I was involved with Scientology for 25 years. I have a really long story to tell. I’ll try to summarize it here. I have written more on the Ex Scientology Message board, under the name “Twin A”.
I got involved originally when I was 14 years old. My parents were never involved. In fact, I was approached and sold courses by the Church of Scientology Mission of Stevens Creek (San Jose) staff without my parents present in 1980.
In retrospect, I do not feel that this was correct or even legal — despite the fact that the helpful and friendly Scientology staff did help me to improve some aspects of my life at that time.
So after about a year of working part time and full time for the Steven’s Creek Mission for little to no pay, and only two counseling sessions that didn’t go all that well , I was recruited by a Sea Organization Recruiter from the Church of Scientology of Clearwater. He told me he was from the Flag Personnel Procurement Office. An important sounding name. The recruiter was dressed in a navy uniform and explained to me that the Sea Organization was an elite group of well organized Scientologists dedicated to resolving all the worlds problems using the new discoveries of L. Ron Hubbard about the mind and life. I felt flattered that I was being approached to be a member. I’d seen this recruiter and other Sea Organization members in Navy uniforms treated with respect, their orders followed, around the Steven’s Creek Mission.
This Sea Organization recruiter told me that if I joined the Sea Organization, that I would get all the help I needed to finish high school and get a college education. I was even promised film school which I wanted to do. I was promised that I would be put immediately into full time training as a Scientologist. I’d learn how to become a Scientology counselor and I could learn how to help people. I could learn how to help my mom and others. I would get paid regularly/weekly and I would get room and board and free medical and dental care. I was promised that I’d get a vacation every year for three weeks to visit my mother AND a day off every other week as well. I was also told I could easily leave if I didn’t want to be in the Sea Organization anymore. I could not wait to sign up…
The recruiter came to my apartment in Santa Clara and told my mother all the same things to get her to sign the parental consent form. My mother was drunk at the time and she saw my enthusiasm, was intimidated by the guy in a navy uniform and she signed the parental consent. My little brother was there and he wanted to come with me. She signed a consent form for him too. He was only 14 years old.
The recruiter had lied about all the things I would get when I joined the Sea Organization and he lied to my mother too. My little brother and I were essentially kidnapped and put on a plane to Clearwater Florida.
My twin sister joined the Sea Organization two years later, when she completed high school and found that she really missed us both. She is still involved and not speaking to me or my brother because we left staff and she has not. I had no way of knowing back then that the C of S would make important promises to me and my mother and then not keep them. The internet didn’t exist back in 1982, and I hadn’t seen any bad reports about Scientology. I had no reason not to trust this guy in the navy like uniform in helping me make a very life changing decision.
Upon our arrival to Clearwater Florida, we were both put to work immediately doing laundry duty. We did this for a month. It was hard work. We also cleaned rooms. The duties assigned to us often kept us up until 4AM in the morning. We were violating child labor laws in Florida, but I did not know that and my new superiors at the Church of Scientology of Clearwater didn’t care.
When I complained that my brother and I needed to go to school, I was told by the Scientologist (also a 16 year old kid) supervising my work, that “wog schools will just brainwash you, all you need to study is Scientology.” When I complained that I was also promised full time training as a Scientology counselor, I was told that “Oh, well, you don’t have enough work experience, so you have to work more before you can get rewarded with full time training.”
When I complained that that was not what I was promised, I was told that I was being “first dynamic oriented” which is the Scientology and Sea Organization term for “being selfish.” I did not like being called selfish. I did not want to be that, so I quit complaining.
I was in a difficult position. I did not really like my assigned guardian, I wasn’t enjoying the work and the long hours. How could I get my little brother and I back home? I had no money for a plane ticket. My mom certainly could not afford it. I’d learned when I was 11 that my step-father was not my “real dad” so I was reluctant to ask him for anything, he’d never officially adopted us and I already felt like I owed him too much. I went to my superiors in the Sea Organization and I expressed that I was unhappy and that I wanted to go back to California.
