The Story of One Man’s 20+ Years in a Cult

When most people think of a cult, there’s horns and sacrifices involved. Many people don’t realize how deceiving and manipulative cults truly are. Hoyt Richards, a model and actor, fell victim to the manipulation and tactics practiced by a cult group. After 20 years of committing his life to his cult community, Hoyt recognized it for what it truly was and began his journey of recovery.  

In this conversation, Danny Bader and Hoyt cover the dynamics of a cult, the process of escaping, and how to recover from a traumatic experience. To hear more about Hoyt’s experience and enlightening insight on cultic practices, tune into this episode of Back to Life.  

Show Highlights:  

  • Transitioning from a football career to a full-time modeling career  

  • Surviving a cult  

  • How cultist members raise stakes and control people emotionally  

  • The way narcissists manipulate individuals  

  • Informing people to raise awareness to vulnerability  

  • How faith is shaken after experiencing extreme religious groups  

  • How cult leaders manipulate people into cults  

  • The different forms that cults can take  

  • The catalyst behind cults  

  • The realization process of recognizing you’re in a cult  

  • Maintaining a public persona despite what’s going on behind the scenes  

  • Sharing information to give people a chance to help themselves  

  • Experiences with having an intervention  

  • Beginning to question cultic beliefs  

  • The process of escaping a cult  

  • Getting accused of blasphemy and punished within the cult  

  • Harboring resentment and enduring assault  

  • Recovering from a highly abusive and controlling environment  

  • Becoming your own worst enemy  

  • Embracing the truth and articulating it to others  

  • How being in a cult impacts everyone around you  

  • Using creative arts to rebuild self esteem  

  • The depth of empathy that develops from experiencing trauma  

  • Red flags that lead to manipulation and control  

  • Using negative situations to benefit our lives  

  • Owning your story  

  • Making a direct impact in your life   



“The truth is, I label myself in this way of a cult survivor but in many ways almost anyone you meet is a cult survivor”  

“If I had one word to describe Nantucket it would be safe” 

“It actually taught me that your prayers do get answered, just not necessarily on the timeline you think”  

“There’s 10,000 cults they know of and track that are active in America today”  

“The worst part of living a double life, for me, is I ended up feeling like I was never being honest with anyone at any time”  

“You can’t help or save anyone; people help or save themselves”  

“You start believing that everything is working to your benefit” 

“Ultimately people are going to do what they want for themselves”  

“If it’s too good to be true it probably is”  

“The cure to change is vulnerability”  

“The key is feeling the connection”