Today, I am equally honored and heart-broken to bring you a very special story from an ex-member, and our friend, @ilovespeedracer. On the heels of Memorial Day and Mother’s Day, this recollection of 20 years of abuse at the hands of Co$ and of the tragic impact on family and personal health, is both emotionally draining as well as eye-opening. If you had any doubts about how bad the conditions could be inside Co$, or how “protected” children may be, this story will make it clear that people are simply treated as assets or resources – to be used up and discarded when no longer useful to Co$.
This is an example of the crucial stories that must be told, repeated, and passed on. We cannot wait for some government or higher power to bring action against Co$. We all must Stand Up, Speak Out, and Be Heard, to make sure there are no new cases of abuse, and to expose those past cases. To be clear, I do not advocate violence or illegal activities, but we can educate as many people as possible, support those who have suffered at their hands or are still suffering, and create an environment where they can neither recruit new, unaware members, nor continue to hide behind their policies, actions and beliefs. We can offer a helping hand to anyone who wishes to break from Co$, or lend a friendly ear to those hurt in the past.
Most of this story is directly from @ilovespeedracer, with some tweaks, slight grammatical corrections, and a significant amount of additional information, from the original tweets that were posted –
“Our immediate family were all Scientologist, six of us in all. My sister and I were raised in it. Looking back, we had some real misadventures, and a LOT of very near misses that perhaps sharing may help others, if awareness of it could make a difference to those still in harm’s way. I’ve been working on writing at least the facts and timeline for a couple of years now. It’s not very pleasant, so I’ve found a million reasons not to get very far, and I’m ashamed of that really, because if it could help others at all, I know I need to confront it. It’s such a long story, and it’s confusing even to me, and I was there…but we moved so much to keep overhead low and follow Scn focusses, we went to 14 schools in all even though we never graduated middle school, lived in 20 rooms/apts/houses by the time I finally was on my own at 16/17…and our mom was married/engaged 8 times. I guess I must have some dissociation involved too since things run together, some things are blurry, while others are clear as a bell…and sadly Gram has passed and Mom is not rational enough to talk to about any of it. So my sis and I, with my aunt’s help, have tried our best to piece stuff together. Timeline-wise, we were in Scn for 20 years, so from 2-21 or so for me…I’ll do my best to share some highlights here now.
Our single mom had gotten into Scn when we were 2 & 3-ish. She’d divorced our father and struggled with post-partum depression after I was born. Our grandmother tried conventional methods, but Mom still struggled so she reached out to our aunt, who was a Scientologist and a Sea Org member on the Flagship Apollo. Our aunt came home with an auditor Otto Roos who helped Mom feel better and that was that, she became a full-fledged Scientologist. Soon, she signed a 5 year contract at the local Org and our neglect began as she became deeply immersed in everything Scientology. She began treating us as adults almost immediately and pretty much stopped being the loving mother we’d known. This took place over the first year, I’d say. Everything was now done for the Greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics, and Scientology was always a higher priority that we were.
There are just too many stories to include…but basically, in a nutshell we were left with strangers and molested repeatedly, injured and hospitalized repeatedly while left unsupervised. We were expected to feed ourselves from ages 3 & 4 on, get ourselves to nursery school and then then elementary school. Do our homework with no assistance…very often we went hungry, begged and even borrowed to eat. It was a pretty meager and impoverished time since our welfare and food stamps only went so far. All our clothes came from the Willy & Sally’s (Goodwill & Salvation Army), all money went to Scientology, and all Mom’s time went to the Org & her Bridge. My sister and I even lived in a coat closet and shared a twin mattress that would barely fit so mom could have privacy in the studio apartment.
