12 WARNING SIGNS OF A POTENTIALLY UNSAFE GROUP, LEADER OR CULT

  1. The leader asserts absolute authoritarianism without accountability and anything the leader does can be justified.
  2. There is no tolerance for questions, critical thinking or inquiry; the group leader is always right.
  3. Followers are trained to believe that they are never good enough, and shame is a part of their regular indoctrination.
  4. Dependency upon the leader or group is required for even the most basic problems.
  5. Reporting on members for disobedient actions or thoughts is mandated and rewarded.
  6. Members incessantly scramble with cramped schedules and activities full of largely meaningless work based on the leader’s agenda.
  7. There is no meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses.
  8. Monetary, sexual, or servile labor is expected to gain promotion.
  9. The ‘outside’ world — often including family and friends — is presented as rife with evil, temptations and impending catastrophe.
  10. Recruitment of new members is designed to be purposefully upbeat and vague about the actual operations of the leader and group.
  11. Former members are shunned and perceived as hostile and often relate similar stories of abuse and grievances. There is recorded evidence (books, news articles, television programs) that document the abuses of the group and/or the leader.
  12. There is no legitimate reason to leave and former followers are always depicted as wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.