The Barnabas Project
Catalyst is a registered charity that has been helping individuals and families who have been damaged by abusive relationships and religious and therapeutic groups since 1995. Catalyst has no religious or political position and offers help to all whatever their religion, race, sexuality or gender.
We are, however, passionate believers in the individuals right to believe whatever they choose to believe. We are only concerned with the methods used to control, damage and abuse individuals.
Each year, Catalyst receives hundreds of requests for assistance and on average helps at least 150 – 200 individuals or families. This is merely the tip of the iceberg.
During the past twenty years we have seen the problem grow and are receiving a continuous stream of new referrals. We estimate that there have been more than 1500 new abusive groups started in the UK since 1950. Some groups are large, some consist of less than 20 people. There are very few people working professionally in this field and, in Europe at present there are no residential therapy centres nor sufficient therapists to respond to this growing problem.
In addition to people that have joined groups, we are seeing a growing number of young people who have been born into such groups. Often they have been separated from normal society and educated (often poorly) by the group. they often have no idea of how to relate to the world and have been taught to see it as both dangerous and evil. They need a place of refuge where they can be supported and helped.
The reason that there is such a shortage of resources is because the public perception of those damaged by groups is a major problem for fundraising. The generally held belief that people who have been damaged by groups or abusive relationships have only themselves to blame and that their problems are self-inflicted. This could not be further from the truth. The victims are normally of above average intelligence and well-balanced. They are also often idealists who just happen to have had the misfortune of meeting a recruiter. The methods used by the recruiter are normally unethical and highly manipulative.
Our proposed response to the growing problem
Although Catalyst successfully helps many families each year, our work has been reactive rather than pro-active. With this in mind, we believe the time has come for a re-thinking of strategy to not only produce a response to the problem, but to try and develop preventative programmes to educate and help make people aware of this growing problem. The point being to prevent people from joining abusive groups in the first place.
A central part of our strategy is to purchase a property which will enable us to develop a new and comprehensive reponse to the problem. In order to do this we need to raise funds to purchase this property.
This is to be named the Barnabas Project
Our aims are:
To establish a residential treatment and retreat centre for people who require help. At present the only residential centre we are aware of offering similar help is in the USA.
To establish a training centre. At present, there are few if any resources to help counsellors, therapists, psychologists, social workers, and chaplains learn to help those damaged by their involvement with abusive groups. We intend to develop a programme of courses and seminars to meet this need.
To offer advice for friends and families. Parents and friends of those who have been recruited by such groups are normally at a loss to know how to respond when a loved one joins a group. We intend to establish seminars and one-on-one sessions to help them understand the situation and to give them tools to help their loved ones reconsider whether the group is helpful or abusive.
To provide training and teaching aids for teachers. At present, as part of the strategic response to the growing problem, we propose to set up course and seminars for teachers, youth leaders etc. to help them to educate their client base to spot and question abusive techniques and methods. For teachers, this would include developing lesson plans which could be integrated into Personal Development or similar courses, which would cover the whole spectrum of manipulation, from peer-group pressure, aggressive selling techniques, internet grooming and other manipulative and abusive situations.
To train and provide outreach workers. We intend to help train and support speakers to visit schools, universities and other groups to make people aware of this growing problem, and to teach families how to educate their own children to avoid manipulative and abusive relationships.
To set up a library, resource and research centre. The centre will be able to assist students, researchers and lawyers by enabling them to access primary source material and to obtain advice and assistance as required.