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ICSA E-Newsletter

Current ICSA E-Newsletters are posted below, with the most recent newsletter on top.

February 2, 2018

A team from the Center on Violence Against Women and Children of the Rutgers University School of Social Work has posted a report, “Evaluating the State of Predatory Alienation in New Jersey.” The report was prepared for The New Jersey Department of Children and Families and the The New Jersey Department of Human Services. You will find the full report here:

The Introduction below provides an overview of the report’s genesis and objectives:

The objective of the project, “Evaluating the State of Predatory Alienation in New Jersey,” was to identify the nature of predatory alienation and its effects on young adults and older adults. The Department of Children and Families and the Department of Human Services contracted the Center on Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) at the Rutgers School of Social Work to study this issue.

In 2012, several individuals in New Jersey began a nonprofit organization, NJ Safe & Sound, to advocate for legislation to protect families in cases of undue influence and predatory alienation. Their own personal experiences with predatory alienation led them to their advocacy efforts.

As a result of the advocacy efforts of NJ Safe and Sound, Senate Bill 25621 and Assembly Bill 4244 were passed and signed by the Governor (P.L. 2017, Chapter 64), requiring the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) to conduct a joint study and make recommendations concerning predatory alienation. The Act defines predatory alienation as “extreme undue influence on, or coercive persuasion or psychologically damaging manipulation of another person that results in physical or emotional harm or the loss of financial assets, disrupts a parent-child relationship, leads to a deceptive or exploitative relationship, or isolates the person from family and friends.” With this definition in mind, researchers at VAWC sought to answer the following questions:

1) How do online predators, human traffickers, con artists, gangs, cults, and other groups use predatory alienation to isolate young adults and senior citizens from their family and friends?

2) What are the grooming practices used to target and control young adults and older adults?

3) What are the high-pressure tactics used in scams and exploitative relationships to manipulate, control, and take advantage of older adults?

4) Why are young adults and older adults particularly vulnerable to predatory alienation?

5) What can young adults and older adults do to protect themselves from predatory alienation?

VAWC used a two-phased approach to gain a better understanding of predatory alienation and how it affects young adults and older adults, including a comprehensive literature review and key stakeholder interviews. This report presents a synthesis of the findings from these two phases of the research project.

Approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Rutgers University was received prior to conducting this research. First, VAWC conducted a comprehensive literature review to examine the state of predatory practices targeting young adults and older adults across the United States. Second, in-depth interviews were completed with key stakeholders from organizations serving or advocating on behalf of individuals who have fallen victim to predatory behaviors. These interviews aided the researchers in gaining an understanding of current practices in responding to victims of predatory behaviors. Third, this report was written which includes a synthesis of findings from the literature review and in-depth interviews, and recommendations for policy, practice, and research.

January 9, 2018

Second ICSA Podcast on Radicalization and Cults

Oliver J. Smith, a psychology student at University of Cambridge (UK), has interviewed scholars of terrorism and radicalization on the relationship between their fields and cultic studies. His second podcast is with Professor Roger Griffin, one of the world’s foremost experts on the socio-historical and ideological dynamics of fascism, as well as the relationship of various forms of fanaticism, and in particular contemporary terrorism, to modernity. He has made a number of contributions to a humanistic understanding of terrorist radicalization and the identification of the processes involved in de-radicalization. Professor Griffin wrote a book called Terrorist’s Creed, published in 2012, which outlines a lot of his thinking on this subject. Oliver Smith asked him about the relevance of cults to terrorist groups, when considered as devices for achieving meaning, in particular.

