The following are first hand personal accounts from survivors of abuse as children in The Family
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Jordan - Sunday, January 23, 2005
When I was 16 I had doubts about my life in the family. I knew that after 3 attempts to commit suicide I could never be truly happy. My first attempt was when I was 12. Living in a Family home I woke up late one night took a kitchen knife to my throat and wanted to end my life. My youngest brother was just one at the time and I had 7 other younger brothers and sisters. My dad was sent away to another home. I was told it was because “he had lessons to learn” and that “he needed to be less vocal about his opinions”. I loved my father deeply and he was the apple of my eye. I wanted to like him. And I was daddy’s little girl. I had thought many times to end my life at that time. But that night when I held a knife to my throat I couldn’t. I couldn’t leave my brothers and sisters alone in this world. I couldn’t leave them knowing that their big sister had given up on life. In the home I lived in my mother was one of the leaders. She worked in the Childcare department and once my dad left it became obvious to me that she was having an affair with one of the other leaders in the home. Meetings were always kept late and many days she was always gone. I was left to look after my brothers and sisters. Most days we all had our age groups and children were looked after by different adults. But in the evenings during “parent time” there was no one for us. All the other children had time with their parents but there was no one for us. I remember I use to send my little brother in the room where my mother and her “lover” were talking. I’d tell him to tell mommy that we needed her. And we really did. My younger brothers and sisters didn’t know what was going on or why daddy had to be away. We just wanted our parents. We just wanted to be loved and not forgotten.
Then they started what they called “talk time”. Children had scheduled appointments with different adults. I was appointed to spend this time with my mother’s lover and share partner. I resented it. He was someone I had known for many years. My earliest memory of him was when I would go with him another female adult B. and another child. We would sell tapes at rest stops along the highway. B was married and her daughter was one of my peers and friends. I would sit in the back of the car and watch them flirting, kissing and making out when they thought we were sleeping in the back of the car. Some days we had to stay in love hotels and I would be subjected to hearing and watching his/hers sexual activities. It wasn’t just one woman there were various women. I had just turned 8 years old. No one told me it was wrong that a married woman shouldn’t be contact with another married man in that manner. I’ve always wonder how I knew that at so young an age. How did I know that was wrong? How could a child at so young an age know that it’s not right?
“Talk time” was a time for parents/guardians to spend extra time with their child. How was I supposed to share or even say anything to this man? In these hours I would mostly get reprimanded. He’d take me on a drive most days and I would sit next to him and just cry. I didn’t know how to say how I felt. And even if I did he wouldn’t listen. I never cried so much in my life so much so that I’d be gasping for air. One day he talked to me about how when I was 16 he would teat me like he did my mother and that he would take me out on dates. He never touched me physically. But for the rest of my life I will always ask “why”. What did I do to lose my dad and my mom at the same time, and why wasn’t there anyone who cared for me and my little brothers and sisters. The worst thing of all was knowing my mother had forgotten us. She found her new “love” and that’s all that seemed to matter. Now that I think of it my dad did too. He let the Family take us away from him. WHY? Because he believed every word they said and yielded so easily. When my dad moved back home which was such a great relief I asked why I couldn’t spend my “talk time” with him and was then reprimanded for this.
When I was 10 I heard about the Victor Program. It was just a normal morning when I was asked to come to a room and the leaders then told me I was to go to the Victor Program. I later ran to my mom and asked her why? What did I do? Why was I so bad? And I begged her not to let me go. A leader came into the room and told me that I needed to get ready to leave that morning and that they wanted to talk to my mom. I never said “good bye” to my family and left that morning. I was so scared. I’d never been without my parents and family and I needed them so much. Plus that month was my dad’s birthday and I’d never been away from him, his birthday was very important to me. I cried the whole way there and for the first few days I couldn’t eat. I didn’t know why I was there. Why I couldn’t talk to my family. What I’d done to be sent to this camp? Everything said and done was in scrutinized. There were so many things that happen at this camp. We were to obey no questions asked and drilled and drilled to be the children they wanted us to be. I was 10, I did what I was told to do at least I tried. I was here in this place were I was expected conform to an individual they wanted me to be. Till this day I still don’t get it. What was I suppose to do? Who was I suppose to be? What did they want from me? I was punished severely with a wooden paddle because I spelt milk (bare bottom). I was punished every time I spoke to my childhood friend who was also at this camp. I would work outside in the winter cold and come back with swollen feet. My shoes would be frozen and icy and my feet were purple and red and hurt like hell. But no one cared. I told a shepherd that I was cold and they would tell me just to go to bed.
I was 16 when I attempted my second and third suicide. I was living away from my family. The first time I drank a large bottle of aspirins. I wasn’t sure if it would “do the trick” but I thought I’d try. I didn’t work but made me sick for a week. In which time no one from the home even came to see why I was still in bed and throwing up. The last time I wanted to jump off of a cliff. I nearly did only I couldn’t. Again my brothers and sisters flashed before my eyes and I hoped that some day I would be able to find some safe place and some place where someone really cared. And make some sense of this life.
