We wanted to share our story because we have a passionate desire to educate and empower other people about destructive cults. There are friends, family members out there who may feel helpless about their own situations. They have witnessed the changes in their loved ones firsthand and it breaks their hearts. I can now see more clearly what my own family and friends have gone through. We feel that it is essential for education on cults to be spread, for the awareness to grow in leaps and bounds. Right now, there is such a taboo around the word cult and there are some basic misconceptions about what goes on with mind control. One of the things that we really want to re-emphasize is that this could happen to anyone.
One of our other goals right now is to expose Michael Guen as a cult leader and prevent him from manipulating and abusing other people. He is set to have a big “coming out” with his business One Effort Living and we’ll be right beside him providing the information that the public needs to make educated choices. Over the past few months, I have been cycling through so many emotions, ranging from anger to sadness to complete relief. After all the feelings clear away, what is left in me is an activist. And Karl feels the same way too. I am using my anger in a productive way, not to just damage someone’s reputation but to bring to light something that is morally legally wrong.
Lastly, we hope to overcome the taboos surrounding this shameful topic. No one thinks that it could happen to them or their family members. No one wants to believe that there are evil people out there who are taking advantage of other people ruthlessly and without remorse. We read about corruption in the government and in big corporations and it is a fact that we have unintentionally elected psychopaths into the system. Or else they have found their ways into positions of power. I believe that this is happening way more often than we give it credit.
Furthermore, we have also learned about one-on-one cults, which is basically abusive and manipulative relationships. We can understand now why abused women have a difficult time leaving the ones who hurt them. “But they love me,” they try to reason. This is not true. A psychopath does not know how to truly love. He or she is incapable of it. I know this for a fact, as I began to compare the “love” of Michael Guen with that of Karl, my friends and family. I have more empathy for people who stay in abusive relationships and I can now understand why it is so difficult to leave.
This subject matter is taboo because of the lack of education and basic knowledge. Not all cults completely isolate their members or make them do extreme things like commit mass suicide. In fact, I was a functioning member of society who held a full-time job. No one could tell that I was giving tons of money to the cult leader because I kept it secret. But many people still don’t know what destructive cults are about. Even the professional therapist that we saw for couples counseling had no clue what to do with the situation. He observed our fighting style and tried to help us with our communication skills. Despite the fact that he believed I was in the cult, he did not even make and effort to touch the issue.
One of our friends who was a retired psychologist also did not have an understanding of how cults and mind control works. She thought that Karl should give me more freedom, that I should somehow find my own way. Our friend thought that Karl was being the controlling one. The problem was that I didn’t even know that I was enslaved. I didn’t even know that I needed saving! How was I ever going to find my way? And I thought that I was making my own choices. I would have never admitted to being manipulated by another person, not in a million years.
Our goal to educate and empower individuals feels like a new calling. It is ironic that all this time I have been questioning my abilities and what I really want to do with my life, especially throughout my time in the cult. We want to consult individuals, reach out to concerned family and friends, and help them remove that feeling of helplessness when they realize that their loved are in cults. We are also interested in helping cult members rebuild their lives and heal from their experiences. There is hope. Steve Hassan, one of the foremost cult recover experts, said that if he was able to get out of a cult, than anyone can. We feel the same way.
I don’t see that the last ten years of my life to be completely wasted. In fact, I feel as though it was an inadvertent gift because now I have all this knowledge to teach and share other people. I am incredibly grateful to Karl, my family and friends for supporting me through all this. I have been given a second chance on life.
— Ruth & Karl —