A letter to anyone who has been in a cult: here is what I want you to know

This is not my cult story.

I have already told the pieces of my story that I wished to tell, in late 2023 (which you can find linked below). That was for me, for my own healing, to reclaim my voice and be able to speak. My time in the cult lasted two years, from August 2020-August 2022.

If you want to hear that story, there are three main places to go, to piece it all together:

1. My Instagram posts

If you click on my “cult” highlight, everything is in order there. Or you can scroll back to the bottom of my profile and they start at the first post. The first two dozen or so posts on my Instagram, all in a row, are about my experience in the cult. There are also a couple of highlights, way at the back, that are from when my posts were all happening live.

2. The Pheonix Rising Podcast, Episode 123

Lisa is a friend of a friend and she invited me on her podcast to tell my story. I feel like this is the most candidly I have spoken about my entire experience. It is very much an overview, but it does a pretty good job of summing up what happened and my relationship with it.

3. My podcast

There is one podcast episode on my own podcast where you can hear me talk real-time about receiving a cease and desist letter from the cult leader’s lawyers.

This episode also includes a copy of the original podcast episode I made a month or so after I first left the cult. It was a very vague episode but I think it is pretty fascinating to hear me speak right when I left versus a year later, and hear the difference.

So why am I writing this piece?

It feels like this chapter of my life is complete. And yet, before fully moving on I want to leave a trail, something for you to find in case you, like me, find yourself alone in the dark and can’t quite find your way out. 

Although most days the cult and this woman feel so far away it is like I am on an entire other planet (and yes, if you have not yet gotten there, that truly is possible), it is still deeply saddening to me to know that there are others – some of whom I know and love – stuck very deep in there. Those are the last people I expect to reach with this post. As you will know when you find this, there was likely nothing anyone could have said to you to convince you of these things, until there was. 

Who I hope to reach with this post are the people who have left already.

I imagine there also may be some helpful pieces in here for those who have left any type of cult-like situation, though I am writing most of it specifically to the cult I was in.

This piece, I am writing for you. Here are some of the things I want you to know, the things I wish I knew earlier. 

Everything below is either my personal opinion or verifiable fact.

The Contract

If you signed a contract that says you are unable to speak, write, or do anything that is negative toward the leader of the cult, her family, her clients, her work, blah blah, it is important that you know that the anti-disparagement clause of that contract is legally invalid, and as it turns out, actually against the law. 

I did not find this out until I had to hire my own lawyers (which I talk more about below). You can look this up: In 2016 Congress passed, and the president signed, a law called the Consumer Review Fairness Act. This prohibits businesses from preventing customers from speaking negatively about their businesses. This protects you, as does your right to free speech (see “defamation,” below). 

I can’t speak to whether your financial contract is valid, as in my experience the cult leader tends to trap people into those for years. I can promise that you will be very careful about what you sign for the rest of your life, and that might just be a very expensive lesson you learn. I do recommend consulting a lawyer here. For me personally, my contract happened to be up the same month that I left. I personally paid the cult leader over $40,000 USD over two years, and my husband paid $10k+ more.

If it were me, and I were in the fragile emotional state I was upon first leaving, I would separate from the cult at whatever cost, even if it meant having to pay the money. The money is not a good reason to stay. To me, money comes and goes and it is an unfortunate part of the whole thing, but it is a small price to pay, ultimately, for your freedom.

If you were on a free scholarship but locked into a contract that says you cannot leave without paying back all the money you would have paid (unfortunately has happened to some members) I would talk to a lawyer. Personally in this circumstance I would leave and not pay this money back, but that is not legal advice and you should consult with someone. 


The cult leader loved to talk about defamation in my experience with her. She had her lawyers threaten me personally with defamation and also messaged even people who simply commented with their own negative experience on my Instagram posts, telling them they were being defamatory toward her. She seems to have this idea that any negative word someone says about her is “defamation.” Unfortunately (for her), this is not true. 

The dictionary definition of defamation is “the action of damaging the good reputation of someone.” But legally, defamation typically has to satisfy a few things, and this is very important. 

The most significant part of defamation is that it has to be false. If the statement is true, then it is not defamation. 

Every state and country varies by law, but I am focusing on Arizona law here, since that is where the cult leader lives and where her contract says litigation must occur. (A side note – I find this pretty funny by the way, since I remember her talking about how much she loves living in Arizona for its politics and free speech, but in actuality this makes it even more difficult for her to come after someone for defamation, because it’s true, Arizona is very protective of free speech!)