We got into petty troubles; too much noise playing with other kids, throwing water balloons from the roof top, setting up Chinese jump ropes and trying to charge people to pass on the sidewalk, etc…stole spare change for food and even shoplifted food at the corner market. We were always doing lower conditions and OW write ups so being made to confess our sins. At 5 & 6, she began sending us to ethics, so not disciplining us herself, but letting others at the Org do it. Then just making us follow whatever punishment they doled out like shredding in Central Files, White Gloving the Org, handing out fliers in downtown San Francisco (where we were propositioned by pedophiles and yelled at by those who dislike Scientology), eventually we were made to work at the Org pretty regularly, first as amends, eventually to keep us busy, and finally as resources to get stats up or prepare for Missionaries, or during Scientology magazine evolutions. We would stay up into the night and work until we fell asleep on the floor, and then walk home with our mother in the middle of the night. When we weren’t at the Org, we were on the streets or home alone – and so it went until we were 9 & 10. Our Grandmother became a Scientologist also, and separated from our Grandfather when he became critical of it. After that we weren’t allowed to spend time with him anymore, and Gram was becoming an auditor and working at the Org too so had no time for us.
Our grandfather finally agreed to support Scientology and even finance it. They reunited, but almost immediately he was diagnosed with Cancer and died from a complication during surgery. They spent his final days coaching him to accept Scientology and “pick up” a scientology “baby body” so he could come back to us right away. Mom had a pregnant Scientology friend…they discussed it and agreed granddaddy’s thetan (spirit) would pick up her baby’s body. They named the boy after our grandfather. We were told to interact with him as if he was our grandfather. They made us wear white to his funeral and intimidated us into thinking it would be wrong to cry, that death was not bad, and that we needed to set a good example for the rest of our non-scientology family so we could handle them, disseminate to them, and get them into Scientology. We cried, it was a scene, and we were punished.
After Granddaddy’s estate was settled, the registrars at the Org immediately pressured Mom & Gram for their inheritance…getting them to pay for their full Scientology Bridge, and even pressured them to loan money to other Scientologists for their Bridges. Everyone owed Gram money, but very few could afford to repay the loans, and she struggled trying to collect it. The Org didn’t help her at all. I didn’t understand how we could live so poorly and still have money to loan to others, or how Mom & Gram could keep buying Scientology books but we could be hungry all the time. Mom even pawned all her wedding silver and china to make ends meet. Mom told us we didn’t need nice things, we didn’t need to eat at restaurants, or go on vacations, that we were far richer than most people because we had the most valuable thing in the universe, Scientology.
After Mom & Gram completed their staff contracts, they decided we would make the biggest commitment and contribution we could, and we would all join the Sea Org to help Ron clear the planet and save mankind. She told us we were going to move to Los Angeles to join, so we signed our contracts at 9 & 10 I believe. My sister and I had no other options, we never had.
We were separated from Mom when we went into the Cadet Org at PAC base in…Mom was with the adults and doing their Boot Camp, the EPF. Mom was found to be disqualified after only a few months (for LSD) so we all left, found an apartment in East LA, enrolled in public school, while Mom plotted how to support us, and more importantly how resolve her outquals so we could rejoin the Sea Org. My sister and I were so relieved to be out. The Melrose (Cadet Org) had been a horrible place, no study, no parents, occasionally an adult to assign & inspect our cleaning stations & work assignments or to interrogate & punish, and a slew of kids that fought, screamed and cried…rampant sex, one girl was raped. It was infested with roaches, lice, food was spare or spoiled, and we had chronic food poisoning. Sick you were sent to isolation, but no medical care. Fail to pass your dorm inspection and you were sent to “Pigs Berthing” to shame you. Windows were broken, carpets were threadbare, plumping was always being repaired, and the AC didn’t work…but more than anything I remember the acrid smell, old and dirty, a combination of urine and sweat. After we moved back in with mom our lives revolved around school and work. She was never home, always away working or doing her OT Levels, so we managed the house, ourselves and worked for her selling pretzels from carts at the beaches or sports events on weekends. We saw Gram on special occasions, and that was a treat. She had an apartment with a pool, and would cook for us, and sometimes take us shopping or out to dinner. She worked, but also had granddaddy’s civil service annuity and social security, so she could afford such things.