And now I’m at the beginning on my story at 16 years old and having doubts about the Family. I came home one day to the shepherds telling me they wanted to talk to me. I found out that some of the girls in my home told the shepherds that I wanted to leave. When they asked me I said “yes”. The following day I received a letter from my dad telling me how I’ve made a terrible mistake that that I was to become nothing if I left the family. How if I left my life would be a complete waste and that I would find no skill in life but to work at McDonald’s. Of all the times where I needed support my own parents couldn’t and wouldn’t. Why I ask? Its not like had done something terribly wrong? I just needed something different in my life. Never did my parents or the Family ever help me or support me in my choice in life styles. Neither did they give any support. I could go on and on as to the endless amount of abuse. From being forced to collect money from as young as 7 (from as far back as I can remember). Being sexually molested and never given a proper education. What hurts the most is that my own parents don’t acknowledge this. Still they blindly follow the Family.
I rejoined the Family at 17. The reason for this was I didn’t know what to do with my life. I visited a home in the Family and they were welcoming warm and kind. From all the people I’d come in contact with since I’d left everyone called me a “backslider” and said I shouldn’t even be visiting my own parents. I felt very unwelcome, until I met these people. (I wish I could give names) They were so nice. And they didn’t treat me like I was a plague. I really appreciate that and will remember it always. Later I moved to another country and was shortly excommunicated for having sex with and outsider. With no evidence I felt it was an injustice as I never was given a moment to defend myself. As the CRO was telling me about my excommunication, assuming that I would attempt to rejoin said to me “and when you’re finished with your babes statues maybe you and I can share”. Pervert! Do you think that I would actually want to fuck you? Hell no! You’re an ass kissing, power hungry, sexually assault psycho! I left, and very happy too. I’ve never looked back. The Family has never once helped me. For years I spent my life collecting money for the Family. I was cute, innocent and always did very well at convincing people that what I was doing was for a good cause or just for the simple fact that I was a poor little girl begging for money. I worked my ass off for the family. Told many times I couldn’t go home unless I reached a certain quota.
Mama Maria, do you realize what you have done to us? Do you realize what harm you have caused us? Do you understand why we question so much? Its not that we want fight you or God! We want to believe that we can love and care for each other. We want to believe that God’s word is true. But you and Grandpa make it impossible. When we were young we loved you. We wanted to believe that what you were sharing with us was God’s word. But how can God’s love be so painful and so abusive? God is love! And love doesn’t hurt your own children. Love doesn’t forces us to hear about your (Mama and Peters) sexual acts. Love doesn’t force us to be in the Family. You know I want to make this world a better place too, and I do as much as I can to help others. But I will never ever use or abuse neither anyone nor my children the way you have taught so many. You are responsible for all of our lives. Everything done in the family was “cleared” by you and Grandpa.
I have never vocally expressed my anger and pain to anyone but now I’ve had it! I’ve been able to live my life outside of the Family, a successful life and I’m proud of it. But now is the time for you to take responsibility for your actions. No you didn’t emotionally and psychologically hurt me! No you didn’t personally abuse me but you never made things right. You never acknowledged that things were outta hand. You never acknowledged that there were ever such things in the Family. What world do you live in? Are you’re so power hungry that you are left emotionless. If you can’t see your faults I know there is a God that is greater and who will make things right for us one way or another.
Any of you who question my sincerity (Mama, Peter or Family members) I will tell you just to look at the evidence. Why are there so many of us? Why do we hurt? Why do we feel that there has been an injustice? I do not wish to struggle with my parents. I love my parents even though they have abandoned me. I love so many Family people even though I’ve been wronged. Why do I, I ask myself? Why would I love something that has hurt me so much? I do not wish you harm, I only wish to find justice.
God help us all!
Speedx3dave - Friday, January 21, 2005
Ouch! My ass still hurts. I think he chipped a piece of my bone away. But look at poor Chris, he has cuts as long as the metal coat hanger he was whipped with across his back, ass, & legs. He can't even sit down on the wash stools of this Japanese bathing room & shower. Us 11 to 16 year olds are so Satanic and evil and we all must have the devil beat out of us. "Right"?
It was September 1989 in Matsumoto/Nagano Japan.
Makoto was like on a permanent silence restriction, for what? Being a normal energetic kid that was a little on the wild side. He should have been put into a genius academy, not a victor program!
Ricky & Elaine! You don't wanna meet up with me.
Oh, wait! I'm a man-pleaser! What the fuck is that self-worthlessness crap I was fed for two months straight.
We are the singing jailbirds?
What the fuck kinda crap is that?
I'm too pissed off to finish this letter.
Fuck you Ricky, and Fuck you Elaine! Just Fuck off!
Yea! I think I finally got the Victory!
breakaway - Tuesday, November 23, 2004
My brother Amos, died of an overdose at the age of 21 after having been outside the family for aproximately 3 years. He received no help from the family upon leaving. Here are my thoughts on why his life had to end tragically.
Ever since he was a little boy, my brother Amos (yes, he had a name, he wasn't just some "rotten apple" kid full of the devil's thoughts)had problems sitting still, concentrating for long periods of time such as prayer meetings, long talks, devotions and training courses. He would probably have been diagnosed with ADD if he had gone to regular school. He hated it when our mom used to compare us, wondering out loud to herself why it was that he wasn't as good as disciple of Jesus or student of God's word as I, his sister was, telling him he was going to grow up to be a poor street kid if he didn't "pay attention and learn". He hated having to sell literature on the street for a living. He least liked the "heavenly posters" and prefered to sell the "endtime posters", which had a more violent message with fighting and fleeing from the enemies of the Family incorporated into the story line.
