[Extra: Live Reddit Talk] Child Bride & Social Scientist Dr. Tamara MC PhD on Coercion, Cults as a Child

FrankieFilesPodcast: The Cults Are Out There

Frankie Files


Frankie Tease: Cults, mind control, sexuality in society. These are the topics for the Frankie Files. I also have periodic interviews of experts and survivors. Facing my own story by writing my memoir was the beginning of finding my voice. Well, I found it. I’ll explore multiple writers and articles on these topics, new each Tuesday.

Listen in. Oh, and I promise not to waste your time.

This is the conclusion of our live Reddit talks, which took place October, November and December of 2022. Our guest today is Dr. Tamara mc PhD. Find her@tamaramc.com and on Twitter, Tamara Cph. Dr. Tamara is a freedom activist for girls and women worldwide. She’s a social. She’s a linguist who explores how language is used to manipulate vulnerable populations.

As a cult, child marriage, polygamy, and modern day slavery survivor advocate, themes in her work explore coercive control, intergenerational trauma, religion, spirituality, and mothering. She researches language, culture, and identity in the Middle East and beyond. Specifically, her hybrid identity of growing up simultaneously Jewish and Muslim.

Although she was born to Holocaust survivor refugees and feels without home, she claims Lithuania and Belarus as her homelands. She’s also traveled to 77 countries, and counting, and makes the world her home. In America, she has roots in Arizona, Texas, and New York City. She’s an empty nesting mama to two sons.

She’s a lifelong vegetarian and a lover of all sentient beings. I learned of Dr. Chimara through another sex cult child, Daniela Mastanik Young, who recently published a memoir called Uncultured. You gotta check that out. Dr. Tamara reviewed Daniela’s book, and it was an amazing article, which we’ll discuss in this talk.

Her world presence on issues of systemic oppression of women, for me, makes Dr. Tamara an incredibly exciting guest. As my hope is that all we do on this show affects the upcoming generation of women to have a better life than we did. As two survivors, Dr. Tamara and I spoke for the first time in a live Reddit talk setting with a couple of questions from audience members.

So join me in welcoming Dr. Tamara M. C.,

the Frankie Files. So you’ve been in this a while, you’ve been in this activism against being a child bride for some time. What’s this like for you to, uh, let’s start with the article in the Ms. Magazine. What was the responses you got to this amazing piece of work? Because I was already like a fan of Daniela and had interviewed her.

And your comparisons of your life and hers, though it’s a different religious cult that you grew up in. We’re so similar. How did you all, you know, how did you decide to review her book?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, actually, I am fairly new to all of this, or in terms of my Becoming public. I only began to share my story in the past year to year and a half in one of my first articles, and I just turned 50 this year, and it is the first time that I’ve shared my story publicly, so it is very new to me, and I actually met Daniela in a writing group.

I believe we were in a writing group, and I learned of her memoir, and I was like, Oh my goodness, I have to review that. So I, I asked for an ARC, which is an advanced reader copy and she sent it to me. And then I just like took so many notes in the margins. I spent, I spent a long time with her book. A couple of months just reading and taking notes and thinking about it and thinking about the similarities and the differences between our experiences.

Frankie Tease: Wow. And there were so many.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. I mean, I do find that to be the case, though. I just find that regardless of the religion or the belief system, the experiences are so similar, which is shocking because like in the regular world, which is I’m going to call it the regular world outside of the cult. Nobody shares my experiences.

I always feel like I’m like an alien and I’m alone. Right. Then when I read somebody’s story who’s been in a cult or has been in a child marriage, I’m like, that’s me. Everything sounds almost identical, which is really a crazy feeling.

Frankie Tease: Well, I have to tell you that. Um, I, I bumped into you on Twitter because I’ve been following Daniela through the year through her whole process of releasing the book and I got the ARC and I got the advanced copy and I was the first, had the honor of being the first podcaster who’d read her book to interview her.

And, um, when I read the book, you know, I cried through the whole thing. I was crying for her and I was crying for me too. Um. Being a cold survivor, and I guess I bit off a little more than I could chew because she was my first interview. So, you talk about being new to this. This is also my first year doing so.

I, I resonate with that. And it’s a process, right?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, it is. Um, but it just kind of feels that it builds. It’s like I just find that one little thing I do, it’s like it opens up an opportunity for something else and I meet somebody new. So, I’m really loving the snowball effect of it.

Frankie Tease: Me too, because just on responding to your article that she posted, there was also another child bride, um, Sarah Tasneem that we had spoken to who was on responding to resonating with your article.

So it’s like, wow, this speaking out, you know. It has so many purposes.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, it’s really cool because I met Sara Tasneem this, this year as well. And we became super close immediately.

Frankie Tease: I love her. Love you guys both.

Dr. Tamara MC: Now we’ve become these, you know, like a little pod of like, I don’t know. We, we also share so many similarities.

Frankie Tease: Wow.

Dr. Tamara MC: And I think, and I think that’s like the joy is all of these new friendships that are just kind of opening up in such unexpected ways.

Frankie Tease: I have to agree. And I was really, really shocked because like you said about, um, you know, we’re alone in our experience and in our survival until we meet people who’ve been through things like us.

And when I was in this article, you know, excuse me, interview with Daniela in real time, which was, um, not so public as ours here, but. It was, it was shocking to me to resonate and to relate to, and in the book too, I haven’t examined with great detail like she had my experience and. So, we, I feel we help each other as we speak out. Do you?

Dr. Tamara MC: Right. Yeah, yeah. And I, and I think I really like it because I share my experience with my community members, the other girls that were in my group, but again, that’s like something so intimate and special that, that only seems reserved for us, but then once I kind of left that and now I get to speak with you and Sarah and Danielle, like all these different people, it just opens it up to like this.

This new way. It’s like, it’s like, wow, there are people just like us all over the world. And I don’t even know that you all were there. I thought we were alone.

Your article is scathingly informative to the public. Um, specifically the one reviewing Daniel’s book because you’ve got two people Saying they’re really very similar things like, you know, these kind of religious abuse happen and these things are dangerous.

