This is a message to all former Scientologists, particularly former Sea Org members. It is about a newfound hope I have that it is possible for all of us to recover -- fully recover -- from the abuse to which we were subjected inside the cult.
I have spoken to many, many former Scientologists since I became a public critic of Scientology in 1993. Just about every single person Iíve talked to has told me how much their experience in Scientology damaged them. But I could count on the fingers of one hand the people who have felt there was anywhere or anyone they could turn to for help in recovering from the damage.
I felt the same way. When I finally escaped from Scientology in July 1989, I had been spiritually, psychologically and emotionally raped -- brutally and viciously, repeatedly -- over a period of nearly fifteen years. There is really no other way to describe my experience, particularly my Sea Org experience. The abuse was horrific, relentless, and utterly inescapable, so that by the time I finally got out, all I wanted was to put the experience behind me. Friends who had never been in Scientology suggested I get therapy, but I never did. I never wanted anyone else to get inside my head again. For me, the issue was not whether or not I needed therapy. I didnít care if I did or not. All I knew was that I never wanted to make myself vulnerable to that kind of nightmarish, soul-cracking betrayal again.
In the nine years since I got out of Scientology Iíve privately felt that I was "damaged goods" in a fundamental way, that the harm that was done to me in the cult was so deep and so severe that I would always carry what Dennis Erlich has very aptly described as "soul scars." I simply came to terms with the knowledge that I would never fully recover. My attitude was, "I may be crazy, but at least itís my craziness. Iíll never allow anyone into my mind again. "I have some dear friends who are also former Sea Org members, and Iíve heard similar things from them. Weíve all resigned ourselves to being "damaged" for the rest of our lives. Weíve agreed that weíd rather live with the damage than risk another mind rape at the hands of any therapist.
But Iíve recently spent two weeks at Wellspring, and Iíve changed my mind. Totally. These people at Wellspring actually helped me. Then Vaughn went, and they helped him, too. Now I want every former Scientologist to go to Wellspring.
Let me tell you my history with this place.
I met the two people who run Wellspring, Paul Martin and Ron Burks, at the Cult Awareness Network conference in Cleveland in November 1994. I saw both of them speak about Wellspring, and I was impressed by what they said. I thought Wellspring sounded like a great place for people who had been in other cults. But neither Paul nor Ron were ever in Scientology, much less the Sea Org. So although I never said it to either of them, privately I knew they would never be able to help me. Only another Sea Org member could possibly understand what I had been through -- that was privately how I felt.
So I never did go to Wellspring, and I never got any other kind of therapy either. I just lived with it. But it became more and more difficult for me. As my involvement in exposing Scientologyís criminality intensified, so did Scientologyís harassment and intimidation of me. As most people reading this know all too well, they work very hard to find a personís vulnerable points and trigger them. If anyone has any doubt that Scientology uses supposedly confidential information against any former member who publicly criticizes them, I can tell you from personal experience that they do. And they donít just pull information about things a person has done in their life that might be embarrassing or damaging. I donít really care about that. I had to make that decision at the same time that I made the decision to speak out publicly about them. I knew what they would do to me. I knew they would destroy my privacy.
But they do something else which I think is much worse. They pull information out of your pc folders about what you care about, what hurts you, what matters to you, and then they go after you on the things that matter to you the most. They take everything good about you and turn it into something perverted and ugly. That has been the most difficult aspect of Scientologyís harassment of me. The fact that every time they have hurt me it has only strengthened my resolve has not made the hurt any less painful. And I have been aware that I was being affected by their tactics more than a non-Scientologist would be, because they know my buttons so well, and because when they push one of my buttons it triggers so many painful experiences that have been completely unprocessed by any kind of therapy.
So over the past several years I have become more and more acutely aware of the emotional and psychological baggage Iíve been carrying with me from my experience in Scientology. And because of that, I have been getting increasingly open to the idea of therapy.
Something else has happened, too. Iíve made a commitment to help people get out of Scientology or recover once theyíre out. Because of that commitment, Iíve been seeing very clearly that something more than just being a good friend is needed for all of us who have been through this psychological terrorism called Scientology.
It was Bob Minton who convinced me to go to Wellspring. He had been there himself earlier in the summer, and after his own experience there, Bob felt strongly that I could trust the people at Wellspring to help me recover, not only from my Scientology experience but also from a childhood which was extremely abusive emotionally and psychologically.
Bob knew how I felt about therapy. He has heard the same thing from many of the former Scientologists he has befriended. So really he urged me to go not only because he felt that it could help me, but also because he knew how suspicious former Scientologists are of anyone calling themselves a therapist, and he thought perhaps if I gave Wellspring my stamp of approval, others might be willing to get help as well. He was hopeful that I might tell people that Wellspring is a place they can trust.