Go here for the podcast (and please subscribe to ICSA’s YouTube channel):

Some useful links:

December 19, 2017

First ICSA Podcast on Radicalization and Cults

Oliver J. Smith, a psychology student at University of Cambridge (UK), has interviewed scholars of terrorism and radicalization on the relationship between their fields and cultic studies. His first podcast was with Dr. Florence Gaub, a Senior Analyst at the European Union Institute for Security Studies, where she heads the Middle East and North Africa programme. In her work, she focuses on conflict, strategy, and security, with particular emphasis on Iraq, Lebanon and Libya. She also works on Arab military forces more generally, conflict structures, and geostrategic dimensions of the Arab region. Dr Gaub wrote a paper called, ‘The Cult of ISIS’ which was published in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy in early 2016. Oliver Smith asked Dr Gaub about the links that can be made between cults and terrorist groups, and the strategic implications of these links. 

Go here for the podcast (and please subscribe to ICSA’s YouTube channel):

Some useful links:

December 17, 2017

ICSA’s 2017 Progress Report, which was completed a couple of weeks ago, is now available online:

November 17, 2017

The ICSA Santa Fe conference (Nov. 3 – 5, 2017) went very well.  Approximately 100 people attended this conference, which focuses on assistance, mental health training, and general-interest sessions.  Among the many topics covered were:

  • Beyond Cults: Religious Child Maltreatment in ‘Mainstream' Religious Environments (Janet Heimlich; Jaime Romo)
  • Post-Cult Sexuality: Clinical Issues (Steve Eichel)
  • Why People Leave Cults (Facilitator Michael Langone; Discussants: David Clark; Joseph Kelly; Patrick Ryan)
  • Building Relationships and Communicating with the Cult Involved   –   Parts I & II (Facilitators: Michael Langone, Steve Eichel; David Clark; Joseph Kelly; Patrick Ryan)
  • Panel: SGA Personal Accounts from the Alamo Group (Debby Schriver, Moderator)
  • Boundaries (Rosanne Henry; Elizabeth Blackwell)
  • Varieties of Post-Cult Spirituality I & II (Ashley Allen, Moderator; Elizabeth Blackwell; Wendy Duncan; Steven Gelberg; Pat Knapp; Madeleine Tobias)
  • Transitioning to a Better Life After Mormonism (Luna Lindsey; Cyndi Matthews)
  • Families, Conflict Resolution, and Exit Strategies (Joseph Kelly; Patrick Ryan)
  • Cult Recovery: What ICSA’s Landmark Book Can Teach Professionals, Families, and Former Members (Lorna Goldberg)

Lorna Goldberg’s panel on cult recovery featured chapter authors from ICSA’s new book, Cult Recovery: A Clinician’s Guide, which many view as the definitive text on treatment.  For more information on this important book, go here (URL:

Thanks to the hard work of Ashley Allen, who obtained provider status with the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) for ICSA, we were able to offer continuing education credits to mental health professionals for selected sessions.  ICSA plans to offer more CE sessions at future conferences.

Some of the speakers have made their Power Points available in a special conference folder, which you can access here (URL:

The deadline has passed for submitting proposals for ICSA’s 2018 Annual Conference in Philadelphia (July 5-7, 2018).  We received more than 130 submissions, the quality of which on the whole seems to be even higher than in past annual conferences.  Between now and the end of the year, the conference committee will evaluate submissions, work out a draft agenda, and notify submitters of the committee’s decision regarding their proposal(s).  In late December or early January we should be ready to disseminate flyers and registration and other information on the annual conference.

ICSA’s weekend workshop for those born or raised in cultic groups will take place in Connecticut the weekend of April 27, 2018.  For more information, go here (URL:

On October 27, 2017 ICSA began a new kind of event, ICSA Conversations.  Dr. Benjamin Zablocki of Rutgers University spoke on “Brainwashing: Scientific Concept or Mere Label” at the NY monthly meeting.  Dr. Zablocki’s talk was streamed through Facebook.  On December 15th Sara Waters will give a talk entitled, “Sexual/Romantic Intimacy: Challenges for People Raised in a Cult.”  This event will also be streamed.  If you wish to participate either live or via streaming, please register (ICSA Conversations are free).  For more information, including a registration link, go here (URL:

The holiday season will be upon us soon.  Please remember ICSA in your holiday giving!