In Arizona you have to:

– Know that the statement is false and that it defames the other

– Act in reckless disregard of this


– Act negligently in failing to ascertain your claim

What is not considered defamation? Anything true. Anything that is your opinion. The law even protects people by extending to things that are “substantially true” and “hyperbole.”

It does not matter if you signed a contract that said you cannot say anything negative (unless perhaps you were legally an employee, in which case you should consult with a lawyer), because that contract is likely unenforceable. 

There is no reason to be scared of sharing your opinion and your experience. There is no big bad wolf of the law coming to hurt you. You haven’t done anything wrong. 

There is just a woman who is (in my opinion) terrified of anyone saying anything remotely bad about her, trying to look scary and powerful, and spectacularly failing. 

The cult leader is not powerful

What you have to understand is that from the outside, the entire cult depends on this web that is largely smoke and mirrors. 

Other spiritual practitioners laugh at this woman and say how her spiritual persona is like a mr potato head, with pieces plucked from others without understanding them and haphazardly throwing them together. 

Her “power” is purely coming from how much you have bought into the idea that she is so powerful. If you have trouble with this one and can come up with all these examples and ways you are so scared of “the energy” or whatever, something that will help you is learning a lot more about cults and how they function. I know it’s so cliche but it’s cliche for a reason: knowledge is power. The more you understand logically about cults, the more you will start to see the commonalities and the ways that the whole thing was built.

Emotionally you may be a mess, so take care of yourself emotionally and engage in rational thinking (which is the part that is programmed to get shut off and devalued as much as possible when you are in a cult).

Your rational mind is built to protect you. Makes sense to make it wrong, right? All cults invoke this power of the leader in one way or another. It doesn’t really exist. The cult leader is not spiritually powerful or more evolved than you are.

In fact, in my opinion her only real skills are the ability to create and have people believe in a completely made-up image, and her ability to see some things about people to impress them in order to then use them, which is what narcissists do.

It’s pretty wild what we can be taught to believe without realizing!

Will she sue you?

I don’t know. I can only tell you my experience. To the best of my knowledge, for all her threats, she has never actually sued anyone before. I think there may have been one instance where she tried and it was dropped, I’m not sure what that was related to.

When I started posting about my experience, she threatened I would be hearing from her lawyer. Eventually her lawyers did send me a “cease and desist” letter threatening to sue me because of the podcast episode and Instagram posts I made about the cult. 

I hired lawyers because I could, because I was curious what my rights were and how much I was allowed to speak (I had been holding back because I wasn’t sure), and because I was willing to fight her in court. I do not believe she has a real case against me and neither did multiple lawyers I spoke to. If you need to hire a legal team, I have some great ones I can recommend. 

I think it’s important to note though that if you receive a cease and desist letter, that does not mean you have to hire a lawyer. You can simply ignore it. This then means that she/her team might continue to message you, but it also means that at some point, they either have to actually sue you, or they need to let it go (otherwise it is harassment, and you could potentially sue her). This also prevents you from spending any money. 

Once you hire lawyers, her team can only contact you through your lawyer. In my situation, we went back and forth with lawyers for a while. I refused to retract my statements or stop talking about my experience. I did not agree to anything they wanted. Eventually they got to a point where they either needed to actually sue me, or they needed to stop. They chose to leave me alone, and I haven’t heard from them since. If you can afford lawyers, I strongly recommend it. The law is pretty protective over these kinds of situations and it helps to talk to lawyers. 

The energetic aspect

Other people who have left the cult are energy workers, psychics, etc (which to be honest, I really am not). They have said that the “power” that “the energy” seems to have are really from dark entities that are working through her. They say that she has basically sold her soul to them. When I left, I did do a session with a healer and witch who had worked with many others who left the same cult; she said that she removed an entity that was feeding off my womb. I can’t say that I really felt a difference or not, but I did stop bleeding (I had been nonstop bleeding for the last year I was in the cult!) a couple months after that session.

My personal experience and opinion of the big events and sexual energy experiences that she holds are that they are extremely dysregulating, retraumatizing, and include feeding yourself to this dark energy that is there. She calls that “the feminine,” and what I realized when I left is that what she termed “the feminine” and what I felt it was, are very different things. I believe there are some extremely dark energies at work in that space, and I believe she is a hollow shell of a human who is good at pretending. 

