The Aftermath Foundation

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  1. exseaorgclocmoflagetc

    exseaorgclocmoflagetc Patron with Honors

    yes, now i will, Ive asked you to please leave me alone 3 times now.

    AGAIN leave me alone. you seem to like to fight, i do not.
     
  2. Type4_PTS

    Type4_PTS Diamond Invictus SP

    The following is an open letter sent to the Aftermath Foundation, published on their FB page the day before Christmas.
    Bree, the author, gave me permission to copy/paste it onto ESMB:





    I have been in a crazy world since I was a young child. Not by choice. I am now FREE, happy, and establishing MY Life for the first time really.

    Let this serve as a message of Hope to everyone. Merry Christmas!

    Dear Luis,

    Now that I’ve had a change to settle in here a little bit more, I wanted to send you all at the Aftermath Foundation a longer note so you really understand the impact you have had on my life. This may get a little long but I want you to really know where I came from and went through to understand just how amazing your help truly is to me and how much my life has changed since escaping scientology. You have my permission to share this as my story may help others.

    I was not born into Scientology. My parents divorced when I was 2 years old and a few years later, my mom remarried. My stepdad was a scientologist and my mom was instantly hooked. After less than 6 months, she was working for our local org and in 2001, she went to Flag for training. She was away for almost a year and our stepdad raised my younger brother and I during that time. My dad was never a scientologist and in fact was “rabidly antagonistic” for many years. However, since my mom had primary custody and my dad was always broke and bouncing from job to job, mom just had more credibility with us kids and over time my relationship with my dad splintered and broke.

    Growing up with a mom “on staff” meant that we saw her for only a few minutes a day, plus one night a week. Most of my nights were spent running around the org with the few other staff kids. We lived in a small two-bedroom apartment. Once we were too old to share a room, my little brother was moved to the living room where he got a bedroom made from partitions. There were never savings for college because any spare money was going to the scientology for services. My brother and I were coached on what to tell our dad to “handle” him on scientology.

    I was a happy kid until I was the victim of sexual abuse from my older cousin for several years as well, from age 4 to 9. When I finally told my mom, the first thing she had me do was an “O/W write-up,” dictated to her, to find out exactly what I had done. (An “O/W write-up” is short for an “Overt and Witholds write-up, it is what scientologists do when something bad happens to them. You have to write down everything you can think of that YOU did and was bad, and everything you can think of that you are hiding and not talking about. The notion is that if something terrible happened to you is because you caused it, you brought it upon yourself with your own “bad actions.”) Through this process I was made to feel the sexual abuse was my fault. As a little kid I was deeply traumatized by this and I have had lasting feelings of shame and guilt and it’s taken almost a decade to move past this. I know my mom intended to help but instead of taking me to a child therapist, she followed her solidly ingrained scientology principles and inadvertently harmed me more than she helped.

    I had “wog” (non-scientologists) friends throughout my childhood, but after elementary school I was put into our local Applied Scholastics private school (a joke of a school) and I graduated shortly after my 15th birthday. Being essentially raised a scientologist and indoctrinated that I was supposed to already be an adult in a small body, I wanted nothing more than to get to work and start living a real life. Of course, in California, who is going to hire a 15-year old kid? Scientology, that’s who!

    I worked for the Valley Org from November 2006 until January 2012, ages 15 to 21, starting at 40 hours a week and almost immediately being bumped up to 65 to70 hours a week. Pay was atrocious if there was money for pay at all, because usually all the income went to paying the rent. The most I was ever paid was $50 unless there was a Christmas bonus. One year I made $300!

    Being one of the only full-time staff members meant that I couldn’t get a “moonlight job” to support myself, so I was stuck living off my parents. There are so many stories to illustrate the issues I faced during this time… I was essentially robbed of my later childhood and formative adult years. I never went to college and I later found out that the Applied Scholastics school I went to was not accredited so even if I had wanted to, I would have run into issues. While my friends were discovering themselves, I fell into a rut where scientology was THE only thing defining my life, defining me.

