Scientology Cult Survivor: Help

Hi, my name is Justin Rybacki and I am a survivor of the cult known as the Church of Scientology. I was born into the cult, as were many of my siblings, and it took nearly 30 years to break free of their shackles.

At the age of 12 my parents signed me over to the Sea Organization (group brainwashed into religious slavery). For the next three months my life was hard labor, all day every day, living in constant fear of being discovered as gay, with little food and NO SCHOOL. When I finally broke down and said I wanted to leave, I was berated in front of my peers daily for things such as "missing my mommy," “abandoning and failing all of humanity in its most dire time of need,” then assigned grueling work. At the age of 12 I really took it to heart, it was an absolutely soul crushing feeling. I remember having to clean "rats alley,” a small damp crawl space on top of a giant freezer. It was in the basement and I was armed with nothing but a flashlight and a garden hose. I often get flashbacks of the bugs crawling all over me, being bitten, and crying and begging for an additional shower that day.

My parents found out I was gay when I was 14. They reported me; my own mother turned me in. I was subjected to gay conversion tactics, disguised as a ‘religious confessional,’ because Scientology doesn’t tolerate homosexuality. I spent 20-40 hours a week hooked up to a machine — Scientology’s e-meter — that I was told could read my thoughts, and I was interrogated about my sexual behavior.

At 16, I was coerced to be a cult spy, which involved working with private detectives to follow ‘enemies’ of Scientology at public events. I was instructed to tail two women who were wearing shirts with confidential cult secrets printed on the back. I had to watch where they were going — report movements over walkie talkies — all the while terrified I might accidentally read the backs of their shirts... and die! I thought reading the confidential material could kill me, or give me cancer. I was told to sign documentation saying if I revealed this to anyone, they would fine me $50,000.

My parents chose the cult over me, and have told me they always will. They made it very clear that my opinions and feelings are not what motivate them to make decisions in their lives — what does, and always will, are the dogmatic principles of Scientology. I struggle with what I now know is major depressive disorder. Being disconnected from and rejected by my parents and siblings has only added to my feelings of being a complete failure.

At least I survived it. I can't say the same for all of my friends. One of my best friends who I won’t name in this plea for help (it's their family's choice to share that entire story) was a child in the Sea Organization, too. While trying to escape he was followed and kidnapped. He was forcibly thrown into a van and brought back to the Sea Organization base. He told me it haunted his mind. He took his own life some years ago. He was one of the smartest people I've ever met. My love for technology and video games is deeply influenced by the time in life I did share with him. I am saddened he couldn't take the world anymore; couldn't endure the demonic past. I understand why he ended his suffering. I don't judge or blame him, I just wish something more had been done to help him before it was too late. A few weeks ago another childhood friend took her own life; she was very young, in her mid-twenties. It terrifies me that the friends I have grown up with are killing themselves. Being a gay person I am at an even higher risk for mental illness, and it is a battle every day.

I’m lucky to have had friends helping me through this process. I've been a ghost for months, a shell of my previous self, rebuilding who I am and doing a lot of soul searching. I have really grown as a gay person: dating, having fun, loving, being heartbroken — still not giving up on sharing my love. I am doing everything in my power to remove myself from the cult, including removing myself from Scientology and those who would try to pull me back in; getting my car in proper shape to earn money via rideshare; and getting caught up on car payments, registration and insurance. But I need more help. It's a make or break point for me: succumb to my demons, my struggles, my debt, financial challenges... or rise above and ask for help from others to put all of this behind me. I just need some stability.

My current living arrangement is staying on a friend’s couch, in a cockroach-infested apartment over an hour away from good areas to work, and my boyfriend. I am currently making money by driving for Lyft and Uber, but the ends just aren’t meeting right now. My credit is shot. I had a tire blowout last week, which set me back work hours and financially. I am BARELY scraping by, and I am afraid of being in a situation where one mishap could have me out of a source of income.

I am fully aware and accept the fact that this campaign may make the ‘church’ come after me, but I have to do what is best for me; not live in fear of what they may or may not do. I need your help, even if all you can do is share this post. I need to tell my story.

I don’t know everything I need yet, but I do know that trying to survive on the outside while most of my family is still inside has caused bills and credit cards to stack up, which has destroyed my credit. Because of my destroyed credit, I know I will need a larger deposit on a safer place to live (several months of rent). I am currently living in the area that I grew up in, and was subjected to Scientology and it's abusive practices — these traumatic experiences regularly haunt me.

I have a roommate lined up to get an apartment with me out of state, but they are not in a position to financially support me (and I wouldn't expect that). I have three tires that really need to be replaced as soon as possible. I need to register my car in another state so I can continue working for Lyft / Uber, not to mention gas to get out there. At this time I only plan on taking what I can fit in my car. I will be starting my life over with nearly nothing but a car payment.

I have found a therapist that I like, and have had two sessions with them. It gives me hope. It is also very expensive, more than my car payment, and this is with a generous discount from the therapist . Scientology has made me believe there is something deeply wrong with me. I am doing my best to challenge those thoughts, but I cannot do it alone and without support. I need to be working with qualified professionals.

Please know that I am only asking this as a last resort. Thank you for your time, and thank you for reading and sharing my story.

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Justin Rybacki 
Anaheim, CA
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