If you are a supporter or former supporter of SCOAN, or have family or friends that are involved, these links may be helpful.
Being abused is an awful experience under any circumstances. Being abused within an extremist religious organization can be absolutely devastating. Victims have spoken of being consumed by a crippling guilt and self-hatred. Some suffer severe depression and feel suicidal. Many feel isolated and find it hard to open up to anyone.
If this describes your experience in any way, it might be worth seeking help. We’ve been in contact with Lifecentre, a UK based service providing counselling for those who have suffered sexual abuse. They run a free telephone helpline staffed by accredited counsellors, and are a Christian service but give support regardless of denomination/sexuality/whatever:
Adult Helpline: 0844 847 7879
(open 7.30 – 10pm Sun, Mon,Tues & Thurs)
Of course, sexual abuse isn’t the only kind of abuse that goes on in extremist religious organizations. The very nature of these groups means that members are psychologically abused. It takes a long time to change thinking patterns, to redefine your place in the world, spiritual outlook and worldview.
An organization that understands this process is Dialog Centre UK. From their website: “The DialogCentre UK exists to offer help to the members and ex-members of groups that we describe as “extremist authoritarian sects“. We also seek to help their families and friends.” They are very responsive to phone and email and have already helped out recovering SCOAN followers.
Something that may be helpful (and may well be happening already informally) is some kind of support network of ex-supporters. It seems like there may be isolated individuals dotted around who are going through very similar processes. Any ex-SCOAN supporters, is this something that could work? We’d welcome any feedback about this.