    I met my now ex-husband on staff at the org as well. I was 17 and he was 20 when we started dating and within six months, we were engaged. It was your classic whirlwind romance and, and although there were flaws and issues with the relationship, I brushed them all aside. Of course, both being staff and Scientologists, I knew that any problem I had with him simply meant that I had committed overts (transgressions) on him, so they couldn’t possibly be valid issues.

    By 2012, I was miserable and borderline suicidal. I was stuck on staff with a contract that lasted another year and a half. I was 21 but not allowed to go out and party because of my post. I had very little time off and almost no pay. I had fallen out of love with my fiancé but of course that was only due to my own overts so I really couldn’t speak up about it. My friends from school were moving on without me. I had to do SOMETHING.

    So, of course, I joined the Sea Org. What better way to get out of a staff contract? I was already being paid less than a Sea Org member but being forced to keep Sea Org hours, so why not get free room and board?

    Critical thinking was not my strong suit, obviously.

    I got married in a short ceremony behind a courthouse in Van Nuys, next to the dumpsters, then sped off to start the EPF (orientation and training course, sort of a boot camp for new Sea Org members) just before 2 pm on a Thursday in January of 2012. Romantic, right? Don’t worry, I also had a real ceremony several months later in the ASHO chapel, one which my husband was almost not allowed to attend due to a state of emergency in his stats.

    I was a Sea Org member from January 2012 until mid-October 2018. During that time, I received 3 Committees of Evidence, a Court of Ethics and more Lower Conditions than I can recall (these are all different types of “justice actions” imposed by scientology on those who stray or simply make mistakes or have low production statistics). I had more “justice actions” than I had days off! Of course, I can’t give you a blow-by-blow account of my Sea Org career since that would take years, but I can give you some snapshots.

    As soon as I finished the EPF in 2012, I was turned into a Missionaire and sent to the Orange County Org. I stayed in OC for almost a year, working late every day and regularly being told that I was unproductive and slacking off, until I became so depressed that I was again suicidal. When I told my senior that I was having thoughts of walking into traffic, she told me, “Stop it, no you’re not. Don’t lie to me and don’t ever say things like that again to anyone, it could affect your quals.” In other words, if I were to talk like that to others, I could be kicked out of the Sea Org; so “don’t!” The thought of losing a Sea Org member was more concerning to my senior than my wellbeing. These thoughts plagued me sporadically over the years but I never told anyone about it again.

    My husband was sent to Flag for training, where he remained for about two years. We spoke a few times a week as well as emailed regularly, but really had no way of knowing when we would see each other again. In fact, I did not see him in two years and I never told him about what I was going through, because that would have been a distraction from his training.

    Shortly after that conversation, I was removed from the mission and posted in the LRH Comm Office at WUS level. I had a job I liked, paperwork mostly, and was far enough removed from any sort of pressure point that I started enjoying my job. Of course, that would never do, so after a few months of this I was made the Snr Qual Sec WUS, a post I would remain on for a few years and truly one of the worst points in my life.

    While on that post, I slept very little, ate sporadically and took up smoking. I was screamed at daily for not achieving impossible targets and more than once I was sent to wash dishes for the heinous crime of backtalk. Case on post was forbidden, which means no one can display any sign of resistance or negative emotion on the job. Instead you are expected to be silent and obedient. I got very good at repressing all emotion and silently complying. Of course, all of my negative feelings were my own fault, since everyone was just trying to save the world, and any misgivings I had were simply a byproduct of my own overts.

    My husband returned from Flag as a Power C/S, essentially he was one of only two people on the West Coast who were qualified to do specific high-level actions, which made him extremely valuable to scientology. He was, and continues to be, extremely loyal to scientology, so if I ever was to confide in him, he would simply direct me to see my ethics officer, and most likely he would report me as a dissenter.

    Around the same time, my dad confessed to me that he had started using speed. After almost a year of trying to get him clean without ever being allowed to go to see him for more than a few hours at a time, I was advised to disconnect; so I did. I didn’t see or speak to my dad for almost 3 years, until I left scientology.

