Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: madison2021 ()
Date: July 04, 2012 10:12AM

Hey everyone I'm new here so...hello. I have been searching for years on how to recover from being born and raised in a cult. I'll give you a quick summary.. I was born into a very closed secretive cult. It doesn't have a name but on the net they have been called 2x2's. It is almost all families who have been born into this religion. I would liken it to a strict Amish. We had hydro for nesessities but no tv, radio music(except for hymns) no make up, girls wore dresses. Anyways very similar in the segration and losing family if you leave etc. I was sexually abused by my uncle..a church member for most of my childhood. My parents looking the other way. At 13 head worker found out and asked my uncle to destroy evidence and just don't dO it again. No police were called or anyone in the church made aware. He continues to go to church and is a loved member. At 17 I left home scared and confused. Finally at 22 I decided to charge him hoping his three children would be helped. He plead quolty eventually. I was exiled and lost my family. I am considered the problem. I have children and a now a great boyfriend. He grew up entirely different. I have seen counsellors but they never seem to get it. They try to deal with the sexual abuse but now I realize the cult played a major part in the whole thing. Counsellors don't understand this part.
What I am wondering is how can I heal myself so I can be a better mother and wife. I'm not even sure how it has all affected me so I don't know where to start. From those of you who are healthy where do I start? How do they affect me today. If I can understand this I hope I can heal. It's time to feel something...
Thank you in advance

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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Date: July 06, 2012 10:25AM


How To Identify a 2x2, Friend, Truther, or a Follower of the Church Without a Name

Questions to ask:

Q: What is the name of your church?
A: They claim not to have a name

Q: Do you believe in the Bible?
A: Yes. Follow the New Testament teachings.

Q: What version of the Bible do you use?
A: Predominantly the KJV (some may have other versions they use for reference purposes)

Q: What is the name of the hymnbook you use?
A: Hymns Old & New in English speaking countries, and names that generally translate to this title in non-English speaking countries.

Q: Do you worship in a building or a home?
A: Home - but some meetings are held in buildings.

Q: Where are your headquarters?
A: don't have any.

Q: Tell me about your ministers.
A: Preach in same sex pairs (2x2); leave their homes behind permanently, do not marry, stay with converts, are itinerant, supported by voluntary gifts from members.

Q: When and where was your church started?
A: May get one of two answers: (1) Jesus started it--it goes back to the time Jesus sent out the disciples in the NT; (2) sometime around 1900 in Ireland

Q: Who started it? What is the name of your founder?
A: May get one of two answers: (1) Wm Irvine and/or Edward Cooney; or (2) Jesus started it--it goes back to the time Jesus sent out the disciples in the NT

2x2 Rules & Regulations
Revised April 2, 2012

Some of the Unwritten Rules in "The Truth" sometimes called "The Standards of the Kingdom"

Unwritten Rules for the Friends

See also by Eldon Tenniswood:
1982 California Young Peoples Meetings
1975 California Elders Meetings

DISCLAIMER: This list is not represented to be all inclusive or universal. Customs vary considerably from place to place, worker to worker. The following are general statements regarding the group's beliefs and practices gathered over many years from numerous sources. However, they may not be believed or practiced in total universally. Historically, depending on the time in history and/or the overseer in charge, differences have occurred regionally and likely will continue to occur. And as in any group, some individuals may hold specific beliefs/understandings that differ from the main church body. Corrections, additions, or comments are invited.

Unwritten Rules for the Friends

FEMALES: Women/girls shall wear their hair long. Women to wear their hair up on their heads, and not hanging down loose. IDEALLY no bangs/fringes--no cutting/trimming their hair ever.
MEN: Shall wear their hair short (no pony tails tolerated) and ideally, will not wear facial hair.
AREA VARIANCES: More and more men are wearing mustaches and beards; some women are wearing their hair down and adopting short hairstyles regardless of the unwritten rule.

