Our thanks to Marie-Louise for sharing her story with us. This is yet one more example of someone who reached for spiritual salvation they knew could be possible with correct application of LRH Technology but instead was chewed up and spat out by the group she trusted, supported and sacrificed much for. What she went through in her quest is nothing short of astounding and we admire her tenacity and determination as she records events of what she went through and how she finally found her freedom.
Marie-Louise Eckert’s Story
My story in the Church of Scientology started around September 2009 when I began experiencing strange spiritual sensations, what I now know to have been episodes of exteriorisation and ESP. In consequence, I started seeking something more, something spiritual, from my life.
Finding Dianetics & my introduction to the the Church of Scientology
One day, on leaving a doctor’s office after re-charging a prescription for anti-depressants, I was approached by someone selling Dianetics and bought a copy. I started reading the book and immediately knew that I was onto something big. I was so excited, but also panicked once I flipped through the pages and recognised the word ‘Scientology’. The only thing I knew about it was from the press – Tom Cruise was involved in it and the subject wasn’t exactly seen in the best light.
Nonetheless, I still wanted to know more about Dianetics, and soon someone from Joburg org invited me to a free session which I really wanted to do. At the time I was sick and still on anti-depressants, but I was nonetheless taken into session – 10pm at night, medicated, tired and feeling sick.
It says something for the tech that despite this auspicious start, the following weekend I attended the Dianetics Seminar and immediately signed up for the Dianetics Course on an evening schedule. In the midst of this course, staff member LS suggested I should rather do the Ups & Downs in Life Course, to which I agreed. She suggested this because I had expressed my family may have concerns about me being involved in Scientology.
Once I had finished the Ups & Downs course I still had problems with my family’s perception of Scientology so went to see the Ethics Officer (Angelo Ryan). However, the handling became totally overwhelming for me, not helped by the fact that LS was now trying to reg me for the Purification Rundown to get me off the anti-depressant drugs. I was still excited about Dianetics, which I knew was the answer to all of my mental issues, but I was now told I would not be able to get any auditing until the medication issue was handled.
Recruitment, Invalidation & confusion
One day Albert approached me at the org, extremely friendly, and gave me an in-depth briefing on how messed up the planet is with the three most profitable businesses being human trafficking, drugs and arms & ammunition. I was shocked. The solution, he said, was for me to join staff, something I was keen to do but still had some concerns about my family’s reaction to this level of involvement in Scientology. This was to some degree resolved when course sup DR told me that one can still be part of their own faith (like Christianity) and a Scientologist because Scientology does not clash with other religions.
As a result, while now on the purif during November 2009 I was introduced to a friend’s ‘spiritual advisor’, and this meeting shook my stable data regarding Scientology, the issue of other religions and God.
Having no vaguest concept I’d done anything wrong, I was called by the HES (VW) who said that some VIP at the org wanted to see me. When I arrived at the org, I was introduced to Sandra de Beer.
During our meeting, I mentioned to Sandra about having seen my friend’s ‘spiritual advisor’. Sandra made me totally wrong for having done this, suggesting I had betrayed the group, was in Treason and not worthy to be part of Scientology. This spun me in and I was totally confused following DR’s advice that it was totally okay to be part of SCN and also other religions – yet here was Sandra giving me a totally different version.
In a state of complete enturbulation and upset, I was later that same evening called into another recruit meeting with Sandra and Albert. Immediately afterwards, I suffered a smash-and-grab while waiting at a traffic light – the first time I had ever suffered anything of that nature. I had no doubt in my mind it was the result of speaking to Sandra de Beer.
The recruit cycle continued but I had many questions, including the issue of staff pay and that I needed to give my current employer proper notice. Albert told me that “the pay was being worked on”, but I would probably earn about R5,000/month. Albert also told me that I should “play the religious card’ to get out of having to work in my notice, but I felt this was unethical. By end-November I signed a staff contract and gave notice at work to terminate end-January.