And that children shouldn’t get married or be thought of as sexual beings without, you know, having their childhood. And it’s, it’s funny, like, you’re going direct. I saw that in your announcement, in your bio on some of these articles, you say the name of the book, Child Bride. That’s awesome.

Yeah, no, I decided.

Call it like it is. I mean, the publishers will probably change it. Who knows what will actually happen, but that is. But, you know, that is the title right now. I’ve had the desire. Yeah, I’ve had different titles. Our community was called house of faith. Um, that was actually the translation of it. So I do have a book that is also called house of faith, which is about like, which is just to think about faith in terms of all that was going on within within the community.

But yes, so I, I have actually like, kind of the house of faith book is more of like an oral history from the different community members, like actually speaking about their experiences. It’s much more looking at the community itself and much less of my story. And at first I wrote that book and I was, um, I actually went to Columbia university and I was in the creative writing program and I got accepted into this wonderful program and the.

journalism school. And while I was in there, I was like submitting my pages and everybody was like, wait, we want to know your story. And that was like, and that was like four or five years ago. And I had never even thought of telling my story. I just was always like, so interested in everybody else’s story in my community.

And then I, then I started telling my story, which I never planned to do. It was never something I thought I would do. I didn’t even really think I had a story, which is, I

Frankie Tease: hear you. I hear you. The Frankie Files. That’s exactly what I thought. And timeline wise, I’m also early 50s, so this is kind of fascinating to me.

Um, like, I, my cult was in the 70s, and I left in 87, so I was from 8 to 22, just for a timeline, for your reference. And so, I wasn’t born in, you know, I also was not technically married, though I was paired with a procurgy, and You know, also made to service them, etc. So I had the sexual element, the child sexual abuse element, and teen and adult.

And so, it’s just sad how many of us had that. It’s like, um, culture like this, you know, machine that just grinds people in and out. Toss them away and get another one. It’s shocking to me how many people have these experiences.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, I’ve never thought of it as a machine in that way, but.

Frankie Tease: Sort of like a meat grinder.

Yeah, but I feel like it’s a circle and it seems like, and this is not a scientific study, but it seems like it’s about 10 years. Uh, free labor and other financial abuse, everything, family separation and trafficking. It’s like, let’s get as much as we can out of this person, extract time, energy, labor, et cetera, and move them on next ride, you know?

Yeah, yeah. I guess that’s kind of intense.

Dr. Tamara MC: I mean, especially like, I think when somebody comes in, they’re just so starry eyed and they’re, I knew I was willing to do anything for so many years, but maybe there is kind of this point in time where it’s like your eyes start opening a little bit and you’re starting something like, Hmm, something’s not quite right about this.

And now it’s about that time where like, like people are replaced in a way.

Frankie Tease: Because, you know, we start to, to question, but I do want to get specific here. What is the age you had contact with your cult? Were you born in and what generation, if so?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. So I think, I think we’re quite similar. My father joined when I was five years old.

So pretty much, I don’t have a lot, a lot of memories of my life before. So most, I just, most of my life, I remember being in the cult. I don’t think, I don’t think anybody, I, I know I, I still haven’t even left my cult. I wish I could, like, I wish emotionally, mentally, right? I could be like 100% gone, but I’m not.

Mm-Hmm. , it’s like it’s still there and my father’s still part of it. My family members are still part of it, so it’s still in my life. It’s not as if my family left and therefore it, it’s like there’s this clear break. It’s like if I talk to my dad, I still hear all the same rhetoric. If I talk to anybody in my family.

It’s still all there. It hasn’t changed. Nothing has changed.

Frankie Tease: Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.

Dr. Tamara MC: So it’s really hard in that way to say that, but I officially left the cult leader and my marriage when I was 20 years old. Like that was kind of the break off point. So our, so our years are actually almost identical.

Frankie Tease: It’s true.

Dr. Tamara MC: So it was in the seventies. It was in the seventies. My father joined in 1977.

Frankie Tease: See? Similar. Okay. Yeah, and it’s like very, um, the thing to do also is join a, a commune or, um, uh, you know, religious sect. I mean, mine was New Agey, Middle Eastern, um, in yours, and you’re also a linguist. So I was on my to do list to talk to you about that.

Um, you’re a Middle East linguist. Is that the correct terminology?

Yeah, somewhat. Yeah. So I’m a Middle Eastern studies scholar. So my bachelor’s I studied Middle Eastern history and politics. I studied language. I studied Arabic. I went to Cairo and studied at the American University in Cairo. Wow. And then I went on in my master’s and I did a lot.

My master’s as well. I did a lot of coursework. And then my PhD, I have my, my minor is in Middle Eastern and North African studies. Oh, my

Lord. You’ve been around those places then?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. Yes. I’ve traveled. I’ve done extensive research. Um, it’s just always been an area I’ve been interested in. Okay. So it’s something that I’ve been studying most of my life.

Frankie Tease: Wow. It’s, um, a lot to, to bring together because you, with your studies in language and with your studies, um, being focused in so many, in such a wide net. That must really be amazing because I know I love digging into why do cults happen, how do cults happen, and what type of environment allows it. And it’s just so many different environments allow it across the world.

Dr. Tamara MC: Right. Yeah.

Frankie Tease: That’s interesting.

Dr. Tamara MC: But I think there, I think there’s still so many similarities such as isolation. And I mean, like, I think. You know, only breed in a certain environment. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. So, so even now, like, I’m, I’m watching sister wives. I just finished the 17th season. I don’t know if you’ve watched that at all.

It’s about a polygamist, you know, a polygamist. I’ll call it a cult, although that’s not necessarily what other people would call it, but, but it’s about, you know, these right in this town. Yeah, it’s, it’s four women and they’re all married to the same men and in my cult, we were also a polygamous cult. So I’m very interested in polygamy.

And so I’m writing a couple articles on polygamy that are going to be coming up soon. Um, but yeah, it’s just, again, it’s like, I just see their lives and it’s almost, you know, they’re always in these houses kind of, you know, outside of town and they’re alone and it’s just, there’s so many similarities.

