I was first introduced to Scientology by a friend of mine in 2004, shortly before Joburg Org went St Hill Size. Until then I had never so much as heard of Scientology, yet while I was doing my OCA I was offered a job!
I was told the salary was about R500 a week. For a 17-year old with no responsibilities beyond myself this seemed a decent salary. In the event I never earned more than R150 in a week, and that was a good week. Despite the reservation that I still had no real idea of what Scientology was or what job I would be doing, I signed a contract. To show how little I knew of what I was getting myself into, I remember a conversation with my mother when I told her where I was employed and she said “but you know nothing about Science”. My replied was “I know but they still want to hire me!”
Initially things went well. I had some auditing and courses and was quite happy to be on staff as the Div 6 reg. I was helping others achieve the same wins and felt good about that. I also met Gene, my 2D and eventually my husband! Things were great. The org had by now gone Old St Hill size, the vibe was fantastic and I was blind to the ‘internal politics’.
Sadly, this idealistic state was not to last. I fell pregnant with Gene, and my seniors the PES and ED (Albert de Beer) were extremely angry with me as I would have to take maternity leave. The pressure began to mount immediately to “get the stats up” no matter what. Things also began to get a bit weird. I was made to call up certain public who would literally drive the streets picking up people – anyone, even complete illiterates – and bring them in by the bakkie/truck load. We had specific public (whales) who would then pay for them to do a Volunteer Ministers booklet course.
The Div 6 sup at the time would get very angry with us for sending her illiterate students that often could not even speak English. Nonetheless, they would be routed to the course room, read a single page and then leave never to return – but the important thing is that person could be counted as a first start towards the Birthday Game. This was all Albert cared about. Despite being advanced in my pregnancy I would not be allowed to go home until the first starts reached the required number.
However, I believed I was still helping people and so remained blind to what was really going on.
More things began to disturb me. Once I had a public walk in (Kwesi Bengu, who went on to join staff and become a Flag-trained auditor). He came straight out and said to me “I’ve just finished reading Dianetics and I want to go clear”. As I picked myself up off the floor, my senior who had overheard made me immediately walk him to the bank so he could draw his money and pay to start.
Kwesi started his Book One intensive with Gene and was walking on clouds every day that I saw him. He used to tell me he didn’t understand why people weren’t lining up outside the front door to get Dianetics. Then one Thursday morning while Kwesi was in session the PES approached me and told me that as soon as Kwesi came out of session I must sign him up for the purif.
I argued that he had clearly stated that all he wanted was Book One, that he was not yet finished his intensive and that anyway he was doing extremely well on the current programme. She shouted at me that I better sign him up or there would be trouble, to which I point blank refused.
When Kwesi came out of session he came to sit by me at my desk to share his wins. Meanwhile the PES and the ED ganged up on Gene to try convince him to get Kwesi signed up for the purif before 2pm. Gene also refused and a screaming match ensued in the auditing room while Kwesi overheard it all sitting alongside me. I tried to tell him they were doing a drill, as he suspected they were fighting about him.
The PES proceeded to reg Kwesi directly. He repeated to her: “I want to go clear with Dianetics” and she responded “We do not use Dianetics any more to go clear – if you want to go clear you have to do it this way”. Kwesi was obviously so keen to go clear he reluctantly routed onto his purif straight away.
This incident was a pivotal point for me as I came to realise there was less intention to actually help the individual as there was to make a stat. This was reinforced for me when I went to the D/ED and OT8 Gaby Ryan for help and showed her the reference Ridge on the Bridge – and was totally ignored.
I wrote up a report but continued on with my post. Gene had by now applied for 6 months LOA as I was now into my final month of pregnancy. He wanted to earn some money to support me and the soon-to-be-born baby. His direct senior, Hugh Barfoot, approved the CSW. When the PES found out she screamed at Hugh to cancel it, notwithstanding that Gene had already replaced himself. She didn’t know that I was sitting within hearing distance so I got up and confronted her and told her that if she stopped Gene from going to make money and my baby starved it would be her fault (Oh the joys of pregnancy hormones!) and she backed off.
My 2D went on his LOA and when I was due I went on maternity leave. Bliss! When I was due to return I was not prepared to put my son in crèche, nor did I think it would be viable to be a Div 6 reg with a baby at my desk. My intention was to route off staff, but the EO said I couldn’t break my ‘contract with LRH’ by simply routing off, but could take another post where a baby wouldn’t be an issue.