I was told calmly that I “had withholds” (hidden crimes) and that I could cure myself of wanting to leave by writing them down. I didn’t really know what to write at first. I had to figure out that it meant things I didn’t think my new friends would like to hear about. I wrote that I’d complained over the phone to my sister about the Sea Organization and how it was not what I expected, I wrote that I made mistakes on the laundry—I had trouble with “double creases” on the shirt sleeves and pants and got poor service votes for that. I wrote that I could never get the laundry done on time. I was assigned a condition of “Confusion” and I was shown the Scientology Ethics Book on how to deal with confusion. I got given a “Locational” to help me to find out where I was.
During my 17 years, I never finished high school. I never got a college education. I learned some basic film making skills, but nothing that could be called a “film school.” I also never completed any formal Scientology training as a counselor as I was promised. I liked the “method one” that I received, which was counseling on the subject of past words not understood in studies. I got to do the Key to Life course which is also related to literacy and words. Mostly what I studied were the manuals to equipment and on the job training programs.
I worked an average of 18 hours a day or more, 7 days a week. I did errands, manual labor, building maintenance and repair, videography, camera work, video playback, set construction, gardening and irrigation projects, etc. Jobs ranging from semi-skilled work to very skilled work. Many of the skills I’d learned earlier in public school programs were taken advantage of. It was implied to me that I was smart because I was a “past life Scientologist” and not because I actually had a great school system taking care of me before Scientology. The Santa Clara County school system had and still has some of the best schools in America.
I was allowed to visit my mom only on two occasions for less than a week each time. My entire life was taken over. Whenever I complained or tried to change things for the better for myself, I had to do the appropriate Ethics Condition until I was perfectly happy to be taken advantage of personally and in relationship to my family. I never got any help with my mother. In fact, in 1992, I was told I had to disconnect from her! Because she was connected to psychiatrists who are the big enemy of Scientology.
By being constantly led on about what I was going to get from the Sea Organization for my work and then never actually getting it, I essentially had a great deal of my life extorted from me. I calculated approximately how much the Church of Scientology International and the Church of Scientology of Clearwater would have had to pay a regular worker for all the hours I worked for them in my 18 years in the Sea Organization, and it calculated to one million dollars. If the Churches of Scientology International and Clearwater had to pay minimum wage or slightly more for the more skilled work, plus the overtime then they would owe me about 500,000 (I subtracted what I was given as room and board and some counseling). There were thousands of hours I spent working on my sleep time on “all-nighters.” In 1993, I added up how many hours of actual sleep time I’d been given and divided it by the number of days in that year. The average of sleep time I got in 1993 was 2.5 hours a day! ALL YEAR. 1994 was better, I averaged about 4.5 a night all year.
I developed health problems and emotional problems just from the stress of never sleeping and some work related injuries. I had to quit staff. Or they kicked me out for not being as productive anymore. Whichever. I left. I “routed out” which took me three years of being forced to confess to sins and evil intentions. I just started making things up after a while. It was not fun. I totally understand why others have chosen to skip the “route out” step by simply leaving. I found it oppressive and challenging to my sanity.
My husband [name deleted ] filed for a divorce without even speaking to me during this time. He was a Scientology kid, raised in Scientology and it was all he knew, he did not want to ever leave. Even though I hadn’t really gotten to know him very well, (we were both too busy to have a real marriage), I was upset about the divorce.
Since I had donated half a million dollars worth of skilled labor, I feel like I have a right to complain about certain lies I was told about what I would get for all my work. During the last 4 years of my Sea Organization life, I discovered that medical and dental are not always given when needed. In fact, it has to get approved by financial planning committees and by the Medical Liaison office. I was often told that “there was not enough money” to pay for my medical and dental needs.
When I finally got out of the SO, I had 3,000 worth of dental needs (wisdom teeth, root canals, and a cap) and I had over 10,000 worth of physical therapy and MRIs needed for my spine problems. Injuries I’d gotten doing manual labor for the C of S that I had been denied proper care for. I did manage to finally get a little Workers Compensation Insurance, but not nearly enough.