Exit and Support Network

Poems by a Child Survivor

These poems were written in 2001.

Note: The word "cult" refers to an abusive, controlling religious group.

On the Fence

I'm on the fence between Good and Bad,
Leaning back and forth, this way and that.
Winds blow around me and scatter my thoughts,
I hold on fiercely as I was Taught.
You'll never know the Truth in this world,
Cover at least with Scriptures and Word.
To know for sure, only time will tell,
Is it straight to Heaven or straight to Hell?

I Was Alone

I was alone with my memories and pain.
I wasn't of this world.
I was afraid of my thoughts, of going insane.
I don't know how to live in this world.

They taught me "truths" and unquestioning faith.
They led me to fear of God.
They taught me submission, rules and hate.
I'm still afraid of God.

The Christians see us and turn away.
Why don't you love Jesus?
They don't understand I cried as I prayed,
They didn't tell me about Jesus.

I felt alone and lost, wandering and hurt.
A cultic child raised in the dark - I didn't exist to the world.
I'm grown now and numb, not a member of the "church."
Still a child in my head - I don't trust the world.

Falling Apart

Darkness calls me and churns my heart.
My mind screams no as I fall apart.
Voices of past and blows I feel,
Landing on me, lower and lower I kneel.
They want something, they need something
Their lies, their truths whatever they say.
I must hear, I must do, I must obey.
Remembering hurts me and bleeds from my heart.
I'm falling, I'm falling, I'm falling apart.
I need to hold on to the threads of Truth,
The world is angry, evil is proof.

The Place of Safety

There is a place, in the deserts of old,
Home for the Remnant as prophecies unfold.
The sands blow hot, scorching your throat,
The land is harsh where they placed their Hope.

The Lamb will come in all His wrath1,
Fear and destruction will follow His path.
The Bride was waiting with bated breath,
Her Redeemer was coming, and with Him death.

They believed and prayed for that Day to come,
Hoping their trials would bring them Love.
They never knew the ache in their soul,
Jesus would know and help them console.

The Hope they missed and were never told,
Is there for you now and will make you whole.
The desert is lonely, not given of Love,
The "Place of Safety" was paid for with Blood.

Talking to God

That sinking feeling surrounds me, I feel it.
I know what it means, I'm falling again.
Back to a time so long ago,
Where pain still lives, I don't want to go --

Into the hole down deep inside,
That's twisting and turning and making me cry.
I need to come up and find my way,
Back to the world, back to today.

It's not reality I see in my mind.
It's pictures of a life I've left behind.
Memories and longings I can't let go.
It's all I am, it's all I know.

Years gone by and I feel it still.
The misery of love, of living in hell.
Where were You, Lord? Were You there with me?
Will You love me now and help me believe?

I need You to heal me, I need You to spare --
My life and my soul, show me You care.
My faith is a babe, lost and alone,
I need You too, I want to come home.

Help me to see where to place the balm,
And bandages and kisses on the hurts, on my soul.
I feel longing and burning of tears on my face.
Crying and begging, I give You my hate.

I don't want it, You take it, it's killing me.
To feel those feelings, I need peace.
God, please show me the answers to my prayers.
I need solace and cleansing, please take me there --

Where You take those You heal and forgive with Grace.
Show me my worth, show me my place.
Jesus, You love me, they told me so.
Fill me with Strength and help me to grow.

My Child Inside

I hear weeping and bitterness, sobs and tears.
Where is it coming from after all these years?
My child inside -- she's alive -- she's there.
I long to comfort those sorrows she bears.

I'm here, little one, I want to help –
You find peace and suffer no more.
They hurt you and treated you like you weren't even there.
I see you, I hear you -- those were my long ago prayers.

I'll help you grow up and hold your hand.
I'll hold you and cherish you and understand.
I know you have hopes and I'll help you to see,
That you can do anything your soul dares to dream

The Ghostly Haunts

I bow my head, not in prayer, but with tears.
The shadows surround me and fill me with fear.

It comes and it goes, and sometimes it stays --
For hours, for days, maybe just for today.

It circles around and settles down to sit --
Beside me, around me, in my heart where it lives.

It seems alive when it teases and taunts.
Memories and flashes, the ghostly haunts --

Of people and places who take and give pain,
I relive my past again and again.

It presses me lower and steals my breath,
It releases me only as I walk with Death --

That enemy of me who wants me to see,
That surrendering my life would set me free.

I know they are lies and Jesus will save --
Me from that fate, He knows my soul and for all He forgave.

I feel Him pulling me towards Him now, gently leading the strings,
Of Hope building inside my soul, He'll lead me to Love and Peace.