    Then, in 2015, I got pregnant. I saw the MLO (medical officer) and was told that I needed to decide what I was going to do right then and there. Without consulting my husband, I decided to have an abortion. Of course, I couldn’t have consulted him even if I wanted to; any discussion of NOT getting an abortion would have been a violation of policy, sort of an “unauthorized departure.” As a Sea Org member, having a baby is deemed by scientology as a distraction that would take me away from saving the planet, and I would have gotten in trouble for even considering it. I also spoke to my HCO about changing posts because I was so unhappy and was again assigned a lower condition (steps one must take when one has sank into a non-optimum state of being. In some cases, one must do amends to “make up the damage caused”). I was back to work the day after my abortion, where the Commanding Officer told me in front of the whole crew that I was a disgrace and I should not be allowed to show my face there, since I had “tried to blow post by getting pregnant.”

    Six months later I got pregnant again. This time I decided I was going to keep the baby. This time was going to be different because this was going to be my ticket out of the Sea Org. What followed were two months of extended psychological waterboarding.

    My husband and I were immediately separated, he was moved out of our room in the middle of the day and I found out when I came home and his things were all missing. We were not allowed to speak for almost two weeks. I was seen daily by various friends, coworkers and seniors, who spent many hours trying to convince me to get an abortion by pointing out how valuable I and my husband were to the scientology, I was told about how when people left the Sea Org they became unemployed or otherwise degraded and various other tactics. Others, who I had considered close friends, and even my Maid of Honor and best friend, simply gave me the cold shoulder and pretended I no longer existed. I was put to work doing labor in the kitchens, out of sight from the rest of the staff, and made to eat at a separate time so that no one would have to see such a degraded person like me. I was put through a 65-question Sec Check (an extensive interrogation), despite the fact that my morning sickness was so bad I was throwing up everything except crackers and water. And finally, one night, I was taken aside by a woman who had also had an abortion, someone I considered a friend, and after many hours, she convinced me that I didn’t want to have a child and that if I didn’t get an abortion, I would be committing an evil act on scientology by forcing my husband to leave the Sea Org with me.

    I had my second abortion at the end of November and right after New Year’s, in January 2016, I was put onto the Cat B EPF (essentially reconditioning, since I had tried to leave the Sea Org by getting pregnant again and needed to be indoctrinated anew to ensure it wouldn’t happen again).

    I completed all of my requirements, I was again loyal to the cause and I was ready to get back to work, but there was just one hiccup. See, while I was doing my Cat B, another Sea Org member had gotten pregnant and kept it a secret until it was too late to abort, and she had done this immediately after completing HER Cat B EPF. So, the higher ups reasoned that I could just do the same thing My husband was too valuable to lose as a resource and obviously I couldn’t be trusted. I was told that I would not be allowed to graduate the EPF until I convinced my husband to get a vasectomy.

    I will forever be ashamed to admit that I immediately did just that. He was emotionally wrecked by this and up until the day I left he was still suffering intermittent pain both physically and mentally from the surgery. That’s on me.

    I was then trained to be a Course Supervisor and went on to teach Administrative courses to Executives from all over the world in the LA Org OOT Program (people sent for training from other Orgs). Honestly, it was fun. I liked it. I was having a good time and I could have gone on indefinitely there, safe in my little routine. The only problem was that I kept getting in trouble for making friends with the non-Sea Org students. God forbid a Sea Org member ever associates with non-Sea Org).

    I was stuck married to someone I didn’t even see anymore. My marriage was an unhappy one, but I could live with that. Sure, I was making $50 a week and had very little personal agency, but I could live with that. I was happy in my prison of belief. I was saving the world!

    And then, at the end of 2016, I was again made a Missionaire.

    I will not bore you by rehashing everything I’ve said before. It was more of the same. Sleepless nights, heavy pressure, lots of yelling and being told how I’m not good enough… you name it. I was a Missionaire up until the day I left. I was sent to Mountain View (now Silicon Valley) in May 2017 and I stayed there, through the Ideal Org Grand Opening and their first year of operation. Again, I was lonely, I was depressed and I was starting to think about suicide. I hadn’t seen my husband except for a couple of overnight visits for over two years, and when I did see him, I found that what I wanted more than anything was NOT to see him. Due to his position in the Church and the importance of keeping him happy, I already knew that divorce would not be an option. I would have been “handled” to stay with him and put back into Sec Checks. I loved the staff I worked with but hated seeing them worked to death and unhappy. I was again given impossible targets to hit with the threat of more justice actions if they were not accomplished.