There was recently a bust, um, of FLDS trailer of un, um, underage wives. A trailer was discovered. They were, they were running from one state to another. It’s like, why would you need a group of underage wives? I’ve always been, I said this to Sarah, guys can’t handle one woman. Why do you need 12? What is the deal?

What? You know, so anyway, um, yeah. Well, I think a lot

of these are like building a kingdom. Like, like building these groups that can then get to heaven. And it’s like this whole Ours wasn’t like that at all. We didn’t think like that. But Okay. So many of these groups

Frankie Tease: What did they think like? What was the doctrine generally?

Dr. Tamara MC: Um, what aspect?

Frankie Tease: When you Well, I mean Um, example, mine was new age religion, um, a leader, the leader was female, forced polygamy for me was female, um, to the upper clergy. So, you know, like, they work it into whatever they want. I’ll tell you, um, the, the, the doctrine itself was like a lot of, um, Jesus, Buddha and Gandhi, and then all the astrology numerology stuff that was new agey.

You know, so huge, but I still see going on today, but the sect itself was non denominational quote mark. And and so with it with yours being a religious sect. Um, no need to discuss the details that aren’t, you know, something you want to discuss, but it’s, I imagine it’s a lot of prayer, a lot of discipline, perhaps meet, you know, like, um, like, for me, meal planning and, and control sleep deprivation, a lot of labor as well for me.

Is this a type of things that went on for you? What were your

activities like?

Dr. Tamara MC: Um, yes, absolutely. Um, first of all, there were no activities. I mean, in terms of child activities or fun activities or anything like that, we were completely I mean, I was a workhorse from the time I was a tiny child are, um. The children did not go to school.

Uh, there was like supposedly homeschooling, but that was only when the women felt like, okay, maybe we’ll teach today and usually teaching today. It was like pulling out a workbook and then the kids wouldn’t do their work and then the kids would get beat. And so it was just like this horrible cycle. Like, there was absolutely nothing about learning that came out of that.

But, but I think very similarly, lots of prayer, prayer all day long, prayer most of the night. Um, sleep deprivation for sure, like as children, we weren’t able to go to like, we’d have these all night chanting sessions where we’d be up and we’d have to sit up for hours and hours. And then we always had to get up super early and pray and then just begin cooking and cleaning, making the breakfast, cleaning the breakfast dishes, then cleaning, then getting ready for lunch and lunch dishes.

Frankie Tease: And that sounds familiar to me.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah,

it was just from one meal to the next and prayer and watching, and watching the little kids.

Frankie Tease: Same, and we did, I had about 300 people that I would have to help feed, like on a constant basis. Then when they all went home, there’s the clergy to feed, so there was no mercy.

There’s like six people I had to serve. Yeah, they just turned us into little workhorses, don’t they?

Dr. Tamara MC: Right.

Frankie Tease: Childhood be damned. Okay. Okay. So that’s in, that was in the United States. Am I correct?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. Yes.

Frankie Tease: Okay. Got you. You said it’s new, but your articles, the tone is amazing. Um, so clearly this has been some type of literature that you’ve been working on before being published in the articles.

Dr. Tamara MC: Well, it’s like, I guess, during my PhD work, I was always doing research. And so it’s something I’ve always been researching. I’ve been internalizing. I’ve been asking questions. I’ve been trying to figure out what happened. And so in that way, it’s just been this continuous. So it’s. It was new in terms of me sharing it with the public, but it was not new with me as an individual.

Frankie Tease: Same. Same, because it’s so funny, um, how, I don’t quite understand this yet, but so many of us have awareness in our 40s and 50s, and it’s 20 to 30 years after any trauma in the religious cult, or a cult, or another situation. But it’s like this. Delay, and I know in psychology, they call it repressed memory or something like that, but it’s so real, like, I just remember it hit me and I’m like, I cannot not talk about this anymore.

It’s over for us. It’s, it’s, it’s like that, when you get to that point, it’s not a negotiation. That’s how I felt like, I have to find a way. To start talking about this and obviously you got to that point a while ago. It seemed like, um, some of the articles you shared with me. We’re back to 2021 or


Dr. Tamara MC: I think 2021, yeah, it’s like a year to year and a half ago.

Frankie Tease: Nice

Dr. Tamara MC: was my 1st time. Um,

Frankie Tease: you’re coming out strong. I love it.

Dr. Tamara MC: So I guess so. Um, yeah. Yeah, I think there is a point where holding the secret is more work than telling the secret and it’s kind of like that. It just kind of. The balance switches like the secret was like, there’s no, there was no other choice.

I had to, it was like, it was so heavy, but then I think that heaviness just weighed and weighed and weighed that it was like, okay, I can protect the secret and like, save the secret, or I can save myself. And at this point, it’s like, the choice, it has to be the self at this point, because I’ve already tried to do this other thing for so many years, and it’s not getting better.

I mean. It’s not getting lighter. My load’s not getting lighter. I’m not magically forgetting. It’s not going away. Nope. So, okay, so what’s a new way to deal with this? Because I’ve already tried this for so long and it hasn’t worked. So, now what can I do? And it’s not even, it’s like your body just gets to this point where it’s like, no, I can’t hold it anymore.

Frankie Tease: I agree.

Dr. Tamara MC: No,

no longer.

Frankie Tease: The Frankie Files. I, uh, my analogy is, it’s like having a bullet. That’s lodged in the body that if it moves a certain way, it could open an artery or hurt you, or it could be leaking wet into the blood slowly. And eventually we come to that point where it needs to come out. You know, I’m glad you did.

You know, I’m glad you, you did. So you peel back the layer.

Dr. Tamara MC: And of course, there’s always

so many more layers. It’s not like.

Frankie Tease: Amazing, right?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. It’s just like, there’s so many layers. It’s like,

okay, I peel this one back. Okay. Now. Oh, wow. I didn’t know that was there.

Frankie Tease: Agreed. And for me, it has been a really slow process of finding out what triggers me to.