Despite my noisy refusal I became the IAS membership officer, a post for which I felt absolutely no ARC as it lacked the essential ingredient I needed to feel passion for my post – the idea I was personally helping people. During the few months I was on this post I made not a single phone call to attempt to sell memberships. I literally sat out of view upstairs and played with my son. Talk about a ser fac!
When my unhappiness and lack of production on the post was finally noticed, I was moved to the DSA office. I had always been intrigued by the DSA office so was quite happy with the transfer. However, it was becoming quite evident to myself and Gene that it was not financially viable for the both of us to be on staff with a son, so we began routing off staff. We still had the purpose to help, and so agreed that I at least would remain on staff – so that one of us was there – and Gene alone would route off to provide financial support. Boy oh boy does the trouble start when one decides to leave! Little did I know they were about to attack my marriage and family.
Gene was bluntly warned he would be Comm Ev’d for leaving – one of the reasons given was that he had not replaced himself. In fact, Gene no less than twice replaced himself – both times his replacements were taken out of Div 6 and posted elsewhere.
The Comm Ev was duly called and I was interviewed – it was a witch hunt right from the beginning. I was asked all sorts of personal and dishonest questions simply meant to introvert: “So at what point did Gene cheat on you?” I responded that he never had and asked what they were basing this question on. The response I got was “Never mind”.
“How many times has Gene taken drugs while being in a 2D with you?” My queries as to what these questions were based on were similarly brushed off, and this line of questioning continued. It felt like I was in a court room being cross examined.
Despite this exhausting ordeal I remained on staff and awaited the Comm Ev findings. Meanwhile I endured constant 3rd partying especially from my senior, Shaleen Wohrnits, as to how bad Gene was as well as how bad my relationship was with him. None of the Comm Ev questioning or the subsequent third partying had the least basis in reality: I think pressure was applied by the LC Sandra de Beer who was behind Gene’s Comm Ev and out for his blood.
This pressure only ratcheted up with time. For instance, one day at lunch I was approached by Calvin Anderson, who was a member of the Comm Ev. He told me I had better do a doubt condition as Gene was definitely going to be declared and that if I didn’t leave him our son would never be able to go up the Bridge. Although the findings had not even come back it had just been decided that Gene was now an SP. In the face of all this third-partying I packed my bags, took my son, moved in with Shaleen and left my 2D.
Immediately the pressure was off – I was now part of the ‘in crowd’, the ‘upstats’! Albert was nice to me again and even Sandra was so delighted I had left Gene that she tried to crack a smile at me a few times (although it looked like her entire face might crack). In fact, the entire exec team constantly validated me for leaving Gene. Talk about bank agreement!
I had succumbed to their pressure – but the problem was only going to get worse. Though I had moved out I knew Gene was no SP and was in fact a brilliant dad so I allowed him full access to our son.
The chaplain called us in to work out the ‘logistics’ of ending these visitation rights. Although we were perfectly amiable and prepared to share custody and visitation, the chaplain would not have it. Gene was warned that if he continued to see his son he would be jeopardising his son’s Bridge – never mind that the Comm Ev findings still had not been announced, and it was still simply being assumed that Gene would be declared.
Various arrangements we suggested were rejected. However, I refused to prohibit my son seeing his father and Gene refused to surrender his rights as a dad – and so ended the meeting. Sandra and Shaleen both expressed their displeasure – as though we needed their approval. In fact, Shaleen gave me the best possible advice: after shouting at me that I was putting my and my son’s Bridge in danger, she told me to do a doubt condition. Such is how conditions are arbitrarily applied on staff!
I promptly did so and had the biggest realisation. I had been invalidated, evaluated, third-partied and played a fool by the execs. When I was done I realised how stupid and blind I had been to listen to them ahead of Gene.
I decided to go back to Gene and this decision felt great! On hearing the good news, Shaleen icily responded “You did not do the conditions properly, do them again”. But my eyes were finally opened.
The next day I packed my bags and moved back in with Gene. Though I did not want to break my contract ‘with Ron’ the icy vibe in the DSA office became too much to endure. Foundation wouldn’t work as I still had my 9-month old son with me. Staff is not made for family life so I decided to route off.
Again, the pressure was about to ratchet up. While busy with my staff leaving sec check I was approached by David Lipshitz to rejoin staff, lol! His rejoinder at my blunt refusal was, “Ooooh I see, OK well you will change your mind after your sec check.”