Reaching for Hope

So far away, beyond my reach,
Hope is suspended above.
Curling and floating in the clouds,
It's in the gospels they preach.

I need to believe in an Unchanging Truth.
I want to know what's in the Word.
Why are we here and what is the point?
Salvation is not what I heard.

I recall frightening tales of terror and pain.
Why did they teach me those things?
What about love for your fellow human beings?
I want to believe what Christ says.

He talks about Life like I deserve it.
He won't even remember my sins.
He won't call me "lukewarm" or a heretic,
For listening to Him and not them.

I like when I hear the Scriptures that heal.
Pages of glory the Spirit will reveal -
To those who will listen to their heart, not their ears,
You'll know you believe when you begin to shed tears.

Your soul will feel it, the glow and the love.
He sends it as a gift, free from above.
I accept it in wonder and awe at the strength,
The power of Jesus fills me with peace.

Children of God

Those children were precious in the sight of God.
He cherished and loved them before they were born.
Known to Him and given as gifts,
He lent them to you, He cries now mourning them.

Their love and laughter, their tears and hopes,
All loving reminders of things we know.
That God is with us and wants us to see,
Looking to Jesus will heal the memories.

Hold those children and wipe their tears.
Gently, so gently, calm their fears.
Lead them to Life, show them the Lord.
Teach them with love and not discord.

Show them they're wanted, show them you care.
Tell them they're special, stroke their hair.
Those beautiful babies you taught with a rod,
Were given to love, they were children of God.


Tears stream in rivers.
Trickling down, the curve of my cheek.
They're hot. They burn like fire.
Welling up, they tumble down and drop at my feet.
More and more, there's so many more.
They begin every time when I open the door.

I open it to see what lies in there.
My mind has oceans of thoughts and fear.
Scalding their way down my face,
I cry because I never knew of Grace.
They're bitter, these tears, I fear what I know.
Who taught me? What's in there? My head is bowed low.

I don't know me. Who was I as a child?
I cried then when I was hurt. I cry now because I hurt.
They took all I had, my heart, my soul and my mind.
They don't care at all. They've got new lies.
I cry now for me, for who I was, but for them, too.
The world doesn't want to see the lies in the "truth."

Thoughts in My Head

It's cold outside. I shiver against the wind.
So cold.
I want to go home to a place that's warm.
With love and hugs and someone for me.
To be held.
Memories are lonely. I wander through them.
I hold my hand out to touch them. I see them in my mind.
They're not really memories.
Just shadows of long ago hopes.
I believed in things then.
Childish wishes.
Santa Claus.
That cloud I see is always God. He was dark and looming.
He had a deep voice, I think, and angry eyes.
They always have angry eyes, those who make you suffer.
Those who tell you tales,
Of pain and death and fear of eternal Hell.
Visions of destruction.
The "church" was founded on greed.
They trapped us all who yearned to believe.
They used us and lied.
They took our minds.
They crushed our hearts and violated our souls.
Love shouldn't hurt.
I just sit in the crater and look up.
The cloud from destruction climbs higher and higher.
Towards God who is crying at things men will do in His name.
He must be so sad.
His creation languishing in sin and hate.
Surely He made us to do better than this.
I feel numb sometimes, like I'm not really here.
I must be here now because I feel the pain.
My head hurts from knowing too much.
About people and rules and deceit and trust.
Beaten and trembling, I lie on the ground.
Is there breath left in me? Do I have to go on?
What else is waiting for me as I stagger to my feet?
Please, not more pain and defeat.
I don't want to cry anymore.
It hurts.
It will kill me.
Maybe I'm already dead.
No one told me.

The Faraway Girl

She twirls in the grass, her face tilted to the sky.
Drinking in the sunshine, her arms raised high.
The warmth and the blue, the balmy spring air.
She whirled in the breeze, never knowing a care.

The faraway girl blooms in the flowers.
Tucking the petals behind her ears.
How free and light with no worries to bear.
The sun glistens and shines on her long brown hair.

Her lilacs bloom and she's drawn to their scent.
Heaven must smell like this place in the fields.
She runs through the clover never stopping to breathe.
Her beauty is the trail of innocence she leaves.

My Storm

The clouds swirl,
Churning as the tempest grows.
Lightning flashes,
Memories of pain.
Thunder rumbles in the distance,
As my thoughts grow louder.
Voices of anger and rage,
Rolling across the plains.

My storm is violent,
Seething with rage.
I tremble in silence,
Hoping it will pass by.
Anger is bitter and filled with longing.
Their longings, their anger.
Unfulfilled dreams,
They've come to hate.

