I Was a Child Bride: Dr. Tamara MC on the Language of Manipulation (Part 2)

A Little Bit Culty

Sarah Edmondson & Anthony “Nippy” Ames


Sarah Edmondson: The views and opinions expressed by A Little Bit Culty are those of the hosts and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the podcast. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: No, they don’t.


Sarah Edmondson: Any of the ridiculously thought-provoking content provided by our guests, bloggers, sponsors, or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, group, club, organization, business, individual, anyone, or anything. Also, we’re not doctors, psychologists, or Her Supreme Holiness Gwyneth Paltrow. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Dope. 


Sarah Edmondson: We’re just two mortals trying to make a gluten-free, holistically helpful podcast that helps, informs, and entertains, and maybe moisturizes.Silky, silky smooth. 


Sarah Edmondson: Hey, everybody. Sarah Edmondson here. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: And I’m Anthony Ames, a.k.a. Nippy, Sarah’s husband. And you’re listening to A Little Bit Culty, a.k.a. ALBC, a podcast about what happens when devotion goes to the dark side.


Sarah Edmondson: We’ve been there and back again. A little about us. True stories. A story we met and fell in love in a cult. And then we woke up and got the hell out of Dodge.


Anthony Nippy Ames: And the whole thing was captured in the HBO docu series The Vow, now in its second season. 


Sarah Edmondson: I also wrote about our experience in my memoir, Scarred, the true story of how I escaped NXIVM, the cult that bound my life. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Look at us. A couple of married podcasters who just happened to have a weekly date night where we interview experts and advocates in things like cult awareness and mind control.


Sarah Edmondson: Wait, wait, wait. This does not count toward date night, babe. We’ve got to schedule that. That’s separate.


Anthony Nippy Ames: So it’s two days we’ve got to hang out?


Sarah Edmondson: We do this podcast thing because we learned a lot on our exit ramp out of NXIVM. Still on that journey. And we want to pay the lessons forward with the help of other cult survivors and whistleblowers.


Anthony Nippy Ames: We know all too well that culty things happen. It happens to people every day across every walk of life. So join us each week to tackle these culty dynamics, everywhere from online dating to megachurches and multi-level marketing.


Sarah Edmondson: This stuff really is everywhere. The cultiverse just keeps on expanding. And so are we. Welcome to season five of A Little Bit Culty, serving cult content and word salads weekly on your favorite podcast platforms. Learn more at alittlebitculty.com.


Sarah Edmondson: Okay, everybody, welcome back to episode two with Tamara MC.         Anthony Nippy Ames: If you haven’t listened to the first part, put it in reverse for thirst. Listen to part one. 


Sarah Edmondson: And then come back. Come back and join us. And if you did, thanks for being patient. Here is part two. Let us know what you think in the comments on the Instagram. Enjoy.


Sarah Edmondson: So what we covered last time was how Tamara’s father got involved and how she went back and forth between reality and this community. And where we left off was a encapsulation of her childhood there. And we were just about to get to how she eventually figured out her situation and how she, what we call, as you probably know now, dear listeners, woke up and then healed. Take us back to, I know, Tamara, there’s a lot of things that happened for you to figure out what was actually going on. It’s not just like one day you figure it out. We often use this metaphor of the shelf and these things that happen that you put on the shelf. What were the things you started to recognize that weren’t lining up the red flags that you see now looking back as a scholar and as an advocate that were problematic in this group that would point to it being not just an idyllic community?


