pacific northwest

Liberation Point: Survivor Voices

I recently listened to the story of a woman who escaped a life in a fundamentalist religious cult.  I am always drawn to those who were children in cults, as I find the most comradeship with their stories, often similar to mine.

She is standing at the podium, poised, articulate and dressed in a dark suit.  She tells her story slowly, unfolding the pain of the cult survival which drives her passion to grow an organization supporting people just like her.   She speaks of her struggles to adapt, the experiences which she will never forget and the scars it has left upon her family.

“My worst day as a free soul is far better than my best day in captivity.”

Samie Brosseau

Samie Brosseau

I have tears as she shares.  I am her.  She is me.  We are the faces of random strangers we pass in the street.  We know nothing of their lives, but they could be us.  We grew up sequestered from life.  Our normalcy was reversed as we learned to become accustomed to being hurt.  We were refused a connection with our own authentic being and free will.

Yet, we have survived, and now I sit here so proud of who we have grown to be.  I listen as she bravely talks about the work she and her partner have done in just a short fifteen months. They have helped eight cult survivors transition into a life they would otherwise be floundering inside of.  Eli Weiss and Samie Brosseau work on event fundraisers to garner funding to provide real-time support for cult survivors.   I hear the echo of their voices’ repeated passion of being “ON THE GROUND“; understanding crisis, and what is truly needed.

“On the weekend, a couple of us will hop in the car and just drive, you know? They get to experience what it feels like to do what they want to do. They get to connect, and we laugh. We just talk about regular life. That’s how they want to be treated. Accepted.  Just like they’re people, because they are.”

Eli Weiss [on supporting cult survivors]

Eli Weiss and Samie Brosseau

I am watching from the wings as child cult survivors, now adults, are swiftly rising.  They are creating storms with their voices and healing as they exhale.  They are standing up for themselves.  They are refusing to bend.

We must pay attention to what is happening right now within our communities.  Every day, children wait for us to notice; for us to speak up.  Every day another child wonders if there is someone out there waiting should they become brave enough to run.

Oh, yes, we are here waiting for you with open arms. It is the time of the Experiencer, and we will all rise together through support, open communication and sharing.

Click the logo below to visit Liberation Point and find out more about their organization.

https://www.liberationpoint.org/home.html

 

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of CULT CHILD, and hostess of Survivor Voices radio show every Sunday at Freedom Slips.

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VennieKocsis.com

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I Know Anger. It Is the Unleashing of Pain.

I visit Ethnic Fest in my city today and encounter an end times, sign toting, fear dealing kid in the park who I wind up so hard, his last words screeched at me are “WOMEN SHOULD SUBMIT TO MEN!”

But let’s back up. It happens like this. I admit. I bait him. I see the big, hypocritical sign. I go cynical and comedic. I go in for the kill. However, he IS partially responsible, since he walks my way.

Everything in its season, yes? Maybe it is his time to be touched.

When he walks by, I beckon him to a table where I sit with friends. They remain silent throughout. Then so, the conversation between the two of us begins.

“I have a question, sir.” I ask politely, pointing to his sign. “What if God tells me to believe something that Jesus says I should never obey? What then?”

“That would never happen.” He states.

“Then why tell everyone to do that?” I ask.

So begins our back and forth banter as I “innocently” start pecking at his cognitive dissonance. I ask blanketed biblical questions as if I “kinda” know the Bible. He quotes scripture like a robot. I act curious. I am wringing him like a sponge to see where his head is.

Then a couple of things happen, and things change to a negative tone very fast.

ONE

“So, the whole ritual of eating bread and drinking the juice, what does that represent?” I ask.

I have on bright blue eyeliner. I am shiny, smiling and leaned forward in interest. To him, I am a potential. His face lights up at the chance he now has. He believes he is educating me. He is in an undercover linguistic role reversal, and his ego is blind to it.

“This is how we signify ourselves. Jesus said, eat of my flesh and drink of my blood…”

“So like cannibalism.” I interrupt.