The images push forward,
To the fore of my thoughts.
They tease me to see them,
Hear them, believe them.
They need me to remember.
Resist to the end my heart tells me.
You don't want to know what the past reveals.
In seeing the truth, your fate will be sealed.

Run, little girl, run and don't look back.
There's terror there, haunting your past.
The memories pull me, dragging me nearer -
To the edge of the cliff, between good and evil.
There's no escape from visiting your fears.
We're here, there's no release, you owe us your tears.
You can't have your life, you'll never be whole,
Until you stand and bear witness to the rape of your soul.

The Tender Soul

Heartache throbs beneath the shield
Of anger and doubt protecting
The tender soul.

Which has taken the losses
Guilt and shame
Given in the name of Love.

Carefully, we cover the wounds
With our hands, seeking to stop more pain
By keeping new love and hope at bay.

It is frightening to wait, knowing all the while
That needing love leaves you open
To hurting again.

Learning to trust takes all your strength
Keeping vigilant watch for the signs
Of anger in the eyes staring back at me.

My tender soul knows the rules of love
Guarding jealously the remnants
Of my life.

The Needs Inside

He created our souls with needs inside
The hurt, struggling and unfulfilled promises
That leave emptiness
Where innocence once lived

In a heart throbbing and unmet
In it's longings for something
To still the ache and longing
Twisting painfully with needs

That He gave us, but why?
There's nothing earthly that bathes the soul
And quenches the flame inside
Except love given softly and freely, openly

By those who know how to give
Solace by holding your hand
And walking with you on the healing path
The long road to recovery, to Life.

I hate the needs many times
That hurt when I don't know why
But they move me, to keep searching
The pain shows me I'm alive.


Tenderly He reaches out, loving hands stretched forth
Beckoning my shattered soul to Him, calling so softly
To me, His eyes damp with tears, glowing and haunted
Filled with sorrow that their lies have led to this . . .

This emptiness, this powerlessness, this longing
For love and forgiveness, not shown, even hidden
From those who need it most
Who are huddled, covering their heads from further pain.

It is hope I feel as I search His eyes, their glistening pools
Spilling over with grief and love for His lost child
I reach out to meet Him and am shocked to my core
Feeling the depth and strength of His love, for me, His child.

Whom He loves now and forever and before time began
There's hope and trust in my eyes as I gaze upon Him
The Giver of Life, the One who beckoned me
Home to the fold, Abba, my Father, cradles me in Love.

The Healing Path

The healing path twists and turns
A long journey, leading to somewhere
It is hard, this road, with it's hills and valleys
Stretching forth in the distance
My eyes stare unwavering
Searching the horizon for relief
From the long trek to forgiveness
And Strength
Keep watching the path
Keep walking
One step after the other
One foot in front of the other
While holding the hand
Of a precious survivor
Who came before me
Who gathers my tears in a bottle
And gently turns my face
To follow her gaze
I see where she we're going
Taking her outstretched hand
I follow behind one who has already left
Her footprints
On the healing path

The Spirit

The Spirit moves me, to listen and feel.
Stirring a hunger within my soul -
I search fearfully the dark corners of my heart
And shine healing light on the lingering shadows.

The darkness within shelters the lies -
Allowing them free reign
Until Holy Hands cast aside the heavy curtain.
The shroud upon my soul.

Open and vulnerable now,
Truth enters on angel's wings.
Whispers from my Father
Who seems so far at times -

Yet always so close.
The Spirit dwells inside me.
He comforted my soul
And claimed me for His own.

This Perilous Journey

This perilous journey my heart leads me on
Has me searching endlessly for the meaning in life.
I see the treasure far in the distance.
It is shining brightly, drawing me to it.
It is love.
The pull is a longing and need, so intense.
Beyond the understanding of mortals.
The strength yearning has upon the soul,
It is a feeling so deep, so compelling.
Borne along on waves of agony.
So complete, so consuming,
A willingness and obsession, so stirring,
So resounding within myself.
I walk through the conflagration
Of feeling.
A cleansing and renewing fire
Which burns the old landscape of my heart.
And from the ashes springs new life.
Emotions, wings that allow me to soar
As high as heaven
And down again to the earth.
She nourishes me and folds me within
Her warmth
And love.