2 years after arriving in LA, Mom announced we would all be moving to Clearwater Florida to reactivate our Sea Org contracts at the Mecca of Scientology, the Flag Land Base, advertised as “The Friendliest Place on Earth”. We were 12 & 13 now. We sold all our possessions (not many) and made the drive accompanied by our aunt & uncle who’d taken a leave of absence from the Sea Org to help us get there. Once there we were routed in, and my sis & I were separated from Mom and placed in dorms with other kids, which were small double occupancy hotel rooms filled with 4 tier bunks as far as you could see, and one bathroom. We got to see mom at meals and for one hour in the evening, called family time. Within a month or so Mom was found to be disqualified again (LSD), and so she left, but this time she didn’t take us with her. At 12 & 13 we were now old enough to be considered resources to the Sea Org and were considered Cadets. Our aunt, uncle, and grandmother were all Sea Org too, so they acted as our guardians. But, they were always away on missions, or overworked in general, so we sometimes didn’t see them for long periods. When we did it, was mostly correctional, addressing reports of our failures. It was not a family. We were now all just worker bees.
We were placed in the Cadet Org again, supposedly being trained to become real Sea Org, but all we did was clean, and kept stats on everything we did, graphing it on charts on the wall. We had musters, did cleaning stations, and then odd jobs or ethics, but no studying really, apart from check sheets on how to clean, wash windows etc. We went to school sporadically…we were told when we did it was to avoid PR flaps due to WOG inspections. Our dorms were right off the garage, next to a huge AC cooling tower but after a while we kids were all moved to another location about 30 minutes away called the Quality Inn, and were bussed back and forth each day. This place was much worse, but it was out of sight of the public so I think it didn’t matter. There was never enough food in the dirty smelly galley and dining room. Our small motel rooms were infested with roaches as usual but now also huge Wolf spiders that would bite us at night. The pool was black with algae and was off limits. It was located right on the freeway with nowhere to go, or to play except the concrete parking lot.
Back at the Fort Harrison at one point, bunks were set up in the 3rd floor garage and several of us kids moved there, surrounded by staff storage boxes on one side and the outdoors on the other, until there was another inspection, and the bunks were removed.. Most kids, including us, would sneak into the walk in fridges & freezers at the FH to get food to eat. When we were caught, we were punished for theft. Everyone smoked, even kids. We learned how too. We bought cigarettes in the vending machines or from the Canteen. Adults didn’t care. We were thetans in small bodies.
Mom lived locally but we only saw her on special occasions. She tried to support herself and petition her out-quals. Before very long, all Cadets were “temporarily” sent on mission into Orgs and placed into full time posts (jobs)…and we struggled. We didn’t know how to be adults and do adult jobs…and we were punished…over and over, until eventually we were made to do only MEST work (hard labor), assigned to the “Decks” from morning until evening, when we would do ethics. We were called before a committee of adult strangers who would decide our fate…called a Fitness Board. They shamed and intimidated us time after time, reading our crimes out loud to us, insulting us laughing at us, yelling at us, cussing at us… in the end they told us that our mother would be better off without us, that we were degraded and worthless. In the end we began to believe them.
This was definitely the lowest point in our lives…now we really considered that there may not be a place for us…that just existing may not be worthwhile. It’s for sure the only time I would say I felt suicidal, completely ashamed and hopeless. Having my sister with me was the only thing that kept me sane & safe in my own head. She kept me going. Looking back it’s so hard to imagine thinking and feeling this at only 12 & 13 years old.
We hit rock bottom and were assigned to the Rehabilitation Project Force, with all the adults, who we were told were criminals just like us. We were told this was our LAST chance. We were segregated from all other kids and staff, and made to live, eat, sleep & study in the Fort Harrison garage, in a makeshift plywood lean-to built against the garage concrete walls, stacked to the ceiling with bunks, surrounded by cars, without AC or heat, and exposed to car exhaust fumes, insects & rodents. We were not allowed any contact with our family or friends. We weren’t being punished because we’d committed any real life crimes, like teenage pregnancy, drugs, poor grades, etc., like you might think a child would be sent to a reform program for. We were being punished for struggling to hold the adult jobs they given us with no training, in an unfamiliar place surrounded by a sea of strangers in uniforms. For being tardy, for not producing statistics higher than the week before, for having “other fish to fry”, for being dilettantes, and worst of all, for telling a few others that we were unhappy and didn’t want to be there which was considered enturbulation. These ARE punishable crimes in the Sea Org.