He wasn't very "cute", he didn't sing well and couldn't stand the Family's music either. All in all, he was what a radical Family parent would consider a failure. He didn't adhere to my parent's beliefs and was belittled most of the time for it. I don't know how many spankings and beatings he had, prayers for deliverance, silence restrictions, victor programs and other crackpot treatments he was given. My parents and other adults involved in "teen training" simply expected him to fit in to the "cookie cutter" lifestyle and were horrified that he would want to do anything other than their version of serving God. He told me that he always felt like he disappointed our parents and I always felt bad for him.
Throughout his adolescence he would do bizarre things in a desperate plea for attention. I knew he was hurting inside more than anyone could imagine. Doubless he needed professional psychological attention. Although I was also very unhappy, I was good at lying about my feelings so as not to get in trouble for "voicing doubts", which was just about the worst thing someone in TF could do. I did many other hurtful things to myself, like hiding the fact that I was being sexually abused by some adults and becoming anorexic to the point of barely having strength to walk. My brother however was less able to withstand his sadness.
When my parents realized they weren't helping him, they decided to look for some other family members that could take him in. My brother however resented being in the care of anyone who he thought would try to control his thoughts and attitudes in the way that they had been controled up until now. He ended up on his own in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with no documented education whatsoever, no financial help from my parents or the family and no job. The fact that he was able to find work in a huge city with no friends (his only friends, who were family young people, were forbidden to talk to him after a while) and support himself without getting into a life of crime was incredible. After I left, he was really sweet to me and generously lent me money (even though he had very little).
As luck would have it, he made friends with some much older people who used a lot of drugs. He began using drugs more and more and I think it was then that he got more in touch with himself and his feelings after being so controlled most of his life. Unfortunately, he was too young and inexperienced to realize the dangerous waters he was entering. His life started to get out of control faster than anyone realized. I even started having trouble dealing with him because everything was so intense.
One night I got a call from one of his best friends telling me that he had overdosed. When I got to his place he was dead. Everything was covered in blood and my little brother was dead at the age of 21. I had to take care of his burial alone at the age of 23 in a strange country, without the help of our parents or anyone else. I spoke with the doctor who did the autopsy and she confirmed it was an overdose. I had to identify his body that had been cut open on the doctor's table. I washed his face until all the blood came off, combed his hair and kissed him goodbye. I ironed his favorite clothes, put them on him, called his closest friends and we buried him without much ceremony.
I did not have my parent's telephone number at that time but I contacted some Family members who put me in contact with my parents. Unfortunately, they had been too busy saving the world and following David Berg and Karen Zerby to even visit my brother and I for 5 years. One of us had to die in order for them to come and see how we were doing. To this day my parents seem to have no understanding of what went on in our lives or what they could have done wrong. They sincerely beleive that they made the best possible effort to help Amos. It's too late to go back and undo everything that the Family did to wreck my brother's life. Even though I have gone on to have a happy and productive life, contrasting what happened to my brother in every way, this does not mean that his death was his fault. Everyone has a tolerance for negativity in their life and my brother obviously found his limit. I was able to deal with things better than he was which only further proves that he was denied the medical help and attention he needed. I know in my heart that if he had gotten professional help when he needed it and had felt loved and accepted for who he was, he would not have died.
I want him to be remembered and not swept under the rug. I want people to know what happened to him. I want the world to know that I loved him and I still think of him everyday. I will do everything in my power to make sure that my kids are not raised like my brother and I were.
Jana - Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Want to know why I'm so fucking pissed? My own sister was raped at the tender age of twelve, by some sick pedophile, who defiled the entire OC/JETT group with his filthy dick. She still lives with the scar it left on her life. Abuse was definitely a problem in the Family. Half of the SGA generation has had some sort of sexual/emotional abuse inflicted upon them at such a young age. And then they wonder why we were "persecuted"? Fuck, they made it look like it was "religious persecution" but the raids were completely founded on solid truth! Most of my friends were abused in the Family... and I WAS TOO!! And I go and report it... and then I get spanked for "lying".
God, I swear I'll slit the wrist of that motherfucker if I ever meet him. I respect the beliefs the Family has, but things like that cannot be tolerated. It tears me apart to see my own family and many of my friends being tormented by psycho-neurotic-perverted-morons. I can't believe Mama said that! It’s just so fucking disgusting! Can you believe we've got kids living in that cult? My own brothers and sisters are growing up blissfully unaware, or shall we say, blissfully tolerant.
oden77 - Thursday, October 21, 2004
I was a former victim of The Family's 2nd session ever in the entire world concentration camp in Japan called "THE VICTOR PROGRAM", which took place in Matsumoto. I still get teary eyes and goose bumps when I think back at it. IT LITERALY WAS THE WORST TIME IN MY LIFE.
I won’t be able to explain the whole story about my experiences right now about that God forsaken hell hole, but I’ll try to tell a few of the horror stories of events that took place and experiences that I went through and things that I witnessed.
I was only 12 years old at the time and was living at the Heavenly Heights Home when I was told that I would be going off to a place in northern Japan called Matsumoto. I was very excited and thought that it would be just like the JETT camp, which I previously had been to, that also took place there some time before.
After arriving and after being there I realized how frightening it was and felt tricked into coming there. I always had knots in my stomach. I cried a lot at night when it was bedtime. I feel so empty inside when I think about what happened there. It’s hard to describe the feelings we all went through. THE HORROR, THE HORROR, THE HORROR of it all. (I am having a hard time right now keeping back the tears while typing this). I can’t really remember everyone who was there but I do remember their faces.
