Emma Buchbinder was raised in the high-control religious group Xenos Christian Fellowship, based in Columbus, Ohio. In 2020, Xenos changed its name to Dwell Community Church following years of negative press, and accusations of abuse and cult activity. Emma entered into leadership roles at Xenos/Dwell at age 16 and simultaneously moved into one of the communal-style housing arrangements called a “ministry house”, in which she remained for 10 years until she left. Emma both experienced and implemented various forms of behavioral, emotional, and spiritual abuse. Since leaving Xenos/Dwell at the end of 2020, Emma has experienced immense difficulty transitioning into the real world for the first time as she learns to navigate the complexities of developing healthy friendships, setting boundaries, listening to her intuition, and valuing rest. She is also still navigating how to interact with loved ones still involved in Xenos/Dwell. Emma hopes that her story will give others the courage to share their own experiences and create awareness that these forms of abuse can and do happen to your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors.
Emma joins Rachel to share the emotional turmoil she experienced throughout her life as a member of Xenos Christian Fellowship, and explains the fear and isolation of leaving behind the family and support systems she had known her whole life. Throughout the conversation, Rachel offers insights from her experience in working with people leaving high control religious organizations providing context for the confusing feelings and difficult decisions Emma reckoned with as she left the controversial and damaging group behind.
Before You Go: Rachel points out how high control groups often test the faith of their followers by pushing them to do things that go against their own conscience and explains the feelings of moral superiority that often accompany insular religious groups.
Follow the links below for more info on Xenos and support for ex-members:
Xenos/Dwell Survivors Support Group:
You can sign up for Rachel's webinar series LIVING IN FREEDOM here:
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