Once I finally decided to confront what triggers me, um, then I could deal with that. So when I’m in a situation, it’s like, you know what? That’s weird. Okay. Now, I know there’s a memory attached to rice or whatever, but I, I was gagging on rice every time I would eat it, and, and I was like, what’s wrong? Like, it would be caught in my nose, and I would have to, you know, all this strange stuff would happen.

Like, so, not sure if you’ve read this amazing book, because It’s amazing. He really goes where you just were going to great depths. Um, Dr. Gabor Mate is a physical doctor and he started asking people, did you also experience some trauma in this area of your body where you’re having problems? And it was like 99. 9 percent they would say yes. And he’s now making that connection and his new book is really great. Um, the new normal, something to that name, I forget, but it’s a bright orange color. Really great book. And in it, these connections. It’s not like saying, Oh, well, it’s your fault. Mentally, you brought on this.

No, he’s saying that trauma has a way to manifest itself. Like you said, it has to go somewhere. His theory is that it causes an inflammation, stress, inflammation, reaction in the body that causes multiple autoimmune disorders and other disorders. And it’s such an interesting connection. Just simply recognizing that stress.

Stress, stress long term is causing. mental and physical ailment. So yeah, um, I bet you feel better just generally like I do. I

Dr. Tamara MC: don’t know, actually. I feel like less better in many ways, because I think before I could just kind of keep my little secret and go on with my life and it was just like hunky dory in a way. And it’s like, nobody knew who I was and that’s nice to kind of be camouflaged. Um, but there is something to becoming public and to people knowing your story, and that has its whole own side to it, but

Frankie Tease: yeah, I’m getting that too,

Dr. Tamara MC: but I do feel very much.

I mean, I think both, both, both, both me’s are me. Like I was like the part of me that was all like. I was always very happy. Like if you were to kind of see photos of me, like when I was part of this community, I was always happy and smiling and laughing and you wouldn’t even know that there was something going on with me because I was genuinely those things.

I was just a very Compliant person that just wanted to do the right thing and make people happy. So that part of me, I kind of actually grieve and I mourn because now I’m a much more cynical and jaded and like critical. And I just, it’s not as easy being kind of this way as it is. It was when I was kind of in a way, blinded to so many things.

Frankie Tease: It’s comfortable because we don’t have to deal with that wound, that raw wound. It’s like, well, just keep it covered up. You know, I understand. I do understand. But I’ve got to applaud you. I’ve just got to applaud you for your scathing words and your articulation. It’s like, this is the voices I want to represent Colt Kids.

I applaud you. I applaud you. I was just like, Oh, another Daniella whole different level. Yes.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. Going back to your food thing. It’s having major food aversions in the past year and a half. So I basically sat down. What was it like two and a half years ago? I sat down and I wrote my whole story out for the first time in its entirety.

Frankie Tease: Okay.

Dr. Tamara MC: It is close to 400,000 words, which is the equivalent of four plus novels. Like a novel is a hundred thousand words, and it’s Imagine

Frankie Tease Mine,

70,000 400 k.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, it’s a lot. I don’t even know.

Frankie Tease: Okay.

Dr. Tamara MC: It’s 12 maybe in pages. That’s like 1300 pages. Pages.

Frankie Tease: It might have to be a series pages.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. It could be. It could be.

Frankie Tease: Wow.

Dr. Tamara MC: I don’t know. But when I wrote out the whole entire story was after I put that onto paper, I could not ignore it anymore. There was no turning back.

Frankie Tease: That’s how I felt.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. Yeah.

So that was the place where I was like, it was like, this is, I’m passing through a threshold now through a new portal and there is no going back.

There is no entry back. To the world before this is a whole new world because now it was in writing and it was something tangible and I could look at it on my screen. I could print it out and I was like, and every time I looked at that. Nope. This is the truth. This is what happened. And when I had to come up and but up against that, that I knew was my life.

And so there was no more playing happy and playing and not that I was even playing happy. I was genuinely happy in so many ways. Um, But, but yeah, but just to kind of step back and really look at my life. But since then, going back to the food aversions, I have had so many food aversions in the past, I don’t even know, like you mentioned rice.

Like I can’t even eat garlic and ginger because everything always had garlic and ginger and spices as like now all of my food, I don’t put any spice on. I don’t think I’ve become so bland. And I was like always the. spiciest person. And there’s so many textures. I can’t eat like our community. Um, one of the only things that we were given to eat was oatmeal and there was oatmeal with nothing on it.

It was just like plain oatmeal and water.

Frankie Tease: Oh God. And

it was just, and I’ve done that a lot when I was in college. That’s gross. I’ve done it a lot. I had to make sure it had the brown sugar pack.

Dr. Tamara MC: No,

because we weren’t allowed to have any sugar. We weren’t allowed to have anything. And so that was kind of our breakfast for like the entire childhood.

Like that was all we ever had. And so now it’s like, like since then, it’s like, you know, everybody thinks oatmeal is so wonderful and they eat it for breakfast. And I’m always like, no oatmeal. Give me slimy oatmeal, whatever you do.

Frankie Tease: It’s funny because I’m going to be dealing with this in season two. Food aversion and food deprivation that we experience, and it is so, um, such a minefield, isn’t it?

I mean, because like, when I think about all, they, they have a saying, Dr. Tamara.

Dr. Tamara MC: Mm hmm.

Frankie Tease: The saying I heard in psychology is that neurons that fire together wire together.

Dr. Tamara MC: That’s true.

Frankie Tease: And so, I, this co leader programmed me with a bunch of sexuality attached to food. She was, she was all about it and, and films, you know, messaging and stuff like that. So, so it’s really strange, um, to, as you, as you have just articulated, you know, you go through one by one and start saying, well, I can’t eat that anymore.

Like, this is a full on trigger. This is not going to happen. I don’t like this food and I won’t be Just the smell of the food sometimes, I’m like, I need to get out of this room, it’ll trigger me. And, and that’s so ironic because I, I became a waitress for like decades after I left this cult and I was triggering myself so much and I didn’t even know it.