My heart really goes out to you all right now, Jesse (son of Bobby & Claire US), Sunny (Chiyoko), Makoto (son of Art Japanese), Ivan (son of Mary & Mike black US), Rejoice (Norwegian), Chris, Eman. Rachel (of Gabe & Claire US.), Josh (of Peter Shepard US), John, Paula.O, Juliet, Ai Chan and many more. We suffered together didn’t we? It was hard but we made it even though some of you had to stay there so much more longer way after most of us had already left.
Some of them stayed all the way till when I was sent back to the Victor program about two years later again a 2nd time, which was at a place somewhere in Tokyo I believe, called Kamakura and which was later moved to Fallscamp somewhere in the North again.
God damn all of you "Shepherd’s" for making us children suffer like we did.
We were all so young and innocent and helpless we were only children. We got spankings with a wooden paddle. It hurt really, really badly!! We weren’t allowed to scream or they would give us more. They said that we only screamed out of rebelliousness. How the HELL would they know!
We had this demerit system I’m sure a lot of you formers remember all of those years it was used. They had single demerits and double demerits. 6 demerits and you would get a spanking and if you got 7 you would miss your weekend movie and on the 8th you would miss your freeday. The men who usually would spank us was a guy called Paul (Australian) and a guy called Martin aka(Terrance McNally) whose brother is was called Ricky, I`m sure alot of people know which ones I`m talking about.
I remember one night when poor Makoto, (who was lying only a meter from me on the floor.) one night, was woken up in the middle of the night by a couple of the Shepherd’s because he had gotten his 6th demerit that day but they forgot to give him his spanking. They led him outside in the snow and ice; he was only wearing his thin little pajamas. They spanked Makoto out there ruthlessly in the cold and wind.
I really tried to be the perfect little boy that I could and tried to keep my demerits to a minimum of 4 a week, but of course I failed many times and got the paddle. I remember being scared shitless when I got the sixth demerit. It really felt like you where waiting to be executed. I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about.
I would get horrible knots in my stomach and couldn’t eat anything. The worst thing of it all was that you usually wouldn’t get your spanking right away and because of that you would be suffering even longer. I remember putting toilet paper in my back pockets so that it would hopefully dampen the pain a little, because they searched for combs, bibles and obvious things so that you wouldn’t have it so easy when they beat you. The worst thing is when they ask you to pull your pants down all the way to your ankles. Getting spanked with a paddle with out your pants on was unbearable. The pain is so excruciating. They made you lean forward, hands on your ankles, stool or couch. They even drilled holes in the paddles to enhance the swinging force and prevent the risk of air resistance when it hit you, therefore having a greater affect, which they wanted it to have. Sometimes it broke during the procedure. They would get extremely angry if you put your hands back there to protect yourself, which is a natural impulse/reflex. It felt like they were enjoying the whole ceremony in some twisted sexually perverted way - who nows?
It was very degrading because there would usually be several other "Shepherd’s" in the room watching you. One thing that I get disturbed about even till today and that is the screaming that we heard of others who where getting it while we were in the next room. A couple of the "victors" were on "IC" Intensive Care. They lived outside in a caravan a lot of the times in isolation getting spanked for the tiniest thing. They had to wear big signs around their necks that said "Silence Restriction" and they had all of their hair shaven off to humiliate them. Today as I think back, it sort of reminds me of an "Auschwitz" environment that we lived in.
We had to do a lot of manual labor around the compound. Pretty much a lot of what you would do if you where at a farm seeing that they had animals and stuff. We had to do JJT (jesus job time) for the whole home who also where living next door. We didn’t get any schooling except for their brainwashings and evil spirit purgings. They would really rant and rave and make sure we were listening or we would get demerits for "daydreaming" which we did get a lot of when listening to all of that SHIT!!!
I never once got to visit my mother, brother or sister during that whole time which in my case lasted 3 whole months of grueling hardship, fear and pain.
After I "graduated" from that hellish place called The Victor Program, I was finally sent home a broken and disturbed child. It wasn’t long until I was sent to the Victor camp a second time and endured the same things all over again and after that on to the Attack Team at HCS. But that’s another story. I still suffer from "shell shock" from those experiences now and then. One movie that I can not see is "Sleepers" If you know what I mean. All of the screaming and pleading and crying is what I have a hard time hearing.
As for the people who hurt and tortured me physically at those times and at anytime while I was in The Family-COG, if I met any of them on the street tomorrow and thought that I could get away with it... I`D SLOT THEM!
Snufkin - Tuesday, August 31, 2004
leaver - Friday, August 13, 2004
I have to rant – its something that has to be done.
My Mom and Dad are semi-in, semi-out of “The Family”. I spent many years not talking to them as when I made the decision at 16 not to be in the Family, I felt like I had disappointed my Mom and Dad so much that I couldn’t face talking to them. I couldn’t stay in a place where child abusers and brain washing freaks were the ones calling all the shots.
The scars that remain are mostly through the victor program and all the “sharing” that went on.
I was in the victor program, getting in trouble for every little thing, never missing a beating at the end of the week through the “5 demerit rule” system, BTW, my biggest problem apparently was that I pulled faces (well I wasn’t allowed to talk due to silence restriction), I used to get at least three demerits a day for this terrible crime, so usually by day two, I knew I was up for the paddling.
When I was there, I was so scared of Jesus, God etc that I would follow all the rules and felt like I was definitely going to hell if I did anything out of line. I remember one day in particular when I was 11, me and a friend were in the front garden using a wire brush to scrape moss off the wall, (what a pointless exercise) and she grazed her hand off the wall quite badly. At first I just looked at her dumb struck as I knew I wasn’t supposed to talk to her but ended up (being in my weird sense of mind) praying for her hand to heal quickly. I didn’t realise at the time but a “shepherd” was watching from the window and thought that I was talking to her.
