I could make this response long or short. I choose the latter.
I've been in two groups which I'm sure you would put in the cult category. One for 8 years and one for 30. The only cult I'm in now is that of old, retired people preoccupied with their medical condition.
It is just too easy to throw all groups who choose a different lifestyle or set of beliefs into a single category. The two groups I was with were about as different as one could imagine. As with all groups, there were some narcissists and people looking for financial or sexual short-cuts, but not many. No one tried to keep anyone else from leaving. In the second group, when a couple of leaders lost their integrity, the rest of us just wandered off, and although there are a few alumni who do not function particularly well in their new life, they had big personal problems when they first came to us.
And although I have some bad memories (I also have bad memories about school and my time as a lawyer), I also learned some things which will be valuable in the future, if I stick around long enough. For instance, in the second group, we shared everything -- money and everything else -- except for our mates. No one looks forward to that way of living, but the current direction of this country may soon take us to the point that all of us have to live that way to get by. I now know how to do that.
We dealt with a fair amount of resistance, and I experienced how titillating the subject of cults is to a lot of people. But it's not really a big deal. Look at all the cults in this country which no one recognizes as such -- the military, the Bar and AMA, football fans, large corporations, all religions, and probably most of all, the rabid followers of one Donald Trump.
My advice is to keep an open mind and remember that everyone chooses their own, unique path to God.