I resisted his urging at first. I told him I didnít need any therapy. I was totally fine, I told him. Therapy was for others, not for me, I insisted. But Bob can be extremely persistent, as you have probably noticed. He wouldnít let go of this idea for me to go to Wellspring. Finally I agreed to go, not for myself, of course. I would go, I told him, so I would be in a position to let other people know whether or not it is a good program. OK, I said, for the sake of everyone else, Iíll go.
I spoke to Ron Burks, one of the therapists, on the telephone at length, asking him all kinds of questions, trying to sound perfectly fine but feeling extremely triggered at the very idea of going to this place in the middle of southern Ohio, in the middle of nowhere, as far as I could tell. Ron was perfectly willing to answer all my questions. Mainly I wanted to know if I would be free to come and go as I pleased. Yes, he assured me. I could rent a car and stay in Athens if I felt more comfortable that way. It was true, he said, that there is a gate at the beginning of the driveway, but itís only to keep Scientologyís private investigators off Wellspringís private property so they canít harass anyone who is there trying to recover. Contrary to the article that Scientology published in FREEDOM Magazine, he said, the Wellspring lodge has many, many windows and absolutely no locks on any of the bedroom doors. I hadnít seen the article he was referring to, but I knew from Bobís description of the lodge that what Ron said was true.
The day arrived when I was scheduled to fly to Columbus, Ohio. I woke up feeling extremely reluctant to go. But I had made a commitment to do this thing, and I was determined to go through with it. I flew to Columbus on Sunday, July 26, and spent the night at a hotel near the airport. The next afternoon I took a shuttle down to Athens, Ohio, and from there, one of the Wellspring staff picked me up and drove me to Albany, about 20 minutes away.
Perhaps it reminded me of being driven from LA to the secret international management compound (known simply as "Int") in Gilman Hot Springs in 1988. I was "on the decks" at Int for three months after Vaughn and I tried to escape and were caught in Hemet. Maybe it was too much like the night two guards woke me up at four a.m. and esorted me to a van, which drove me from Int down to LA for nine months in the RPF. Perhaps just the thought of driving further and further away from town was what frightened me. All I know is that by the time we turned into the Wellspring gravel driveway it was all I could do to keep from opening the door and running as far away from that place as I could. I was utterly frantic. My heart was beating really fast, I was trembling, my head was poundng. I was in a full-blown triggered state. I was a wreck.
But I tried my best to act rational. I sat in my seat as calmly as I could until we arrived at the lodge, which was a beautiful A-frame with a breathtaking wall of windows. And the countryside was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. It occurred to me that this place might be OK. We went inside and a woman named Sue greeted me. She and another person named Jay were very friendly. It occurred to me that it was not at all like it was when I was routed to the RPF at four in the morning back in 1982.
I chatted with Sue for quite a while and we became friends right away. She was in charge of the lodge, and I would soon find out that one of her duties was keeping the kitchen stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and all kinds of delicious food. Later I took a long walk alone to explore the countryside. Along the way I met several neighborhood dogs, who befriended me immediately. They all went with me for my run every day while I was there.
By the end of the first evening I knew I was going to like it at Wellspring. In truth, by the end of my two-week stay there, I loved it at Wellspring. I woke up every morning at 6:00 and went for a three- to four-mile run through glorious country -- Godís country, I found myself calling it. In the early morning the sunlight was just peeking over the trees, pink clouds were floating in the light blue sky, the dew was still on the meadows, and the morning glories were still in bloom. The birds were all singing and playing in the trees and there wasnít another human being in sight. I felt like I had all of southern Ohio to myself. It was quite exhilarating.
I got back to the lodge in time for a shower and a cup of coffee before my therapy session with Ron Burks from 8:30 to 10:30 every morning. What a delightful person Ron is! Not only did he help me tremendously as a therapist but I also came to think of him as a very good friend. He has such a depth of understanding of the dynamics of abuse, which is fundamentally what the cult experience is all about, from my perspective. It was incredibly therapeutic to be able to describe many of the nightmarish experiences I had in Scientology and know that my therapist knew exactly what I had gone through.
My therapy sessions in the morning were the only structured part of my day. I usually logged onto the internet for a couple of hours before lunch, and after lunch I had the option of watching some of the hundreds of videos in the Wellspring library about cults, mind control and related topics. I watched a number of fascinating programs while I was there. But for the most part, I handled my email, logged onto a.r.s., worked on a writing project Iíve been doing, chatted with others who were at Wellspring when I was, and spent as much time as possible outside.