When our chores were finished we were separated and quizzed about what was said in the garden. We both stuck to the truth that I had just prayed for her and no talking went on but, they didn’t believe us, and it ended up with us both getting a beating on top of the other beating that we were already going to get. I think this was the pivotal moment when I realised that all the adults in the house, including my Mom and Dad, were totally crazy.
I remember after one of these beatings which had gone quite badly as the “auntie” who did it was a sadist and liked hurting people, I had big red welts on my ass and went to my Mom asking for cream for them and she said “you shouldn’t be talking to me, your on silence restriction”.
I remember being forced to write open heart reports and having to rack my brain to write something that would seem like I was confessing but be not too extreme that I would have to get in trouble for – I got this wrong quite a lot. I remember seeing my brothers being thrown around the room by different “aunties” and “uncles” and feeling the anger and frustration in the knowledge that we couldn’t do anything to stop it.
I remember walking in on both my Mom and Dad having sex with different people in the home. These images still pop up now again when I least expect it and make my stomach churn. I remember the sleepover nights that the teens had and how, because I was the only girl in the home at one point, I was passed around from pillar to post with different boys. I remember thinking I must be really special to get all this attention. I was nine years old. How the fuck did my parents allow that to happen.
I remember we weren’t allowed to wear panties in bed and how an uncle used to come and lift the covers to make sure we weren’t wearing them and how degrading it felt.
I decided about a year ago that no matter what my Mom and Dad were into I needed to keep on good terms with them due to my siblings that they still have control over. I know deep down that my siblings are not going to stay and good communication will mean they will have someone to turn to when they leave as I know how hard it was for me to integrate into the “system” world. What makes me sad is that I also love my Mom and Dad and can’t get my head around how much they are so indoctrinated with all this bullshit that’s coming out nowadays, i.e. the loving Jesus Revolution, Vandari, claiming the power of the Keys etc.
What scares me most is that now I’m out, working hard after a terrifying ordeal at college where I was treated like a total freak because I didn’t know how to blend in, trying to earn money to make a life for myself, some of my siblings are still visiting homes and staying with these freaks. They say the Family has changed and nothing like what I went through goes on and I usually hold my tongue and say everyone’s got a right to choose how they want to live their life but deep down I can’t stand how things are.
I have been thinking recently of what’s going to happen once my Mom and Dad become too old to take care of themselves. Do you really believe the great and powerful “Family” are going to take care of them when they can’t go out and earn money, are they fuck. My parents have been in the family for over 30 years and have tithed faithfully. Can you imagine how much money they would have had if they had been putting their “tithe” into a bank account. They have no pension, no savings and are still living from hand to mouth. I just hope when they finally wake up and smell the roses that they won’t be too mentally damaged in the knowledge that all they have believed in for the last 30 plus years is total bullshit.
Dr.4_Shure - Monday, August 09, 2004
I was wondering if in The Family there were other stories relating to men who beat up their wives? This is another kind of abuse that seemed prevalent during my childhood. I remember waking up to the arguing, shouting, slaps, crying, and if I perked up my head to ask what was going on, I would be yelled at to “go back to sleep”.
My mom had unfortunately married this guy that was a former marine, after his wife dumped him and took off leaving him with three kids. My mom joined as a single mom with two to feed on top of being a “new national disciple”, and the ages between kids merged perfectly. She didn't want to be alone and he wanted someone to take care of the kids.
He was already a shepherd and after much traveling as a big family, he ended being posted as the Babes shepherd at the babes training center, in the north. Fucking every other babe on any road trip he could schedule became the norm, as well as making obscene sexual comments and gestures, using foul language 24/7; which at the time was unheard of supposedly, but it was flying off his tongue.
He threatened the other men in the home too. I remember vividly one night at the dinner table him threatening one of the men that didn’t agree with his demands that he would pour the whole jug of milk onto his head, (why the hell we were drinking milk at dinner I cannot recollect). Giggles broke out among the kids, but I could see from the look in his eye that he was serious about it.
I got to talk to someone recently about this and he told me all the men and babes were terrified of him. He was an alcoholic that drank up all our funds for the house bills and food. I was the seven year old bringing in the money, (as he couldn’t speak the language so he’d have to take me out with him.) To shut me up he’d treat me to an ice-cream to get rid of his guilt of drinking while out “witnessing”. There was never a lunch and I recall being so thirsty one day walking in the hot sun asking for a bottle of water and the reply came ice-cream or soda, soda so he could also mix it with his whisky.
One day mom baked a cake and asked me to sit down so she could explain something. She proceeded to tell me that there was no money, so would I mind eating this cake for the next 4 days, I sort of felt bad for mom but I said I understood but after four days of the same cake morning, noon, and night, as well as snack. I was relieved to have proper food on the table. The only way a their heated verbal arguments were resolved was with more sex.
Their arguments could be heard so often they were finally asked to leave and live on their own. We rented this posh house but haunted with ghost and full of snakes. Eventually the alcohol and yelling turned to smacks with the palm of his hand across moms face, I knew it wouldn’t stop and it would just keep going on.
When the Vs’s came down to correct the situation, he vehemently denied it all so they believed him. I knew the worst was still yet to come, then one day a fight broke out, I was in another room and they had locked the door but I could hear the screams so I peered through the key hole, witnessing one of those horrific scenes children should never be privy too.