We weren’t allowed to speak to anyone, except the ethics officer or our in charge.. We were told we were not to be trusted and kept under 24 hour watch. We were made to do HARD adult labor from 5:30 am to 7 pm & spent evenings doing ethics punishment & indoctrination then, at most, 7 hours of sleep. Much of our labor was intended to be punitive – to ridicule us and teach us a lesson. We scrubbed bathroom floors, toilets, stairs, and garbage dumpsters with toothbrushes. We did laps & push-ups, for any failures, or just for crying – which they call dramatizing or HE&R/human emotion & reaction…all of which is BAD.
They made us climb inside the huge commercial garbage dumpster, to physically compact the 11 story hotel’s garbage w/our bodies, teeming with huge Palmetto bugs, cockroaches and maggots from the multiple galleys & restaurants spoiled food waste, and all the hotel rooms personal waste. You would begin on a cardboard box but, after jumping up and down, would sink down into the waste and become covered in it. Your shoes would come off and you would have to reach around in the muck and find it. If you lost it, you were punished for Dev-T (Developed traffic which means a waste of time or nuisance). As more punishment, we were made to do “rat patrol” using a pole with a nail, scouring the galleys and boiler room after hours stabbing & killing rats. This was gruesome.
During this time no adult ever intervened on our behalf. No one ever consoled us, or helped us to understand what was happening to us, or told us that we would be ok, not even our family. We begged to leave, and cried ourselves to sleep every night. No one cared. No one. Everyone around us shamed, bullied and verbally abused us. It truly was a living nightmare.
We did not do any normal study or attend school. We had no breaks apart from (3) 20 minute meals, 30 minutes for hygiene, no family time, no days off, no weekends, and no time off for good behavior. We were invisible, deaf & dumb. To make us stay, they threatened us with worse punishment – the RPF’s RPF (half rations of pay, sleep & food, and double punishment). They said if we left we would be deserters, freeloaders, criminals, drug addicts, even prostitutes. After months, when they finally let us leave, we were told we were traitors & failures. Even our mother told us we’d failed and were a liability. Overall we were in the Sea Org this time for about a year before they let us leave.
Once out, we lived with Mom and her new fiancé who didn’t want kids. We were like zombies for a while…but in a few months we began to enjoy our freedom again…we went to public school where we were beat up once they found out we were in Scientology, and of course Mom made us get jobs to keep our exchange in, and earn our keep with them. It was a lot of pressure to contribute like an equal, pay for our ¼ of rent and food, and but our own clothes if we wanted any. I was pretty unhappy about it. I could see the disparity in how we were being raised when I began spending time with other kids at school. I ran away, but came home hungry a few days later. Unfortunately pretty soon she thrust us back into the Sea Org – making my sister and I accept an amnesty about 6 or so months later. Mom did not come this time.
We were made to live in an adult dorm this time, a huge one. It had 10 sets of 4 high bunks so 40 naked, snoring, angry, smoking women. We did not fit in. They wrote knowledge reports on us constantly. We were made to do the Purification Rundown, although we’d never had drugs, they said we were running out radiation from the sun. We were made to spend 5 hours a day in the sauna, for weeks on end, while taking high doses of vitamins. Meanwhile we worked with the Amnesty Program, mustered in the garage and spent our time cleaning the public hotel rooms and public spaces. Again, we didn’t do well…we struggled. Nothing had changed within us, so why would it be any different? We didn’t even make it through the Amnesty reentry program before we were offloaded again as “unfit”.
