|Grieving parent post-exit|
In the discussion of the recent trail of Larry and Carri Williams, I again hear the same kinds of questions. “What motivates an otherwise parent to go to such dangerous extremes with their children?” “How does this happen?”
I've provided a series of longer answers to this question as the Schatz Family prepared for their possible trial before pleading guilty to charges concerning their adopted daughters, Lydia and Zariah. Michael Pearl equates deviation from his discipline system with sending a child right into hell, language we also heard in the Williams' Trial. In addition to this emotional and spiritual blackmail, we also have to consider other factors. Social proof and the Appeal of Authority profoundly influence us as well, as the Milgram Study elucidated well. Bandura also noted that moral disengagement then ensues as a result of these influences – something that happens when people tell themselves that their personal actions are cancelled out by their motives in combination with their duty to some principle or ideal which can include obedience to authority. Pearl facilitates moral disengagement when he defines babies (and wives) as tyrants who are at willful war in an attempt to dominate their parents as opposed to a simple responding to discomfort and pleasure. Revisit and read more about these influences in depth in the series here called Why Good People Make Dangerous Choices.
Recently, I again watched the film called Join Us that follows people who left a high demand, Bible-based religious group through the initial phases of their spiritual abuse recovery. You can learn much more about the film HERE, and I will embed as many video trailers as I can find, though several more appear on the site. (They even offer a “cult test” that you can take yourself.) The family seeks counsel at Wellspring, the first fully accredited facility for people who exit high demand groups and cultic relationship, and much of this kind of footage is included in the film. It provides another glimpse into what it is like to be in and then leave a high demand or cultic group, as well as what the recovery process tends to be like. The film also features some interviews with the group leader.
Of interest concerning this topic, however, is the discussion of the aggressive corporal punishment that the group taught and that members used against their children while they were in the fishbowl of their church group. (Note that the group did not reference Michael Pearl, though it is notable that excessive corporal punishment is often used in high demand groups, particularly Christian ones. Refer to two groups HERE and HERE, examples of other Bible-based groups that appear on this site.) It is heart wrenching to watch parents talk about this aspect of their cult experience, for though it troubled them to use these abusive techniques, they believed that it was their best if not their only option at the time. I felt terrible grief for one mother when I recently re-watched the film. The woman featured in the film is asked how many times she may have beaten her child, and she struggles to think about it, let alone convey this accurately. The parents talk openly about the remorse that they felt and about their hopes that their younger children will not remember what happened to them because the families stopped the practice.
|Screenshot of how the documentary appears in the Apple Store|
You can rent the film from Netflix through the mail, stream a rental or buy it through iTunes, or you can purchase a copy of it on Amazon or through the filmmaker.
View the trailer posted my dear friend, Rafael at Spiritwatch Ministries.
Another set of clips (likely a little redundant):