'The Church of Christ manipulated me through guilt and fear'

October 22, 1999

Chaplains warn of abusive sect

A former student at Birmingham University, Susannah was in her second year when she bumped into Sophie.

"At the time I was feeling lonely and vulnerable. Through Sophie, I began to make new friends who belonged to the church. They were affectionate and would give me hugs."

Susannah, a Christian, became baptised into the Church of Christ and soon found all her social life was taken up and the church was controlling virtually every aspect of her life. She was told she had to contribute to church funds even if it meant going without food.

Socialising was strictly controlled. "As my commitment grew, my friends outside the church told me I should leave while I had the chance. But in the Bible it says you will be persecuted for your faith so I didn't take any notice of them. Soon I stopped having anything to do with friends who were not in the church."

She also became isolated from her parents. But after a year she started having doubts and feared she would never see her family again. She decided to leave despite being told she would go to Hell.

"The church manipulated me through guilt and fear. Since I left I have been suffering psychological trauma.

"I am taking anti-depressants and seeing a counsellor," Susannah said.

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