First contact

First contact! Sounds like a science fiction movie. Actually, there is a movie by that name; one of the Star Trek series made in 1996. In it, Captain Picard and the crew pursue the Borg back in time to prevent them from changing history. The Borg referred to themselves as a "collective". All thoughts, emotions, and behavior were to be aligned with the will of "the collective". The Borg was the ultimate outer space cult.
If you are or have been a member of a religious cult then I don't need to tell you what it is like to try and align all of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior with the will of the collective. In a cult, if you do this well you are destined for leadership within the group. If you do it poorly and/or resist it, your experience in the group could be unpleasant to say the least.
When I talk about "First contact" for the purposes of this article, what I am referring to is the first time you had contact with your group. This first or initial meeting might have happened on your doorstep, with someone from the group knocking on your door and inviting you to talk about the Bible. Maybe it was at the mall or at the beach. Many experience "First contact" on the campus of their high-school or college. Still others respond to invitations for a "free seminar" or a "non-denominational" Bible study handed to them on a busy street corner.
The one common denominator in almost all first contacts is that it is a positive experience. People usually don't walk away from their first contact with a cult with negative feelings about the encounter. A good cult recruiter is among other things an excellent salesperson. They are almost always positive, upbeat, enthusiastic and passionate. What allows them to be this way is not that they are trying to trick or deceive you. What allows them to be this way is that they truly believe what they are telling you. They also truly believe that they are doing the will of the creator of the universe by doing what they are doing. If you are not used to being around people who display a high degree of passion, it can be positively compelling simply to be in their presence and listen to them.
Will you learn much about the group the recruiter is a part of during "First contact"? You probably will not; you may not even learn the name of the group and it's possible you won't even realize that the person is part of any group at all. You might only exchange phone numbers or email address. You may or may not leave with an invite to a party, a seminar, or a picnic. If the recruiter has done their job, the only thing you will almost always leave that "First contact" with is a positive view of the encounter and a willingness to meet and talk again.
A note to those of you reading this who may have been raised in a cult. If your parents belonged to a cult when you were born or if they joined while you were a young child, you never experienced a "First contact". Your earliest memories are of life inside the group and therefore you have some unique challenges to overcome when you begin recovery. I have spoken with many ex-members who were raised in the group and to a person they talked about the challenge of lacking a "normal" frame of reference. Because they grew up thinking life inside their group was the "normal" and right way to live, they had no pre-cult experience to fall back on once they left. On the upside, I have seen some of these people make excellent progress outside their group providing they found and developed some supportive relationships and fearlessly sought to understand what had happened to them. Even though your experience is in many ways different from those that were recruited into their group while teenagers or adults, I think you will still see much you can relate to on this website and the others that I have linked up under "Other Resources".