Dr. Tamara MC: So I think where we might have left off is after my marriage, when I was 12 years old, my husband, as well as the leader, ended up leaving the United States and they left the country at that point. And I went back to school and I started eighth grade. And I started eighth grade as what was supposedly a completely normal child. Nobody knew this huge secret that I was carrying. I didn’t tell anybody. So I pretty much went through eight. Eighth grade and then continued throughout middle school and high school. And my husband then was coming in and out to America. He was living out of the country. And my whole life then just I was living two completely separate lives. So is what happened is I ended up graduating high school when I was 16. And then I went to go live with my father and the community full time. We had a new leader by now since the second leader had then left the country. So we had a new leader who is an American leader. And with him, like the rules got very, very strict at that point, much more strict than they used to be. And so the way we had to dress was now, I mean, we always had to dress very covered. But now we had to wear socks. All the girls, I mean, these are actually the rules just for the girls, not for the boys. But the girls had to wear socks and like not even, you know, a strand of hair could show. And we had to wear pants underneath our skirts and big blousey shorts. So that none of our figures showed. And pretty much all the rules at that point became very, very severe. We were staying up for all night chanting sessions. And so even as like younger children, you know, all of us had to stay up and the leader would just decide, you know, like, OK, we’re going to have an all night chanting session and it would begin at like six o’clock at night and we couldn’t go to sleep until like four in the morning. But then we’d have to wake up by five to pray again. And so in these all night. Chanting sessions, we had to sit in a certain way, like we had to like always be awake. And if we showed that we were tired or bored, which I never showed that I was bored or anything like that, the leader would come in front of us. A lot of the times the leader would stand in the middle of a circle because there would be two circles, a men’s circle and a women’s circle. And the leader would stand in the middle. And if he noticed like you were in any way like starting to doze off, he would like slap you or he would like do something to you to wake you up immediately. And so we had these practices and also where we were praying all of the time. And at that point, we had very little food. And so pretty much like we were served in hierarchy. So the leader was always served first and then his family and then like the higher echelon of men and then the higher echelon of women and then the boys. And it went all the way down to the last in the line where the teen and the tween girls. So we were always served last. If there was a problem, we would be served first. So we were always pretty much starving. And then the children would often, I didn’t actually do this, but we had a goat. And so the children were in charge of giving the goat food, but they started eating the goat food just because they were so hungry. And then they would be punished by the leader and by all the different community members if it was found out that they were actually stealing the goat food. So everything became very extreme at that point. 


Sarah Edmondson: Oh, my goodness. Goat food. That’s next level. 


Dr. Tamara MC: There’s always a goat in these groups somehow. Goat blood, goat food. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: How long was it like that for you? 


Dr. Tamara MC: That was from 12 until 18.


Sarah Edmondson: So six years. 


Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. And I realized too that most of these cults have farms and they’re always called the farm. Like our place was called the farm. And I’ve been reading about so many places and they’re always called like the farm, which is pretty funny because our farm basically didn’t have any animals because I think they ended up having to kill all the animals. They had to kill all the animals to eat them. And at one point we only had peacocks. And because the leader thought that they were these beautiful, like it was kind of crazy because he had these huge male peacocks that would walk around the property, but they would like poop all over the place. So we were like in charge of continuously cleaning up the poop of the peacocks. And that was kind of like the extent of our animals, even though it was called the farm and everybody was so lazy. So nobody actually farmed. We were supposed to have an organic farm and like the vegetables, but nobody kept it up. So we didn’t even have vegetables. 


Sarah Edmondson: Did you get punished for this?


Dr. Tamara MC: Oh, yes. There was always punishment for pretty much everything.


Anthony Nippy Ames: What was the reasoning for starving the kids in that way? 


Dr. Tamara MC: The kids just weren’t, I mean, I wouldn’t even say kids. I would say the girls. So the girls in particular were starved just because we weren’t even seen as human. Like we didn’t need food. We were basically taught that we didn’t need anything. We had like no physical needs and one of them was not needing to eat. And if we were hungry, it meant that we were weak. If we did need to sleep, it meant that we were weak. If we didn’t work all the time, it meant we were weak. And like we weren’t living up to like what the leader wanted us to be.


Sarah Edmondson: Ironically, though, you probably were physically weak because you weren’t eating and sleeping enough. But like also, didn’t they want the women to be healthy because weren’t they trying to procreate also? 


Dr. Tamara MC: Well, the women would actually eat. Again, it was the girls that weren’t eating, the teens and the tweens. But there was a point to where the pregnant. Women were actually we really didn’t have eggs or anything like that, but they would call it a postage sized stamp of a piece of egg. And that’s how much the pregnant women were allowed. So maybe it would be like one egg and it would be divided and it would only be the size of a postage stamp. So that was the extent of the protein that a lot of the pregnant women were then getting. So after I turned 16, I like I said, I was now living in the community full time and going through all of this. And then when I was. 17, I I traveled to Europe with my mother on a trip, and it was there that the second cult leader, the one who I had lived with initially, he had always wanted me to live with him full time. And so he was always asking my mom if I could live with him full time. And my mom was really strict about that. She was like, you can’t go anywhere until you graduate high school. So that’s how I ended up finding a way to graduate high school when I was only 16. And so he was always writing letters. And his wife, his second wife, he had three wives, was always sending letters as well to me to ask me to come live with them again full time. So she then found out that I was in England. I had called her and she said that she was sending me a ticket to come live with her. I think I was. Yeah, I think I was 17 at that point. And so I was supposed to fly back to America with my mom. We were in France and I then had a ticket and I flew to England. So my journey. And England for the next couple of years began at that point where I was now living with the second cult leader full time and very similarly to when I lived with him when I was 12 years old. I was now caring for all of the children again. He had maybe two or three more children. So they wanted me there again. I didn’t understand, but they had a new baby and they had another toddler. So it was almost identical to when I lived with him when I was 12 and they had a six-month-old. And then a two-year-old. So I was in charge of six kids at that point, at least. And so I cared for those six kids for two years. And at that point, everybody lived in the same house. All of his wives lived in the same house and all of the children. So there were actually 10 children total in the house, the mother and then various family members. And I was also the full-time cook and the full-time kitchen cleaner. And so I was working. I was working from four in the morning until about midnight at that point. And I was only able to sleep for like four hours a night. And I worked for seven days a week. I didn’t get a single day break and I wasn’t paid.


