Ohio Treatment Center Specializes In Spiritual Abuse From Cults

10-TV News, Ohio/November 17, 2011

Albany, Ohio -- The Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, hidden away in rural southeastern Ohio, is one of only two residential treatment centers in the U.S. that helps victims of emotional and spiritual abuse from relationships and cults.

Andie Redwine was born and raised in a doomsday cult. The Indiana woman wrote "Paradise Recovered," a fictional movie based on her own experiences, 10TV's Andrea Cambern reported.

After escaping the cult as a teenager, Redwine was counseled at Wellspring.

For 25 years, Wellspring has helped survivors of cults and abuse come to terms with what has happened to them.

She wrote the screenplay in 2009 and interviewed 100 other survivors from 18 cults, Cambern reported.

Although the messages among the cults were different, the control was the same.

She says the cult she was in controlled how members dressed, who they married, even the music they heard.

"We were allowed to listen to certain kinds of music but it had to be approved by headquarters," Redwine said.

According to Redwine, in some years, 30 percent of cult members' pre-tax income was going to the group.

"To this day, they were some of the finest people I've ever known," Redwine said. "But they were duped by a swindler who really thought that he could make money."

Redwine said that the cult's leader made predictions that did not come true.

"He would make Jesus' coming back on this date (and said) we all need to get ready," Redwine said. "Jesus wouldn't come back and then it would be our fault."

Tara Pennock, another cult survivor, said that she was in a cult for 2 ΒΌ years. She said that she escaped the cult with the help of her family, even though it was difficult leaving.

"It's even harder if you're raised in the group because you've been isolated," said Gregory Sammons, Wellspring's interim executive director. "You've grown up in this group and you don't know what normal is."

Sammons said that cult leaders use natural disasters as a way to convince followers that God is angry with them and to guilt them into behaving.

"(They say) you're going to hell. You're going to get sick. You're going to die," Sammons said.

"The member is sort of dangling over this chasm of hell by a silk thread," Redwine said. "The cult leader is standing there with a razor blade, just waiting for you to screw up."

At Wellspring, clients are not "deprogrammed." Instead, survivors voluntarily move in for two weeks of intensive counseling, Cambern reported.

According to Sammons, many suffer from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, as if they had been through combat.

"Before, I was really depressed and anxious," Pennock said.

Clients learn that it was not their fault that they were controlled. The staff teaches them how the control worked and helps survivors re-frame the way they see the world.

"I feel emotionally so much better, really uplifted," Pennock said. "I have hope for my future now."

Redwine wrote the film to shine light on a dark corner.

Treatment at Wellspring is expensive, Cambern reported. Redwine said that she is so grateful for what it did for her that she is donating a portion of the profits of her film to Wellspring so other survivors can get the help they need.

The film is expected to play at the Gateway Theater near The Ohio State University campus in early 2012, Cambern reported.

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