I maintain that it is not a practice of the CoS to hold members against their will. During my five years on staff, I have seen no such instances. I have been at the local center, the European center and the World Wide center, even in the infamous RPF, and I have never seen anyone detained against his will.
Critics, however, will point to ex-members reports who affirm the contrary. If you dig up a bit further, however, you will often find that it wasn't a real case of forcible restrain. For example, they were asked to hand over their passport. Again, this was a choice they made which they could have refused. And even so, it didn't prevent them to contact their Embassy or whomever in case the CoS refused to hand them back to them.
Forcible restrain follows a strict legal definition, and if you want to read of *real* cases of forcible restrain, read accounts made by forcible deprogramming victims.
I use the example below, taken from an IRC conversation, to illustrate my point. It shows that when ex-members claim that they have been forcibly detained, one has to look a bit deeper rather than accept this statement at face value. This conversation shows as well why ex-members sometimes feel they have to try and depict the situation as worst than it is.
B told me in an email exchange that she witnessed first hand examples of physical restrain. When I was interested to hear the specifics, she didn't respond, then said that it would take her time to do so as she wants to make it well. After waiting for a couple of years, I venture asking her about it on the #scientology channel.
As this is an IRC log, I have replaced all the nicks used as well as elements that could identify these persons. I have also cut from the log anything that wasn't directly related to the topic discussed.
[00:38] <Bern> B - I am still waiting for your
example of forcible detention
[00:38] <Bern> examples, even
[00:38] <B> what is forcible detention ? translate please
[00:39] <Bern> we had a email exchange a long while ago and you said you have witness examples of forcible detention scn, never heard of you since then
[00:39] <B> did I say those words? I don't know what they mean?
[00:40] <Bern> yes
[00:40] <B> let me look in my dictionary
[00:40] <Bern> B: in other words you have nothing
[00:41] <B> there is no word
[00:41] <B> and not "forcible" either
[00:41] <Bern> well, I won't quote your email here, it would be improper
[00:41] <B> bernie: can you say in other words what it means? Just so I understand
[00:42] <Bern> forcible restrain
[00:42] <B> A: what means forcible
[00:42] <A> restrained against the will
[00:42] <Bern> physical restrain, people being detained against their will
[00:43] <B> bernie: oh, I was a good example myself
[00:43] <A> come to think of it, that is what scn does, only their mind restraints are far more effective than physical restraint.
That's the argument which anticultists have been using for years to justify their kidnappings, until this justification got debunked and rejected as a justification by the courts. The question here, however, is purely one of physical restrain.
[00:43] <Bern> B: I didn't read that in your story
[00:44] <Bern> B: but you said you witnessed others being so restrained and I am interested to hear the specifics :)
[00:44] <B> you thought the DPF was a joy?
[00:44] <Bern> B: that's not what I said
[00:45] <B> and later on, in Dec 83 I was kept with a guard around the clock. They took my purse, money to prevent me from escape
[00:45] <Bern> B: what's the URL for your story again?
[00:46] <B> bernie: [URL Snipped]
[00:46] <Bern> B: thanks
[00:46] * B wants to put bernie on the DPF
[00:46] <K> diaper pail fraternity?
[00:46] <Bern> B: nice photo :)
[00:47] <B> yea
[00:47] <K> mmm, would bernie be cute in diapers and a sleeper?
[00:48] * A ponders, she can add A's slippers to bern's bedtime ensemble.
Hmm. That's an altogether different question. One with a considerably deeper philosophical implication ;-)
In the meantime, I read back B's story, trying to locate where she speaks about forcible restrain but can't find anything.
[00:50] <Bern> B: I can't find this sentence you just quoted on that page
[00:51] <B> bern: no, I didn't
quote ... I told you
[00:51] <B> the story there ends with the DPT .. that came later
[00:51] <Bern> oh, sounded like a quote
[00:52] <B> uhum
[00:54] <Bern> B: so, did you try and get out from the guards?
[00:58] <Bern> B: was the guard armed?
[00:59] <B> bern: no, but he was bigger than me
[00:59] <Bern> B: so did you try and get out?
[00:59] <B> bernie: I tried to convince him that I had all right to go, he didn't think so
[01:00] <Bern> B: so he prevented you to get out despite you explicitly and repeatedly told you want to get out?
[01:00] <B> yes bernie
[01:00] <Bern> B: how long were you held?
[01:00] <B> "only" 5 days
[01:01] <Bern> for five days he forcefully prevented you to get out?
[01:01] <B> yes
[01:01] <Bern> ok. So that's a legal offense. Did you put a complain to the police?
[01:01] <B> yes
[01:01] <Bern> ah, and?
[01:01] <B> nothing ... he wasn't
[01:02] <B> no physical
[01:02] <Bern> B: because you didn't actually try to get out and he didn't hold you, only told you you can't get out
[01:03] <B> to some degree, but without money I had nowhere to go
Here we are. If you dig down a bit further than the initial claim, you will often find that it really wasn't a case of forcible detention. B was only told that she can't leave and was without her purse. This simply is without legal merit. If one is really restrained against his will and believe he is under some sort of threat, he would get out, purse or no purse, and would seek refuge with the police. The whole context, including B's long time belonging and interaction with the group, simply makes that it isn't a case of forcible restrain at all.
We will see further down why it is important for apostates to present it as such nevertheless.
