This piece by Chelsea was originally published on her personal blog. Chelsea is a pillar of support to other girls who are emerging from their Mercy Ministries experience.
I cannot tell you what to do. I cannot persuade you away from Mercy Ministries. You see in the end your going or not going doesn’t really effect my cause. In the end it’s your decision. What I can do is educate you. I am not writing this to scare you. I am writing this because you deserve to know how to defend yourselves.
I’ve had some other Mercy Survivors help me out with this list.
- Your entire future does not lay in the hands of what plays out at Mercy Ministries. If Mercy doesn’t work out, they are not the end. There is HOPE after Mercy. Mercy is never the end. Their success rate is extremely questionable.
- You are allowed to leave there at any time. NO really you are. If they tell you to go “pray long and hard about it” or to “find ungodly beliefs that may be causing you to want to leave”. This is a brainwashing technique. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO LEAVE. If you have to physically get up and go find a phone yourself at a nearby neighbors, go. Even if they won’t let you use theirs. You have this right. They cannot hold you hostage. They do not have this right. You will not shut the place down if you leave. You are there voluntarily and you can leave at anytime you please.
- If you don’t believe your parents abused you now, they didn’t. Mercy uses repressed memory therapy. Repressed memory therapy is a coercive technique that may cause you to start thinking that your parents abused you when they did not. This will cause you to start hating them and not return home. This is especially true of the California home.
- If you are having self harm issues/ eating disorder issues and the staff make you feel guilty for this, it’s not right. You are not ungodly, you are not a failure, you are not attention seeking. You are struggling and you need help. Finding godly beliefs will not help you.
- If something makes you feel uncomfortable, anything at all. You need to speak up. From some recreational activity, to something in the church. If they berate you for speaking up, you need to leave. You have the right to boundaries.
- What you’re allowed to share with other girls is very limited. And girls will tell on you if you share too much. You are not allowed to speak at all about what brought you into Mercy. This helps Mercy to gain better control and not give a sense of bonding to the girls. Sometimes this may make you feel like you don’t know what you’re ALLOWED to say, because you don’t want to get in trouble. It’s okay you’re not alone. Other girls have felt like this too.
- Your level of godliness does not depend on how high you can jump during praise and worship. You do not have to speak in tongues. If they attempt to perform exorcisms on you and this makes you feel uncomfortable, tell them immediately. They may respond with “that’s just a demon speaking”. This is not a demon speaking. This is your ability to judge well and use logic. In this case don’t fight. It will only make it worse. But try to leave as soon as possible. Remember there is REAL treatment out there that will help you. Please remember if you are saved that it’s actually not possible to be possessed by a demon. So feel safe knowing that.
- They may speak about a “spirit of rebellion”. Being critical of Mercy’s program and being rebellious are two very separate things okay?
- At Mercy you’re not really allowed to feel negative emotions. You have thirty days to feel homesick and then it’s expected to disappear immediately. Feeling sad, or angry is extremely discouraged. But can I just tell you that it’s okay to feel those things. And even okay to feel those things AT mercy or pertaining to your time there. If you’re homesick, you’re allowed to feel homesick. Even if you can’t talk about it. If the program makes you angry. That’s okay too. If cleaning the toilets makes you mad. That’s fine too. It’s all okay. It’s okay to feel those things. Your anger may (or may not) actually be in response to your boundaries being crossed. Our emotions are often responses to external stimuli, where as Mercy may play off as “Spirits of bitterness or stubbornness”.
- They depend on you to get them sponsors and money. They want you smiling a lot.
- Mercy will keep you very busy and not give you much time to think. You will jump from one thing to the next thing. Try not to get to caught up in it all.
- You will not be allowed to use the internet, or watch TV, your phone use will be extremely limited. This is called information control in cults.
- You are allowed to stay on your psychiatric drugs. Mercy Ministries cannot coerce you or force you to get off of them. This includes forcing you to listen to materials about how psychiatric drugs don’t actually help psychiatric illnesses. They do help psychiatric illnesses. And plenty of real scientists and people in the psychiatric community will back me up on this.
- If you have done something to make them upset Mercy will abandon you. They are not about unconditional love. They will give you three hours notice and send you home on a flight. Or abandon you at some psych ward or a Bus stop. I have heard story after story after story after story. So don’t feel like a failure. You are NOT the only one. Okay?
- They may speak about an “unwillingness to change”. But just because Mercy didn’t work out for you does not in anyway mean that you are “unwilling to change”. In fact it might mean quite the opposite. Try not to beat yourself up.
- Don’t walk in and expect to see girls chanting in the hallways, voodoo dolls hanging from the ceilings and batches of cyanide laced kool aid in the back room. Mercy manipulates people. They take away their core being. They are not the typical thought of “cult”. They are very underhanded. You will see the opposite. Girls with smiles plastered on their faces. And staff who are overly nice.
Take a quote from Jeanine Mills From the People’s Temple
“When you meet the friendliest people you have ever known, who introduce you to the most loving group of people you’ve ever encountered, and you find the leader to be the most inspired, caring, compassionate and understanding person you’ve ever met, and then you learn the cause of the group is something you never dared hope could be accomplished, and all of this sounds too good to be true-it probably is too good to be true! Don’t give up your education, your hopes and ambitions to follow a rainbow.”
This is a good piece to read before you go:
If when you get back you need us. Please go to the Mercy Survivors Website. Mercysurvivors.com.