TOXIC PARADISE

2017 – 2021

By Kim J Vermeulen

This work is a testimony to the psychological abuse that I experienced from my biological father-in-law. These images offer an intimate glimpse of the abandoned homeof my father-in-law where he lived as a member of a cult for 20 years.

The damage caused by narcissistic abuse is not limited to the individual victim, it bleeds into society, and impacts us all. Statistics estimate that 1 in 25 people have the disorders associated with ‘no conscience’ which include antisocial personality disorder, sociopath, and psychopath. Too often we ignore covert coercive and controlling behaviour used in the pursuit of profit or control. 1 in 4 people are affected by poor mental health, I think this symptom is an indication of our frequent dependent entanglement within institutions that exploits us.

In the late summer of 2015 my husband, our two young daughters and I moved to The Netherlands to live and work with my father-in-law; he ran a group accommodation and retreat centre. My husband having an accomplished CV in hospitality looked forward to the position and was keen to form a relationship with his estranged father. The centre is in an affluent area within a national park rich in forests and heathlands. We often dreamed of living in such a beautiful setting.

We would come to realise my father-in-law was the self-proclaimed protector and prophet of a cult. The ideologies preached of Truth, Simplicity and Love.

Against non-compliance of enigmatic cult doctrines, he was expert in the construction and implementation of fear as a weapon. My fear is keeping my family safe, and that moment of anxious tension in the shadows of a thriller before the killer strikes. He literally stood in those shadows; he threatened and terrorised us

Fanatical followers of the cult played an active role in the abuse. Many remain dedicated in their belief and pursuit to impose the principles; we received thousands of pages of correspondence threatening us, we faced aggressive confrontations and harassment. 

Speaking out exposed an extensive history of the mistreatment of other individuals by my abuser and the cult, many of whom still suffered from the mental health effects.

Eventually, in a reprisal of my husband’s childhood, my father-in-law fled. His home stood, forsaken, for over a year.

We do not carry his family name.

© 2018 Kim J. Vermeulen

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