Scientology Ruined My Life
[NOTE: edited to show pertinent part only]
SALLY: It's hard to put your finger on that. This is Roxanne. Roxanne grew up, like most girls, with lots of dreams for her future. I think you were going to be an opera star, were you not? But when Roxanne turned 18, the dreams were shattered when she joined the Church of Scientology. Roxanne says it was this Church that destroyed her life. And recently, she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now, she feels that Scientology contributed greatly to her illness and may be even to blame for it. Today, Roxanne doesn't know how long she has to live. What happened? You were in the Church when you got sick. What happened?
ROXANNE, Says Church of Scientology Destroyed Her Life: Yes, OK, I was involved for 13 years.
SALLY: How much did you spend with the Church in 13 --
ROXANNE: Roughly $100,000, between $80 and $100,000.
SALLY: You are a very rich person.
ROXANNE: I had my own business and I worked night and day. I did some work for the Church of Scientology, as well. I worked night and day, often weeks on end without sleep, and I did make some money. I had credit cards and I gave them roughly that amount of money.
SALLY: A hundred thousand?
ROXANNE: The last, say, two or three years, that I was involved, I became ill. And I kept telling them, "I'm ill." And I wouldn't -- maybe not go so far as to say I blame them. The Church of Scientology did not give me cancer, or something like that. But I kept saying, "I'm ill." And I kept being told -- It was heavily implied to me that it was a mental thing, that if I gave them another $6,000, another $12,000, that I would be OK, that I wasn't really ill. I was taken by Scientologists --
SALLY: Did they tell you that it was psychosomatic, that the cancer --
ROXANNE: I was trained for 13 years to believe that there is no such thing as illness, that it is psychosomatic. Read Dianetics and it says it in there. And I got up to the top of the Scientology charts. And I was not supposed to be ill. There is no such thing as illness in Scientology; it can be audited out. You can pay and have it removed, because it is all in your mind. And I was so heavily trained to believe that that I felt that I something was mentally very, very wrong. And --
SALLY: Are you afraid of being with me now?
ROXANNE: Very much so. Yes.
SALLY: I mean, the lady I talked to backstage and the lady I'm talking to now -- pardon me -- is --
ROXANNE: I'm scared to death, Sally.
SALLY: Why are you so frightened?
ROXANNE: My brother is still involved. I love him dearly. We're 11 months apart. We were very close. He will not speak with me right now, because he's not allowed to, because of the Church of Scientology.
SALLY: Unlike your mother.
ROXANNE: They do not like people who speak out against them.
SALLY: Are you afraid that being with me, somebody is going to do you bodily harm?
ROXANNE: The possibility exists. I know people that that has happened to.
SALLY: OK, I now respect your fear, and the audience understands that, so if I ask you any questions that you think will jeopardize -- This is hard.
ROXANNE: Just being here.
SALLY: Yes, just being here jeopardizes it.
SALLY: OK, you gave them 100,000, they told you your disease was psychological, and one night, some people came to visit you?
ROXANNE: OK, I had been ill. For the last two or three years I was involved in the group. I was iller and iller. I went down to Florida on my own volition, to try and see if I could do something about my condition. And it was not going well. I called 911, emergency, and went to the hospital. Some Scientologists came and got me from the hospital and brought me back to the hotel. And, at that point, I decided I didn't want to be there. I didn't decide that I didn't want to be in the group; I decided I did not want to be there. I did not want to have their auditing, which is their counseling. And I woke up in the middle of the night. I wasn't sleeping well anyhow. And I went to the airport and I left. And I went back to Los Angeles, where I was living at the time. They sent about five people there. I said, "No, I do not want to go back down there. I'm ill." I just wanted to rest.
SALLY: This sounds like a spy thriller.
ROXANNE: It was a nightmare, at the least. It was a nightmare at the least. They woke me up in the middle of the night, had already packed my belongings into a Winnebago -- this was around January 1st, a year and a half ago -- and escorted me physically to the recreational vehicle and drove me --
SALLY: Wait a minute. "Escorted me physically" is kidnapping, right?
ROXANNE: Whatever words you want to use. I don't know what word to use for it.
SALLY: Escorted -- OK.
ROXANNE: Escorted me, physically, without my volition, into this Winnebago, drove me down to Florida, put me in a little apartment, had a guard at the front door, a guard at the back door, no telephone. Both my parents tried to contact me while I was there. I tried to get them to mail letters for me, which they would not or did not mail. And I stayed in that room for four weeks, stating, merely on a daily basis, at least for two of those weeks, that I'm being held there against my will, that it was illegal, and that I did not want to be there. And finally, the day they let me go, they gave me a declaration. That's part of their ethics policies they have declarations.
SALLY: Why did they finally let you go?
ROXANNE: Because I kept saying that every day, and I refused to get their auditing and counseling.
SALLY: I'm beginning to understand how you feel, Val. You said to me, "I haven't said what I think about my mother." If she's brave enough to talk about this with her brother, then, can I get you to say that? Or will it endanger you?
VAL: Well, it might endanger me. It might endanger my family. It might endanger my mother.
SALLY: If you'd rather not say it, it's fine.
VAL: No, but I think public awareness is real important right now, because I'm a believer that if you stay intimidated, then you can't help the ones you need to help. My mother is -- You just feel like, you know, her mind is so fragmented. And I feel about her like I did, or do my son, like, when he had to have stitches, you know, when you need to help them. Can I have a Kleenex?
VAL: They're just more vulnerable. And you need to protect them, just like you need to protect your child that is unable to protect themselves.
SALLY: Do you feel that way about your brother?
ROXANNE: I'm concerned about my brother. My brother was on drugs, very heavily, before being involved with the Church. And I'm frightened that he won't have the support system there, if he does decide to leave, because it's very difficult to leave. My life crashed. And I don't want him to use that as a support system. Would he make the choice to leave?
SALLY: Roxanne, have the doctors said that if, when you said, "I'm ill," if you had gotten earlier cancer detection, that this would have prolonged your life? Is that the crux of what was said?
ROXANNE: To me, there's no question about it, that if I had sought help earlier, that my life would be prolonged. I have stage 4 cancer, which means it's spread quite a bit, and it takes time for cancer to spread. If it had been caught when it was just its original tumor, and I had had that removed, it would be all over right now, meaning that I wouldn't have to be dealing with the problem. I've been told by two specialists that it is terminal. And I have one who told me one-to-two years, one told me about -- right now, about 10 months to live. And, had I caught it earlier, two or three years ago, before it spread --
SALLY: You're sure you want to spend that remaining time talking about this?
ROXANNE: No, I don't. I almost backed out.
SALLY: Why are you doing this?
ROXANNE: Because I feel that, especially with people involved in Scientology, such as, you know, Tom Cruise now is on the headlines, and people are gullible. I was so naive. I believed everything that I was told by Scientologists. I never questioned one thing. I know people do question it. I didn't. I completely, 100 percent, was into it for all those years. And I hope that, maybe, by telling my story, I can help someone else to not have to go through what I went through. I can honestly tell you my life is happier now. I feel more joy, and I have a life now. And I did not have a life for 13 years.
SALLY: That's worth it. If that's the way you decide to spend your time, then I applaud you.
ROXANNE: Thank you.
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