[01:03] <Bern> B: ok, I see. Thanks
No need to rub it further. Even without physical restrain, what B went through was bad enough.
[01:05] <B> bernie: there was also scios at the railwaystation taking people back when they tried to escape
[01:05] <Bern> B: yes, I think you told about that in your mail
These were not cases of physical restrain either. Scientology staff went to the railway station and told people they have to come back and that they have to hand out their passport. This really has nothing to do with "taking people back when they tried to escape", as no use of force or threat of force was involved and the persons consented to hand out their passport and to follow the staff.
[01:05] <B> ok
[01:05] <Bern> but I was under the impression that
there was more and that you were going to send about it
[01:06] <Bern> I am afraid this is several years ago now :(
[01:16] * B is feeling her anger grow
[01:17] <Bern> why are you still angry, B?
[01:18] <B> bern: because despite
all time I have spent on educating reporters, the damn shit is still going on
[01:19] <B> I am so damn sick about it
[01:28] <Bern> B: feeling angry is not very healthy
[01:28] <B> bern: right, and it's your fault
[01:28] <Bern> B: why my fault?
[01:28] <B> because you started to
ask me about those events
[01:28] * B damn
[01:28] *** B is now known as Damn
[01:29] <Bern> B: oh. Sorry about that, but it was a question I had for a few years now
[01:29] *** Damn is now known as B
[01:29] <B> bern: yes, I see
[01:30] <Bern> B: but if you still feel anger about it, maybe you are not yet free of these events
[01:30] <B> bern: you see ... this
goes deep into me, I feel that I have to defend myself every time I am talking
about it. So many have asked why I didn't just go ... and many says "there
is always a choice"
[01:31] <B> and I didn't feel that there was any choice
Here we have one explanation for the psychological mechanism at work on these issues. Some ex-members feel they have no choice because it basically is a matter of choosing between doing as they are told and some kind of eternal damnation, and because that doesn't make much sense to outsider, they feel they will be better understood if the measures taken to discourage them from leaving is presented as physical restrain. In their mind, it isn't really a lie. Just a matter of interpretation. But, legally, it doesn't constitute forcible restrain, and the fact that cult members believe they would be damned to hell if they left is really part and sundry of the principle of freedom of belief.
[01:31] <J> B -- you can use RVYs "abused woman" model..
[01:31] <Bern> B: maybe you take these remarks as a sort of blame
[01:31] <B> J: I don't even admit that I was a victim or that I was abused
Here is where B departs with the typical apostate who sees himself a mind-control victim of unscrupulous leaders. Now if B, who is a relatively moderate ex-member, feels that she has to present her ordeal as physical restrain, how much further those who see the issue in an even darker light are ready to go?
[01:32] <B> yes bern
[01:33] <J> B -- but the reasoning is very similar. you could ask in reply "why do so many women (and men) stay in abusive relationships?"
The premises of that analogy are of course slanted. Make that a comparison between leaving Scientology and leaving a spouse and you would get a bit closer. Some quit their spouse because they are beaten indeed, other more simply because they don't get along together anymore. In fact, I believe that the later is the case for the vast majority. It never is simple nor easy, especially if the person was genuinely involved and still has some hope to see his/her dreams come true. Keep in mind, however, that the legal bond and the economic or sociological circumstances that hold husband and wife together are usually stronger than those that bind cult members and the group together.
[01:33] <Bern> It's normal that you stayed because
you were convinced that scn was the absolute truth and only way out..
[01:33] <Bern> as I was
[01:33] <B> bern: you know that,
but *normal* people don't
[01:34] <B> and with normal, I mean, those who has never been in it
[01:34] <Bern> B: but you are both right, if you don't see it as a blame, it just becomes different perspectives
[01:36] <B> bernie: when I have written part 2, I might be finished with it within myself, but it is painful to go inwards and look again
[01:37] <Bern> B: I am not sure it helps that much, although it may have some therapeutic value
[01:37] <B> I think so
[01:37] <L> B: I don't doubt it, or doubt the pain you went through. My story is nothing at all compared to some I have read. I just got in and got out. Nothing to it all.
[01:37] <B> I don't underestimate the therapeutic value
[01:38] <A> i find talking or writing about it as therapeutic.
[01:38] <B> L: yea, and O says the
same ... no one could ever have kept him against his will
[01:39] <B> and that makes me feel small and weak
[01:39] <B> and stupid
And B is neither weak nor stupid, quite on the contrary. But, for some reasons, she resent as blame and shame the argument that she could have left if she wanted, whereas other ex-member don't feel blame or guilt attached to the fact that something they now view as an illusion or mistake was what they once believed to be true. People search, try, and learn. That's really all there is to it.
This is part of the reasons I strongly disagree with the anti-cult presentation of the situation as a matter of conscious and evil exploitation by greedy leaders. This is like convincing someone that the spouse he/she left had nothing else in mind all along than mere exploitation and control. It usually is a bit more complicate than that, isn't it? All the anticult simplistic and confrontational presentation does is to increase the tensions and prevent the resolution of conflicts. Sometimes it even creates problems and conflicts where there would be none otherwise. Ex-members trying to resolve these problems by constant attack against the "cult" only keeps the anger and resentment alive and it also keeps them living in the group's shadow.
An attitude of forgiveness and understanding of *both* the positive and negative aspects is *way* more therapeutic in the long run.
In my opinion.
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