I don’t know what’s true, and I’d be lying to you if I said that I did. I don’t know if the energies are real or not. I don’t know if you need protection from them or if sessions with X healer would help. 

I do believe that if you believe she is attacking you, then you will be extremely stressed, fragile, and scared of everything around you. Personally, energetically I feel she could not be further away from me. I’ve just stopped believing in the made-up worldview of the cult. It’s difficult to explain without feeling it, but you can and will get there. 

You might be scared of your own mind

Cults are built to make your question every. Single. Thing. Your mind does.

Is it ever useful to question your mind? Of course it is. But in a cult you are slowly and systematically destabilized so that the only ultimate authority you trust is the cult leader. 

I had moments after leaving where I felt like even though I could see the web the cult leader had built, and I could see how much was not to be trusted, I also hated being in my own head. Because I suddenly had realized how much I was trained to think like the leader. My mind wasn’t my own anymore, and that was absolutely terrifying. I could only think in terms of “victim and rescuer” and “extraction” and “reception” and “collusion” and all these other stupid concepts that are either made-up or stolen from others. 

As a side note, I want you to know that it takes concentrated effort for me to remember these words now. Which is a delight. There was a moment a few months back where I couldn’t even remember the names of the programs of hers I was in, which was also delightful. So if you feel like it will never not consume your existence, that is completely untrue. You will heal and you will move on and that is absolutely possible.

Again, I cannot stress enough how much learning about cults comes into play. I will include some resources below and I strongly recommend you explore them. 

It will help to listen to people that are in completely different realities

I took a big long break from working with others and I think this was helpful (though I do wish I had started learning about cults right away!)

In the meantime though, I found it extremely healing to casually consume content from people who embody opposite qualities of what the cult believes and teaches.

So random people and things like military guys on Joe Rogan, Andy Frisella, Jocko Willink, atheists, regular people out in the world like the librarian or the cashier or volunteers who care about a particular organization, Christians, whoever.

Talking to friends and family who think the leader is absolutely insane and thought that from the beginning. Laughing about her different posts and beliefs and images. Humor is extremely healing.

I found a lot of solace in just listening to the ways other people think and realizing that even though I had thought I was in such a superior world where everybody believed the same things, most people are not in that world at all and many of them are still leading happy and fulfilling and meaningful lives. There are so many ways to think about things.

Cults encourage you to think in black and white. If you can start to think in grays and consider that what you believed might not be true, that will help. 

Something that helped me also is hearing other people’s opinions on people that the cult highly values and upholds. So not just the leaders, but other prominent people in the cult. The reason for this is that when you are in the cult, there can be this kind of spell that happens where you are just like “the cult leader really believes this person is so great/the best, so I do too.” And because you are in this bubble you see everyone else believing these things and it can feel really real. I did “sessions” with other people in the cult who I was told were so powerful at x y z, and even though I actually didn’t feel anything in their sessions, I convinced myself that I either did, or that it was my mind blocking the experience. Hearing other people’s opinions made me realize: ohhh, not everybody believes that this person is so amazing! It helped break the image of it all.

You probably can’t trust anyone

I’m sorry to say this, but I think it is important to mention. You probably have a large community of friends, some still in the cult and some that are out. Maybe at this point these make up most of your friends (a red flag!). 

Some people have left the cult but they still share the beliefs of the cult and don’t believe it was a cult. Some people are still in the cult and say they are not loyal to the leader and will shit talk her but secretly they are still in relationship with her. Some people are really out of the cult but have ulterior motives in their communication with you. The online world is a weird place and it gets weirder when you add this cult mind to it. 

Don’t assume that just because someone is out or says they are done, that that is true. Some people leave but then get sucked back in. Be careful about who you share your story with.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some amazing people who have left and gotten out – there are! But I think it’s important to realize that not everyone is on your side. At the end of the day no one is going to have your back but you and the people that love you in your real life. It’s hard – in some ways, the only thing that helps when leaving is talking to other people who left because they are the only ones who really understand. There is a huge community of people who left and some of them are really incredible.