PROHIBITED: Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings (except wedding bands)
PERMISSIBLE: watches, wedding bands, hair jewelry, tie tacks, cuff links
AREA VARIANCES: Class rings, engagements rings common in youth; pins/brooches allowed in some areas.

IDEALLY: No artificial means of any kind to enhance appearance, ESPECIALLY colored eye shadow, colored nail polish, lipstick, hair coloring.
AREA VARIANCES: Some wear clear nail polish; light unnoticeable make-up.
Those with tattoos got them before/while they were not a part of the group.

FEMALES: Not to wear slacks/shorts; sleeveless dresses/blouses; short skirts, low necklines, or sundresses. Not to follow fashion trends, and stay a good distance behind the styles “of the world.”
IDEAL: Dress modestly
MALES: No articles of clothing prohibited. Many men do not wear shorts.
AREA VARIANCES: Slacks OK when required to protect modesty in a special activity. Some old-timers believe any activity that would render a woman in a dress to be immodest should be avoided. Women on horseback permitted to wear slacks. Some areas: no red or white shoes; no sandals; no bare legs

AREA VARIANCES: Many rent movies and see them through their Computer monitors or VCRS; Some areas permit attending musicals, plays

PREFERRED: Mixed sex bathing/swimming once discouraged, now becoming more common.
AREA VARIANCES: In some places, women are prohibited from wearing swimsuits, and pin their dresses between their legs and only swim in very private waters. Some Hawaiian, Australian and New Zealand friends wear bikinis.

PREFERRED: No participation in organized sports
AREA VARIANCES: Soccer participation allowed in some areas. Golf frowned upon in some areas.

PREFERRED: No tobacco/pot smoking of any kinds; no cigarettes, cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco

IDEAL: No alcoholic beverages imbibed (including wine) in the USA, however, some American friends serve/drink wine with some meals.
AREA VARIANCES: In Europe, beer and wine are drunk, but never spirits; however, that even varies from country to country. Wine is even served at Special Meetings by the workers.

PREFERRED: Not to own or allow a TV in one’s home
AREA VARIANCES: Divided homes given leeway. If workers learn a TV is in the homes, a meeting will not be placed there; or a meeting may be removed for this reason.

PREFERRED: No recorded music of any kind, but playing of instruments encouraged.
AREA VARIANCES: Radios and stereos used in many places. Some areas only permitted to play hymns on instruments (especially on Sundays)

PREFERRED: Christmas and Easter are not observed as religious holidays. Many friends do not observe the standard, traditional customs of their culture associated with these holidays (no gifts, cards, decorations, special meals, etc.)
AREA VARIANCES: Many exchange gifts and Christmas cards. Some put up decorations and trees (Xmas trees used in New Zealand) Many parents of small children decorate trees, hold Easter egg hunts. Practices vary considerably. Recommended that parents "be wise" with children in this regard.

PREFERRED IN SOME AREAS: Not to Vote. (God is in charge of who becomes a leader/ruler)
AREA VARIANCES: Lenience or no instructions given either way in some areas

AREA VARIANCES: Many friends have visited Reno or Las Vegas and participated in gambling, usually as a one-time fun activity.

DISCOURAGED: Professions requiring carrying armed weapons; involving entertainment world, such as playing a musical instrument or in a band; sports; hairdressers for women; cosmetologists; vocalists, broadcasters.

IN WAR TIME: Choose Status of Conscientious Objector where one does not bear arms.
IN PEACE: Some join armed services as a profession--some to obtain special training and education they offer, who could not otherwise afford same.

PROHIBITED: Not to take the Lord's Name in Vain
AREA VARIANCES: Slang, even "darn" or "gosh" are considered foul language by some.

PROHIBITED: Christian symbols are not to be displayed on one's body or in one's home, such as the cross, dove, fish, or pictures of Jesus or Scripture, large coffee-table Bibles. Religious greeting cards are not used.

