MARY Johnston is the only person ever to sue the Church of Scientology in Ireland – winning an undisclosed out of court settlement that nearly bankrupted the cult.
The Dundalk woman spent two and a half years, and more than EUR2,000, on courses and counselling.
She said: “For years afterwards, there is a sense of ‘How could I have been duped?’… I don’t blame myself at all.
“I think that the techniques that are used are extremely coercive, manipulative, dangerous, and bind people.”
And when her family started to ask questions, members of the Dublin branch taught her how to speak to her loved ones.
She said: “I had been drilled on how to speak to them. I had people in the mission playing my mother, my brother-in-law, my sister and I sat and did a one-on-one drill.”
Another victim, Civil servant John, was attracted to the Church of Scientology by the promise that it would improve his life forever.
But two years later, the Dubliner had withdrawn from his family, had become aggressive and had handed over thousands of Euro to the organisation.
He said: “I thought I was joining a group which used scientific research to increase a person’s IQ. We were told this could improve our careers and relationships with other people.”
And John says that he started having doubts about the organisation when he felt under tremendous pressure to hand over his money.
He paid more than EUR1,000 for courses that he was told would help him feel enlightened, but instead left him withdrawn from his family.
He said: “My family became worried because my personality had changed.
“I eventually listened to what my parents told me and got out. I was very lucky but I also felt betrayed, angry and a bit stupid for believing everything.”