Um, sometimes as you know, there’s not a solution. You should have to change environments, give yourself a break. Um, don’t overwhelm your senses with the things that upset you, et cetera, you know. Give yourself that, that, that space, but this is a fascinating topic. There’s a lot to this.

Dr. Tamara MC: No, it really is.

But now at this point.

I have like a handful of foods I can eat. Food has really turned into an issue. Like, I don’t like the texture. I don’t like the smell. I don’t like, it’s just like, and I used to like love, Oh, that’s the other thing. Cause I cooked for so many years, like cooking was loved to me and I just always cooked and everybody always came to me cause I was like the best cook and just everybody loved my food.

And so I always received so much attention because I was the cook. But now, oh my goodness, when I have to cook, I’m like, I do not enjoy it at all. That is my biggest trigger, is cooking.

Frankie Tease: Damn! Yeah. That’s brutal, to take that away. Your love of, and I feel the same about, I was a, so I can, I can note an equivalent for me.

Um, I was a cook and a server in there, but more than that, my job, my real identity in this cult was musician. My sister and I were a duet, and we would play music for the special services and whatnot. Anything that sounded like the music in the cult, I was like, I’m gonna be all reggae all the time.

Dr. Tamara MC: Right.

Frankie Tease: I switched to reggae because it was so different from what I experienced like. Yeah, exactly. Total black culture


Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, I think like, I mean, I haven’t done it in years, but like, kind of after I got out, maybe like. Five, 10 years later, like we weren’t allowed to have fast food or anything like that. It was always like brown rice and lentils and oatmeal.

And so I went through this stage where I would just go to McDonald’s and get french fries. And I’m a vegetarian and I’m still, so I’d never get like a hamburger, but I’d just be like, I’m going to eat McDonald’s french fries. I’m living large.

No, but they tasted so different than anything I tasted that there was no memory attached to them.

The french fries were so healing because I could just eat them and be like my own person, like this is me now and I can eat french fries.

Frankie Tease: It’s true, like we’re literally looking for an experience that doesn’t encompass the trauma, doesn’t surround us with PTSD.

Dr. Tamara MC: Right, yeah.

Frankie Tease: It’s amazing. Yeah, yeah. Simple things.

Dr. Tamara MC: I guess that makes sense.

Frankie Tease: Well, I mean, like you, I’ve found a lot of relief in writing. Okay. You know, uh, but it wasn’t until 2021 that I wrote my story in full. One, uh, you know, full on, several month stretch. And I got only to 60, 000 words. Um, so I know there’s more, but God. What, what, uh, were your main topics when you wrote 400, 000 words about your experience, were you going?

Like, um, timeline, how did you approach that?

Dr. Tamara MC: Um,

in that version, it was pretty chronological. And it kind of started when my dad joined. But we were very nomadic for a while. So we traveled to different places. So I felt like I had to like describe each setting. Because they were all so very different. And then the people, and I like, I’ve always like, I’ve never really focused on me.

Like I think I said in the beginning. Um, I’ve always loved other people’s stories and I’ve always learned everybody else’s stories. So I think like in the beginning, I was like telling so many people’s stories as well, like, like their background or whatever. I mean, not, not ever using their names, but just like, cause I was always so interested in like, how did this person get to the cult?

Like how, like what was their trajectory? Um, but, but really. It was just, but then it was just kind of like all these different experiences and they just took up that much space and like, what I need to go back and do, which I did not do is I really didn’t talk about my feelings. And that was a lot of the feedback.

It’s like, but how are you feeling?

Frankie Tease: Mine’s nothing but one raw emotion. I didn’t care about anybody. Yeah. It’s just like, I felt like I had to get the sequence. For me, like, the what happened. Yeah, so, so will you be taking that and extracting your story that you wrote in there?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, actually no, I mean this 400, 000 words is my story.

I have a whole, like I think I said, I have a whole other book or two that is, that are other people’s stories. But like I would go into like the background of some of the leaders in this version, which I’m not gonna do. I’ll do it very briefly. You know, I actually do publish, but then I can write other articles, which I’ve learned that are separate.

And so I can still talk about everything, but they don’t have to be in this one memoir. This one memoir cannot contain it all.

Frankie Tease: Agreed. And I, and I made sure, like, I was just my first, um, book effort. So I made sure to create some kind of timeline, you know, so I could stay on, on task because I think, you know, uh, you start writing and And it’s so, like, intriguing to go on sideshoots and stuff, like, because there’s, in yours, how many people is the membership was, I should say?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, so that’s a hard question, but I’d say maybe at its max, 150 maybe, um, maybe closer to 120, 130, I’m not exactly sure. But a lot of the time it was much smaller, like 30, 40. Um, so yeah, so it kind of, it, it was always ebbing and flowing. Nothing was ever the

same, ever.

Frankie Tease: Super nomadic, huh?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. I mean, I, I guess not nothing.

There were many things that always stayed the same, but there were also differences, like very unpredictable in so many ways.

Frankie Tease: Well, what would, um, cause the Nomadic group to move. Probably they were being kicked out. Yep, that’s what I was thinking. You did something wrong. They didn’t like their behavior or whatever.

Dr. Tamara MC: It just happened overnight, like, okay,

gotta go.

Frankie Tease: It’s so similar to Daniela’s story.

Right. She had that, like, we’re talking multiple countries. Wow.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, there were lots of countries involved with us as well. Multiple countries. Um, so yes.

Um, but you know,

Frankie Tease: that’s hard as a kid.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah.

And I mean, as a kid, I didn’t know what was happening.

I did not understand now. Of course I can, I, or I mean, not even now, but even later I could understand a lot more.

Frankie Tease: But it’s sort of like me because like you left at 20, so you’re, you’re starting to, your brain is finishing forming and then you hit the world and like, what just happened to me? What? This is different.

They’re not eating rice and oatmeal only. What a shock.


Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. But I didn’t even investigate it then necessarily. Like, I was like, okay, something happened, but I ended up getting married within a couple years to somebody else. Ended up having babies like within a year after the marriage, and then my children were my life for the next 20 years.

So I never once was able to think about me and my past. It then just became my children. So I don’t think that I, I never, it’s like, I don’t feel like I left it. I mean, I left, but it’s like, I didn’t deal with anything. Right.

Frankie Tease: I’m with you. That’s exactly what I did. I went. Straight into alcoholism, jumped.

Yeah, I was like, I didn’t know what to do with all the unresolved answers, I would call it. You know, like, for one, how do I fit into this world I just left? This is very different. You know, and it’s a shock. It’s a bit of a shock. Okay, so when you left, you got married within a couple of years. Wow. That’s a whole new life.

And of course. So this is the thing about women in society, isn’t it? Like, when is it your turn? You were taking care of everyone else. So, just the idea of you taking and examining what you went through to help other women, you know, again with the kudos. That’s the activism that makes me want to have these conversations with people like yourself.

Because what if a woman could, a young girl could be prevented from having these experiences? The Frankie Files.

Dr. Tamara MC: I feel like for a girl to be in a similar situation as perhaps we were in the 70s, I just don’t think that that can happen again in the same way. Um, I just know at that time, like when I was kind of closed behind these walls and gates.

Like there was no internet, there was nothing, like I, there were no cell phones and I was just completely stuck and we didn’t have televisions or books or anything. But now I think it would be a lot more different because almost everybody has a cell phone. I mean, not everybody, but, but with wifi and cell phones and access to information, I think that a girl having Like such an extreme sort of, I mean, it still happens.

I’m not saying it hasn’t, but I think it’s just, thank goodness. That there are other options now for girls that they can find resources, hopefully, if they need them in an easier way, even by listening to us speak like there’s no way in the 70s or in the 80s, I could have been there and like, listen to a podcast.

Frankie Tease: That’s what I’ve been saying. Like recently, there was no podcast to chill out to go wonder why I’m so nervous all the time. Why am I having this spirit start an introspection? Didn’t exist. Right. Didn’t exist. Right. Yeah, the resources are, are tremendous, but also I still feel, and I was talking to Tabby Chapman about this, that this is elevating the message.

It’s not out yet. You know, we might, we might stop one or two people from joining a cult or their parents from giving them up to the cult, but it’s like the idea that stupid people join cults is still so prevalent. It’s so disturbing.

Dr. Tamara MC: That’s true.

Frankie Tease: And it’s so wrong. It’s almost like the exact opposite.

They don’t want stupid people. They want people who are highly obedient and intelligent. Not necessarily obedient.

Well, I just read that actually people that join cults have like advanced degrees, like they’re super educated.

That’s who they’re targeting is, yeah. This, this, this, um, fallacy is so wrong, isn’t it?

Way off.

Dr. Tamara MC: I know.

But like going back to kind of what you said, I mean, I guess you’re right, like somebody in my situation that probably it would be more difficult, although there are so many girls like in different communities that are still being held hostage like that, but I think people are joining different types of cults, not, not in the same restricted way as like you’re isolated and you’re on this compound and you can’t get out.

But like, even on the internet, in groups, like there’s so many different belief systems that people are joining that are actually using cultic thinking to lead them. So I think in that way, it’s becoming a lot more prevalent.

Frankie Tease: And what groups do you see that happening with? Because I also see that.

Dr. Tamara MC: Oh, let’s see. I don’t know. There’s just so many new agey groups still. I think youth groups, weight loss groups, um,

Frankie Tease: Right.

Dr. Tamara MC: Um, I don’t know. Did you watch Lulu Roe, the documentary?

Frankie Tease: No, actually. Oh, that’s one I missed. I got another one to write down. Thank you. Cause that’s a, that was a workout clothing. Turned cold.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, it was like, okay, clothing.

Yeah, but I’m not saying that these are the same to use the word cult is like, that’s a very loaded world word is and so I am careful on how I use that because I don’t feel as if these things are in the same way, like how I grew up, because if you look at the definition of a cult or what it used to be, it really is something that’s isolated with a leader and You know, so, so, I mean, these are different, so I’m not going to claim them as being so, but I think that people just want to believe in something.

They want better lives for themselves, and they think that a person can help them solve their life and give them the answers, and there’s this one person in the world, and that just is not the case.

Frankie Tease: Well, it’s funny because that magical thinking, you know, I was stuck with that when I left, and I would go from one thing to the next.

Trying to say, well, this is what will solve everything. No, this is what will solve everything. Right. None of it. This man will solve everything. This new job. And now I’m critical of belief systems. All belief systems. Now that’s what I’ve been left with. It’s like, I will question every belief system that I see in front of me.

There is no acceptance for me, automatic acceptance of groups, but that’s just where I’m at. You know, it’s been a process. I also wanted to go back to once you, once you talked about, once you wrote your story, whether it’s for publication or not, there was a turning point where you realize it did happen.

It’s not just in your head and in some wavy memories. Oh, you know, this is in concrete now, like this is real. I was trafficked. I was this, I was that, you know, that alone is a step I’m encouraging people to try to do. Write a timeline. Anything. I’ve found it shockingly amazing for myself.

Dr. Tamara MC: Right. Yeah.

Frankie Tease: It is a turning point. Definitely helpful. Go ahead.

Dr. Tamara MC: No, I was just going to say, it was never that I didn’t know that these things happened. I think I didn’t have, first of all, I didn’t even have the vocabulary. Like, I didn’t even know there was a word called, I didn’t even know what trafficking meant. Until I wrote down my story and then I was like looking at all the work I did and everything that happened and then I was like, what is this?

And then I just started research. I hadn’t heard of the word modern day slavery before that, like I had not heard of these words. I hadn’t even heard of forced marriage until then, because it was after I put out my story and I was like, okay, I just started researching and then I was like, wow. That’s exactly what happened to me, but I didn’t have the vocabulary for it.

I didn’t know what the words


Frankie Tease: Did you think, well, I was married young? Or, you know, it wasn’t normal or something like that? Or just like, it was normal for you?

