An apostate is someone who abandons a previous loyalty (to a faith, movement, politcal party, etcetera). Cult defenders such as Massimo Introvigne, J. Gordon Melton, Lonnie Kliever, et. al., attempt to discredit the testimomy of apostates. However:
Recent and less recent NRM catastrophes help us realize that in every single case allegations by hostile outsiders and detractors have been closer to reality than any other accounts. Ever since the Jonestown tragedy, statements by ex-members turned out to be more accurate than those of apologists and NRM researchers. The reality revealed in the cases of People's Temple, Rajneesh International, Vajradhatu, the Nation of Yahweh, the Branch Davidians, the Faith Assembly, Aum Shinrykio, the Solar Temple, or Heaven's Gate is much more than unattractive; it is positively horrifying. In every case of NRM disasters over the past 50 years, starting with Krishna Venta (Beit-Hallahmi, 1993), we encounter a hidden world of madness and exploitation in a totalitarian, psychotic, group, whose reality is actually even worse than detractors' allegations.
Dear Colleagues: Integrity and Suspicion in NRM Research, by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
In Islam apostasy is punishable by death.
Destructive cults such as Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Scientology force people to abandon friends and family members. Scientology's disconnection policy is among that cult's biggest human rights violations.
Blind, Or Just Don't Want To See? "Who Says 'Apostates' Are Unreliable?" - "Brainwashing," mystification and suspicion. Shows why and how some try to discredit ex-cult members and reports of brainwashing.