Anonymous – Religious Duress
Many people don’t understand the power of religious duress and how it works. It is the reason that Catholic Priests often got away with their crimes for many years before victims found the courage to speak out. It captivates people through fear and cultivates an environment where offending goes unpunished.
Grooming is an important element of religious duress. In Gloriavale I was groomed from a young age to fear the leadership. Servants and Shepherds’ (SS) meetings were spoken of with dread. As early as I can remember I was told that the very last thing I should want was to end up in a SS meeting. This grooming included and went hand-in-hand with fear of hell. To a young child, fear of hell is the worst punishment that can be had. It was described as the worst torture imaginable. It was illustrated to me and many others through beatings and other types of cruel and unusual punishment.
One example of this occurred when I was around 4 years old. I was placed under a large stack of sleeping mats by a preschool ‘caregiver’ as a punishment for some childish indiscretion. Exactly what my violation was escapes my memory, however, I clearly remember how dark it was. I remember it feeling like I was about to suffocate and that someone was putting extra weight on top of me. Although I screamed, it surely made no difference. I was utterly powerless.
In some ways it was a violation similar to rape yet it was described to me as a child as “just a small taste of hell”. I was then told that it was a mercy for me to receive this type of punishment as a child in order to prevent my soul from being damned for eternity.
This is just one of many examples of religious duress and grooming that occurred to me and many others and although tactics may have changed it still occurs because the fear of hell and the SS is fundamental to Gloriavale staying intact.