Dr. Tamara MC: It seemed normal because all the, most of the girls in the community were married by 14. So, all of my sisters, like, not my blood sisters, but my commune sisters, they were all getting married and they were my best friends, and so we were all in it together that it didn’t seem Everybody was unhappy and complained and like horrific stories, but it’s like there wasn’t something else.

So that was our world. Yeah. So I guess it just didn’t, it didn’t like, yeah.

Frankie Tease: And we can, I think maybe we’re the exception. Like there’s people who go their whole life and never examine what happened. You know? Yeah.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, maybe.

I mean,

Frankie Tease: I don’t, I, I’m so fascinated. I was hoping, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know what happens.

Yeah. To trigger that, but for me, I was 40 something in Vegas. So this would have been 2014 and my mom is living in Vegas too. And I just one day I was like, I can’t go another day without telling her what happened to me and my sister. She didn’t know. And there was, yeah, sexual abuse. So in the cult. So it is astonishing to me that we can live most of our lives and then all of a sudden snap out of it and go, I got to get this out.

Yes, I guess I’m very thankful that I reached that point, but I also don’t understand how I reached that point, but it was painful. Do you? Do you know why you reached that point?

Dr. Tamara MC: I think there’s various reasons. I think I was finally at a point where I could. My children were grown, and they’re doing well, and they’re happy.

And I’m just in a place like where other people don’t need me. So it’s the first time in my life where somebody, where I haven’t had other responsibilities on me. And so because suddenly I was like, okay, I’m an empty nester now and here I am and I’m alone and okay, well. I guess it’s the time. Of course, it wasn’t like I said, this is the time.

It’s like, my body was like, this is the time.

Frankie Tease: Yeah. See? That’s what I mean. The Frankie Files. It’s like physiological, and this is where the Gabor Matse book comes in, M A T E spelling, um, because he really is talking about how it goes somewhere, and it goes into the body. When we have trauma and we have things we don’t understand, and we hide them away, um, it goes somewhere.

It goes into the body. And then when we get to address that, it starts coming out. So there’s something to that, but not quite sure for me. What triggered it either, but it was like, um, unavoidable and then I’ll be damned if I didn’t say I’m going to write my story and then seven years later, I wrote it. It was like obstacle after obstacle, so terrible.

So it’s a good thing to get to that point. Um, so I do, I do, I do assume we have a little less viewership than normal because of the holidays. However, I want to find out what you’d like to leave our viewers, our listeners, with. This will be a full episode on Frankie Fowle’s podcast, so no worries. Um, tell me, what is your main message to the world now?

You’ve been a writer on this topic. You’re going to release your memoir. What’s the thing you really want to get across?

Dr. Tamara MC: I think that all of us, like when something’s happening to us, we know when it’s not right, like when something’s not right, we know it in our bodies. And maybe it’s just this tiny, tiny feeling.

And I think so often we fight that feeling and we fight ourselves and we’re like, Oh no, it’s fine. It’s nothing. And we talk ourselves out of it. But I know that whenever I’ve had that little feeling, I’ve always been right. And. I really believe in trusting our guts, like whenever something isn’t feeling right, no matter what our mind is trying to make it better about, it’s not right.

And so just to trust that part in ourselves, because that part is always going to be right. And even though we can have all these outside forces and all these parents, perhaps teachers, friends, so called, whatever it is out there. Telling us things and we know when somebody says something, whether or not it resonates and whenever something doesn’t resonate, whenever a teaching a conversation, something doesn’t work, just let it go because it’s not ours to keep and just holding so true to that.

And knowing that we’re never wrong and that we all have the right to freedom and we all have the right to love and to joy. And if anybody ever tells us differently, that’s not true. That is not true. Life is not just about hardship and work and doing all these things, which is part of that. But in the society I was brought up in, that was my only destiny, was to be a worker, a religious girl, a wife, a mother, all of these things.

But there wasn’t joy within those, it was just these roles and I had to follow them and become them and do them, but But within that, it’s like, there is time for hobbies, like I didn’t have hobbies, like, like there are time for all these little joyful moments in life, which I think are so important.

Frankie Tease: Yes, absolutely.

Wow. Excellent words of wisdom there. Because we definitely didn’t, weren’t allowed as well to have any personal. Um, behavior, any hobbies, any personal interests, anything that didn’t serve the group right that moment. You know. Well, where can we find you? I know you’re hot on the op ed circuit. You’re writing a lot of wonderful scathing.

I want to frame them. You know, I’m printing some of this stuff out. Love it. Love it. Love it. It’s like, first of all, the feminism angle, you know, people forget that a lot of this stuff happens to women. Because a lot of men are in charge of churches. So, often, the severity can be You know, land on women and young children.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes.

Yes. That’s what I have found as well. So that’s why. Yeah, I didn’t know if there were any other questions in the reddit.

Frankie Tease: I’ll go ahead and let empty on. How are you and what questions you have for Dr.

Good morning. Um, or good evening. I should say, uh, I just popped in and I

have been in this talk before. I listened to the pod. Um, and I love your, you guys work.

So thank you.

My question for you tonight, though, is regarding, um, how did you find a sense of spirituality once you left, you know, your cult?

Dr. Tamara MC: My father joined when I was five. But I always felt very spiritual, and actually the community I was part of, the cult community I was part of, it was also very spiritual, and I think like whatever was always me is still me, like I feel like that kernel has always been with me, and that spirituality and my belief has always been there, and it’s not, it was never linked to the group or to the community, but it was just mine.

So I guess that in a way it wasn’t severed because I didn’t ever break that belief. It’s always been me, like the me that was there before is still the me now. I still, in so many ways, feel the same way and think the same way. And so my spirituality has always been strong. I don’t have like the same, I used to have a huge fear of hell, like, because our whole community was every moment, like, if you don’t do this, you’re going to hell.

But I never quite understood that. Like I was so fearful of hell. I’m no longer fearful of hell. Like I just like know my insides and if there is a hell, which I don’t even know, I’m not even going to go into that right now. Like I don’t think I’m going there. I just don’t think I’m a person that’s going to be going to hell if there is one.