When we left, we lived with Mom again. She was single now so she needed more financial contribution from us. We got babysitting jobs again, this time as full time nannies, we were getting used to working by now. We briefly did correspondence at Applied Scholastics, and then stopped going to school altogether, in favor of Scientology efforts, so I didn’t complete the 7th grade and my sis the 8th. Mom needed our financial support more than she valued our getting a public education. Schools were full of propaganda anyway she said, and wouldn’t help us clear the planet. At 14, I worked as the receptionist at the local Mission of Clearwater for a while.
Mom and Lisa went away for a few months on the road selling jeans and velvet art for a Scientologist…another job in the long line of get rich quick or pyramid scheme things Scientologists did to be self-employed and pay for their Bridges. I was left in an apartment alone, with a car at 15. I babysat to pay the rent and buy food. They came back penniless. We moved in together again, and I got my first wog job at a local Restaurant/Arcade. I lied and told them I was 18 instead of 14 so I could work nights and over 40 hrs. Now I was able to pay half of our rent.
Within a year another amnesty was issued and Mom made us accept it…we were 15 & 16. This time we were told to go straight into the RPF. This time mom was accepted too, but via another program like a boot camp – called the EPF. My sister refused to enter through the RPF. She found a job and a place to live, but after 9 months she ran away and went to live with our Aunt, Uncle & Grandmother who were suppressive. This meant we had to disconnect from her too. I was heartbroken. We’d already been forced to disconnect from them after they’d disagreed with management at Flag, or when Gram, who needed medical care that they wouldn’t approve time off for, so she took it anyway and she was declared for blowing her post (Sea Org job). She was diagnosed with cancer, and it was successfully treated despite Scientology.
I didn’t want to lose my mother, and I didn’t want to lose everything I’d ever known by being declared a suppressive. I was completely coerced into doing the RPF. They told me if I was really good, and I meant well and I truly wanted to help like I said I did, I wouldn’t care if I had to work hard to prove it to them. I would be willing to do WHATEVER it took, to confront whatever it took… so I tried my hardest to prove to them that I wasn’t a failure or an enemy – that I was a good kid, that I was worth something.
I did everything they told me to, I never refused anything. For a year I did back breaking labor, the hardest I’d ever done or had ever seen an adult do…cleaning, demolition & renovations, with the only breaks being (4) 20 minute meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Mid-Rats/Midnight rations), or hygiene, or musters. At a maximum, we were allowed 7 hours of sleep, but we never got it. For long periods, were only allowed 2 hours of sleep per night or in crises, no sleep for days. Of course, no time off, no days off, no vacation, and no contact with friends or family. Even for me, a child, because I wasn’t a child, I was a thetan in a small body.
In the very beginning, they’d let my mom visit twice during a meal break but I think we became emotional and cried, so that was that. I didn’t see her again for 6 or 8 months when I was badly injured. We were on ¼ pay, so I was paid exactly enough for rolling papers and a can of Top tobacco that they purchased for me on the weekly purchase run. So at 15, my one and only luxury for a solid year was to roll my own cigarettes, and I valued it more than anything. I stopped missing my family because it hurt too much. I stopped worrying about my future because I had no control. I tried my hardest to stop caring about everything and everyone, and to stop feeling anything at all.
Our sleep and meals were disrupted constantly for inspections, hurricanes, deadlines, or events. They would penalize us sleep if we missed a goal. Our redemption program, that had been ethics or indoctrination & auditing in the evenings, was also impacted and eventually even suspended so we could do full time decks (labor) up to 20 hours per day some days. I was so sleep deprived, I would doze off everywhere, and fell asleep & fell from the scaffolds. I almost fell out of the 11th floor windows, while glazing them with no lifelines, when my twin, who was holding my legs so I wouldn’t fall out as I leaned most of my body out of the window to get to the outsides of the panes, fell asleep and let me go. I dropped my supplies and caught myself, twice. Instead of allowing us to change duties or get sleep, we were punished for being “Out of PT” (present time) and made to do laps/pushups and return to our glazing task. I had horribly infected cuts and abrasions on my hands and knees from breaking up and removing the sharp red terra cotta tiles from the 11th floor roof and hand carrying bucket after bucket to the roof’s edge and dumping it down a chute to the ground below. All without kneepads, gloves or life lines. Another teen worked with me, and we sat as often as we could to feel safe and try to ignore the height.
