I fell in love with a fellow who turned out to be a kung fu cult

In November 2021, kung fu teacher Rene L. The 72-year-old assaulted and threatened dozens of students. For more than 25 years, Rene has kept his students under their belt in what is now known as the “Convo Sect”. His followers were abused, (sexually) indoctrinated, isolated from friends and family and financial pressures. When the latter was no longer profitable, Rene tried other ways to get money, including growing hemp. The story of the Renee cult is told in seven episodes of the podcast kind of god Volkskrant.

In 2010, Renee started a rehabilitation clinic to earn money this way. Newly graduated Elsje (33 years old) worked at that clinic. I fell in love with Jeppe, a member of the cult. Thanks to their love, Jeppe finally manages to escape from Rene’s influence. Elsie tells us what it was like when she works at Renee’s clinic, how to be in love with a cult member and how her lover had to recover for years from the trauma he suffered.

“I graduated as a psychologist in February 2013. A few months later, a fellow student called me on Facebook and told me that a new rehabilitation facility had opened, where they were looking for psychologists.

The first contact with that clinic was, shall we say, Different than I used to. The clinic was founded by a group of friends who believed that addiction care in the Netherlands should be different. It was improvisation behind the scenes. Friends turned the farm they were living on into a clinic. The office is located in the former kitchen, giving the workplace a casual atmosphere. There was no HR employee, my job interview was canceled at the last minute several times and the clinic was too far away – there was no public transportation. I was counting on my colleagues who could help me.

I ended up working there for two years. It wasn’t until I left that I found out that the clinic had been run by a sect the whole time. Many of my direct colleagues, including my beloved Jeep, were part of that sect. When I figured it out, all the puzzle pieces fell into place.

It was an educational time. It was my first job, and I’m still not sure of my abilities. I worked hard to prove myself. It was also because I felt that my colleagues looked at me with disdain. The atmosphere in the clinic was twofold. On the one hand, it felt very intimate, and it was noticeable that a significant part of the colleagues had a strong relationship with each other. On the other hand, it soon becomes apparent that as an outsider you cannot become a part of it. When I tried to contact my colleagues, he was often rejected. The message was clear: We don’t wait for intruders.

Jeppe was also part of that hard core. He was a team leader and often took me to the clinic. It was during these cars that a friendship arose between us, and gradually faded away. I loved Jeppe, but I had a great relationship, and even when that relationship ended, Jeppe stopped. As he put it, his friends were enough for him.

“Then I sometimes wondered if I would be sensitive to their indoctrination, if they had started looking for new members at that time. I think so.”

Although I didn’t know at the time that my classmates belonged to a religious sect, there were things that stood out to me. For example, they were all wearing the same type of clothing, such as uniforms. I’ve often been faced with the fact that they live in a completely different way than I was. I had just graduated and loved a night out. But when I wanted to tell stories about Monday’s weekend, I noticed they picked up absolutely nothing. In fact, I had a feeling they would refuse it.

What they were good at talking about was spirituality. For example, they all believed in karma and reincarnation, and also often talked about the philosophy behind their greatest passion: kung fu. They were strongly against having children because it would not be in the best interest of the planet. Nobody in that group wants a relationship. Now I’m thinking: why didn’t I realize then how strange it is that all of your colleagues have exactly the same ideology? But at the time, I was not at all skeptical. In fact, I found their vision of the world inspiring. Then I sometimes wondered if I would be sensitive to their indoctrination, if they had started looking for new members during that time. I think so.

Renee was the director of the addiction clinic. He was a mysterious figure. When colleagues talked about him, a charged atmosphere immediately prevailed. In the end, I only saw Renee once, when he was unexpectedly in the living room. I will never forget that moment. Everyone was very tense and nervous. I thought it was strange.

Rene had enormous power over his followers. He convinced Gibby that he was gay. Gebbi’s not accepting that of himself, it would be because of his arrogance. If Jibe denied that he was gay, the other sect members would have had to spend hours talking to him about it. Sometimes he was hit by Rene or threatened with a hot iron poker. In the end, he was so exhausted that he only “confessed” to being gay. I think Renee did this to prevent men from entering into a relationship with the women of the cult. These women were sexually assaulted by Renee. This might sound strange, but Jeppe thought he needed to hit in order to be able to improve himself.