Feelings that come unbidden, violent waves
Crashing against my resistance
Tumbling over the walls built to protect
The silent one within
They are unmerciful, the tide rising and receding
Carrying with it fragments of my safety
The wall is weaker, so fragile now
Eroded by the rush and torrent of tears
The inner self is left alone
No protection, no barriers against
The sea rising to claim her
Rescue comes not by vessel
But from release of the struggle
Offering herself to the angry depths
A sacrifice
She opens her arms to face the rage
Staring directly into it
As it washes over her
Drowning in the depths
Of her own soul

What Betrayal

What betrayal surfaces at the slightest touch
Of the real world on the person I pretend to be.
In an instant, I travel backward -
Reminded again of differences.
Normal people don't know they are normal.
But I do, I see what strange creatures they are.
People who never wonder why they do things.
Everyday things.
I wonder all the time.
Is this okay?
Why am I different?
Their celebrations make me sad, so very, very sad . . .
Their songs brings tears to my eyes,
Because I didn't know them.
I learned them eventually, but they are nothing to me.
Only more from a long list . . .
Of things I missed.

Growing Up in a Cult

What worthiness is found in a life that's lived
Outside of the world, peeking in?
Only to feel jealousy as the real people
Go on with their hopes and dreams.
Their value I see in the happiness on their faces.
They don't have that aura of fear
And loneliness that reflects from my eyes.
I feel like crying day and night.
Tears sting my eyes and I wonder when,
Or if,
I can ever know peace, ever rejoice,
Ever be normal and cut the ties,
Sever the bonds
Of growing up in a cult.
Singled out to carry the torch
To the next generation.
Ambassador quality, what a laugh.
Something to aspire to at least,
Besides death.


Where were the people to hear my cries?
They were alone, too.
Pressed by leaders no one defies.

Why? Why, people, didn't you run?
You were rooted in lies.
You were taught no Love for the Son.

Can you see the Truth now?
Sift through the ashes.
Please someone show me how.

I Search

I search with longing into the past,
With guarded eyes at what is there.
Follow the threads of things remembered,
And find the wounds that have never healed.

Memories are so elusive.
They taunt you to follow, then disappear.
I see their shadows and know they're there.
Dodging in and out of the light.

What are motivations?
What causes us to dream?
Is there a soul in me,
That dares me to See?

I feel a grain of Hope within.
Nudging me onto the path.
I resist. Where will it take me?
Will it be the beginning? Or, the end?

Can I face the truth? I was only a pawn.
I meant nothing to the believers.
I was only background to make the "Family" complete.
Nobody sees the innocents. There's obligation in knowing.

How do you heal the children of cults,
Emerging now as today's adults?
We survived the war and now lay in the dust,
Bloody and battered - how can we Trust?

Where are the people and where are the rules?
We're enemies now that we know the truth.
I see the "camp" as it really was.
They have a bigger yard, but the fence is still up.

Look up, people, don't you see?
It's not about man, it's about Me.
There's no need for Hell or judge of worth,
Hell is already there on Earth.

We hide our pasts and turn and smile,
We fool them all for a little while.
Do we scream? Do we smile? Do we cry?
Do we believe in Him or believe in Lies?

My Angel of Mercy

That night is a wisp, so long ago.
A memory of pain, a burning in my soul.
Afraid to hope, unknown to love,
My heart was breaking, I needed to trust.

I reached for a hand held out to me.
Tentative and afraid I had to believe,
That God sent you to me to show me the way.
How to love and trust, how to believe and pray.

To a Lord who was waiting for me to come Home.
Through his angel of mercy, I'm no longer alone.
You cried deeply in your soul for all of those years.
Broken, in pain, He knew of your tears.

Your anguish has turned your love into gold,
To be treasured by those whose hearts you hold.
Gently you shelter and heal my wings,
My angel of mercy, my soul mother, to me.

(Dedicated to my helper in ESN; written 5-24-01)

I Cast My Stones

Loving arms await me and strengthen my resolve.
Eyes that burn into my soul and know my heart, before I know.
His throne rises high above me, yet is low enough for me to climb,
To His chest to shed my tears, they became stars falling in the night.

I cast my stones, the worries that I had clutched to my heart.
First one, then two, He took them gently and laid them at His feet.
He wanted them, I know it now, He reached for me as I cried.
He held me as a Father would, my head on His chest, He sighed.

Tears flowed in streams, easing my heart's pain.
Comfort warmed inside of me and made me unafraid.
I cast my stones in the midst of those
Who showed me so much Love.
The jewels they became still twinkle from Above.

NOTE: This child survivor finally gained enough trust to begin individual professional counseling in the spring of 2002 with a Christian therapist who understood trauma, dissociation, and mind control used in abusive groups. She later underwent Dialectical Behavior Therapy which became the turning point in her recovery. Today, in spite of the severe abuse she suffered, she says she is "happier and more fulfilled than she ever thought was possible." Her sad life has now been turned into a success story which is possible for every child survivor who is willing to work hard on recovering.

Footnote by ESN:

1 Read: Not Wrath, but Rapture by the late H. A. Ironside. [offsite article]

Poems/Free Verse (comfort for the brokenhearted)

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