I had 2 very painful eye injuries, with no medical attention, from solvents pouring into them as I painted the gold leaf onto the overhead decorative molding on soffits and ceilings for up to 6 hours at a stretch without rest. I was told to rinse my eye out and get back to work. My vision was blurry for about a week, and my eyes were bloodshot. My neck was in constant pain from holding it back at an angle to do this overhead work hour after hour for days on end, I was screamed at if I complained. I inhaled these solvent fumes for up to 20 hours per day w/o ventilation, and never had goggles or respirators. A deadline was looming, so at a certain point we began to be fed and made to sleep in place on the floor of the ballroom so we wouldn’t waste time. This went on for 6 or so weeks. We were so sleep deprived now that we were not allowed to sit or we’d fall asleep. So, were made to stand, kneel or squat for 20 hours a day. I fell asleep on the toilet and was punished.
I was injured during an even set up/break down. A skeleton crew of only 10 of us had to break down 2 large auditoriums used as dining rooms. They were filled with huge communal tables and chairs, and we had to in a very short period reset them with event chairs, and then reverse it once the event was over. This meant hours of lifting, throwing and carrying stacks of tables and chairs, at breakneck speeds, despite no sleep and being completely exhausted, while our section in charge screamed at us to “RUN!”. I was covered in scrapes, bruises and contusions from the impacts, slips, and falls as people’s strength gave way. I woke up the next morning and couldn’t move without pains shooting down my arms & legs. I couldn’t turn my head or get out of bed. I was terrified, crying, they screamed at me and threatened me -made me wait days to see a chiropractor, only, who said I’d slipped 11 discs and put me on bed rest, daily adjustments, ice heat, and touch assists, but no meds allowed for the pain. They let my mother visit me once, she cried and I had to console her. She told me she was working very hard to “free” me and was in some trouble for it, but that the way out is the way through, and that we would make things go right and postulate a happy outcome. I wasn’t allowed to run or do manual labor now, so I was assigned a desk job in the Restorations Unit, with the non-RPF.
I was not welcome, and was treated like a leper, as if I was contagious. One man spat on me on several occasions, one mother and daughter would tag team insult me together. It hurt my feelings but I realized it was a pecking order, it somehow made them feel better or superior to demean me. I could not blend in here. I was sexually harassed at daily musters, publically ridiculed, and everyone laughed. I was “pimped out” – dressed up and presented to contractors who visited, to try to get us better pricing for renovation bids. I was only 16 now, but looked 20. I was made to wear a bikini & pose for photo shoots for hotel marketing. I realized I was a prisoner and a slave at the “Friendliest Place on Earth”. I was sexually harassed and heckled so often, I thought it was my fault somehow. I was tall, I was developed, they told me I was pulling it in, and I was so ashamed.
During my time in Scientology, I experienced and observed rampant adult/child sexual relationships and grooming by pedophiles. Grown men would touch us, massage us, press themselves against us, tickle us, or directly proposition us teen girls daily…and wanted to be romantic with us beginning at about ages 13 & 14…Scientology teaches age is only a consideration, and the age of your body isn’t significant, so child sexual activity and statutory rape is completely acceptable. Our parents are counseled to allow this and they do not intervene when it happens. I became such a target, that I was accused of “sending out 2-D flows” which would be considered flirting, or even promiscuous, which I was NOT. During the RPF I’d been assigned 3 twins, partners who you audit through the program. The first 2 were 40 year old men. I was made to interrogate them about their sexual proclivities, and specifically (and for hours while a crowd listened in and watched us) about how they both masturbated while fantasizing about me. I can’t say I’d ever been so disgusted and embarrassed. Thankfully my 3rd twin was a female.