When I told my Aunt what I had done she was very concerned and described a friend who had committed suicide as a result of Scientology. She tearfully begged me not to join staff, so I capitulated and decided instead to do something else during the day and rather continue on course at night.
With having to deal with the falling apart of my reality, the smash and grab, leaving my job and having to move house at the same time I was very wobbly, and my Aunt sent me to Cape St Francis to just chill out and relax for a while. I explained this to Albert and he seemed to understand and was ok with this.
In February I attended an IAS event delivered by Jan Eastgate and regging began for an IAS donation. A staff member (Reg) proposed I buy a ‘double annual membership’ saying that “my flows would open” as a result and it would all come back to me. I pledged the money but told the reg I would have to make a plan to get the money. I was expecting a settlement from my previous work and also some inheritance money, and when this came through I planned to pay this to the IAS.
It was not all bad news: at this event I and my future 2D reconnected as friends and started a relationship three days later.
One night shortly after the IAS event, at about 9pm SO members SF and HE arrived unannounced at my house and told me I needed to pay for the memberships ASAP and suggested I phone a wealthy public (MC) and ask him to bridge the money while I waited for my money to come through. I did so, and he was not happy about it and told me this was against finance policy. He agreed to do this only after speaking to SF and HE. I never did “get all the money back” from opened flows.
With my new job and distance I now lived from the org, it was no longer possible to get to the org as frequently, and one day my 2D and I decided to do an Admin Scale after which we went into the org to get a Tech Estimate. My TE suggested Life Repair, I was regged by Albert to pay immediately.
My plan was to use an annuity shortly to be paid out. The registrar then phoned the insurer’s consultant and basically lied to get payment quicker. Albert’s attitude was that it was totally OK to lie as they were “just wogs” and didn’t understand the urgency. As it turned out, this was just the first of many such cycles where org “urgency” outweighed everything else, including what was going on in my life.
I had already noticed many outpoints at the org, but another now presented itself. Despite wanting the money so quickly, once they had it they couldn’t schedule me for session, and kept procrastinating. I finally commenced Life Repair auditing around April/May 2010. I was totally un-hatted as a PC: I got confused over the repetitive-stlye questions with the auditor asking me the same question over & over again, thinking I had maybe got the question wrong. I might have gotten more out of it if had I some hatting or training under my belt.
My first sojourn on staff
Recruit cycles recommenced with promises of pay being ‘around’ R5,000 per month which I thought was feasible and around June 2010, when I finally arrived on staff – now came the big shock. Before joining, Albert and everyone had love-bombed me with huge ARC but once I was on staff I was scarcely noticed or acknowledged. More outpoints were noticed: staff meetings were run in a militaristic fashion; realities were enforced on staff members; Albert ostracised the Tech Sec at the time.
But the worst was yet to come. The first week I went to fetch my pay-check it was only $5 (R50). There was just NO WAY I could survive on this. I was in total shock to the point where I started hyperventilating. The HES asked me what was wrong and when I told her, she brushed me off as if I was acting like a drama queen – she had no idea how serious this was for me.
I was invited to stay in the staff house at R50 a week – but even this was my whole pay for that week, so what was I supposed to eat and live on? Furthermore, Sandra lived there and my experiences with her already were not good. She enturbulated every comm cycle I had with her, and once she told me that that I elicit evaluation.
So against my own moral code, I moved into my 2D’s house with his parents, on whom I became totally dependent. This out-exchange on my behalf really upset me as it went against my own moral codes.
In September 2010 I was sent to the Sea-Org base in Midrand (Ezulwini) to be trained for the new Div6 Life Improvement Courses, but halfway through Albert and Sandra suddenly arrived at the base and said they were taking me back to the org immediately – Sandra would not even let me fetch my cell-phone charger such was their urgency.
