If you’re familiar with Scientology, you might also know a little bit about the Sea Org. But what is the Sea Organization exactly? It describes itself as a "fraternal religious order, comprising the church's most dedicated members." In truth, its members are often recruited from childhood, and must sign a "billion year" contract that pledges their current and future lives towards the church. It's comprised of the most powerful people in the whole of Scientology, and they all fight with each other for dominance. David Miscavige, the Church of Scientology’s leader, has been a member of the Sea Org since he was just a teen.
Since its inception in 1967, there have been a number of true stories from people who left Scientology. But how have people escaped from Scientology itself? The organization with bizarre beliefs is known to be brutal towards those it deems as traitors. Some Sea Org members have told their true stories of their escape, and here are some of the best ones from Reddit and other tell-all pieces.
The Parents Of Scientology's Leader Also Ran
Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, told ABC News:
“I drove out slowly so it wouldn’t arouse suspicion. When I turned left, I put my foot right to the floorboard... I knew we were free. I knew they couldn’t catch us. You think you can just walk out? No. You will be stopped. I escaped.”
Ron and his wife Betsy had enough of the organization their son grew up in and commanded. Their very lives were constantly intruded, and the compound where they lived was lined with barbed wire fencing - not just to prevent trespassers, but also to prevent escapes. Not only that, but the church works everyone to the bone; the adult work schedule is an insane 120 hours a week. So the moment he and his wife and an opportunity to get away, they took it.
She Drank Bleach In Order To Get Away
Nora Crest told the Daily Mail:
"It was the most horrific time of my life. I was battered and bruised, pushed around and nearly died trying to leave the Church and all because I had the audacity to desire another woman."
And for that, she was interrogated for hours and severely punished for her "sins." Over the next few years, she was abused even more and constantly watched. At one point she had a genial conversation with a woman, so the Sea Org found it necessary to relentlessly interrogate her about it. She tried to leave the interrogation and ended up a bloody mess.
Crest requested to leave on official terms, but the organization sat on the decision for months; she was subjected to even more abuses as she awaited their decision. Finally, she had enough of the organization and drank a ton of bleach - a surefire way of getting kicked out:
"I then went into a utility cupboard and saw a massive bottle of industrial strength bleach and so drank a hefty cap full, around the equivalent of a quarter cup. I fell backwards, my whole body was convulsing, my throat started to swell. When they found me, they got a gallon of milk and put me in a room and made me drink it."
After only 24 hours, they let her go.
She Got Pregnant So She Would Be Forced Out Of Sea Org
Astra Woodcraft told The Daily Beast:
"I had an idea - a way out. I would secretly get pregnant. Maybe it could help me exit the organization without the usual routine: the relentless chastising, ostracizing, and auditing from superiors that often made people feel they should stay. I knew that leaving the Sea Org, or 'blowing,' as it was called, meant separating from my family, and the thought of it tortured me, but my mother and sister had been transferred to Florida without me, and it had become increasingly difficult to visit my father. My family was already disjointed. I stopped taking my birth control pills. I got pregnant.
I got ushered out unusually quickly, due to my rebellious pregnancy. I received a bill for $89,000 for the Scientology classes I’d taken over the years. I filed for divorce from my husband, and moved in with my father. In September of 1998, I gave birth to my daughter, Kate."
Her Sea Org Escape Was Filled With Paranoia
Jillian Schlesinger told Vocativ, “I didn’t like it [at Sea Org]. There was a lot of internal fighting, yelling and screaming.”
Schlesinger was put into solitary and made to write down her "crimes" after defending one of her fellow Sea Org members. She was then relegated to back-breaking labor-intensive construction work as punishment. But it was through that job that she saw her opportunity to run - after getting shuttled to the work site, she bolted towards the closest train station.
But while she fled, she kept looking over her shoulder - she was worried that someone followed her. And if they did, was she going to be forced back to base against her will? Luckily, she made it out and met up with her father who also escaped Scientology.