Do You Feel Stuck in The Family and Want Out?
— By Jules
An SG former member (who wishes to remain anonymous) sent me the following article with the suggestion that it be posted on this site.
I am not the author of this article, however, there are IMO, some good ideas in here for people who would like to leave the Family. I know it would have been helpful to me to have thought my own departure process through a little more.
This article has been posted for members currently in the Family who want to leave but feel trapped with no money, no place to go and no moral support in their decision making process. It is written with U.S. nationals in mind, taking into consideration that they are probably living in a far away land and haven’t been “home” for a very, very long time (if ever) and they are at least 18 years of age.
This advice is not intended for minors, nor for those who already have a plan of departure.
If you are still in the Family and are happy in the Family then stay there. You don’t want to be a story of someone that wished they hadn’t. But if you’re confused, unhappy and not really sure what you want, then chances are you are not dealing with “demonic doubts”, the truth is, you don’t belong in the Family. Most likely you feel confused because your gut instincts are telling you to get out but everything you’ve heard, read and experienced during your life has ingrained in you the idea that the Family is the highest will God has for you.
Leaving the Family offers no promises. Life out here isn’t a bed of roses. But for most people it sure as hell beats the manure pile. If you want to leave the Family make sure it’s because it’s what you want to do – not because that’s what everyone else is doing – then head out the door and never look back. Don’t let fear keep you from leaving.
If you feel like you’re trapped with no way out, here are a few things you can do to help make getting out of the Family that much easier.
1) Have a plan. It’s not entirely necessary to have thought out your moves in advance, but the general consensus seems to be that those that have had the luxury to plan and prepare for their departure have had it a lot easier in starting a new life for themselves once they’ve left the Family.
2) Make sure you have your travel documents (passports) in your control. If they are normally kept by someone else, get a hold of them long before you plan to walk out the door.
3) Decide where you want to move to and work out a place to stay in advance. If you have any relatives that might consider providing a roof over your head while you try to adjust to life in the real world, it might be worth giving them a call. If you have no relatives willing to take you in, perhaps you have friends that have already left who could help you with a place to stay. Unless you have somehow managed to accrue a large amount of money, arranging to have a roof over your head (provided by somebody you trust, not just a stranger or a home “contact”) will go miles in helping you to get yourself set up.
4) Get money together. How you go about this would depend entirely on your situation. If you’re a “fundraiser”, you can go through the motions of “moving” to another country or CRO area and arrange with your home to keep a percentage of everything you get according to the Charter policies. If you think you can get your money in 30 days or less, the Charter requires that you be allowed to keep a minimum of 50% (after tithe) of whatever you bring in.
An important note on the subjects of raising money and letting Family members know you want to leave: It would generally be wiser not to tell your Home or anybody else about your plans to leave the Family or to make any requests for money until you have already lined up a place to stay. Making as many arrangements before hand and taking your time to do it the way you want puts you in a much better negotiating position should the reaction to your decision be an extremely negative one.
Once you have decided that you want to leave the Family, try to remain in your home until you have all of the pieces of your puzzle in place. If you are living outside of your country of nationality and your aim is to get to your country of nationality (for instance if you are an American living in Thailand and you want to move to the States), try to remain in your home as long as it takes to arrange to make your move in one shot. If you leave your home prematurely and start working & living in (as per the example) Thailand in order to get money together to get to the States, chances are, you won’t make it for a very, very long time.
You have given the Family your life, the least they can do is pay your way home. If they can’t even do that it is a very strong indicator that they do not truly care about you. Some of the most austere counts indicate that WS is receiving over a million dollars each year in funding (mostly tithe money). Some people have heard Peter himself talking numbers larger than that. Peter and other top WS personnel are the ones who own the Family companies such as “Aurora”. Do not swallow the line that they don’t have the money to give you to get started. The money is there, they are simply using it for other things.
If you have no way to raise any money yourself, but are determined not to leave until you have enough cash to get you by, you can follow this route:
A) Write to Maria and Peter and explain your situation. Request your ticket fare plus a minimum of 6 months of living expenses. Don’t hold your breath. Chances are you won’t get anything from them. But the reason you’re asking is to have proof that you DID request it.
B) Ask your CRO office for money: Again, don’t hold your breath. Chances are you won’t get anything from them. But the reason you’re asking is to have proof that you DID request it.
C) Ask your Home for money. Chances are, they won’t give it to you either. But if you’ve already got a place lined up to go, then you can stand your ground and refuse to leave the Home until you have the money you need. If you raise enough hell and refuse to be a Family member, the money will most likely be forthcoming sooner or later.
D) Accept no compromises. Once the fact has been made known that you want to leave the Family, most homes will try to find a temporary type solution just to get you out of the house. Often this will amount to working out something on a local level. If you accept that, chances are that is where you will remain. It is important that you know where it is you want to get and you hold out for what you want. Again, if you no longer consider yourself a Family member (do not attend devotions, follow the schedule or Charter rules, etc.) but refuse to leave the home until you have your ticket and living expenses, they can do only three things: ignore you, throw you out on the street or find a way to help you get the money.
E) Use your embassy. If after all of your efforts you have still not received any financial assistance (or not enough assistance) & you are getting desperate to get out, go to your local embassy and explain your situation. The US government (and possibly other countries as well) has an assistance program that they use to repatriate their citizens that get stuck while abroad. They will pay your ticket to the States and will keep your passport until you pay them back.
You have most likely been taught to avoid authorities, but these people are there to help you. The embassy is in your country not only for relations with the government, but to aid its citizens. If you are a lawful citizen, they are there to help you.
This is not a time to be “selah”, defensive or to worry about your home’s security. Be calm, be honest and tell them the truth about your life and your current situation. (For example: You grew up in a series of isolated religious communities. You currently reside at such-and-such address, you wish to leave the group, you have no money, the group will not give you any money and that you want to go home. You do not need to lie, you do not need to embellish, you do not need to exaggerate. All you have to do is explain.
Before paying your ticket, they may possibly ask about relatives and friends you have in the States in order to try to get them to foot the bill first. If you have already done your homework in trying to contact any of these people for a place to stay once you get there, you will be able to explain where these people already stand in helping you. You may also be in a situation where you do not know how to contact your relatives. If the embassy questions this, again, you have nothing to hide. You need only explain your situation. (For example: While growing up in the group you did not have frequent contact with your relatives and you have tried to locate them but you do not know where they are).
5) Document everything. Every request you make for money to Maria and Peter, to your CRO area, to your Home, to other Family members should all be documented. Put it in writing and keep copies. Keep copies of any responses you get – even if it’s simply a “thank you, file received safely”. Print it out, email it to someone else or put it on a floppy – or do all three. This may seem unnecessary to you at the time, but one day you may look back and be grateful you did.
Also document, in any way you can, the reaction to your news of wanting to leave the Family. If it is a positive reaction, that is to be commended. If it is negative, you’ll want proof of it.
6) Get advice from those who have already left. Chances are there is someone that has already walked in your shoes. Each and every young member that has left the Family had to find their way out into the real world. Some of them have had it very difficult, others have moved on easily. There’s no guarantee of what it will be like for you, but chances are, someone has been in your shoes before and will be more than happy to walk you through as best as they can.
Getting out of the Family is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of a whole new world of opportunity. It’s also the beginning of a whole lot of work. Whatever path you choose – whether it’s to further your education, get a job or simply live life, it is going to take a lot of adjustment. Leaving the Family is not something that happens overnight. It starts with making the decision to leave, but the transformation doesn’t happen when you walk out the door. It’s an ongoing process that can take years. Good luck.