Vaughn also spent a couple of weeks at Wellspring recently. I told him how much I felt I had benefited from my stay there and for the first time in his life, Vaughn was willing to talk to someone about what happened to him in Scientology. You have to understand that in 1987, David Miscavige thought Vaughn was trying to take over Scientology with Pat Broeker. This was ridiculous; Vaughn didnít even know Pat was planning on trying to oust DM. But DM was convinced that Vaughn was one of Patís key infiltrators into ASI and he set out to break Vaughn with a vengeance. All I will say is that DM and his henchmen went after Vaughn relentlessly, viciously and mercilessly. They set out to break him so that he could never be a threat to DMís empire. They were cruel without limits and it went on for weeks, and they did succeed in breaking Vaughn. Then they did it several more times over a period of a year and a half, just for good measure. The damage Vaughn suffered in Scientology was much, much more severe than anything I went through. Some day he will tell his story and then DM and his little Nazi soldiers will hide in shame for the way they treated him.
So for Vaughn to be willing to go to Wellspring was an incredible blessing for his own sake. Here is what he wrote to a friend of ours about his first impressions of the place. It is as good a description as I can imagine of "a day in the life" of person at Wellspring. (I am reproducing it here with his permission.)
"The first thing Wellspring offers is a chance to recuperate, through rest and good food. There is no schedule. One can sleep, walk, be alone or whatever. One is in complete control of oneís environment and the schedule. Even when I make an appointment to meet with a counselor (more on this later) or the workshop (more on this later), I can cancel or change it at my will. That is important here in the recovery process, that one has complete, full control over oneís schedule.
"Iím the only one here right now. If there were a couple more people, the food schedule might change a bit but there is still a full refrigerator and pantry and the freedom to ask for whatever foods one wants them to stock.
"The "lodge" (the building where one stays) is strikingly similar to the house on Vashon, down to the angled front, high roof on the living room, the deck outside, lots of wood, etc. Quite amazing. There is the "office," a couple hundred feet away, a two story building. The whole place is back in the woods, very isolated which means private which means quiet. The grounds and the surrounding countryside are rolling hills with tons of trees. Here we also have some open mowed grass. Very pretty. Iíve gone for walks on the gravel roads. There are some homes scattered about but they are scarce.
"This countryside is very rural with lots of farms. Most of the roads are two-lane, sweeping and dipping around the hills. Few cars and no scarcity of deer. Weather has been good, with sun each day, sometimes quite warm and humid, but the Lodge is nicely air conditioned if it is too much on the porch on the side or the deck out front.
"There are three bedrooms with multiple beds. The place can easily take 9 people. (I was told the most has been 6 clients at one time.) There is a library filled with all sorts of books re cults and religions and abuse. Lots of videos and audio tapes.
"There is a "residence coordinator" (RC) who sleeps in one room who takes care of the place, cleaning it, fixing the meals and getting whatever is needed. (The only restriction is that Wellspring is drug/alcohol-free. More on this later.) The RC job rotates between several people. The RC otherwise stays out of oneís way. The most he/she does is ask what one wants to eat and prepares it. The RC has also driven me into the closest town (Athens - 12 mile away) when I wanted to shop or go to a movie.
"Athens is perhaps 85 miles south of Columbus (Ohio) which is where I flew into, and the nearest real airport. When one arrives, they pick one up in a van. It takes perhaps 90 minutes for the trip out. Columbus is the state capital and one of the largest cities in Ohio.
"Athens is a university town. Ohio University (big school) is here. School starts again in a couple of weeks so right now it is quiet but it will soon be bustling with young people. Lots of coffee shops, bookstores, pizza shops, beer parlors, as you can imagine. Iíve been there twice (once just driving through at my request and the other a couple of days ago to see a movie.)
"Wellspring itself is perhaps 12 miles south of Athens and a few miles north of the Ohio-West Virginia border.
"Thereís a TV in the Lodge but few stations to watch because of reception, due to the hills. But enough to kill the time, if one wants. Or one can go into town and rent some movies. I havenít yet.
"There is a phone to call out, if one uses oneís credit card. Calls are allowed in but one has to tell them who one will accept calls from. They do this for privacy.
"My room is upstairs, with three single beds. A bathroom is next door and just like a hotel, towels and the rest is provided. Thereís a modern laundry room downstairs.
"The whole atmosphere is that of a very nice hostel, given that one might have a roommate. (Although Iím sure the next person to arrive will go to one of the other rooms and the next to the third and the fourth would then be sharing with someone.)
"The staff bend over backwards to be courteous, almost too much so! (laugh) More like an expensive hotel.
