The thought of leaving a high control group can be scary. Maybe the group is all you’ve ever known. The real possibility of losing family and friends can be worrying. Take one step at a time. Here are some to get you started from people who left high control groups themselves:

Do your research. Perhaps you’ve had some doubts about the group you are involved with. Question these doubts internally and research these questions using resources other than the information the group has given you. Find your own truth. Some people leave high control groups physically but not mentally.

Make a plan. If you fear your life will be in danger for leaving, the important thing is to just leave however you can. Speaking to the police or a support charity who will help in this situation. Everyone’s journey is going to be different. If your life is not in any immediate danger then part of your plan should include making friends outside of the group. This may be through clubs or work for instance. Then start to plan how your life will be away from the group.

Don’t tell anyone in the group you’re leaving. They may try to talk you out of it, block you, or report your plan to others. Keep your doubts and intentions a secret. Try to go about your business as usual to avoid suspicion. Slowly doing less with the group can allow you to start to ‘fade’ from their memory.

Reach out to others who have left. Talking with others who have left your group can help encourage and validate your decision to leave. They might even be able to help you. Try finding them on Facebook or through friends and family they may have mentioned. Read stories of other ex-members for encouragement and validation in online support forums. If using yor phone or PC be aware that members of the group might try to look at your viewing or browsing history.

Get professional help. There are therapists and experts who specialise in recovery who want to help you. Many were once members themselves. They will help you learn how to filter harmful programming from your own truth, and give you tools to rebuild a life for yourself outside of the group.

Leaving is the first step. Recovering is another. There are professionals and peers who want to help you make sense of what happened and recover and rebuild your life. Freedom is possible. The following are resources/professionals you may find helpful:

Lifton’s Thought Reform

Faith to Faithless

International Cultic Studies Association

Hope Valley Counseling