Despite Jeppe’s aversion to relationships and doubts about his sexuality, we fell in love anyway. We finally got into a relationship. It was then that Gibe realized that he didn’t really like men, and that Renee was wrong. It gradually became clear in Jeppe that he had to leave his group of friends. Meanwhile, my colleagues felt sorry for me, because they were still convinced that Gebbi did not like women and that he was only deceiving me.

Little by little Gibby tells me about everything that happens behind the scenes. I was so shocked by all the things he had to put up with.

He told me he met Renee when he started martial arts. Renee was his mentor. Lessons became more comprehensive: in addition to practical lessons, there were also lessons in theory and philosophy. There were no more holidays, because every day had to be exercised. In the end, Rene himself went to live with his students, because this would be “practical”. Renee blackmails Jebbie’s parents and his friends, causing them to lose contact. Jeb gave a lot of money to Rene, because he was supposed to “buy everything”. Fifteen years later, Jebe owed a hundred thousand euros with the bank. When he wanted to leave the sect, he had been homeless for a few months. He slept at work or with his parents, and sometimes had a night in his car. Nothing was left of it.

“Renee thought the two communities were ‘whores’ and had to spend the rest of their lives working to get rid of this label.”

Jeep has also seen a lot of violence. He said that in the group there was always a “reel” person. According to René, this person had to gain some ideas about himself. In an episode, the person is then talked to and applied pressure for hours. This happened more often in women than in men. Renee thought the two castes were “sluts” and had to spend the rest of their lives working to get rid of the label. Renee talks a lot about sex and the differences between men and women. Sect members were regularly beaten up by Renee. The women were beaten and sexually assaulted.

All that physical violence and those hours of late-night talking sessions, and the lack of sleep they got, gradually exhausted them, so that they became more and more receptive to Renee’s indoctrination.

Despite all this, Jeppe didn’t want to hear a bad word about Renee. Two years ago, when he watched a documentary about cults, the money went down.

Even though he realized that Renee wasn’t good with him, he subconsciously still stuck to Renee’s thoughts. It was believed that it is very black and white, as well as in our relationship. If you disagree with him, he will be disappointed. He thought it was vulgar and “slutty” that I sometimes wanted to go out with friends. He learned from Rene that you as a woman “sexist” by being social. He also hated that my single friends sometimes had a one night stand.

He had judgments about everything and everyone and at the same time was very afraid of my judgment. He found the feud so difficult, he immediately feared that I would let him go. When we were together for a year, he proposed to me. I refused, because I saw that this too had arisen from him Everyone is included-Mentality. He was also very socially anxious. When he saw my friends and family, he started to sweat profusely. He found it very uncomfortable. He was also jealous of the fact that I had long-term friendships. We also argued a lot about money, because despite his debts, he spent money like water. Many crashed, both in his life and in himself.

“I sometimes thought I should end this relationship, because he should reinvent himself before we were together.”

Sometimes I thought that I should end this relationship, because he has to reinvent himself before we can be together. However, I wanted to stay with him, because I felt a great bond with him. He entered therapy and began to seriously rebuild his life. Despite all his trauma, we can talk well about everything. At the same time, I was very good at protecting my borders: I’ve always seen it he is He has a problem, not me.

He’s also there for me when I’m not feeling well. When I was depressed, drag me through that time. When I started having anxiety attacks, he was the one who took the time to listen to me. Despite everything, he is very adventurous. Being with him made my life richer.

Our relationship grew stronger, and we finally had two children. He still has nightmares about his time with the sect, but he’s doing a much better job.

We got married three weeks ago after I proposed to him. Joris, who was also in worship, was our witness. During the oath, Gibby said that it was thanks to me that he learned to love himself.

Elsje and Jeppe’s story was also told in the podcast kind of god† In it, Jeppe also talks about his experience. Listen to the podcast here

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