That’s when the body language shift happens. I see his muscles tense and the anger set in. He just got challenged. This is against the rules. No one trained him for this one.

“YES!” I think to myself. “I’ve got him.”

TWO

At this point, a very attractive young woman, in her possible mid twenties, passes, and she low fives him. I watch as they lock hands for a second. She has on a long, body fitting and low cut, bright green maxi dress. She sashays her hips as her shoulder-length, brown hair sways over her back.

“Good job, Brother.” She says directly to him.

“Thanks!” He responds.

His face changes as she passes. His ego was just injected. He is reminded of why he does what he does, by that beautiful girl in the green dress who says “Good job.” That feels good, something no one often said to him in life. My senses are reading multiple movements, emotions and gray areas at once.

“Flirty fishing, huh.” I say casually.

“Yeah.” He laughs. “No, wait, huh?” His face changes to very serious.

“Oh, there was this cult. You know they used attractive females to lure members.” I explain.

“Oh, no. That was just a girl I met in the parking lot who’s a Christian and KNOWS what I’m saying is true.” He is defensive.

He doesn’t catch my subtle hint, that I am educated on luring and religious scamming; that I used the word cult; that I get she is giving him her approval, and I just watched him soak it in like it was his last drink; that there’s no parking lot anywhere close to the park. She represents their possibility. Evangelism brings income, and pretty Christian girls bring possibilities.

But hey, that’s just semantics. Back to the more important topics.

“Ok, so back to the cannibalism.” I re-direct.

That word is a trigger word for him so I make sure and use it again. I want him to think about it every time he takes his communion. I want to plant anti-virus words inside his programming. He scrambles to talk about signification, and I watch him change with agitation as the conversation grows.

I am fascinated with his body language and eye movement. Each piece of debate is flipping and turning him. I play with him, arguing scriptures, letting him feel like he is winning, and I stay dumbed down.

I rile him back up by accusing him of disobeying the Bible by arguing with me, but because I won’t tell him the exact verse to back that up, he says it’s not in there.

“You haven’t read the whole Bible then.” I reverse taunt. “If you did, then you’d know that verse.”

I want him go look it up, in his need to be right and find he’s wrong. Just a couple cracks in the screen.

I ask him what church he attends. He tells me they don’t have a church. He tells me that they go to people’s houses, “PREY” with them and have Bible studies.

“So what’s your story. Tell me about your past.”

He immediately shuts down.

“I don’t talk about my past because God instructs us to be ashamed of our pasts. To ask for forgiveness for those sins, but to stay in shame. They are not to be boasted about. Aren’t you ashamed of your past?” He demand.

“Not at all.” I calmly reply. “The Bible says to testify about the struggles we come out of.”

“Well, you should be.”

Ah, the crazy making. That is supposed to trigger my shame. Yet, I have none to trigger.

“How sad.” I say quietly, looking directly at him. “To live in shame.”

He is talking over me now, and he is angry. I understand talking over. It is akin to choking someone to shut them up. He is now telling me that I am a woman, and God instructs me to submit to him. I laugh. I can’t help it. It’s funny. I know this one also. They’re trained to try and trigger females with that stupidity. It’s a sad state of mind.

I try to give him a card. He refuses to touch if. Like it might be a demon. I am glad he doesn’t take it. I’m good with this wacko not knowing who I am.

I can see he is really riled up in a very negative angry way. His roots are rocked. I know anger. Anger is the unearthing of pain.

I feel I should probably make a slight turn to calm him and wrap this up.

“Well, let me ask you something. Does the Bible say God is love?”

“It does.” He agrees, still agitated, his foot tapping rapidly.

“And we are made in God’s image?”

“Yes.” He agrees again.

“Then we are all love by that definition?” I ask softly.

