Seventy-Nine year old Mattie R. James was nicknamed Lollipop by her father as a child since she was his feisty, tiny sweetheart., weighing only 5lbs. at her birth. Growing up as an only child, Lollipop always dreamed of having many children and grandchildren. She grew up and graduated from nursing school before marrying and having four children. In 1970, she unwittingly joined what's termed as a "High Control" group by the name of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) at age 30 along with the rest of her family. The JW's convinced Lollipop and her husband that the end of the world would come in 1975.
During the next 48 years with two more children and several grandchildren, Lollipop came to see the devastating effects of the JW policies on the most vulnerable among them. Her husband became abusive as he attained more power in the group that kept secret the rules by which the men govern their congregations and women. After the spousal abuse progressed, Lollipop separated from her husband at 69, moved in with her daughter who also left the JW's and was finalizing a divorce when her husband had a hemorrhagic stroke. Lollipop halted the divorce and took her husband in where she lived with her daughter to nurse him back to health over the next 3 years. He had to learn to walk, talk, feed himself and perform daily activities. When he had recovered, their children in the JW group reminded him of their shunning rules against people who left the organization.
When Lollie's husband had completely recovered, the abusive behavior resumed which lead to him moving in with his children who remained in the JWs. Her husband continued to pay Lollipop a partial amount of what she would have received in a divorce as a condition of their separation. At age 75, she learned of the global, pervasive child sex abuse in the High Control group after viewing the hearing at the Australian Royal Commission on Child Sex Abuse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ9DqHB5dUA.In and shared the information with her JW children. In the JW organization, there is punishment if one listens to reports on the group from outside sources. What happened next is the shunning from many of Lollipop's adult children and grandchildren when she got the courage to leave the group. Shunning generally brings on depression, self criticism, a sense of deep loss, failure and feelings of being 'stuck in the mud' for the person being shunned.
Later, Lollipop fell physically ill and missed the children and grandchildren who treated her as if she had died, which are the shunning rules of the JW's. They offered her respite in a visit to heal and give her daughter/caretaker a break. Tragically, while she was visiting, they decided to keep her against her will and force her to return to the abusive husband and Jehovah's Witnesses. By grace and inner strength, Lollipop escaped and survived even after they cut off what small income she had coming from the abusive husband. The goal in cutting her income was to put her in a position so the daughter caring for her would become overwhelmed with medical bills and fall destitute.
After a difficult recovery, Lollipop has dedicated her life to help other survivors who leave High Control groups like Jehovah's Witnesses. She believes no one should be forced or coerced into High Control groups by the traumatic experience of shunning, withholding income/resources or through emotional abuse. We have named this effort after her-The Lollipop Initiative.
According to Dr. Marlene Winell, " Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a function of both the chronic abuses of harmful High Control groups and the impact of severing one’s connection with one’s faith and faith community. It can be compared to a combination of PTSD and Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). The trauma of breaking away from this kind of High Control group, especially after sex abuse can be long-lasting and crippling for victims.
Many are cast off from their families, faith, and social circles; they experience homelessness, hunger, educational
challenges and difficulty with career placement.
The end result is a mass amount of sex abuse survivors that can no longer function well in society. They struggle with psychological difficulties, physiological issues, and basic needs of daily living. Suicide rates are extremely high among this population that has seemingly been forgotten until now. Now is the time to not only acknowledge these abuse victims, but to actively support them by equipping them with the skills and resources necessary to implement life saving changes.
Through some of our community partners like Hosea Helps and Mercy Car, we offer help to victims and their loved ones with as many counseling sessions as are necessary with no need of providing
proof of financial hardship or proof of sexual abuse. The results have been incredible. We also advocate for the survivors and their families by connecting them to supportive services and speaking up for them by means of the members of our collaborative.
ALL FORMER HIGH CONTROL GROUP/CULT MEMBERS (USA)
No Car? No Problem. One way to get to your doctors appointment or job is to contact one of our Community Specialist in your area. Many churches and other nonprofit organizations solicit volunteers to help with non-emergency medical and employment needs. Contact your local church or senior center to ask what’s available in your area. Or, just call 211 anywhere in the United States and they will make the connection.
DCMO Community Specialist will help you navigate through the process.
We have Community Specialist in various lands that can help you find support as you leave a High Control Group/Cult.
Leaving a High Control group can be both emotionally and physically draining. A characteristic of a High Control group is to enact consequences when you leave. Often times, this comes in the form of cutting off resources or shunning, like Lollipop's story above. This can leave teenagers, the elderly and single mothers homeless, jobless and and hungry. DCMO helps these survivors jump start a new life with our 3-day, 2-night Kaleidoscope Empowerment/Survival Retreat. Simultaneously, we identify the resources in your community to help you survive and then flourish. We are orchestrating a collaborative so all needs can be met for the survivors and their families.
If you are in need of assistance or would like to learn more, hit the button below. Some are stable after leaving High Control groups and would like to assist others. In that case, please register to volunteer. For those who want to help but don't have the time, please just hit the donate button and give.
DCMO has assembled a collaborative of advocates, social service providers and lobbyist to offer long-term support to men, women and children who have suffered as a result of exiting High Control groups like Jehovah's Witnesses. Just walking away from that organization can have devastating effects like losing all the friends and family you ever knew to shunning.
The Collaborative offers counseling services and referrals to vetted agencies for financial, employment,
education, transportation, health and wellness, childcare, parenting, skill development, benefits, relief, material
support and legal support.
Survivors of High Control groups who experienced sex abuse can connect with community resource https://www.fightingforme.org/ free counseling. Professional counseling is essential to help people move past their past but they also need help in all areas of their life.
Choosing to leave groups like JW's could mean you lose your family and all the friends you ever knew. There are free online tools like calm.com that can help relieve stress and give you peace of mind. This is one example of a breathing exercise to help center your thoughts. You can visit them at: https://www.calm.com/
For immediate social service listings, call the United Way in your area at 211.
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