Profile: Raffaella di Marzio
“I believe that every problem can be solved by love.”
Doctor Raffaella di Marzio is a Renaissance woman. A complete list of her accomplishments would probably take more than the space allotted here. In addition to being a wife, mother, teacher, and practicing psychologist, Raffaella is the founder of Counseling Center SRS (Sectes, Religions, Spirituality), an organization she set up to help those negatively impacted by cults. She has degrees in Religious Science, Psychology, Educational Science, and History of Religions. She is a member of the managing board of SIPR (Italian Society of Psychology of Religion). She has written 100s of articles on the subject of cults, contributed Encyclopedia entries, contributed to books, and authored one herself. She is in demand as a cult expert for TV and radio shows and lectures widely.
Yet, none of this is the most impressive thing about Doctor Di Marzio. In her capacity as Italian co-correspondent for ICSA Today, Doctor Di Marzio investigates and reports on destructive groups and individuals who would prefer to keep their activities in the shadows. Her work, engaged in voluntarily, requires her to be persistent, even dogged, in her attempts to bring these activities into the light.
This often results in hostility being directed at Raffaella. More than once, she has been threatened. “Our job is dangerous.” She mentions this in an almost off-hand manner, as if this type of extraordinary courage, lived on a daily basis, were commonplace. Asked why she continues under such duress, Doctor Di Marzio answers, simply, “I can’t stop because this is a moral duty, a moral obligation. I live this choice as a moral obligation. There are so many people suffering… I cannot stop.”
Raffaella Di Marzio was herself a member of a destructive group for about 10 years, along with her husband and children. Driven by a sincere spiritual desire to deepen her Catholic faith, she joined a church led by a Catholic priest. This priest, Raffaella recounts, abused the children and young people.
Towards the end of her participation in the group, the priest spread lies about a close friend of Raffaella’s, which she knew to be untrue. “Something happened. I could see with my (own) eyes.” She and her family left, and, some time after, she began her study of cults.
Doctor Di Marzio’s advice to ex-cult members is to consider thinking about their experience and trying to solve the problems that drew them into the cult. To those who try to help ex-cultists, she advises that it is an extremely complex undertaking, not to be handled in a facile way. People who wish to help have to be careful that their actions are not too extreme and certainly never violent.
Doctor Di Marzio and her husband have three children: daughter Chiara, 26; son Michele, 24; and son Alessandro, 18. Her husband and all three children support her work wholeheartedly. Doctor Di Marzio has devoted herself to studying and helping in this field for 16 years, since 1994.