Thursday, May 15, 2003


You can now submit comments to the web site. Click on "submit comments" in upper left hand corner of the screen. In case it seems the blog has been cut off at the bottom, that's because last week's posts have been archived. Just click on the "Archive" link above, then "5/4/03 - 5/11/03" for the rest of it.

From April 27, here are some ICC DF posts on how abusers communicate ("MeMe" is a language of many leaders) and the specific ways the ICC perpetuates a "culture of control."


Abusers speak a different language than their partner. (Let's call it "MeMe.") That is an easy way to sum up the many different statements they use to control, frighten, confuse, or intimidate their partners. Normal mentally healthy persons in a relationship use language to consciously convey their thoughts to their partner. Abusers however use language to manipulate their partners into giving them what they want. Sometimes consciously, sometimes not. In fact, I believe that abusers learn to use manipulation so well, that it actually becomes a language to them, and they eventually lose conscious control of their responses.
Their language is actually a tool to protect themselves from emotional exposure. Even when their relationships appear to be even-keeled, they are often setting themselves up for future verbal victories. I say that since having studied this matter intricately, I can accurately predict my partners response to given circumstances - which would have resulted in emotional exposure nearly every time. This makes it very clear to me that there has never been any communication nor can there ever be without intense professional therapy. Yes. And even then, its an "if." Abusers are so afraid to expose themselves and so bent on control that they know know other way. They can't speak our language. They have no idea how to speak a language that would require considering the needs and wants of others.

I believe that after food and shelter, the most basic human need is to be understood and accepted. That's why I also believe that the lack of communication is by far the most frustrating and destructive part of the abusive relationship. You can't even solve minor issues involving children or finance without being attacked or accused of attacking. That is what really wears the partner down. Not their rage and anger, but your daily frustration and loneliness . Yes!

One of the most frustrating and common habits of abusers is to constantly "butt in" and cut off their partner while talking. This is frequently the most aggravating habit many abusers have. They can't give it up because it serves some very important purposes. It blocks any possibility of communication, it allows them to say whatever they want, and most importantly it gives them total control of the conversation.

Usually partners try reasoning with them about all sides being given a fair chance to talk. What they don't realize is that abusers don't really care what their partners are saying so it serves them no purpose to listen. In fact, the abuser would prefer that the partner not talk and simply accept their assertions as Gospel. When the partner learns this, they can truly have an understanding of the hopelessness of fixing an abusive relationship without professional counseling. Their is no possibility of communication if one of the parties is determined not to communicate.

Another very destructive habit which I have identified in my relationship I refer to as "echoing". This abusive habit is extremely destructive to a relationship, yet is a very effective tool which the abuser uses to in conversation. This habit takes two distinct forms. The object is to feel whatever the partner feels whenever an "attack" is detected by the abuser. The scenario goes something like this:
Partner: I don't like what you said to me this morning

Abuser: I don't like what you say to me either

This is an easy way for the abuser to avoid addressing your concerns, remain in control, change the subject, and launch a counter attack. You may also notice that this avoids answering a question. Abusers DO NOT ANSWER QUESTIONS!!! That is perceived by them as giving up control. They generally answer a question with a question in attempt to through the partner off balance and regain control. They will do this repeatedly until you capitulate or until they provoke an argument. This also has the added benefit of teaching the partner not to bring any complaints to the attention of the abuser. The second form is to accuse the partner of whatever the partner accuses them of. Scenario 2:
Partner: Please don't raise your voice at me

Abuser (Screaming): You're the one that's yelling
Partner: Please stop cutting me off and let me finish my sentence

Abuser (angrily): You're the one who cuts me off all of the time

When the conversation is discussed later, the abuser quickly takes the opportunity to first accuse the partner of the infraction and seize the high ground. The abuser will then take every opportunity in the future to accuse the partner of doing what they do saying "see, you do it too". This is generally viewed by the abuser as a way out. Anytime they accuse you of an action similar to one of their destructive actions, that is viewed by them as a license to do it at will and a "win".

There are many other "tricks used by abusers to avoid communication," but these are two of the most common which I've encountered. I think the key is to understand that the abuser's language is not the same as a normal person. That their "language" does not convey their thoughts and is in fact designed to do just the opposite. Once we understand this we also learn that we can't, and shouldn't want to, speak their language. However, if we have to deal with them, for whatever reason, we can learn to interpret their words and phrases enough to decipher the true meanings. Unfortunately, learning this "language" also seems to more clearly show the hopelessness of establishing a normal relationship with a person of this mentality.