This was just the physical aspect of the RPF, the emotional and psychological abuse was so much worse. Everyone was senior to me…everyone could give me orders, discipline or report me…RPF, non-RPF, even Public. The constant threats, bullying and insults were nothing I’d ever imagined. I finally asked to leave the RPF and the Sea Org, realizing I’d prefer homelessness & no family than continue the abusive program. To try to recover me I was love bombed, bullied, threatened, love bombed again, good cop/bad cop, intervention, lower conditions, etc. for months. Same threats as before – you are a downstat, degraded being, you’re an enemy, a deserter, betraying everything good and supporting everything evil, betraying your group – the only one that can save mankind. You’ll be a freeloader and in huge debt to us, not in good standing with the church, on a downward spiral, friendless, without family, will become a drug addict/criminal/prostitute and end up in prison…etc. This time I could see it was only a desperate manipulation. Something had snapped in me and I wasn’t affected. I even found some humor in their tactics. They seemed so juvenile, I kept politely declining and sticking to my guns that I had decided to leave.
They were angry and disgusted with me. I ultimately had to flat out refuse to follow rules or comply with orders to be let go. I took other people’s clothes, makeup and jewelry, Sony walk-man and walked around dressed up and flaunted it all. It was risky since, when I’d seen others non comply, they were sent to live in the boiler room on the RPF’s RPF. But for some reason it worked for me, I don’t know why. It created such a stir of complaints and reports that they expedited my routing forms & departure and I was unceremoniously dumped onto Fort Harrison Avenue. I was 16 years old, and I was truly alone. My mother wasn’t allowed to say goodbye to me. I spent a couple nights in the park with another offloaded RPF woman, in her 20s who had cigarettes and a bit of money. She took me to dinner where we met a waiter who offered us his couch. He was a non-Scientologists, and was in his mid-20s. She flew home, but I had nowhere to go so I stayed. One night he got me drunk & took advantage of me & I knew I knew needed to leave. A voice inside me reminded me that they had said bad things would happen to me if I left…maybe they were right…but I pushed the thought away. I returned to numb… about all that had happened to me…thankfully, I wasn’t really worried or afraid, at least I was free…
My mom arranged for me to stay with a family friend, who treated me like the loser that any Scientologist would believe I was, after all I’d flunked out and deserted the Sea Org. Again. She told me I’d made my choice, and needed to figure out how to make things go right, and get my exchange in, so I should get a job ASAP and not give her any trouble. Within a few weeks a childhood friend flew to Flag from LA and took me back with her. I truly feel like she saved my life. I think I would’ve either been thrust into a very strange life on my own in Florida, or would have felt pressured to return to the Sea Org. In LA I found a pool of kids like me, whose parents were either in the Sea Org, so had abandoned them, or were just so preoccupied with Scientology or believed the party line, that kids were really grown-ups in smaller bodies, so they’d left them to their own devices, resulting in a community of Scientology orphans ranging from ages 14-20, congregating, crashing at whomever had an apartment, or taking turns mooching off whoever had a job or any resources at all. This was better, I was surrounded by my peers. What we didn’t do was discuss our trauma or situations. We were conditioned not to share anything negative or critical, and we were too afraid or ashamed to admit any of it. So we just tried to blend in and find our own way.
Sadly, my involvement with Scientology continued for another 4 years until I finally realized I could choose my own path (It’s equally long, so I won’t include it now). Up to that point, I had no other support and knew nothing else so orbited Scientology and Scientologists out of fear. Fear of all they’d warned us about – the outside world being evil and corrupt, wanting to hurt us, and of course fear of the unknown. When we finally left after 20 years in, we tried not to think about any of it…tried not to look back…just go on…pretend I’d gotten an education, pretend to fit in, pretend I was normal, try not to draw attention, manufacture resumes so I could find work so I could eat and pay the bills. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. It was terrifying. We had no safety net, nothing familiar, every instant I thought I’d be found and brought back, or that I’d be discovered as a liar and lose my job and apartment, not to mention the stigma that had been created over the years about non Scientologists – how could we let them in, trust them, count on them? They were the enemy…I could NEVER let my guard down, never let anyone in, never let them know about my past. I was afraid and ashamed for decades.
