"I lived in constant fear"
Press » News of the World » 2007-01-07
By Monica Cafferky
From starvation to beatings, a cult survivor tells her shocking story
Kristina Jones was just 10 years old when she first realised her mum was unable to protect her and that she was completely at the mercy of the leaders of her cult.
Kristina, now 30, grew up in US cult The Children of God.
"We lived in big houses with other families and often we were starving," says Kristina. "Once mum stole some bread from the kitchen for me, but she was caught and the leader shouted at her. I knew then that she couldn't help me.
"My first memory is of selling leaflets in the street when I was three. We called it 'witnessing', but really we were begging for the cult. David Berg set it up in 1968 and despite scandals and name changes, it's still going.
"Berg believed Christ was going to return. Every night we'd do bible study and wrote reports of everything we did brushing our teeth, going to the loo and all our thoughts. Group leaders read the reports and shouted at us if they felt we were being negative about the cult. It was terrible, you lived in constant fear.
"All the rules were set by the commune leaders which meant mum wasn't a proper parent. She'd been recruited at 16, was pregnant with me at 18 and split from my dad two years later.
"At 10 I was separated from mum and sent to a commune miles away. I cried and was beaten for being difficult. I was meant to tell on little kids if they were rebellious, but I couldn't do it. Instead I gave them secret cuddles. It still breaks my heart to think of them.
"I was 12 when we left the cult. Mum had never agreed with their free-love policy which meant sex with children in some communes. Our visas ran out and we moved back to the UK. I went to school for the first time and slowly settled in. Now I'm doing a psychology degree and I help ex-cult members via the Safe Passage Foundation charity.
"Moving on is an important part of rebuilding your life. I have forgiven mum it wasn't her fault she was brainwashed."
For help, go to www.safepassagefoundation.org.