool newspaper clipping and so much more which has fit my fancy to save, glue and tape.
My “Letters to a Stranger” journal is a stream of consciousness ramble of mind dump journal. There is no necessary “reason” to the entries in it. Should someone pick it up, it may appear as the jumbled code of a multiple mind.
These are two pages from my Dump Journal to show an example of what might fall out of my head. I tend to write in this during a mind split moment where my hands need to move while my brain is on overload. I’m in random mode, just clearing subconscious thoughts out of my head. I tend to be lucid. I don’t critically think through it. I allow it to flow and have its own voice.
So, I hope you will dump the images which plague your mind, into words and the thoughts into pages. I hope you give it away, and don’t hold it in.
Dump, my friend, dump.