I was taken back to the org and re-assigned as Bookstore Officer. I hated this post which consisted of doing call-in for events 90% of the time. A lot of time was also spent attending events, with Sundays spent on course. I immediately observed how ARC broken the public seemed to be and out of concern told Albert about my observation. Albert’s response was that this was ‘an enemy line’ and wanted to know where I got it from. He told me that if public were rude during call-in it was because they were out-ethics.
During my third month on staff, I announced my intention to leave. As a handling I was C/S’d to redo the Ups & Downs course and PVI. In fact, I had an amazing win from these courses, with certain chronic pains I used to get now miraculously vanishing. This Technology is miraculous.
Despite doing the courses I still wanted to leave, and was told by the EO to ‘just hang in there’. In the end after going back and forth to HCO, I finally just walked out of the org and off the premises.
Ethics “handlings” and more recruiting
I was very keyed in and concerned about my eternity, and around this time I came across some data on Scientology on the web which I told my 2d about and was told that I could go onto the site but HCO would be asking questions. My viewpoint was that I had every right to look and see things for myself.
I was instructed by Sandra that if I didn’t return to the org for a handling I would be declared. I did so and Sandra routed me onto a very heavy recovery cycle with Sean Figuerao to get me back on staff. I have no idea why he was put onto this cycle as he was in South Africa as the Mission I/C for AOAF recruitment. This cycle was extremely uncomfortable: it seemed SF just could not get close enough to me and was practically sitting on top of me. Sandra then told me she had a program I had to do at the org.
The first step of the program Sandra gave me was word-clearing every ‘alternative’ spiritual book I had ever read (Reiki, etc). This proved impossible as I no longer owned the books, and by March the following year (2011) I was still incomplete on the program – by now trying to get through my Liability condition. I was extremely unhappy during this time but was willing to do anything because I really wanted to get my Objectives.
In April I started my Objective Processing on a full-time schedule. I co-audited my twin to completion, but when it was my turn she said she couldn’t maintain the schedule – and so I was left hanging incomplete on Objectives.
And then recruitment started to build for the GAT2 trainee team. All sorts of underhand tactics were used to trap me into recruit cycles. SF would say she “just wanted to speak to me” and notwithstanding assurances she wasn’t going to mention joining staff a recruit conversation would start the moment I arrived at the org. For weeks I was evaluated and invalidated. One example: David Lipsitz coolly informed me that I worshiped my bank. I finally capitulated to Robert Bokelmann’s charm and signed a contract to work on FDN staff as I was not willing to work with or under Albert or Sandra.
By this time I had found a job working at Carol Hogarth’s Art Gallery, and I was told that before I could go to Flag I had to complete my objectives so during the day I worked at the gallery and going to the org in the evenings. My job at the gallery did not go well – Carol was extremely enturbulating on my lines with frequent flying into rages and I would arrive at the org totally keyed in and enturbulated which affected my sessionability. Finally after 3 months I couldn’t handle Carol anymore and I resigned from my job around March 2012.
Despite taking up a new job, and one that I was enjoying, the org now insisted I arrive at Flag “immediately”. Again, Sandra in a fit of antagonism accused me of being a traitor to the group. So I again resigned my job and handled various other cycles by end-May 2012 so I could arrive at Flag, only to learn the org had neither booked nor paid for my air-ticket to Tampa. After a wasted month sitting around waiting for the org to get their act together, I was finally winging my way to Flag in June 2012.
My first Flag visit
My entire experience at Flag – the ‘friendliest place in the world’ – was a nightmare. I had been prepared for a stay of 8-12 months, but on arrival learned that some people had already been there for 2-3 years and not finished. With a life and 2D waiting for me back home, I immediately felt lied to and cheated. Other out-points about Flag (the friendliest place in the world):
- I had been told by the org not to worry about materials as these would be provided at Flag. However, when I got into the course room this was not so. I was required to have my own materials.