Feeling wonderful walking out of the HGC (for what I thought was the last time) having completed my sec check, I was approached by Albert who suggested I join staff as the child care provider. The bait – I would not be a church staff member but rather paid a fixed monthly salary of R2,000/month. I almost laughed in his face, but instead told him that there were things happening in the Church that I didn’t agree with and I did not want to be there. He made me wrong and played the guilt trip in every possible way – but since my experience regarding Gene’s Comm Ev I now held my ground.
Next day I was called back into session. I was annoyed at this as I had already completed my sec check. I was even more annoyed when the additional questions were “Has Albert missed a withhold?”, “What have you done to Albert?” Clearly Albert was interfering with my sessions. I did not FN at the examiner and had to go back in the next day and now also handle being overrun on my sec check. Two extra sessions just because I disagreed with Albert.
I found a job, paid my free loader bill and finally started living life J Gene’s Comm Ev was eventually thrown out and no findings were posted. We were both very happy. We put the past behind us and continued on lines, going to events and in the course room. But the dragon hadn’t forgotten us!
Two years later Gene attended a tech briefing. Things in the org seemed to have changed – if nothing else Sandra was no longer around (temporarily it turned out) and there appeared to be more focus on actually delivering Scientology, making clears and auditors. Gene was asked to join staff again. The carrot was he would be put on the TTC for auditor training and possibly even go for training at Flag. Liking what he heard, Gene signed another contract.
Things went as promised for a while – but all changed once Sandra returned. Almost immediately, it seemed less emphasis was placed on auditing and training and more on ethics actions and regging money. For instance, Gene was pulled off the TTC and told he needed to get a production record before being allowed on the TTC. And this after delivering over 2,000 hours of Book One on his previous contract. Despite Gene’s strident opposition (after all he had only rejoined staff to train as a class 4 auditor) he ended up back in Div 6. Gene made the cardinal error of writing a report on Sandra for pulling him off the TTC, and she made his staff time hell thereafter.
With Gene back on staff came the return of financial stress – some weeks staff earned as little as R20 (for foreign readers that wouldn’t buy a coffee at Flag). I now had two boys and was not able to support them on my own. Gene would return from the org after six and immediately clock in at his moonlighting job – but it was never enough. We seldom saw each other. We both realised that our financial condition had been overlooked by our purpose to help on the 3rd dynamic. Gene had to route off. He began his routing form but couldn’t start his sec check as there was a lack of auditors (he wasn’t the only one routing off!). He left anyway and told the EO he would do his sec check as soon as an auditor became available.
At this point we had had enough of Joburg and Joburg org and had begun making plans to move to Cape Town. I was going to spend a month with my mother while Gene stayed in Joburg to work and save money for our relocation. Gene duly informed the org of our plans.
One week before his move to Cape Town, Gene was told he was going to be Comm Ev’d for not completed his routing form and was therefore considered to have blown. If you read other people’s leaving stories, you will notice that dragging out the sec check is a common method of keeping people on staff for as long as another year. He informed them that we had to go as I was starting a new job in Cape Town. The Comm Ev was held over the phone.
I was absolutely disgusted in the manner that they did this. I was sitting next to Gene while they questioned him so overheard the entire process. Even though much of the Comm Ev was on our financial situation and this was my hat – they refused to speak to me.
It became clear they were again pushing for a declare. Gene and I sought assistance from the local Cape Town org, who advised that Gene needed to buy intensives to complete his staff leaving sec check. A staff leaving sec check is not supposed to be charged for, but under the threat of being declared we found the money and Gene got through it, compiled a production report – and again the Comm Ev was thrown out.
We had written numerous reports up lines on the injustices committed, but never received so much as an acknowledgement.
By now we were uncomfortable with the level of off-policy actions being taken by the Church – a fair number of which we had borne the brunt of in our personal lives. We decided to leave the Church and I sent in a letter to the EO Cape Town wishing them well and thanking them for our wins in Scientology but stating we no longer wanted to be part of the Church.
Immediately our Scientology ‘friends’ disconnected from us without any comm. For instance, though we were not declared my husband’s sister disconnected from us and by doing so created a huge divide within the family. We have since distanced ourselves from his family so that they can support her. Still being part of the church she will need all the support she can get. Although this all hurt, we moved on and made a better life for ourselves.
What has changed? We now answer to no one but ourselves with regards to our own spiritual freedom – and that alone is extremely liberating. We have true friends – that is, friendships based on who we are rather than what we are. In fact our friends couldn’t give a hoot about what philosophy we apply in our lives.
Gene and I are happily married, happily living and recently welcomed our third son into our family.
Life is good 🙂