As I said in the first post, I haven’t talked about this too much with non-members, but when I do, one question I always get is: “Why did they
stay?” What was my dad’s hold on this community? I think some people imagine him or other cult leaders shooting beams out their eyes and
hypnotizing people into a zombie-like trance, but at least for us it wasn’t like that. The people in the group all had “issues,” sometimes
serious issues, and they were under heavy mental manipulation by my dad, reinforced by group dynamics and each other. But they were not zombies, they
were real people capable of all the range of emotions, capable of love and tenderness. It was their soft humanity that made them vulnerable, of
So why did people stay, then? Why tough it out in a not-really-all-that-comfortable community that was relying more and more on a river of “adult
industry” cash and questionable lines of business? I have tried to identify the main reasons, and I list them as follows. I’m sure there are more.
Anything powerful seems to involve more than one line of control.
: Don't underestimate it's power.
Actual intimidation and threats
: This became more of an issue as time went on. At first it was easier to leave. Later he confiscated ID and
would use people’s children as a threat to keep them in line. Punishments such as time in an “isolation chamber” started to be implemented in
the early 80s for people who got out of line or tried to leave. But this wasn’t the main way he kept people in line. The community was not a prison
and force was not commonly necessary.
Lack of skills and other options
: A lot of the people had given their lives to the community, sometimes for over a decade. They had few skills
that could translate into a decent living on the outside, and virtually no connections. Some people had forgotten how to do basic stuff like buy
groceries, never mind handle bank accounts, taxes, etc. The new wave of adult industry female recruits already had low self-esteem for the most part
and didn't think they could succeed at much in life besides what they were already doing. My dad played these feelings up and made the outside seem
more intimidating than it really was, encouraging helplessness, dependence, and inferiority.
Us vs. them mentality
: This was a bigger and a bigger part of my dad’s message as the 80s went on. “Only those on the inside understand;
the outside is of necessity hostile to the inside. Will they not persecute us, did not Christ and other great masters warn us? We must withdraw from
the world, fear and arm ourselves. Walls are to be prepared, detachment is our shield and discernment our sharp sword.”(The Works
Not wanting to admit they were wrong
: Nobody wants to admit they made a mistake and wasted the best years of their life following a charlatan.
People have a kind of “sunk cost” investment in their belief systems. They’ve put a lot into it, so it’s not so easy to just walk away. So
lots of people in various holes double down and keep digging.
The place was not without its charms
: this is what made it insidious. It was never a clearcut case of pure good vs. pure evil. The people in
community tried to be good people, many were sensitive, they loved each other and there was real camaraderie forged from living a very peculiar life.
Living in nature was good, there was much to recommend separation from a world gone mad. There was much good mixed in with the bad.
: It’s always hard to make a wrenching change if you don’t absolutely have to. Maybe tomorrow, yawn…
: My dad played them. A lot.
: It wasn’t always my dad like the master puppeteer. A lot of what went on was self-enforcing. People competed with each other
to seem holier-than-thou, there were the typical problems that set in any community, from gossip and backbiting to low-level bullying and
power-tripping below the level of my dad. All this played a role. People are like a bucket of crabs a lot of the time; the crabs in the bottom will
pull down any crab trying to climb up. They’ll do this quite spontaneously themselves, and no top-down pressure is needed.
Implicating people in questionable activities
: This is an old trick of manipulators everywhere. If a person has done something she herself feel
guilty about, or that could get her in trouble with the authorities, she’s going to fear the authorities and, eventually, normalcy in general. If
she feels ashamed inside it’s harder to go home and ask mom and dad for help.
edit on 3-1-2012 by Never Despise because: (no reason given)