- I was put on a work-study schedule to earn my board and lodging (the org did not have the funds to pay for this). This very heavy production schedule left little time for training: I had to clean two floors in the Sandcastle building at a pace of five minutes per room. After work I was so exhausted I could barely stand and then still had to run to catch the bus to the base and go on course.
- Muster (multiple each day) was militaristic in nature.
- The ‘handling’ by the OOT call-in unit was to make sure all my ruds were in – which did help – and coaching me not to tell the Ethics Officer I was being restimulated as that would mean I would have to be sent back home.
- I was seriously out-ruds most of the time I was at Flag and studying under conditions of severe sleep deprivation and exhaustion. I lost a lot of weight during this time.
- Many Sea Org members treated OOTs as if we were boot-camp recruits, ordering us around with zero affinity.
- My laptop and cell phone were immediately confiscated, leaving me unable to communicate with home or the org. I did arrange via the Senior Intern Sup (a sweetheart) to call my 2D every day from the OOT call-in space, but in reality my tight schedule left little time for this. While many people only managed to speak to their loved ones weekly, I was determined not to allow this – but in consequence I ran myself ragged to make it happen.
- I burst into tears at first sight of my miles-long TIP that I was expected to complete on a work-study schedule. Home never seemed further away.
- I cried almost every night going to bed, and when I spoke to my 2D on the phone, I was constantly in grief.
- Instead of completing me on Objectives which should have been the first cycle, I was routed onto the Student Hat while I waited for an Objectives twin.
- When an Objectives twin was finally found, I couldn’t get into session as I was completely unsessionable and exhausted.
- By this time I was spinning and pulling in weird pictures and so I sent a comm to the C/S about this. One day I walked out of the building onto the street without looking and was so out of PT that a motorbike almost drove into me.
As a result of all the above, I was routed to HCO and asked in a metered interview whether I was having suicidal thoughts. Despite answering no – that I was just getting strange pictures of being hit by a car or dying – I was immediately put under suicide security watch and taken off base. I was sent to an OT8’s house accompanied by a ‘minder’ 24/7, I now couldn’t sleep and became REALLY enturbulated.
My 2D then arranged for me to go and stay with a friend of his in Clearwater (a non-SCN) my ‘minder’ had to accompany me at all times and when this friend asked what was going on, the ‘minder’ lied to him about what was happening.
Flag then informed me I must arrange the money for my own air-ticket back to South Africa – and fly immediately (meaning the most expensive ticket price). Eventually I managed to loan the money from an Aunt of mine. If I waited two days I could get a cheaper flight, but the instruction from Flag was that I leave THAT DAY and so I had to get a more expensive ticket. I was escorted to the airport and put on a flight back to South Africa.
Back to South Africa & Musical chairs
I arrived back in the country unemployed, in debt to my Aunt for the air-ticket, very angry, feeling like a total failure and that I had wasted my time.
Because of what had happened at Flag, they sent the org a program for me to complete: including finishing Objectives, doing the PTS/SP course and some other auditing actions – but still on staff. Once again I was left in a situation of trying to find a twin for Objectives while I got through the rest of the program.
I was told (not asked) by Bob Petrie (ED FDN) and Luke Byrnes (FR JBG) that I was going to be the new FDN Div6 Sup, and that I needed to be on a full day/night study schedule to get through my training before COB was expected to arrive in the country. I got the impression that they were scrambling to fill this post pending an inspection of the org by COB and that I would be returned to my auditor training later. (COB never did arrive for the Pretoria Ideal Org opening).
At the time, the thought occurred to me that it was a stat push and that they must be afraid of COB though I didn’t understand why.
They didn’t care that this would cause a problem for me with my 2D’s mother who I was still freeloading off and the attitude was “find another place to stay”. I moved out of her house and my 2D paid my rent to live elsewhere. I was now totally broke with no income and utterly reliant on my 2D for everything. And then to top it all, my car was written off in a hit and run (of course I didn’t have insurance because I couldn’t afford any!). None of my dynamics were important to management and the ONLY important activity was complying with “Command Intention”.