And, remember the experience you just went through – it was big for everyone. It can be exhausting to talk to someone who is only a little bit out of the cult when you are further out because it’s like they are still partially on drugs, they have to do that work themselves. It was extremely helpful for me to talk to other women who had left, and I am very grateful for the ones who supported me. And I just think it’s worth mentioning that just because someone was in there doesn’t mean you can automatically trust them. 

Losing friends

When you leave and truly separate from the cult, it becomes incredibly difficult to still be connected to people that are in the cult. You will understand this the more you separate.

I thought some of the people in the cult were my closest friends. When I left, almost no one asked how I felt or wanted to hear my side of the story. When people wanted to hear my story that still strongly believed in the cult, it was a mistake to share it with them. I didn’t understand at the time that you can’t make someone see what you see. They are still in this dream-like spell of the cult, and they don’t think they are. I know how hard this is. Honestly though, now I look back and think, were any of these people real “friends?” Did they care about me or did they care about the cult? What was our “friendship” really based on?

The most important thing I can share with you is that you need to take care of yourself. The best thing I did for myself was entirely separate from everyone inside the cult.

My first year out I focused on my in-person relationships with people who were not in the cult. It was very healing. I mostly disconnected from the internet and social media and I just put all my energy into building a more nourishing in-person life.

After spending so many hours of my days/years completely consumed with the cult, I realized I had so much more free time!! I hadn’t realized how much it had utterly taken over my life, my mind, my desires, my thoughts. You know those marathon calls and experiences? Also a very common thing in cults – the longer you spend in their events, the more tired you get and more unable to think critically or hold your own boundaries.

Yes, it was just as bad (and worse) than you think

I wish I could publicly tell every horrific story I have heard from women who were in the cult, especially women who were even closer to the leader than I was. I hope you understand why I can’t. People’s stories are their own, and most people will never tell them because they do not want legal action taken against them, they don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with the leader’s response, they just don’t want to, or whatever else.

I really understand this. It is an exhausting thing to do. Personally I needed to do it to heal. I am glad I did, and I also understand why someone else wouldn’t. 

I can tell you that what I personally witnessed that made me leave was my experience in person staying at the leader’s home for 5 days. In that time I witnessed eye-opening behavior I consider to be absolutely awful and it led me to conclude that she is the opposite of everything she teaches. This was shocking to me. I also witnessed her scream at and berate her husband in a manner I consider to be abusive. 

All of this was enough for me to leave, to separate from her, and to question everything I believed. I have always had a strong sense of right and wrong and I felt that what I saw was wrong.

And, what I want you to know is that what I witnessed I now believe to be SO MILD in comparison to what other people experienced. I saw what I believe to be the tiniest tip of the iceberg. I believe this behavior goes way back, through the cult leader’s entire life, and was also honed through OneTaste. 

The stories I have heard, once I started speaking publicly about my experience and had other women reach out to me, are horrifying to me. I believe these stories to be true because the details match up with what I witnessed and experienced. Also, there are just so many of them. 

I just want you to know, if you are questioning yourself like “was this really that bad? Am I overreacting?” it really was that bad and your reaction to it makes sense. 

Almost all of the people who left that space had an experience they consider to be traumatizing. Some of these women have been in therapy for months/years to recover from their experience with the leader. Many are emotionally fragile, financially drained, and had/are having an extremely hard time. 

I think that is the most helpful thing I can say to someone who is out – yes, you are not crazy, I understand your mind feels fucked, and it really was that bad and worse than you know. 

When I first left my nervous system was in such a state that I could not even be in the dark by myself. For the first time in my entire life I was afraid of the dark, afraid to be alone during the day, afraid of every little noise. It wasn’t a rational fear, it was like my entire nervous system was shot and short-circuiting and on extremely high alert.

I wish that I had immediately validated my experience. At that time I was still gaslighting myself by telling myself I was overreacting and didn’t want to be a victim (which is still the cult doing its work inside your head).

I was in a severe trauma response and I kept telling myself I would be fine. This is when my autoimmune symptoms either appeared or dramatically worsened. I spent a year before I finally admitted I needed help. I didn’t understand how I could be in such a bad state when “nothing” had really happened to me.

Coercive control is what I believe happened to me, and they say it is like “death by a thousand cuts.” There is often not one instance you can point to that is like, oh that’s the one, that’s the moment where it hurt me. Coercive control is subtle manipulation and abuse over time. It is extremely distressing to have your entire reality destabilized.