He is suddenly silent. It is as if a robot has been turned off. I am actually surprised at this silence. I expected an immediate robotic response of some contrary scripture as has been his pattern. I didn’t think it would be this simple of a concept which would stump his “hell, hatred, believe and obey” theology. He appears, for the first time, to have grasped a simple thought.

I decide it is a perfect time to be done.

“Hey, thanks for talking to me. Now we can go be love!” I say cheerily, waving my hand as I turn back around to the table.

He walks away, carrying his huge sign as he calls back that I am a wicked, evil woman sinner that should submit to him aka he didn’t, as the man, get the last word in or win the possibility of my pocketbook. Or to shove his questions down; to make me the villain because being wrong isn’t an option.

And I’m thinking “People actually let this man in their homes.”

As my friends and I walk out I see another young man just like the one I’d been speaking with. He has this fancy loud speaker hanging around his neck. It has volume buttons and is attached to a headset and microphone; like the ones used at trade shows.

This guy is also holding a sign and is standing on the corner screaming to the people passing by, talking about their sins. No one is paying any of them attention. They are just park nuisances.

“You sound like Jim Jones.” I lean in fast and hard, hoping my voice picks up on the microphone.

He turns the volume off.

“What?” He asks.

“You sound like Jim Jones.” I repeat.

“Who’s that?” He’s got this confused look on his face.

“Google him. He was a preacher who talked in a microphone just like yours.”

The fact he doesn’t know who Jones is lets me know these individuals are trained cultists who’ve been sequestered from common known truths and possibly internet access. Evangelistic missions with youngsters like this are managed by their handlers, who keep them on tight leashes.

These are swindlers’ puppets standing on festival corners looking for their handler’s next victim. Their masters have chosen the most programmed, best looking and youngest, yet legal, of them to send into the streets.

I think of Scam City. There is a tier racket going on. Extremists looking for followers. He has no church. His church is gaining entrance to people’s homes and lives with the use of a religion.

This is a dangerous criminal racket for which the “tourist” of life should be aware. Becoming a “tourist”, away from our own capable existence, molds a human into prey for the predators who use their religious wares to reel in the “tourists” who’ve become lost. But it’s a scam. Beware the mind pickpocket. They take your thoughts AND your wallet.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of CULT CHILD and other publications. She is the host of Survivor Voices Show on Freedom Slips; Studio B.

Born Crazy: A Video Poem

You’re crazy.”

How often have you heard this phrase thrown around, either flippantly, in jest or to victim blame someone who has overcome or is recovering from abuse?

I heard this often as a post-cult teenager and well into my adult years. While I was actually dealing with the behavioral aftermath of being an extremely abused child, instead of receiving support, caring and nurturing I was told that I was crazy. When a child is told enough times that they’re mind is insane, we begin to believe it.

This poetry piece is from my spoken word album, Dusted Shelves, which is available on Amazon in paperback and c.d. Written in 2013, it is a representation of a life by which I was conditioned to believe that I was crazy.

Some abuse survivor work is considered to be dark and oddly psychotic. This piece would fall under that theme.

**Trigger Warning for those who are sensitive to these themes**

Born Crazy

Why “Push Through” Can Be An Illusion

A few months ago my twenty-one year old son and his friends invited me to go hiking.

“Oh, hell yes!” I responded with excitment.

Nature is one of my many loves. I rubbed my hands together gleefully. How cool these youngsters want an oldie but goodie like me along.

“Now, mom,” my son advised, “this is no ordinary hike. I mean, you gotta cross some streams and shit. Like it’s uphill.”

“I’ve hiked before.” I retorted defensively. “I grew up in Alaska learning survival skills. HELLO! Ya’ll should HOPE to have me along.”

We laughed together as we packed our backpacks with carbs and protein snacks, water bottles and extra clothing.

What a beautiful drive to the mountain base. It was to be a mere four mile hike up to where a world opened to more beauty. There, we would have a majestic view of a lake and vast valleys. My adrenaline pumped as I thought about getting up to the plateau and the photo I would get to capture.