By now I was feeling trapped, and originated in session that I felt trapped in Scientology. Though I did not yet understand the difference, it was not Scientology: the Technology of LRH that I felt entrapped by, but the entity known as the Church of Scientology. Separating the two was a cognition yet to happen.
When COB did not come to South Africa, the Joburg org no longer needed a FDN Sup and I was put back onto my Flag program and Objectives. By this time, demand for GAT2 trainees was heating up and all orgs had to send their required trainee quotas. I was again chosen to be part of the GAT2 team. Instruction from Flag was that I do a write-up on how I was ‘feeling’ and when I did that I was told I could finish my program once I got to Flag. They said it would take round 12-16 weeks, and I was essentially emotionally blackmailed – by how much the Org had already spent on me – into agreeing to return to Flag. This was in April 2013.
My second Flag visit
Upon arrival at Flag, my TIP did not include my previous program (which I needed to do in order to qual). This was brushed aside with “don’t worry you can do it later”.
First thing I did was Objectives which I loved and completed. It had taken me three years of constant fighting to get through this step, but was amazing. I felt so good that this was the saving grace of Flag in my eyes. The state I was in made things seem really good – when I didn’t have supervisors breathing down my neck – whereas previously I had felt Flag was one of the most horrible places I had ever been too.
When GAT2 started we were informed by the Deputy Captain Training that although many of us had been selected to be auditors we were rather going to be sups. He “sold” this to us by saying that we could train other sups and then become auditors – he said that anyone who countered this would be selfish because training sups was “the most important thing in the world”. I felt betrayed by this as I thought I was going to be training as an auditor. I don’t agree with wasting years of peoples’ lives on training for something they didn’t want to do or be.
I then started the GAT2-version Student Hat, where I spotted some major outpoints:
- The whole section on data assimilation was missing – which I felt was an outpoint and should have been in the course
- Throughout the course there were “Revised by RTC” annotations, but no specifics given as to what had been revised, altered, removed or added. I spotted this as a Technical Degrade.
- There was data that had been removed from the tape lectures.
- Having done the old Student Hat, and now the new GAT2 version, I started becoming suspicious about what else had been changed in the tech. My thought was “if they have changed this and removed these sections, then what else had they done to the rest of the Bridge?”
After the Student Hat I was routed onto Pro-TRs where I had a miserable time on CTP. I had still not completed the PTS/SP course and landed up in Isolation seven times while at Flag. Several people who told me that they hardly ever get sick also tended to get sick at Flag. I began to suspect that Flag was the Suppressor.
After Pro-TRs and Upper Indocs I started Pro-Metering. Studying came to an abrupt halt at this point as the GAT2 event took place. The launch of the super-duper e-meters meant everyone (including all students) were involved in regging and selling meters. When the new Superpower building opened I walked through it and found some of the “process instruments” very restimulating.
Worse was to come: After the event all students still on training were instructed they had to buy their own GAT2 materials AND new e-meter at a cost of $5,000 (R57,000). Robert Bokelmann regged the Duggans to donate e-meters for the South African trainees. I use a left-handed e-meter, and despite me emphasising this before the meters were bought, when the meters finally arrived there was no left-hand meter. I was sent from pillar to post trying to handle this problem and eventually the BSO brushed me off and told me to reg one myself as “there were none”.
Shortly thereafter the MAA informed me that my visa was about to expire and I had to return home. Oddly, OSA contradicted this and denied my visa was about to expire. The MAA simply said “that’s not the only reason we are sending you home”. She never elaborated on what the real reason was.
While this bounced between the MAA and Joburg Org, I completely lost focus on my metering course and GAT2 program. Luke Byrnes requested I remain at Flag while the MAA insisted I return to South Africa. This stalemate convinced me I wanted to go home so I spent all my time helping others with their drills – in the meantime nobody told me I was to stay (for now)!
