People Who Were Actually In Cults Share Their Escape Stories

It's somewhat rare for former cult members to share stories about their personal experiences. Many former devotees want clean breaks from the sects that dominated their lives. Some wish to protect the privacy of family members still involved. Other former cult members are simply scared to share their tales, scarred by their murderous pasts and abuse from their former leaders. Some people have come forward to share their astounding cult escape stories, though. These individuals were able to not only separate themselves from toxic environments, but also put their remarkable journeys on Reddit for the world to see. 

Some of the cult memories are horrific. Young girls were brutalized and forced into captivity; children were abandoned. Other Redditors share how shocked they were to learn that their cult lifestyle wasn't as idyllic as it initially seemed. Unfortunately, these revelations aren't that staggering. You will, however, be shocked to learn that some cults aren't at all what you might expect.


  • Her Mother Abandoned Her


    "My birth mother is Ashayana Deane, who is a cult leader in her own right. She has so many people brainwashed into believing she's some sort of prodigy that communicates with aliens and whatnot. She basically disowned me because I refused to hop into the crazy with her. She forbade my siblings from having any contact with me too, lest they also be disowned and lose out on all her money that she's snatched from these gullible followers of hers.

    "Ashayana Deane. Google her. She's nuts."

  • It Started Out Okay But Then Became A Doomsday Cult


    "My parents joined a cult in west Texas when I was about eight or nine after searching for 'the truth' their whole adult lives.

    "Long story short, it wasn't that crazy at first. I like to use the frog in boiling water analogy. If it was that batsh*t insane when they first started going, they wouldn't have stayed.

    "It became a doomsday cult, multiple marriage, all the girls were married up by old elders leaving nothing for us young dudes so naturally, we rebelled."

    My escape wasn't as harrowing as some others but my leaving did set up me saving my 15 year old sister (under cover of darkness abducting her from my dads house and transporting had to my mom in LA) from marrying an elder who already had 4 wives and about 10 kids who was later arrested for molesting his step daughter...

    Personally, my breaking point was being born with pretty severe flat feet that required surgery but doctors, medications, and hospitals were considered 'witchcraft and sorcery.' I got tired of asking God to heal my feet and being told that I didn't have enough faith. That is completely demoralizing and will make anyone lose their religion, especially a 17 year old.

    About my parents reaction, my mom was the first to leave. My older brother (who was still in the church) took her to a bus stop to live with other family members because she had become suicidal about the conditions of living there. Misery, poverty, and squalor will make anyone go insane. I'll never forget the conversation when my Dad realized my brother took her to the bus stop.

    Dad: 'How could you take my wife from me like that?' Brother: 'Because I didn't want her to die. Dad: 'She's dead now because she left and her blood is on your hands.'

    Ugh, I hear that conversation weekly in my head...

    I guess the thing that floored me the most was hearing after I left was that the cult leader was allowed to have children who were set apart to marry him blow him under his desk while he worked. Sick. Oh god, how sick can people be?"

  • His Family Burned The Television


    "I realized my family was in a cult when I was 10 and we had a burn party for the television. As it exploded, people chanted, 'Die, Satan! Die!'"

  • Some People Just Got Sucked Into The Abyss


    "I grew up in the Family Radio cult. What they are mostly remembered for is their 2011 prediction of the end of the world and rapture. Spoiler: the world didn't end. I was a young adult and able to leave in the chaotic aftermath without too much of a fight from my parents. I'm doing... okay. Many people are not. Some are still making more predictions.

    "I do want to take a second and say that 90% of the people in the group were kind people who really didn't want the world to end, but were just so brainwashed that they really believed it. Some of the nicest, most giving people just got sucked in, chewed up, and swallowed in the abyss that was."

  • She Was Held Hostage By Scientologists And The Cops Refused To Help


    "I literally walked in to the church of Scientology. I moved to Clearwater as a minor, made some friends, and walked into (without anyone present with me) in to what I thought was a museum. Being brought up without any religion - although both my parents were raised conservative Muslims - I grabbed on to the ideology of 'you are what you make of yourself.' 

    "Long story short, five years later, while working for a Scientology-owned company while still exploring whether I wanted to join or not I got held hostage (literally) for three hours because I wouldn't accept their philosophy on a small incident. [I] left the work force only to have a beer bottle broken over my head by my LTR [long term relationship] life-long scientologist boyfriend and have the cops (who were Scientologists) arrive at the house to determine there was nothing to " escalate to a domestic violence report " and then later on (two days later) flee the house with my dogs and I what little I could with the time I had for my own safety.

    "So yeah, that's my life in the cult. Some people are cool, most people are brainwashed."

  • She Walked Away And Lost Everything


    "From birth. Literally walked away without a penny at 21. When you leave a cult, you not only lose your home, family, [and] financial stability, but you lose your lifelong identity, your only known community, and you lose the ability to be sure of anything anymore."