From "How Abusers Communicate"

ICC CULTURE OF CONTROL In other words, how it actually works on otherwise intelligent people.

Someone asked me a very good question about control in the ICC:
"When you got involved with the ICOC and they were telling you to give them money, date a certain way, act a certain way, etc. did you think it was strange? Or were you just wrapped up in their beliefs? In other words, why didn't you leave....were you ok with their restrictions? Do you think it was a form of mind control?

Here was my answer:

There are several things they [my converters] did so that it was easier for me to accept these unreasonable restrictions on my life: first, the people who converted and studied the bible with me portrayed the church, and your new life as a "true" Christian (vs. the cheesy stereotypical goody-two-shoes type) as this revolutionary thing. So in that light, it became exciting to become part of something different, idealistic - almost like being in a Spiritual Olympics, where you'll go to the extreme to become super-spiritual. They were smart-they could see right away I was the type to be attracted to controversial, radical things. One of the first things I learned was that people were "persecuting" the church as being a cult. I thought that was cool (doh!!). Ministers would even say in sermons, jokingly, “Brainwashed? Yeah, our brains need a good washing!”

There were certain things we learned in our bible studies during conversion, things I accepted as truth which kept me in the church for years. Those things were:
-Deny yourself. Based on a scripture in John. In the scripture, they say that if you “deny yourself” you can find “truth” (beliefs, feelings, etc.) – yes, in that order, as it is in the scripture.
-Your heart is deceitful – based on another scripture. Basically, you can never trust your feelings, because they are wrong.
-Do not be yoked with unbelievers—because they will drag you down spiritually. Includes non-ICC boyfriend, family, friends – but especially boyfriend. When I was in campus ministry, I couldn’t even be alone in a room with a male (they relaxed that after a while).
-You will be rewarded for sacrifice. I was shown a scripture about the man who finds a great “pearl,” a treasure they searched their whole life for, who was overjoyed. The people who converted me interpreted it for me as: if you give up everything in your life for
God, eventually you’ll get them all back, plus the “pearl” (God, heaven, peace, love, joy, yadda yadda)
-Obey your leaders—Giving up your control, becoming “humble” is part of your sacrifice to God. And boy did those leaders they take full advantage of it!! The lifestyles they lived off these poor people’s tithes, people who were willing to give up everything. L Ron Hubbard of Scientology (another cult) said, if you want to get rich, start a religion. Well, Kip McKean (the man who started this church) hit upon a very lucrative scheme (the leaders live in very nice, luxe upper class homes. One of the NYC leaders who I knew personally was living in Trump Towers).

You can now get a picture of how people were taught to get THEMSELVES to follow, obey , give over their control for something they were seeking – whether it was spiritual revelation, peace, love, etc. If you were very idealistic (like I was) it’s very easy for people to take advantage of you. I was also very disciplined growing up – strict, catholic upbringing, discipline in dance and music (I played piano and auditioned for conservatories). So it was not very hard for me to see these things as good for me, especially with the troubles I was having w/my drug- and alcohol-addicted boyfriend, as well as my depression.

After some time you stop questioning things - for one, because you're too tired! The schedule of the church was so heavy, it was fatiguing. Also there were many very unhealthy people, not eating well, messy homes, sickly, depressed, etc. – people who may have once been very healthy and sharp.

The result of these teachings was a culture of control in the church that is based on guilt and fear (though no one would ever admit it – the control is supposedly based on “God’s plan” to make our church and its members the One and Only “true” church.) I would say it's this "culture of control" that is key to understanding why people submitted to these things. Mind control? Trance-like states? I don't think so - at least not on a high level. I've heard someone speculate that Kip McKean (who was forced to quit his position only a few months ago), studied a technique called Neurolinguistic programming. It is a method that teaches leaders how to speak in certain rhythms and repetitions to help people change by teaching them to program their own brains. He thought Kip put together these studies and trained ministers using NLP because it follows the techniques so well. If so, it worked - people are definitely “inspired” to program themselves!

Even a few years before I left, I was starting to catch on to the game. Right before I left the church, I was leading the "Emotional Recovery" ministry with an evangelist who specialized in mental health and substance abuse issues. Our group's goal was not only to help members diagnosed with depression, PTSD, OCD, etc. - but also, even more important, to teach their discipling partners (a mentor who is assigned to you) how they need to change their leadership style: instead of telling their "mentee" what to do, then needed to learn to listen with empathy – to try to step into the depressed person’s perspective - and respond in kind. It was actually very successful, and the groups became so huge, sometimes 100+ in a room.