When I resumed my own course my speed was seriously hampered by use of a right-handed meter with the result the Pro-Metering course took me four months.
One observation I made about the GAT2 sups: many of them were totally lacking in ARC and had no problem invalidating and evaluating students. We were evaluated for by being told our ethics was out if we didn’t make our targets and If we did not make our targets we would get punished by having to stay on course till 11pm. I used to feel quite sick in the mornings before course not knowing which sup I would be confronting that day.
In February 2014 the MAA instructed me to leave base immediately. She then had me escorted out of the building and into a motel where once again I was under security watch for a month while Joburg Org was trying to raise the money for my airfare.
Just before returning to South Africa I had a few comm cycles with my 2D about outpoints I had observed at Flag and with the Church. He told me he had been noticing the same. Some of these outpoints were as follows:
- Mr Miscavige announced on stage at the GAT2 event that all of the trainees were finished with their line up. This was a lie as I was part of a whole courseroom of trainees who were not finished.
- I had observed several OT8s in deep trouble, including one dying of cancer and four others more shaky than even any normal person would be.
- Objectives aside, I hated the Flag environment – there was a constant feeling of fear and I was aware of the protests going on which meant we were not even allowed to leave the building when this happened. The MAA told us there is no reason to leave the building. I was told by security that I could not call my 2D at a bus stop which was 50 feet away from the building!
- I knew calls being made inside the building were monitored. Although I could hardly afford it, I bought a cellphone but then it was confiscated and we were only allowed to make calls 11:20-11:40pm – when everyone in South Africa is asleep.
- I also observed three people at GAT2 training who were there at my first trip to Flag no longer sported wedding rings; eight people told me their 2Ds were falling apart or had already come to an end.
After a month of Joburg making no progress on the airfare, the MAA arranged that I earn the money myself and stay with Flag public and ex-South African (Desiree Lotz) where she “hired me out” doing odd jobs for Scientologists like house cleaning, filing, gardening, babysitting and the like. These people paid DL who in turn gave me the money so I wasn’t “illegally working in the USA”.
Eventually I had enough to buy a ticket and I got back to South Africa at the end of May 2014.
My experience at Flag confirmed for me that something was seriously wrong in the Church.
Back to South Africa & a new reality
By the time I got back to South Africa I had an uneasy feeling and a knowingness that although Scientology was a good thing, it was not being applied at Flag nor in the org.
The biggest PR lie I have ever heard is “Flag is the friendliest place in the world”. They use beautiful videos, glossy magazines and MEST aesthetics to get you to think it so. But it’s a trap.
On arriving back in South Africa, I heard about the declares and that the Corbett’s story was on the Back-in-Comm blog. I insisted on seeing it for myself knowing full well what the consequences would be just for looking at it.
Everything on this blog confirmed what I had personally experienced and I felt such a huge relief – the charge just blew off me in chunks to the point where I started shaking.
Upon reading personal accounts on the blog, I had witnessed Sea Org staff going into similar valences at the org and thought “wow they are going into the valence of the Suppressor”. I looked higher up at the org board to see who it was and saw Ken Krieger and his beingness and thought It could have come from him. After the opening of the new Flag building I perceived a similar thing and a lot of fear at Flag especially when RTC was around. I was lucky enough to watch a closed staff briefing by COB, the war is over event and heard of him throwing some water into an auditors face. This got me ticking and I wondered if it was him.
I now know for sure that the Suppressor is Miscavige: the very person that I thought the world of turned out to be my SP and my PTS condition of four years is finally handled.
I still think that LRH is amazing and the Technology of Scientology is beyond anything I have ever experienced but I was done with the Church and I was never going back.
Today I am flourishing and prospering in all areas of my life. I have a wonderful 2D, a fantastic job and many friends. And now I actually have time to see my family over Christmas.
Life is good for me again, and I look forward to many adventures in the future