He beat her and beat her and wouldn’t let up. He beat her so badly, mom’s two front teeth went missing, she couldn’t talk for days. We didn’t even have ice in the house so I ran out to get some, I cursed him with every breath in me. We ended having another brother pick us up from another home in the wee hours of the morning to flee, loading just the bare minimum as mom requested.
Jules - Saturday, August 04, 2001
Lonnie Davis (Uncle Marc) and the exciting life in the PI Jumbo; originally posted online on exCOGnet.com on July 12, 1998.
Regarding the mistreatment of young people in the Family, for me personally, it was not just one isolated individual, but repeated, continual violation, abuse and neglect from the time I was 11 and my parents went to the "Mission Field" of India, until I left at the age of 20. There are some incidents that were more traumatic than others, but as I learn more and more about self-respect and my rights as a free individual, I see more and more how I was almost continually exploited and used. (This is not to say that I don't have any happy memories or fond feelings towards people in the group, I do. Which is what makes it all so confusing emotionally and difficult to sort out.)
[In answer to a specific question that was asked of me by a poster on excognet.com] perhaps I can highlight one specific person in my life, and the process I recently went through with him:
Marc, (Lonnie Davis) the media spokesperson for the group in North America now, was the teen shepherd "Department Head" in the Jumbo, (one of the 3 first training centres for teens--located in the Philippines). When I was 13, I was sent to this centre with my younger sister who was 11. The rest of our family went to Holland. We were told we would probably never see them again.
When I arrived at the Jumbo there were about 50 other "teenagers" (11-16), 50 adults and about 100 other children there. It was kept under armed guard at night. The schedule was very tight. Each morning we had a two hour class from one of the leaders from the group’s teachings. The rest of the day we worked cleaning, cooking and taking care of the children. Discipline was strict, and was given for everything from leaving a book out of place to “not receiving correction with a smile”. All correspondence was censored, and we were not even supposed to speak to each other without supervision. We were under constant 24-hour supervision, and though this was difficult at first, it would become a way of life for the next few years. Detailed personal questionnaires and daily reports were required about every aspect of our thoughts and lives. It soon became apparent that I had numerous “doubts” about many things in the group.
One of my friends became quite sick and was quarantined from the rest of the children. I had been quarantined for a month before, taking care of my little brother who had chicken-pox, and so I knew how hard it was to be all alone by yourself. I used to go see her, and make sure she had food and was okay. I would fill her in on the news. We had a new teen “shepherdess” whose name was Joan at that time (her legal surname is Thatcher, aka Malaysian Mary). She was exceptionally strict with demerits, and so I mentioned to my friend one day to watch out for her, Joan had “demerit fever”. The next day there was a serious class on the “fear of the Lord”. Marc came down to teach it to us. He mentioned that there was someone they were going to talk to that day on their lack of “fear of the Lord”. Some one had been talking about their leaders behind their backs, he told us this was “sowing discord, one of the 7 abominations to God”. We all wondered who it could be, and I felt a bit sorry for the person, but at least it was not me in trouble for once.
Later that day I was called into a meeting with 3 or 4 of the women sitting around. It was me. My friend had reported my “divisive comment” about Joan. Since I was in serious trouble already I thought this might be a good time to tell them about my other doubts. We had been told over and over again that we were not allowed to have any secrets or keep anything back from our overseers. I had written a letter confessing that I did not believe that Berg was the “Endtime Prophet,” his letters seemed just strange, and I did not know if I believed in Jesus, and I figured (okay so I may not be the brightest bulb in the box) that this was a good time to show it to them.
I was immediately put into isolation, where I was read “Letters” while awake and listened to them on headphones when asleep. I remembered what had happened to Mene, (written about in The Last State) and was quite scared of what might happen to me. I wanted to do the right thing, so I decided to accept whatever I was told.
A publication called How to Go on the Attack was read to me several times. It explained that when a “negative thought” or “doubt” comes to your mind it was like a little devil in your mind, and to think it through was to “entertain” the Devil in your heart. What I was to do was to quote a scripture or quote sing a song over and over again in my mind and even out loud until the thought went away on it’s own. Anna, Joan, Joanna and Marc told me that my biggest problem was a critical, analytical mind. This was very, very evil and an “open door for the Devil to come in.” They told me that these thoughts would make me crazy if I didn’t confess and get rid of each of them, just like they did to Mene. I prayed again and again for “child-like faith”, to just yield and accept things, without having to understand. I learned that whenever I thought anything that was negative or critical in any way, what I was to do was to grab the closest leader (they were never far away) and ask them to pray with me to “rebuke” the thought. It was really hard to do this at first, as I had so many thoughts about things.
One night, I was left alone while everyone went to a party that was being held. I was given a tape of Berg singing to listen to. I listened to it over and over and cried and cried. I felt so hopeless and completely alone and overwhelmed. His voice began to comfort me, and I felt as though he was singing to me. I felt a deep bond with him and felt myself decide to commit to the “Family”. I later heard Gary (Grant Montgomery, now the "president" of FCFhttp://www.familycare.org">FCF>), a top leader from Berg’s house who was visiting, talk about experiences like this. He called them anchors. “When things get rough and difficult for you”, he said, “and you think of giving up your place here, anchors can keep you in. Remember those times you really felt close to ‘Dad’ [Berg] and the Family. That’s why you’re here.”