The first two miles I cruised along, soaking in the crisp clean air, waving to tree friends, smiling at rock faces, enjoying the streams and waterfalls.

Mile three the struggle began. The trail became steeper. We’re halfway there, my mind told me. I had this hike in the bag. My son paced me, walking ahead of me a bit, then cheering for me as I huffed and puffed my way to him where we would rest a minute and go at it again again.

Halfway into mile four my legs began to shake. My mind said, fuck you, there’s only a half mile left and then you will be sitting, having lunch, absorbing the best view and resting for a while.

But my legs wouldn’t move. My mind spun with thoughts.

“Get your ass moving.”
“You’re gonna let all these people down and be totally embarrassing!”
“Quit being a wimp. You’re stronger than you think.”
“Just rest for a second then push through!”

Still my legs wouldn’t move. The muscles in my thighs were shaking. My body was not complying. I couldn’t take another step up the rocks. In seconds I was crying; angry and frustrated. I had underestimated my body. Here I was, almost all the way up, with only a half mile of this goddamn hike left. This couldn’t be happening to me. I felt on the verge of physical collapse, but my mind did not agree.

I sat on a rock with my head in my hands, warring with my body as the group gathered around me, calling encouragement.

“It’s okay!”
“Wow, look how far you’ve made it!”
“Save your strength. You will need it for the three mile trek back down.”
“You didn’t let us down! This trail will alway be here!”
“We can come back!”
“Next time we’ll do a different, easier trail!”
“We are so proud of you!”
“We love you.”

Not one time did anyone say:

“Get your ass up and Push through!”

This concept of pushing through is over-rated and over used. Quit saying it for everything. Sometimes people need to rest. Sometimes they need to be congratulated for their hard work. Sometimes you need to acknowledge this. Sometimes you need to praise them for how far they’ve come, then help them back down the mountain so they can rest before they try again. Pushing through is not always the answer. Remember that.

Stream of Consiousness III

It is midnight and the rain is falling.  There are never torrents here in this land of evergreen forest.  She pours softly from the eave gliding down the tree leaves outside my window. 

I have knocking pain strobes in my eye sockets,  headache gone raw.  Sleep is a tender trinket dangling and taunting my view. 

Counting woolen lambs never led me to dream land.  What might I miss if I’m not aware to watch the night? What might my eyes exclude?  Where might I find myself wandering if I go down under?

My Oz is not the home Dorothy dreams of. 

There are teeth longer than devil nails chattering in the distance, while I wish on stars like the ghosts don’t exist.  I pull out fuck you guns, first my left, then my right.  I have the predators in my sight. 

Hush little angel. Don’t you cry. I’ll hold you as you say goodbye. How could they look into our eyes and think what they did was alright? 

I’m not in pain or angry.  At least not in this moment.  Answers are coded in light beams where truth is not what it seems, illusions are fueled by schemes and in the end they’re still screaming. 

But right now it’s me and the raindrops keeping my heart from stopping.  It’s me and the water. I flow. Mother. Sister. Daughter.  I am the eyes of my father with a shattered heart, left sore from too many wars. 

And his silence aches as I feel his heartbreak, the whispers of his tears.  Too many years lost.  Wind. 

But it’s just me and the rain again.   

She Left the Planet

She jumped off a bridge into the middle of traffic in North Seattle this morning. She has lingered in my heart all day. I don’t know her name, what she looked like, if she had children or a husband, family, had ever felt love or had someone hug her.

And that makes me sad.

I see people in stores, brows furrowed in seeming anger, faces down trodden. I smile at strangers. Occasionally its reciprocated. Most times it’s met with a look of confusion.

We’re so disconnected our eyes no longer meet. We don’t share smiles.

I wonder how many people passed her today. I wonder if anyone smiled at her or met her eyes. I wonder if one person had, if she still would have walked to that bridge.

To the woman who left the planet today. I feel your human suffering. I know you’re being loved now.