    I like to have fun. I like dicking around on the internet. Surprise! I’m a millennial, cult or no cult. By Scientology standards, I was pretty damn awful. So what happened here was a couple things.

    First, my scientology-issued, heavily bugged and regulated, filled-with-spyware phone, broke. I was lucky and got a free phone from one of the staff at the org and got a month-to-month plan. Suddenly, totally unplanned, I had a line to the outside world which was not monitored or controlled by anyone. Was I thinking about escape? Nope! I was thinking about Reddit. So I installed the app and suddenly, I could dick around online to my heart’s content.

    Ridiculous, right?

    Well, my ridiculous little hobby grew and after a few months, I started actually talking to online people. You may find this hard to believe, but I never researched scientology, I never went to any blogs or websites or contacted any ex-scientologists. I never even wanted to! See, I was a good scientologist and everyone knows that the only reasons people are against scientology are either that they’re evil or they’re misinformed. So why bother?

    What did happen, though, was I started making friends. And I started realizing, “hey, MY LIFE IS NOT NORMAL.” I realized that working 90-120 hours a week with almost no pay and no time off isn’t right. Talking to normal people who had weekends, money, vacations… I started wanting more in my life. I started rebelling privately. I cut my hair short, I started wearing crazy earrings and nail polish. I spent more and more time online. And in order to maintain the little corner of my life I had built, I started faking the statistics I was supposed to be working hard to get up and up. And no one noticed! As long as the numbers on the graph were what people wanted to see, they mostly passed without comment. Never mind that the org was empty! The numbers said we were growing, and that is all anyone wanted to hear.

    Meanwhile, I was growing desperate to have a real life. I needed to grow, to explore and to figure out myself as a person. Then the call came: the mission was almost over. We would be returning to Los Angeles soon, sometime in the next month or so, and my newly-found freedom would be gone. No more phone, no more Reddit, no more internet friends. And I would be Sec Checked until every bad thing I had done was discovered and I knew the rest of my life would be spent in the galley. Any chance of escape would be gone.

    At about that same time, I met a guy through Reddit and we clicked right away. We talked for hours, stayed up until 5 am talking. After a day, I told him I wanted to run away with him. I told him everything: my involvement with scientology, my loveless marriage… all of it. He told me he’d help me, but I’d need to pay him $2,700 up front for rent, and handle all my own expenses. If I could figure that out, he would help me. I didn’t have any other options, so I took out a $3,000 loan at 120% interest. Remember, $50 a week pay plus a smoking habit = $0 in the bank. I already had a credit card with about $3,500 in debt; my husband used it to buy things for his truck and his gun collection.

    I was careful. I didn’t tell anyone what I was thinking or doing. I made no indication that anything was different or wrong. Years of working for scientology had made me an expert at hiding my thoughts and emotions. I was good at survival. I booked a flight to Minnesota with a prepaid Visa card so no one could trace me. I deleted my internet history and stopped using my scientology email address. I changed all of my passwords and deleted the records I had kept of any false statistics. I started thinking about my escape on Wednesday, and on Friday night I packed everything I could fit into a backpack and a carry-on, and took an Uber to the airport.

    That night at the airport was the longest night of my life. I feared I could be discovered and “caught.” Then, there would be no talking my way out of it. No escape. No hope of rescue. I knew that by leaving (blowing) the way I did, I had burned every bridge I had ever built. I had not spoken to my dad in three years and I had not spoken to any “wog” friends since joining the Sea Org. I had one connection left in the world, and it was to an internet stranger in Minnesota. I know it was crazy, but what I was escaping from was worse than the possibility of what I was about to walk into. A world where I had to start from scratch with no connections, no money, debts and no degree or job was still much better than the only world I knew.

    Spoiler alert: I escaped. The plan worked and by the time anyone realized I was missing, I was already safe in the air.

