On July 5, 2018, something big was happening in the Saint Martin of Pangoa located in the Peruvian Rainforest. Patricia Aguilar, a young woman who was declared missing since summer 2016, was finally found living on precarious conditions. Patricia was victim of the sect “Gnosis”. A sect, or cult, is a group that devotes an excess admiration towards an idea, religious belief or political stance that has a total damaging control over their members. Unfortunately, more and more people are falling victim to this vile organization due to the lack of awareness that exists around them.

A Tragedy

According to the Harvard Institute of Medicine, it’s pretty common for people that had experienced a heavy loss to start doing spiritual rituals for answers; maybe it was this search for answers that drove Patricia to her captor, as she was grieving for the death of her beloved uncle. Many victims fall in a very similar fashion: While searching for answers to their grief, they often stumble in front of this cults or gain contact with one of their members, as they offer a sense of community and even hope for the future, only to find out about the true nature of the organization when it’s too late. In this case, Patricia didn’t find out about the true nature of Prince Gurdjieff, the Gnosis cult’s leader, until she was already trapped with two other women.

Mind Of Evil

Soon after talking with Prince Gurdjieff (whose real name is Felix Steven Manrique Gomez) via private message on Facebook, she became enthralled with him. He started to recommend her strange lectures and videos of himself while telling her it was an astrological sign that they have met. With words such as “my love” or “sweetheart”, he convinced her that they had met in a past life. This technique is called “Love Bombing”. According to the Cult Information Center in the UK, it is something that many cults and sects use to attract new members: to trap them with a promise of a better life. A common example was the “Family International- Children of God” cult that recruited male members by sending some of their women to get intimate with them, therefore convincing them to join the cult.

However, the worst came many months later, when Gurdjieff convinced Patricia to leave her home and family in Spain. Gurdjieff made sure to put as much separation between Patricia and her family. This is also a very common practice in cults when starting to groom their new members: They limit the contact their members have with the outside world in some extreme cases, convincing their victims through manipulation that the world is trying to hurt them. In other cases, they even isolate them completely, the most tragic instance being the “People’s Temple” that moved its followers to Guyana before the infamous mass suicide.

Victims Trapped

Fortunately, there are stories of people who were fortunate enough to escape cults and live to tell the tale. Steven Hassan is a cult survivor who has dedicated his life into helping people escape cults. He says that leaving a cult in the first place, is not an easy task as “(The victims) are told that if they try to leave the cult, terrible things are going to happen to them: You are going to go hell, you are going to be possessed by a demon”.

This kind of mental abuse makes it difficult for people to leave, especially if they were born or raised between the walls of a cult. However, it is not impossible: Flor Edwards told her story about growing up in an apocalyptic cult and her eventual leave. She told the site, Narratively, that she basically “missed the eighties entirely” due to the extreme reclusion that she and her siblings were living in as she missed many things that a normal teenager would do. It was only after the leader’s death when an aunt took the family under her wing, helping them unlearn the indoctrination.

Cult Mentality

The cult mentality that trapped Flor and her family for years is the same one that trapped Patricia with her captor. We don’t know much about the current mental state of Patricia, as her family is limiting press contact, but we can speculate some things: Patricia left the cult not out of an escape plan, but with intervention of the authorities. It is a high possibility that she would want to regain contact with her captor. Unfortunately, the situation is more delicate since Patricia had a daughter with Prince Gurdjieff, which the authorities fear was used by the father as a control tool. According the cult and sect specialist Miguel Perlado, it is urgent that Patricia is treated by a specialist on cult and sect victims to guarantee her full recovery.

Are You In A Cult?

There are many ways one can detect if he or she is being dragged to a cult, however, in the words of former cult member of the Australian cult “The Family”, while there are several red flags to consider, these are the most important.

First and most important is if the leader presents him- or herself as a divine being or claim that has some sort of direct communication with any entity. Usually, you will find out during the first cult meeting that the leaders assist; if this happens, just leave the meeting hall.

Secondly, the cult would take advantage of you (usually financially), asking you for your total loyalty: Promises about forgiveness for past mistakes or about fixing your life, ones that come with a cost, are definitely a warning sign, and one that usually appears early on.

Finally, and most importantly, the cult or sect will do anything to make you stay – from telling you that horrible things will happen if you dare to leave to saying that they will hurt important people in your life. Don’t listen to them. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to ask for help: a counselor, a family member, and if things get serious, the law itself – everything helps.

Good luck.

Image Attribute: Pixabay