The leaders suggested that I fast in order to “show God that I meant business”, for 3 days I had nothing but water, and milk on the last day. After this, Marc and the other top leaders came and exorcised me from all the “demons” that I allowed into my heart and mind. When they were convinced that I was “delivered”, I was allowed back out with the other children.
This exorcism was to be the first of many. I seemed to be always in trouble for something and would have to confess, apologise and be publicly exorcised time and time again. As time went on, it was easier and easier to not think unacceptable thoughts, I learned to memorise Bible verses that would help me and would repeat them over and over until I felt okay again.
I was not the only one to be singled out, a male friend of mine who had stolen some ear plugs from another boy was beaten in front of all of us by Marc with a large wooden paddle until he cried and begged for mercy.
After I somehow incurred the wrath of the "shepherds" yet again, I was put on Silence Restriction, with a large cardboard sign I had to wear around my neck. It all became too much one day and I wrote a note saying that I wished to leave, and could they please send me to my grandparents as I could not take any more. Marc himself came down with the wooden paddle and told me "we will not let the Enemy win here. I am not going to accept a defeat" and proceeded to "beat the fear of God into me" with the paddle. I finally realised that there was nowhere I could go, and no way that I could get out from where I was. There was no way to contact my parents, except for censored letters forwarded on to them, as I was not sure exactly where they were. The grounds of the compound were patrolled until dawn by Filipino guards with machine guns. All I could do was try to submit completely to everything. I learned to shut down the part of myself that felt anything, so that I could take “rebukes” cheerfully and with a smile, no matter what I was really feeling inside. I learned that I could not trust my “evil” self, my “shepherds” knew what was best for me and what I was really needing.
When things got to be just too much, I learned to do something that I would do for the rest of my time in the group. I would go into a bathroom, (the only private place usually in a home,) lock the door, and cry silently. If it was really too much I would scream into a towel. I felt so very alone and I would pray earnestly and desperately for God to help me get through this day.
It was still very hard for me to give up my own feelings and opinions without any outward sign of disagreement at all. Even a look or flinch or lack of cheerfulness was a sign of inner rebellion. I was first put on Silence Restriction for talking to a friend of mine who had been put on this. At first she had to wear a mask over her mouth with a scripture pinned to the front, as well as tape over her mouth. They finally settled on a large sign around her neck, which was instituted as the Silence Restriction policy. When I was given a sign to wear, I was sitting in the back of the room one day waiting for our "Devotional" class to start. It was a little late, and some of the girls were telling me about something that had happened the day before. Joanna, (a teen overseer) saw this and pulled me out of the room and into the large "closet" next door. She slapped my face and yelled at me for allowing them to talk to me while I was on Silence Restriction. I hung my head and tried really hard to accept what she was saying.
After they caught me praying aloud with another girl, Anna, Mary and Joanna (the teen girls overseers) were not convinced that I was really submitting fully. I was now not allowed to sit by any other teenagers. When they thought that was not enough I was put on a daily callisthenics program until they felt that I had really broken. I did not know if I would ever be allowed to talk to other children again, or what was waiting for me every day when I woke up. I learned to live in very small time segments and to block off anything past or anything ahead. A month went by, and I had given up all hope of ever being back with the other children. One day Anna came to me and told me I had “passed the test”. The sign was taken off my neck and I was allowed to be part of the regular program again.
The “callisthenics program” was normally the result of three demerits in one day. Although I was extremely fit and weighed about 95lbs, it was really hard to do, and every joint and muscle would ache for days afterwards. When it was first instituted, one of the boys could not keep up and had a heart attack. They took him to the hospital while the other boys finished the program.
Some of the punishments did not make a lot of sense. A older teen named Nehemiah, who was one of Berg’s grandsons, was promoted to a “teen shepherd”. One of the boys was not very cheerful, and did not like to smile. (We were taught that this was important as a Christian.) Nehemiah gave him a “smiling machine” to wear for the day if he was caught not smiling. It was a rubber band on the end of 2 paper clips that went around his head and held up the corners of his mouth. In the girls room, Anna would hand out punishments like a demerit for every toe that touched a mattress on the floor, or would shove the faces of girls right over the toilet if they forgot to flush it. Still I tried hard not to be critical and to yield as I was taught to do.
One “class” that I remember vividly was with Anna and Tiago, two “teen shepherds”. They both sat up front, Anna fully clothed up to the neck and ankles. Tiago began to read from “Revolutionary Sex”, a group publication. As he read, Anna began to take off her clothes. She kept stripping slowly until she was down to her panties. Tiago finished the reading and explained that this was a new phase in our training. We would now be allowed to change and shower together. Anna then hugged all the boys.
Although we were not allowed to have sex, (the girls and boys were completely separate for most of the time) as Marc said they “didn’t want any pregnant teenagers on [their] hands”, (I knew nothing about birth control,) nudity and “affection” were a large part of our life. The girls there were not allowed to wear bras, except for exercising, and most clothing was out, (we wore communal “sarongs”). Anna and Mary would come from mat to mat and check that we were not wearing underwear at night. We were taught to give full body to body embraces, shown by the women how to masturbate, covering ourselves if an adult man or teen boy came in when we were naked was a demeritable offence, the shower by the pool was an large open air one, and we had to strip naked and shower outside. My developing body was new to me, and I remember how difficult it was for me at first to have to strip as all the passing men would just stand and stare. A man was added to the teen girl overseers team, Chris. He would tell us graphic sex stories at bed time. KY Jelly was provided to the teen rooms to help us to masturbate.