Do not underestimate this, what you went through, even if your experience was less than mine. I have spoken to women who spent just a couple months in a relationship with a narcissist and it still affected them years later. This kind of abuse is not well understood (yet, the research is happening), but there are people who understand it. Seek that out. Understanding what happened is key to healing. 

Stop using the language

Cults function through language. These new terms that you learned, words and concepts and things that make you feel like you belong in the group, have a secondary purpose (or perhaps, this is their primary one in the cult). Without a shared language and this shared worldview, the cult and the leader cannot have this hold on you. Amanda Montell’s book “Cultish” explains this concept well. 

Personally I think it is worth entirely eradicating every bit of language the cult used to describe things in order to perceive yourself clearly again. The tendrils of the cult go far and they do so with language. People not even deeply in there describing things using these words of the cult. Most of the cult concepts were stolen from elsewhere, you might say – and that’s true. But it’s still not worth keeping them at least for a period of time, until your mind stops automatically thinking in those terms.

I can tell how much someone has deconstructed themselves from the cult by the way that they speak. There is a way people speak in there, and in every cult situation, that can be felt. It’s like a strange spell has come over them, and they sound a little crazy to everyone else not in a cult.

You can’t see this when you’re in it. But now that you are partially out, I say remove everything. Get rid of it all. Change your words. When you use them (and you will, they are deep in there), notice. If you don’t want the cult to have a hold on your mind anymore, you need to throw it all out. Not “keep some parts and let go of the rest.” You can’t know what if anything you want to keep until it is all gone. In this way I think we really can’t trust our minds when we leave. Find different words for concepts you believe. I think I have taken a more extreme view than most here and I also think it matters very much. You can do what you want, but especially if you find you’re having difficulty healing, I cannot recommend this enough. 

I don’t even use the term “the feminine” anymore, even though it was something I often used before getting into the cult. I have found it better to drop it all and form my own concepts of my relationship with life with my own words.

At a certain point it might be helpful to look back on your conversations with the leader. I would recommend only doing this when you are sure your nervous system can handle it and you understand narcissists and cults. Even though it was sickening, it was helpful for me to be able to see, in retrospect, how the leader manipulated me right from the very beginning. It also helped me in forgiving myself – I don’t think I ever had a chance. I was trusting and I couldn’t see any of it, even when others said it to me. In retrospect I can see it very clearly. 

Move on

Also? Detach from the people in the cult on the internet. I think that if you are still going back to the leader’s Instagram to stalk what she’s doing, the cult still has a hold on you. If you are still watching, still following people in there, still looking at it, that should be questioned.

People message me sometimes who say they are out and don’t like her but they are still obsessing over every post, every new thing she does, and I don’t understand this. I think there is a time where it can be healing to make fun of it, laugh about it (highly recommend making memes out of it to make yourself/friends laugh), but eventually you aren’t moving on if you aren’t letting go. You don’t need to monitor and watch for the safety of everyone else. You can just detach and move on. 

You can’t help anyone if you haven’t taken care of yourself, and you need to do that first.

Let the leader watch everything you do, and take solace in the opinion that her life will always be filled with drama and misery, she is a loser, and you never have to think about her again. 

In Conclusion

There is a huge world out there, and it is filled with many more interesting people and concepts than the cult leader and the cult. You need to heal from your experience, but it does not have to rule your life forever. This is a gift! You get to move on. If you’ve learned about cults, you now have a mind that can see cult-y things everywhere you go (and they truly are everywhere).

You will have an exceptional sense of discernment that you thoroughly earned, and that will benefit you and yours for the rest of your life. I’m not saying it makes it worth it or that it had to happen, I don’t believe that. But eventually you will find the upsides and you will have a beautiful life.

You are free. May you never take your freedom for granted.

Further resources:


The Vow

Orgasm Inc

How to be a Cult Leader

Shiny Happy People


A Little Bit Culty


This article – was HUGELY important for me!!

Cultish by Amanda Montell

FUEL by HG Tudor

Other books by HG Tudor

Character Disturbance by George Simon

Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan

– Ruwan Meepagala is currently writing a book about his experience in OneTaste, it used to be published in parts on his Substack but he got a book deal so it is no longer there. I mention this because reading his experiences put MANY pieces together for me (mostly about how much the leader of my cult copied Nicole) and it is something to look out for in the future.