    It took them four days to find me.

    I had changed my number and my email address shortly after landing in Minnesota and I hadn’t told anyone my new address. In fact, the only place I put my address was on my resume, typed up and sent out on my laptop, which I had brought with me from California. I got a job within three days and on my first day at work, my roommate texted me: “Your little brother is knocking on my door.”

    They had bugged my laptop.

    And since I wasn’t home, my brother waited in the parking lot for two days until he caught me outside.

    I was walking into the apartment complex when he bolted out from the parking lot and grabbed me tight, preventing me from getting in the door. He was crying, saying how terrified he and my mom had been, demanding to know what was happening. I told him to get off of me and leave, or I would call the cops. He couldn’t believe it. I told him I was no longer a scientologist and that I was exactly where I wanted to be. He left without another word. That was the last I heard from him, or any Scientologist. I mailed my letter of resignation that night.

    There is still someone staking out my old apartment daily! They also started calling my landlord and roommate repeatedly, asking for any information on me. I had to move out, and as far as I can tell, they don’t know where I’ve gone. We’ll see how long that lasts.

    Now here’s the thing. I came to Minnesota with nothing I couldn’t carry, aside from my debts. I got a temp job with no benefits, and that ended. I had rent paid through the end of the year, but no plans after that. I had jumped from one frying pan into another.

    And then I found the Aftermath Foundation. How? Well, once again, I turned to Reddit for help.

    See, I figured that I was already going to be declared a Suppressive Person. What did I have to lose? I wanted to finally know, what was the rest of the world saying about Scientology, and why? What could be so bad? I was naïve.

    Within an hour, I found Chris Shelton’s Reddit account and I sent him a message. One message turned into a chat which turned into a three-hour phone call. And Chris said, “Look, I can’t promise you anything, but there is a Foundation that you need to know about. I’m going to put you in touch with them. I think they will be able to help you.”

    Luis, I cannot tell you how much those words turned my life around. I had escaped a cult, but at what cost? I had my life and that was it. It was going to take a lot of fancy footwork to stay above water, and what limited freedom was I going to have if my life still consisted of living day to day, on my own, trying to learn how to survive in the world by myself? Everyone needs a support system and the Aftermath Foundation gave me that.

    Chris put me in touch with Aaron, and again we talked for hours. Even if all I had gotten was someone who truly understood, that would have been enough. The pain I was going through mentally and emotionally was finally understood by someone. But Aaron, Claire, you... anyone and everyone involved with the Foundation gave me so much more than that.

    I don’t know if you have ever visited Minnesota in the fall or winter, but let me tell you: IT IS COLD! Especially for a California native going unprepared into weather that doesn’t go above freezing for a few months is a little rough. I was living off of what was left on my credit card for food and since I didn't have a car, I had to Uber or rely on public transport to get to work, once I got another job.

    Within days of first talking to Aaron and submitting an application, I received a grant from the Foundation that not only paid off the loan I had taken out, but gave me enough money to get winter clothes, food and transport until my first paycheck at my new job. A few weeks after that, the Foundation sponsored me and put down the payment on a car as well as the first month of insurance so I could get to work. Aaron has been available any time I needed him and was instrumental in teaching me how to even go about buying a car. There are so many pitfalls in life and the members of the Foundation have been there for me every step of the way.

    When I left scientology, I lost my family. I lost my friends. I lost my husband. But you know what? I gained myself.

    Thank you, thank you a million times, thank you. Could I have done it without you? Maybe. Would it have broken me that much more to be alone? Yes. Because of the work you all do at the Aftermath Foundation, I know that I am not alone. I always have someone I can turn to for help, guidance, support or advice.

    I have been free for a little over two months. I have never been happier. I have made friends who are extremely supportive. I have a new roommate and a boyfriend. I have a job I love, with benefits!!! And a car. Last week I learned how to do money management. And my life continues to evolve. I continue to grow.

    Because of your help, I know I’m gonna make it.

    Thank you. And Merry Christmas.

    Love,
    Bree

    P.S. Here's some pictures for y'all too! :)

    bree.PNG
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
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