19. MARRIAGE: Going into the work is the highest choice for one's life. Highly discourage marriage to Outsiders. Expected to marry someone within the group.
NO SEX before or outside of marriage.
AREA VARIANCES: Some are asked to quit taking part if they marry an outsider. A marriage between and Insider and outsider is termed a "divided home."

20. REMARRIAGE: Permissible when prior spouse is deceased.
AFTER DIVORCE: PROHIBITED--considered adultery.
AREA VARIANCES: In some areas after remarriage, participation in meetings and emblems denied to parties. In some cases, participation allowed, provided divorce took place BEFORE the person professed; allowed in some cases/areas AFTER some amount of time has elapsed. Customs VARY CONSIDERABLY in the USA, largely depending on the Overseer's preferences. Colorado takes a non-judgmental stand. Other countries tend to be more strict.

To be Day of Rest. No working on Sunday.
Many recreational activities curtailed on Sunday. NO swimming, fishing, attending recreational parks, working of any kind, sewing, washing hair, clothes or cars, gardening, mowing lawn, changing oil in car, housecleaning, shopping, etc.
AREA VARIANCES: Some essential occupations exempted, such as dairy farming, nursing, etc.

REQUIRED in order to go to Heaven.
Failure to observe some of the above Rules has caused some to be denied the rite of Baptism and Communion.

IDEAL: Attend all meetings in your area unless ill. Attend one full convention in your area per year; attending several conventions encouraged. Use King James Version of the Bible primarily; use of other translations becoming more common. Do not read/use any outside Christian books/material, except for a Concordance and Bible Atlas.
AREA VARIANCES: Men to wear ties to Sunday morning meetings.

EXCOMMUNICATION: . The regional Overseers of an area maintain absolute authority over all under their jurisdiction. Decisions made by that Overseer regarding those under his jurisdiction are neither reviewable nor changeable by any other Overseer; unless that Overseer has an Overseer over him. For the excommunicated person, there is no means of appeal.

Factsheet here []

More Info


Hope that helps, I'm not qualified to give advice on whether you should seek counselling, perhaps there are others on here that can share from their own experience.


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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: Notrance ()
Date: July 13, 2012 10:39PM

Reading through this site, like the link above and others, really helped me. I also read books on cults and abusive relationships. Got good therapy that wasn't cult recovery specific but worked on anxiety and PTSD issues.

Even though books on anxiety and PTSD and recovery from domestic violence might not mention cult recovery, they can still be very helpful.

I had to learn to be patient and compassionate with myself. And to fiercely claim my own life.

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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: madison2021 ()
Date: July 15, 2012 09:53AM

Thank you so much for the replies. Your overview of the 2x2's was excellent and very right on. I will read up more on these sites and hopefully as you said claim my life again. Werid how it affects the smallest things. Like for instance the inability I have to over throw my survival instincts even when I know its safe with trust...

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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: lenard ()
Date: July 26, 2012 10:22PM

Hey. My advice, being from a similar situation, is to find a parallel of some kind to pre-educate a counselor about the isolative and social effects of a cult or 'High Demand Religion' (HDR, which seems to be the new PC buzzword). The largest corpus of work about cult survivors (and we tend to be exactly that: 'survivors') is from the Children of God/The Family. In your case you will not find an exact parallel but the effects of sexual abuse combined with highly restricted behavior and social contacts with the 'outside world' are very, very similar. I recommend you find an account similar to your own (look for ex-family stuff on the web) and provide it to a prosepctive counselor. If they balk or prevaricate, walk away: that particular counselor will do more harm than good.

The VAST majority of people in society are point blank not going to understand you. You are going to be very, very alone in your work to integrate into greater society, and people are most often not going to understand your struggles with huge numbers of things they simply take for granted. A checklist would include:

-Losing your entire family... to a belief structure and not personality conflicts. This is very nearly impossible to explain to a counselor. A counselor is trained to talk about reconciliation and such; that is not applicable in these situations. I had a counselor try to force me to discuss the idea of a reconciliation with my family, and his cluelessness finally made me so angry I walked away. He had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, and did more damage in trying to force me into a learned template; it made me not trust counselors for a long time, and with the upbringing that the Outside World is untrustworthy, well, it's easy to see how damaging that was.