So I guess I. My, my belief is like unstoppable. It’s like, it’s there and it’s like, it can’t even, it’s so firm. And so I guess that, that that’s a part that is always like I really loved. And it’s not even like, like there’s this, this belief in this grand God or this leader or anything. It’s just in me, like, like it’s there, like I’m, it’s foolproof.

Frankie Tease: Hmm. Nice,

Dr. Tamara MC: I don’t know if that answers your question, but no, thank you. I think I have a better understanding now. So that I guess if you guys don’t mind, like, 1 more question regarding, but there is a sense of being taught, especially as a woman. passive behavior, like you are kind of navigating space with other people, almost dull, like other people making and informing you on what your decision should be.

And I was wondering how, once you know, uh, came into your own, how do you kind of establish those boundaries and that comfortability with like setting those boundaries?

So boundaries are what I’ve always struggled with. And only really in the past couple of years, am I really learning about my boundaries more, and It’s just hard.

Like I just grew up in a group where I did everything for everybody and that was my role. And so I brought that into my motherhood. I was just a full hands on mother. Everything in my life is always like, how can I help somebody? How can I give? And a choice, I have to take care of myself because I am at this point where there’s nobody else taking care of me. So I don’t take care of myself. There’s nobody that’s going to take care of me. And so to kind of get to that point where you’ve given, given, given, but then you get to this, this stage in life and it’s like, wait a sec, where are all those people now?

And so I just think like realizing that like. There’s going to be so many chapters in life and just the one constant is going to be ourselves. And every decision we make that is good for us is good for all. And to just keep that in the back of our mind. Whatever is the best decision for me, even though it doesn’t appear to be the best decision for others, it’s always going to be the best decision for others.

So not even to question that. Nice. That whole self care thing, that’s tough for us. We were taught to ignore all that. So, yeah. I don’t even, I’m still like, I work so hard. I’m an over worker. Like, I still like have, I still have all of that. Yeah. But yeah, I just think it’s like taking time and space and stepping back from so many relationships and just taking a break from like all the different relationships in our lives that really aren’t working and just, and it doesn’t even have to be forever, just like taking the time out.

And I think when we take time away, we have time to be separate and to really look at the, like, all of the routines that we’ve been in in that relationship and to rethink them and to see where our boundaries have been crossed and where we’re not comfortable and what we’re willing to do and not willing to do.

So, I think that’s really helpful.

so much. I so appreciate that. I’m going to move back to Ms. Zinner, but I. I appreciate your words.

Frankie Tease: Empty. Good, good, good. Excellent questions, because boundaries, if you’re a young person, when your boundaries are uh, pierced, whatever the words, um, you know, or ignored, it’s like we never got to learn boundaries, or what they are.

Exactly. What’s a boundary?

Dr. Tamara MC: I know, I don’t even, I don’t, yeah. I think that is super.

Frankie Tease: I remember I had this question. Um, a lot of experience in, in a work environment. This woman was verbally abusing me and it was triggering the hell out of me. And I went to this counselor and I said that, and, and then he just said, you have nothing in place to defend yourself.

You have no social defenses in place. I was like. Okay. I just sat there like, I don’t, I didn’t even know that I did, people were just coming at me, just defenseless, you know, that was a shock. I think that’s a normal cult experience too, you know.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, I think, yeah boundaries are always something so interesting to speak about and they don’t have to be like these harsh things either.

It’s just like I think sometimes when we think of boundaries, it feels like for me, it just feels so strict and like, like rigid, like, like, Oh, there’s my boundary. And it just kind of makes me like scared, even when I use that word, but I just think of like. Like, again, just going back within ourselves and does this feel right, right now?

And if it doesn’t feel right, then it’s a no. It’s just a no. It’s not even about a boundary. It’s like, if somebody asks me to do something, whatever it is, or even in any way, if I just don’t feel right about it, then okay, not now. It doesn’t have to be like forever. It’s just like, nope, not now.

Frankie Tease: Right. And that’s okay.

Yes. Because this absolutism is no longer applicable. We don’t have to all agree. And I like your tone in this so much. It’s like, well, yeah, we don’t have to. That acceptance, just sheer acceptance, like this is just how it is. Right. I love that. Where can we find you besides the next article and the book? Is there a website or your Twitter is best?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, maybe just Tamara MC PhD, and you can look on pretty much any social and find me there. And you can always send me a message on Twitter, um, I’m not leaving unless I’m kicked out.

Frankie Tease: Well, ain’t gonna happen. Sorry, Elon, she’s there to stay.

Dr. Tamara MC: And I was never, I’m not like, I just got onto Twitter recently, so it’s not like I’m this person that’s built up my Twitter account in any way, but I do find it an easy way for people to message you and to kind of build community, which I really do enjoy.

Frankie Tease: And there’s a lot of writers on Twitter. You’re fabulous.

Dr. Tamara MC: Please reach out if you, if anybody listening has a question, find me on Twitter or on other social media. Send me a message. Um, absolutely.

Frankie Tease: Dr. Tamara. Dr. Tamara. It’s been so good to finally catch up with you after several months of back and forth.

Thank you for being our guest here today.

Dr. Tamara MC: Thank you so much, Frankie. Thank you to everyone. Have a great evening if it’s evening

Frankie Tease: cults, mind control, sexuality, and society. These are the topics for the Frankie finals. I also have periodic interviews of experts and survivors. Facing my own story by writing my memoir was the beginning of finding my voice.

Well, I found it! I’ll explore multiple writers and articles on these topics, new each Tuesday. Listen in! Oh, and I promise not to waste your time. Cults, mind control, sexuality in society. These are the topics for the Frankie Files. I also have periodic interviews of experts and survivors. Facing my own story by writing my memoir was the beginning of finding my voice.

Well, I found it. I’ll explore multiple writers and articles on these topics new each Tuesday. Listen in. Oh, and I promise not to waste your time.

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