Although physical intimacy was promoted, we were taught that as “Bible Women”, we should not have personal feelings towards any particular man, but should act the same with everyone, “as unto God”. I was told off time and time again for my “Women’s Libber” attitude. I had to memorise many things on being a Bible Woman and submission. A quote from the “Letter” You Are Your Own Worst Enemy (which was on my assigned memorization list) went something like: “According to God’s Word we are a male chauvinistic society. The woman is there to satisfy the man and not to be so greatly concerned whether she is satisfied herself”. I tried hard to learn to be this way, and began to understand my role as a woman in the Family was to provide pleasure and to make things easier for the men.
To be fair, although Marc was the one responsible for this whole Mickey-Mouse operation, it was certainly not just him who was abusive here. In fact, every single thing that went on was reported directly to Berg and Zerby and often disciplinary acts were handed down directly from them. Which is what made me so upset when Zerby in the second version of "Back on Track", the Europe series, said something to the effect of, "where did this idea of Silence Restriction come from? This sort of inhumane punishment should never be allowed in our homes". She knew exactly where it came from.
Anyway, back to Marc. When I was a 13 year-old child alone in the Philippines, Marc terrified me, as he did all of us. I saw him once briefly about three years after leaving and I felt like someone hit me in the gut. I couldn't breathe and started to shake. Since leaving, I have worked hard to reinvent myself, and I am a completely different person. Somewhere inside though, that little girl that I used to be was still terrified by Marc, even though logically I knew there was no reason to be.
[In 1998] I attended a AFF conference in Philadelphia. The topic was "Children in Cults", (it was awful and I would never go attend any other of their conferences, but that's a whole other story.) Marc and Claire were also at this conference, (with, interestingly enough, their equivalents in Scientology). As I saw them slip in the back of the room, I felt the same feeling again. I decided that I had to talk to Marc. What I would say, I didn't know, but I wanted to tell myself that it was okay, I am not that vulnerable, scared little girl any more, I am now an adult in control of my life, and no one will ever hurt me again like that.
I went over to them and we sat and talked for about 2 hours. I don't know if they understood or even heard what I was saying, but as they were leaving, Marc looked at me and said, "I'm really sorry, Sharon" (my Family name). I can't be sure exactly what he meant, but to me, it was beginning to put "Sharon" to rest. I felt it was sincere. Does it fix what he did? No. Does it make it hurt less? No. Does it offer any practical help to me now? No. But I do feel it is a start.
Excuse me here, (old habits die hard) but the verse that comes to mind is James 3:1, "Do not seek to be teachers, for unto you is the greater condemnation". Leaders in the cult made decisions regarding other people's lives--they now will have to live with the consequences. I believe in Karma, as the natural law of reaping the consequences of what you have sowed. Having been in childcare and a Teen/JETT (children aged 11-16) caretaker myself for much of the time in the group, I know what it is like to have to make decisions that affect others.
However, I also know that it is possible to take a stand for what is right, even in the Family. I remember being told by my supervisor that children in the Family need to go through "breakings". What he said was "breakings are what keep you humble and close to God. Children in the Family don't really go through that much, so sometimes we have to make breakings happen to them if they get a bit 'lifted up'". Excuse me? Making their lives deliberately difficult for no good reason? I flat out refused to do it.
I certainly did not stand up for the other children in my life nearly as much as I should I have, and am not claiming to have come out of this cult with no regrets, I think we all do, especially those of us with responsibility for others. No one is perfect, no parent or caregiver anywhere. But I believe that no matter what the reason, or what happened, somewhere, somehow, it will come back to you, and eventually your own evil will catch up to you--I guarantee, one day you will have to "give account", and for once, sticking your head in the sand and your butt in the air won't do you much good.
Jules - Tuesday, June 26, 2001
He is German and his real name is Werner L. Last I heard from him, he was in Eastern Europe with his family and was still in the Family. He made my life a living hell from the ages of 14-16.
David was the NAS of Belgium, and later of the UK. When I first arrived in Belgium from the London teen home in 1989, he told me he had specifically requested me to come there. He wanted me to be his personal secretary and assistant. He had been in the PI Jumbo briefly when I was there, and told me he had seen me in the changing room, (I would have been 13 then), and that how I had undressed in such a uninhibited way had turned him on. (I didn't even remember him, we had to undress in front of anyone.)
He and his wife lived in a trailer in the back of the property of the Belgium school, and I had to spend a lot of time there alone with him, even sleeping over some nights. He molested me constantly throughout this time, and would always tell me that he would wait until I turned 21 to have sex with me, but it would definitely happen then.
For the 2 years I lived in the Belgium school, I had to be with him and his family. I was his personal secretary throughout the week and then took care of their children on Sundays. I tried to leave this home a number of times, but even when other people invited us (my sister was there too) to come to other teen homes, he wouldn't let us go, saying we were too needed there. When I went on a road trip to Eastern Europe, I passed through the BTC and begged the "shepherds" to let me stay there, but without the okay from David I couldn't go anywhere else.
When the "Flirty Little Teens Beware" letter was published. I felt really guilty about the whole situation and told the "teen shepherd", Renata, what had been happening. She told David, and he was very angry that I had misinterpreted his "encouragement". I stayed on as their personal "childcare helper" for another couple of years, but was transferred out of their office and into childcare, so at least I was able to do something else during the day. His wife was around when I was with his family in the evenings and on Sunday, so it was a lot more bearable.
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