Over time, I began hearing stories of these same things happening to others. I didn’t want to allow Scientology back into my life, but I wanted to know what had happened to all my friends. I began to read a critic book here and there, and learned that things had gotten even worse. This made me reflect for the first time really…our family had never discussed what had happened to us…ever. The stigmas Scientology introduces stay with you for a very long time. This made me seek out old friends, and I found they’d been doing it to kids & families like ours all along – tearing them apart, and destroying people. I found most kids I’d known were either still trapped in due to contracts, family or jobs, or if out were in very poor shape. It seemed so odd to me that children raised & formed on something they claimed was so good could all be SO damaged, even destroyed. They’d lost their childhoods, had to pay their own way to stay in exchange, got little education, were neglected, many abused and molested, and if they dared resist, were made homeless via disconnection. Our family had been forced to disconnect from one another for 7 years. Now, I’d give anything to have that time back with them all.
When our mother finally left after 20 years in and reaching OT VII, she was psychotic, and was never herself again. She had periods of clarity that eventually became shorter, and the bad times became full time. She’s been institutionalized now for 11 years -she’s stuck in a nightmare fantasy about L Ron Hubbard, God, evil purposes, good and evil. She’s tried to “End Cycle/Get to her Next Lifetime/Go to be with Ron” several times but luckily didn’t succeed, and now is mostly kept safe. I grieve the loss of her every time I’m reminded of who she is now and who she used to be. I’d give anything to turn back the clock and to have stayed and protected her from what Scientology did to her in that last year when she’d disconnected from us all, or to somehow get back the years we missed with her as a children…it’s hard to not have a parent, a true parent, you when you’re a kid. And then lose their mind before you can even articulate all the questions you have for them, the emotions you feel about it, or the dialog that’s needed once you mature, and need some understanding and closure – This has been hard.
Over the years, my sister and my uncle were diagnosed with mental illness as well. So, 3 of the 6 of us in Scientology & Sea Org coincidentally experienced late onset psychological disorders (mom at 45, sis at 36, and uncle at 50). They were for sure the 3 most fragile of our bunch, and were the ones who were most traumatized by their years in Scn. I have heard now that many other Scientologists suffer psychosis, depression, anxiety, PTSD, even schizophrenia, during and after Scn, so I truly feel either it’s a huge contributor or at the very least Scientology conceals and prevents early diagnosis & treatment. Accepting care for their conditions has been very difficult. The stigma surrounding psychiatric therapy was almost insurmountable. The only thing that helped was having been forced to get it for our mother. But when it happened to my sister, and then uncle, it was still very hard to accept and treat. I truly feel that the compassionate care they have all three received by the mental health field has most certainly saved their lives and helped manage much of their suffering. It is not perfect, but it is better. They were never made to feel that any of it was their fault or felt abandoned in any way, as Scientology had.
I realize now that what happened to us was not isolated at all. Scientologists, especially Sea Org, are twisted until they blindly comply, escape, or break. My feeling is that 6 of us escaped but 3 of us are irreparably broken. None of this should have happened to any of us…and it can’t be allowed to continue to happen to others…other single parents, other toddlers…or to anyone young or old, rich or poor. Scientology cannot self-govern, they are exploiting and stealing people’s entire lives…taking everything from them, time, money, education, dignity, family, love, health, comfort. The neglect and harm done to kids is caused by and then excused by their policies. They do not recognize “child” or “abuse”, there is no such thing as children only adults in small bodies…and abuse, well it’s just ethics to them, and either deserved or “pulled in”, and the greatest good will always mean what’s best for Scientology. As far as splitting up families and driving people mad, well that’s just business as usual and built into their doctrine.”
I cannot put into words the admiration I have for anyone who had to grow up in an environment such as this, and has the courage to speak out from the other side of it. There is probably nothing I can do or say to make this right, but we can all try.
There is so much I could say about this story, but in the end, we all need to Stand Up, Speak Out, and Be Heard! Amplifying even one voice, can make a huge difference.
Please drop me a DM @MShreck, or the linked email address, if you have a story to share.