The “ER” ministry was eventually ended by the top leadership in NYC (Steve Johnson) – they knew it was starting to threatened their credibility in members’ eyes. Mike Leatherwood (the evangilst) was not afraid – he had been pushing for something like this for years. The reason the ministry was even able to get off the ground was
because the leaders were getting overwhelmed by the needs of “depressed disciples” – but would never admit that somehow the hierarchical structure and verbal/emotional abuse might be causing this. The leaders are so used to be trained to be mean/abusive -- it was rewarded in action though discouraged in words, sermons, etc. Mike ended up leaving the church this year, the 2nd huge event of this whole chain of events. It caused such a ruckus since there were many members who were going to him for private therapy and counseling.

The interesting thing is that CURRENT members in the church are catching on. There is presently an uproar in the church – members are starting to see the abuse and corruption, and are demanding change. A major London leader wrote a letter detailing the abuses (I can send it to you) of the leaders, and it’s being sent around to all the members, ex-members who were “marked” (like being ex-communicated or forced out of the church for challenging the leadership) or who left on their own volition. The church is desperately trying to hold on to its control.

After this experience, I see leaders very differently and more keenly sense subtle uses and abuses of power. I think that people in all types of groups, including educational institutions, political groups and corporations, often use the same methods (more or less). Understanding the church’s dynamics opened my eyes to how people in general - no matter who you are (very intelligent, popular, charismatic and idealistic people get recruited to these types of groups) - and not just people in cults, can be made feel they have their own will, yet are very controlled. "ICC Culture of Control"


I was reading this article and thought it was a brilliant description of many ICC leaders. Not just the big ones, but anyone: from DPs to Bible Talk leaders to Zone leaders.
Modified from Dr. Irene On Sociopathy:

Antisocial Personality Traits:
A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
(1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
(2) deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
(3) impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
(4) irritability and aggressiveness, an indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
(5) reckless disregard for safety of self or others
(6) consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
(7) lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

Antisocial Personalities are sometimes are the "good guys." Many antisocial types are very successful and productive citizens. They are CEOs, Presidents, famous people, etc. Antisocial types accomplish lots of good stuff.

Antisocial type who are very, very smart are often very, very good at what they do. The really, really, really smart ones never get caught! They seamlessly manipulate their way to whatever, and no one is the wiser. The pretty good ones may get to where they aspire, but they eventually slip up and are found out.

Remember, abuse occurs behind closed doors. You know your spouse, Roger or Sally, is Satan in disguise - but everyone else thinks they're The Best. While these people are not necessarily "bad guys" to the world, they make your life Hell. That's because they "love" you.

What About My Abuser?
In general, the "sicker" the individual, the worse the prognosis. The same is true with any disorder. This generalization is heavily qualified by the individual's motivation for recovery

Abusive individuals typically have antisocial qualities. Antisocial qualities detract from motivation to fix the underlying problem. There is no reason to change when one is getting the stuff they think they want - like the frustration-reducing "satisfaction" of blaming/beating up their victim; the "satisfaction" of an affair, substance abuse, gambling, etc. The victim's withdrawal and insistence that they recover may be the only motivation they have.

Unlike the victim who spends so much time in a place of guilt, questioning the self, the abusive-antisocial doesn't. This person blames the other. The antisocial person's problems are perceived as originating from outside the self, often from the "withholding" other who should give them X, Y, and Z. Funny thing, the victim-codependent doesn't give X, Y, and Z because they don't want to, but because they can't! What is being asked for can only be given by the self.

The antisocial variable, in my opinion, is the key that separates the "true" victim from the "true" abuser. I'm speaking broadly. The antisocial variable is certainly a factor in sociopathy, but it is also found in narcissism, in BPD, and elsewhere. It's the part of the individual that simply does not care...

Even though both victims and abusers have suffered childhood abuse and both can appear abusive, only the truly abusive (i.e., antisocial) person expects that which can't be given. This individual, deep down, thinks the problem is with YOU (That the problem is outside the self is what essentially defines "personality disorder.") The victim, deep down, thinks the problem is with THEMSELVES.

****does that sound familiar or what? eg, Blaming yourself because you're Selfish and Prideful! "ICC Leaders: Charismatic Sociopaths"


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