-Anxiety NOT caused by unreasoning fear from a personality disorder (you are not bi-polar, etc.) but by inexperience with everyday things that a counselor has always had, and can't imagine not having in their lives. The Outside World is, to ex-cult kids, a terrifying place. Try to explain to a counselor the obviously irrational terror that getting a driver's license or a telephone will send you to Hell.

-Language. Words to an ex-cult kid have different meanings than other, Outside World people, and can trigger massive anxiety without the other person realizing it. I still can't hear the word 'System' without clenching up.

...and a variety of others. What you actually do need is a place to discuss your work of integrating into a new life, without dwelling on the old one. That's going to require you to direct your own counseling, and try to keep the 'professional' from concentrating on trying to link your old life with the new one, without condemning the old life or glorifying the new one. As for day to day things, well, since a major problem with ex-cult kids is a really poorly developed sense of comfort or discomfort with situations, due to unfamiliarity (mostly), it's going to be up to the people around you to guide your behavior in a way that allows them to relate to you more easily... and up to you to try to develop a sense of what you are comfortable or uncomfortable with. I'm telling you this from experience.

IMPORTANT: depending on the people around you to help and guide you in your behavior in your new life in the Outside World is obviously jam-packed full with opportunities for abuse. And I mean REAL ABUSE. Finding people to trust to help you integrate and modify your behavior in your new life is, I'm not going to lie... it's gonna suck.

I recommend kind of hovering in situations, while not allowing yourself to be drawn into them until you feel comfortable with them. Be very, very careful about developing a sense of what is 'right' or 'wrong' for yourself.

Oh man. Well. Absolutely best of luck.

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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: Toni ()
Date: August 18, 2012 11:41AM

Here's an old thread about "Born or Raised" in a cult


It gets better. I promise!


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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: hopeful123 ()
Date: December 11, 2012 05:05AM

Im sorry this happened to you Madison. But it was your uncle and your family and the worker that went wrong. I am a professing woman. I go to meetings. Like any group there are bad people who do bad things. Not all friends and workers are like what you have been through. Your family cut you out. Not the meetings. As for the list of rules, I havent seen a list or even been told about a list. I can read the Bible myself. I can see for myself what God wants for me.

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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: yasmin ()
Date: December 23, 2012 03:08PM

Hopeful 123; I think the idea was that this was a collection of "unwritten" rules in the 2by2s. Do you do think that most of the things listed describe accurately the behaviors of the people you know in the group? Do most people conform to most of those things?
Madison, hope things are going a lot better for you now. And don't throw out all those survival instincts; they can still be very useful. Better to go slow, and only trust those who earn it, imo.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/23/2012 03:10PM by yasmin.

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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: madison2021 ()
Date: December 24, 2012 01:53AM

Thank you for your replies.
@lenard. Thank you for sharing. You made me feel a little more normal. I get everything your saying. I do use the hovering tactic all the time. I find I can't get from hovering to personal. It's takes along time and I never fully trust them ever. I do have a great boyfriend and by that I don't mean in some movie way lol. He grew up entirely different. In a very healthy nurturing family. He's very grounded and doesn't rush or make me feel bad for being different. I have to say its a lot harder to relate to to him because he can't even imagine my life. By I'm learning a lot of behavior from him and his family. Like you said its the only way to learn how to interact or feel etc. I'm only hope is my inability to trust doesn't ruin it before I can change that

