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The new year brings a new direction for FACTNet. Lawrence Wollersheim, who has been the guiding force of FACTNet since founding the organization in 1993, is taking a one-year sabbatical from his official duties as a director. After eleven years as a member of Scientology and eighteen additional years working to expose its criminal nature, Lawrence has made a decision to devote time to his family and his personal life for the next year, something that, as many of you know, is very difficult when one is making a public stand against Scientology as Lawrence has done.
He will be missed at FACTNet, but we have a wonderful group of people working with us now and exciting plans for the coming year. Several new directors will be added to the FACTNet board, which will be announced as they become official. In the meantime, Grady Ward has just recently come on board as the FACTNet webmaster, so watch for substantial upgrades to our website in the coming months. Justine Janette, FACTNet's extremely capable executive director, is already reporting marked increases in hits to the web site and extremely encouraging increases in donations to FACTNet.
We move into 1999 with a much more active resistance to Scientology's well-known intimidation and harassment of its critics. The resistance is so widespread, in fact, that many more people than ever before are willing to step forward and join the ranks of vocal, public critics. Because more people than ever before are helping to finance this resistance, we are extremely hopeful that by the end of 1999 our biggest concern will be what to do with the tremendous exodus of people leaving Scientology -- particularly staff and ex-members of Scientology's Sea Organization.
With that in mind, one of FACTNet's main endeavors for 1999 will be establishing the means to help people once they make the decision to leave Scientology. Plans include a hotline for current and former members, which will enable them to connect with the outside world so they know what to do and where to go once they leave Scientology and can begin their road to recovery immediately.
We are also making plans for the establishment of a sanctuary. This will be a safe house where former Scientology staff and Sea Org members will have a chance to recover physically and mentally from their experience in Scientology while learning the basic skills they need to survive in the real world. Such things as how to create a resume, how to set up a bank account, how to establish credit, and other basic skills will be available for them to learn. Our vision is for these people to work at the sanctuary and earn money as they recover, so that by the time their stay is over they will have not only the skills but also the confidence and wherewithal to re-enter the real world as a functioning, contributing member of society.
It is our firm conviction that no one can fully recover from the abuse of cults like Scientology without professional therapy. With this in mind, we plan to do everything possible to encourage former members to seek professional help. Specifically, we plan to raise the funds to send as many people as possible to Wellspring, a therapy program run by people who are extremely knowledgeable about the cult experience and who have extensive experience in helping former cult members generally, and former Scientologists specifically. Jesse Prince has just begun a two-week stay at Wellspring, and several other former Scientologists have already made plans to go there this year.
We hope that this kind of intensive recovery program will enable former Scientologists to make a permanent recovery in a much shorter period of time than previous former members have had to endure.
We are sharing FACTNet's vision for 1999 with all of you, knowing full well that announcing our plans to help people recover will bring the wrath of Scientology down upon us more than anything else we could say. The cult is never so rabid as when they think someone might actually be able to free one of their prisoners from the mental shackles of Scientology.
But we think the number of active critics has grown to a point where there is no need to worry about what will happen if the Scientology leadership finds out about our plans. We are happy to announce them in detail on a.r.s., and we are especially hopeful that the Scientology operatives who follow our work via the Internet will privately gain some hope that they and their family members and friends will some day be able to awaken from the nightmare in which they find themselves as captives of Scientology.
Our plan also includes organizing a conference for critics and former members. This idea was born during the Lisa McPherson memorial protest this past December, when close to sixty critics and former members converged on Clearwater to share their experiences, ideas, hopes, and dreams with one another. Several of us decided that it is time to pool our resources and energy in an organized conference, and we hope it can happen in 1999. All who are interested in helping make this conference a reality please let us know.
In the meantime, FACTNet welcomes contributions of any kind, whether in the form of contributing your ideas, volunteering your time, donating money, signing on as paid staff, or just sending us words of encouragement. We will provide updates to a.r.s. as our vision for 1999 translates into concrete plans and actions.
You can email our executive director Justine at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to either one of us directly at email@example.com (a new email address as of yesterday) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a Scientologist or former Scientologist in need of help immediately, you can either email us at the above email addresses, or call us at the following phone numbers: FACTNet at 303-247-1327, Stacy's home on Vashon Island at 206-463-6809, or Bob's home in New Hampshire at 603-887-4145. If you need a place to stay, go to the sanctuary at 19731 Vashon Highway, Vashon, Washington. Fly to Seattle, get a ride to the Fauntleroy ferry dock, take the ferry to Vashon, and go six miles up the highway to 19731. You'll find friends there. You can rest assured you will find a safe haven.
Bob Minton and Stacy Brooks
FACTNet Board Members
Note: FACTNet remains committed to extending a helping hand to members of all high demand groups who wish to regain control over their lives and minds. However, FACTNet believes that at this time it should focus its attention on helping ex-Scientologists recover from their membership in the "mother of all cults," Scientology, as these people are in most urgent need of assistance.
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Thank you for this post, for this update and for your work in aiding the recovery of former members. This is the kind of project which angers Co$ management more than any other: connections are being made, bonds being forged of common experience, between former members, current members, and critics: bonds of help, aid and assistance, links leading to freedom, and to recovery. FACTNet's mission, combining public information with assistance to former members, is a powerful and important one. The reason we fight this battle is that Scientology is an organization which wounds people deeply, hurts their humanity, steals their minds and their souls; and the justification for the struggle comes in each person who does not join, in each person who walks away and leaves, in each person who sets upon the path of recovery.
The forging of connections and the spreading of the message of freedom and recovery are the hope and promise of Internet-based activism against Co$ management. It is on the Internet that former members find each other, find that they are not alone, and find a way to seek help and set out on a journey to recovery. It is on the Internet that former members find current members, and bring a message of truth and freedom which is radically opposed to that of Co$ management; it is a place where current members begin to break through the lies, and set on their own path to becoming former members, and to recovery. It is on the Internet that curious individuals find the truth about an organization which has an expensive facade of caring, decency and self-improvement and an ugly reality of destructiveness, hatred and hurt, and are saved from ever having the awful experience of Scientology.
FACTNet, in combining all these goals, is Co$ management's worst nightmare. It is an organization of truth and of freedom and of recovery. It is the antidote to Co$ management's lies and traps. It is where the curtain of lies begins to disintegrate, and where the traps which deprive Scientologists of their own freedom of mind begin to unloose.
The sanctuary for former members needing a place to recover is an excellent endeavor. There are few things more necessary in this battle than a place for those, especially long-term members, on the way out, seeking a path back to freedom, to find that freedom and rediscover their own true selves once again. It's a goal that many have dreamed of, to establish such a sanctuary, and now it is a reality: a sanctuary for both cats and people, recovering from trauma that has devastated their lives. A place of hope, of love, of friendship, of freedom and return to the non-Scientology world.
The movement of critics against Scientology is stronger now than all of OSA's tactics and management's money. It is morally and ethically right. People are being hurt and exploited; the truth is getting out. This will be an exciting year ahead: a year of truth, of strength, and of recovery.
Stacy's excellent article will also be webbed at www.offlines.org/recovery.txt
Charlotte L. Kates
OFFLINESonline: Freedom from Scientology