"Thereís no workout room (sigh) but the husband of one of the RCís has one at their home and sheís taken me there twice to work out with him, which is really nice of her. I can go any time I want. (I went yesterday and will probably go again Tuesday.)
"There are (warning: a word similar to a cult word is about to appear) sessions and workshops. The workshop is instructional, using video tapes, mainly, giving one some information according to oneís needs and interests. (If I donít want to see the tape or do it, that is up to me.) Iíve seen several excellent tapes re cult methods and recovery. Workshops go no longer than two hours, usually much less. Mine are in the afternoon.
"Sesssions are with one of the two counselors and are intended to be personal.
"When I arrived I went through an "interview" process, using a list of questions they have, which gives them some idea what they are dealing with. (With me, they know more than usual but with most people, they know almost nothing.) Then they take it from there but we never take up subjects I donít want to deal with and I am in control of the session, which is very different from the way it was in a certain cult we know. I donít even have to go. If I wanted to just sleep and rest and eat and recover that way for two weeks, I can. (Iíve been told it is not unusual for some to do that for days, especially when they come right out of theie cult and are both exhausted and poorly nourished and confused. They get all the time they want.) There is also a physical exam by a doctor who comes out to do it. (He said I am in good shape.) And a battery of tests. Again, it is all optional.
"Saturday afternoon and Sunday are off/free by schedule. Today is Sunday and by choice, I wanted to do some reading, based on some things I wanted to look up and learn. (My original plan was for the RC to take me into Athens, drop me off and let me just walk the town and come back when I called to get me, but I changed my mind. Iím doing Athens tomorrow afternoon. Besides my wanting to do some reading, more stores will be open anyway.)"
Vaughn finished two weeks at Wellspring and felt that it had been incredibly helpful to him in his recovery.
I hope to return to Wellspring in the future for more therapy. In the meantime, Iíve told a number of my friends about my experience, and itís given them hope that they can recover.
I have two things to say before I end this post.
The first thing is that if any of you want more information about Wellspring, visit their web site at www.wellspring.albany.oh.us/. Also please feel free to write to me or call me if you have any questions. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my phone number is 206-463-6809. I urge all former Scientologists to get into therapy, whether it is at Wellspring, or with another therapist that you trust. Get out from under the nightmare of Scientology. Get some help.
The other thing I have to say is that we have started a Victimís Relief Fund at FACTNet. This is a fund set up to help people coming out of Scientology to get their lives together, and particularly to help them get therapy. Weíre launching a huge fund-raising campaign to raise the money to pay for people to go to Wellspring or get whatever therapy they feel will help them.
Please, if you are reading this and you have the ability to donate to the FACTNet Victimís Relief Fund, please do so as generously as you possibly can. In the end, only therapy will finally get the Scientology monkey off its victimsí backs.
Make your checks payable to the FACTNet Victimís Relief Fund and send them to me at the following address:
FACTNet Victimís Relief Fund
c/o Stacy Brooks Young
P.O. Box 2698
Vashon, WA 98070
From: "Pamela Fitzpatrick" <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Wellspring -- hope for recovery from Scientology Date: 10 Sep 1998 16:08:37 GMT Message-ID: <01bddcd4$bad76e20$a466490c@default>
Cicero_Roman@usa.net wrote in article <firstname.lastname@example.org>...
The therapy is designed to give you your life back. Stacy is not being a fanatic (but you already knew that -- you do have to follow through on that agenda of yours don't you?). Stacy is telling her story. Ironically ... it was the same as mine. The *same* observations of what is available, what you can do (which is *anything* you want to including leave), the safety procedures that are in place, how the local police know about the harassment and will protect you. Yup, the same (opps, the police part wasn't mentioned was it?) observations.
Considering I was given the opportunity to get my life back -- and I didn't talk about it publicly -- I applaud Stacy telling people that this is out there. The money issue was the *major* draw back for me attending earlier then I did. If Stacy has the means and the ability to put a fund together for those in need of said monies --- GREAT!!! Those of you out there that stumbled upon my reply here -- just so you know, money tends to be a big concern after you have left a cultic relationship (group or one on one), you are not alone in that. One thing I have learned, ask questions. I discovered that there are some states that have domestic violence funding for therapy ... there *are* options out there. We just have to learn to ask for them. And that usually is the hardest thing to ask for, help.
The people at Wellspring are good people. They are doing a job against incredible odds (harassment and such) of being able to do this. The dedication and caring was strange and wonderful all at the same time.
-- Pamela Fitzpatrick
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. --Edmund Burke 1790
SPAMMERS BE WARNED: poster of this message is a resident of King County Washington, USA