@ hopeful123. I understand what your saying by placing blame on my family. It is true this is their decision but I feel that the religion made them blind and somewhat forced into that way of dealing with it. So I'm not going to take blame from my family. They are wrong 100%. But why does most of the people I grew up going to church with not talk to me?
I know they have been told lies about the abuse etc. but why won't a worker clarify this for parents of vulnerable children? Why is he allowed(with no help or counsellung) to roam free and I am shunned?
As for the rules there is no list of know that. But expectations. Like the other poster said " unwritten" rules. If you happen to live in an area where they are more lax then that might be your experience. But in my area they were very strict. As with other religions some of them are die Hards some are not...same religion though
There are some great people in the religion who are honest and right but what about these kinds of things. If you don't beileve awful secrets are being kept. Do a little research. I'm sure if you live anywhere near my area you could find out about this or other things...people talk. Ask questions..

I will try looking for someone to connect with. If anyone happens to want to bounce things off each other get in touch with me

Thanks again for taking the time to respond to me :)

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Re: Born and raised in a cult..recovery?
Posted by: knotty ()
Date: March 17, 2013 06:01PM


Hi, I was in a cult for a few years but have seen the damage that being born into one causes as one of my high school friends was born into one (small cults are rather common in Georgia). When I was trying to heal, I also encountered the same problem with therapists being clueless about the damage that the cult has done. Well what I did was journal. I journaled 3-4 pages a day and jounalling saved my mind. I also adopted an attitude of question everything I ever believed and question everything that was ever taught to me. Like when I was in the cult, we were taught that we couldnt do anything unless it was "god's will". Well when I questioned it....Does this help me grow as a person, does this liberate my mind or does this hinder or entrap me? Well on the surface it seems innocent enough, but in reality, it prevents me from having initiative for my own life as if I waiting for some magic marching orders to think for me. It really rather henious. So you do that with everything you either learned dirrectly or indirectly...its a long process, but worthwhile.

It took me a while to be able to enjoy "worldly" things without feelings of guilt. The unwarrented guilt and shame is really strong when you get out. All the things that were drummed into you all these years, when you begin to let go of cultic ideas and try to assimlate into the world, feelings of guilt and feelings that you are doing something wrong are very strong and the way to overcome this is begin to develop your own moral code of what is right and wrong. The only way to do that is search your heart to guide you. Its hard to start listening to your own intincts after years of others controling what you believe, but as Shakespeare says "To thine own self be true". Cults by their nature try to mold you into the the group's persona, but the real you is there, beneath it all and the best way to really get to know who you are is to approach it as a fun discovery mission rather than with the emotionality that you have no idea who you are.

But my best advice to you is journalling. And when I say journalling I really mean write whatever comes to mind, no matter how simple or complex or whatever...just write your heart out anything and everything that comes to mind. Things will bubble up to surface that will help you understand yourself better and help you understand what your personal truth is and help guide yourself through recovery. Its not by some divine force this happens, but writing helps bring things to the surface of your consciouness that you otherwise would not have been able to access. You have all this crap jammed deep within your psyche and not untill your release the log jam, are you going to be able to heal. So when you write and it is full of anger and complaining and whining....good! That needs to be expressed in order to be released.

a really good book on finding yourself and your own spirituality (or lack there of) is one actually meant to help artists unblock themselves is called "The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. This book played a pivitol role in helping me heal from the cult. Its 12 week workbook that uses weekly creative extersizes, journalling, and the weekly artist's date which are basicly "dates" with your inner self doing whatever you want to do, no matter how simple or playful or odd it may seem, like one time I bought bubbles and blew them around the yard and in the trees...that was so simple but so healing.

Anyway, there is hope for your recovery...just be patient with yourself and give yourself the love and acceptance that you always needed. There is no replacement for self acceptance.

Anyway I hope that helps get you pointed in the right dirrection. I am not a therapist, nor would I ever claim to be one, but I have mostly recovered from my cult experience, but it took about 10 years. Its a slow process, there are no magic answers and avoid any one who claims to have a magic solution to your suffering.

take care of yourself,


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