Brainwash victims get help putting pieces back

Thursday, March 4, 2004 Ex-cultist Karen Robidoux is just one of several mind-control group escapees recovering from a life of brainwashing at a unique Lakeville deprogramming center.

“It bothers me terribly that people are used and abused in the name of God,” said Robert Pardon, director of the nonprofit New England Institute for Religious Research and the Meadow Haven safe house.

Meadow Haven has eight beds currently occupied by defectors from the Moonies, the Twelve Tribes and Baruch Ha Shem.

Headed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Moonies are a notorious brainwashing cult with international chapters.

Baruch Ha Shem, based in Maryland, has been accused of beating members.

The Twelve Tribes, who were the subject of a Herald investigation two years ago, actively recruit members who turn over their property. The group has chapters worldwide, including in Hyannis, Plymouth and Dorchester.

A noted cult expert who helped free Robidoux and others from the Attleboro-based sect known as The Body, Pardon said Meadow Haven’s rural setting and pressure-free environment allows severely damaged ex-cultists to recover their identities.

Pardon described Robidoux as a “real fighter” who has accepted her painful past and is working hard to move forward.

“It’s very, very damaging when a person leaves a destructive group,” he said. “No one leaves unscathed.”

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