Sarah Edmondson: Wow. During this time, were you even thinking about getting out or leaving? Or was this just, were you still so indoctrinated that this was your life path and your mission and you felt still honored to be asked by the leader? What was your thought process at this time?


Dr. Tamara MC: No, I was very indoctrinated. And I thought that it was a great honor. No, again, like nobody else had ever been asked to live in the leader’s house. I was the only person, like no adult, no child, nobody. And so here I was and like, like they had told me that by coming, I was going to have special access to the leader and I was going to have special spiritual sessions with him. And it was like, they brought me in under a false pretense that I was going to have, like, like I was going to be able to be so much closer to God because the leader was going to be instructing me daily on how to get closer. And, you know, so many things were said to me. And after I got there, none of that happened. I just was their slave. Like none of that happened.


Anthony Nippy Ames: So what was the breaking point?


Dr. Tamara MC: Well, I mean, the breaking point took a couple of years and I wouldn’t even say that it was necessarily a breaking point because I still felt very, like I felt very loved by the leader and his wives. And he also had a couple of older children and I felt that they really loved me. And that’s why I was there. So despite me doing all of this work, I still also felt very loved. And so in that way, it wasn’t like this breaking point that happened. But my husband, like we had been going back and forth. And then when I was in England, he was generally the main letter writer, like when he lived internationally. And I almost wouldn’t respond very often because I was just, I didn’t even know what to say. And I was just so busy with trying to get through school and get through everything else. So my relationship with him was just always him, like forcing me into this relationship. But then when I went to England, I was like, I don’t know what to do. And then when I was in England, it’s like everything turned and he stopped writing me. And I was really worried because I was living out of the country for the first time alone. And he just stopped responding. And I was getting really worried. And I was asking him to like, tell me what was wrong, what was happening. And he wouldn’t answer me. And then one day the leader brought me into his room. And I guess I also felt very special because the leader had a special room. So each of the wives had a different section of the house. So they were at separate sections. And then I was like, I don’t know what to do. And then the leader had his own section of the house. And so almost nobody was ever allowed into his section. That was just his wives. Those were the only people and his mother and his kids. And then I was allowed in too. And actually, while I lived there, I was in charge of cleaning his room. That was what I was given, that I was able to clean his room. And again, it was this huge honor that I was able to make his bed and do everything for him that nobody else, I was able to touch his bedspread and do all of this like nobody else had ever been. I was given the opportunity. So he brought me into his room one day and he told me that he wanted my husband. My husband was then living in America. And he said that he wanted him to come live with him in England. And he wanted me to call him and to tell him to come. And my husband had just begun university for the first time. And he was like in his first semester. So it was like a pretty big deal. So it was kind of getting settled in America after like traveling around the world for something. And I had to call my husband and I said that the leader wanted him to come. And of course, when the leader asked for anything, everybody has to stop everything they’re doing and fly or do whatever is said to do. And so my husband ended up flying down. He ended up giving up his college at that point. And he actually never has returned to America since. He went to England. And it was then when he came there that we were both in person that I just was asking him like, what happened? What’s wrong? And that was kind of when the big news came. And that was kind of where everything in my life had changed. 


Sarah Edmondson: What was the big news? 


Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. So I had like fallen in love with him throughout all of those years, whatever that means, or I thought I had. And I really thought that I was in this temporary marriage that was supposed to last a certain amount of time. And now it had lasted eight years at this point. So it had lasted a really long time. But I never had what was called a forever marriage. And that’s what like so many of my girlfriends had had because my girlfriends were also married as children. And most of them were married at like 14 years old because that was like the age that like we had to get married off by. So I was the only girl who had this really weird temporary marriage. But the leader wouldn’t allow us to have the forever marriage. So I would ask him, can I have this forever marriage? And he would always say no. He’s him. He would say, I will tell you when you can get married. But he always held that like he wouldn’t ever allow me to like actually have like a regular marriage. And so when my husband came again, we were just in a temporary marriage. It wasn’t like this forever marriage where we could live in the same house. So we were still like sneaking around in a lot of ways. Or he was sneaking around like it was so complicated because I was still living with the leader. And he was also now living with the leader. But we had multiple different places. Like we had a house in London. We have we had several different flats in London. So he was like, I’m going to live in London. And then I was like an hour away on the farm. So I was on another farm or we called it the country. So we were kind of out in the country at that point. And so when he came and we were alone, he told me that he was married and that he married another woman and that the woman lived in Chicago where he was living and he had fallen in love with her and that I was now in this polygamous marriage and I didn’t have a choice in it. I didn’t. I didn’t know about it. And the reason he had stopped writing me was because he just lost interest in me because he had somebody else that was like holding his interest all of those months. And so it happened for several months where I was just begging him to please leave this other woman and him constantly telling me, no, no, I love her and I’m never going to leave her. And I mean, all of the men would say this, but once you meet her, you’ll love her. You’re going to be best friends with her. And so the whole thing. I was going to become best friends with this woman and I had absolutely no interest. I had grown up from, you know, after when the third leader came and we were like in the cult where all the terrible things were happening, all of the men were getting married at that point. Everybody had three or four wives. All of the girls were getting married and the men, we could, we could have a maximum, not we, the men could have a maximum of four wives. So when they would get tired of a wife, they would divorce one wife and then they’d bring in a new wife who is usually a young wife. So there was all these women that were just constantly being like, they’d have one husband and then they’d go to another husband, like all these husbands, you know, there was all this swapping. And then in the middle of this were all these children being born and there’s no money to support these children. And so many women would then, after they were married, a man wouldn’t marry them again because the men wanted to marry the young girls.

[19:08 – 19:20] And so all of this was going on. And then I was living with the second leader in England who I had always kind of, you know, stayed with and he had three wives and I was in the center of their conflict because they were always fighting and they would always tell me all of their secrets and they always hated each other. So I was like in the middle of like polygamy, like the women told me everything, the young girls told me everything. It’s like everybody just filled my head that I knew that the one thing I could never do in life was be in polygamy. Like everything else I could like accept, but that was one thing I knew that I could not do. So my husband just refused. And he said, I’m not going to marry you. He said that he loved us both and that I had to stay in this marriage. And that was pretty much the breaking point for me.


Sarah Edmondson: Wow. Thank goodness for him. So what’d you do? Did you just leave or what was your, how did you, what was your exit strategy?


Dr. Tamara MC:  Well, I had one of my girlfriends come from America. I didn’t have her come, but the leader had her come because they were going to train her to be like me. And she was the second leader’s daughter. And she was also my good friend, but she was much, she was younger than me. So they were going to train her. So they brought her to England and she had never lived with them before. And we lived in the same room together. And I was supposed to like take care of her and do everything, which I had to do. But she refused to cook. She refused to clean. She like refused to do anything because she was like, I’m saying this and I don’t mean it. But at that point we called her the princess or people did because being the leader’s daughter, you had like princess status and you didn’t have to do anything. So she refused to work. So she then became like another child that I had to take care of. But through her, like when all of this was happening, like we were sleeping in the same bed together and she knew everything that was happening. So she was really kind of the person I had to talk to. And she was very supportive of me like leaving this marriage. And so I really think it was through having her in my life at that point that I was able to begin to gain the strength. And it just, like I said, it went on for months and months. He refused. And then I just decided that I was going to go back to America, that I couldn’t take it anymore. I just couldn’t be around him anymore. And he was now in my space because I had a space in London. So I was in the country helping. And then I would have to go to London because there was like, we had a big group there and we had like two evening ceremonies, like where people would come. And I was in charge of serving all the, like all the people that came. So I was in charge of like that whole community center and taking care of everybody. But then when my husband came, he ended up sleeping there and we weren’t allowed to sleep in the same place. So I then became homeless because I couldn’t like stay at the center anymore. So there were many nights where I had nowhere to sleep in London. Like I was completely homeless and it was so scary because I wasn’t allowed to stay there. But yet I had to do all the duties of taking care of this center. And so I think like all of this, like being homeless. And like working so hard. And then my husband, that that was just when I decided to go back to America. And it was perfect timing because my grandmother, her husband had died and it wasn’t really her official husband, just a boyfriend she had lived with, but always called him her husband. My grandmother was now alone. And so I use that as an excuse. And I told like the leader that I had to go back to care for my grandmother, which was absolutely true. I had every intention of returning back. Like I thought I’m just going to go be with my. Grandma for a month or so. And then they were going to fly me back to be there indefinitely. And I just came back to America and I never went back. Like that was it. Like, like really my grandfather dying was really my savior. 


Sarah Edmondson: Do you know that I had the same excuse Tamara? 


Dr. Tamara MC: Did you? 


Sarah Edmondson: Yeah. My grandfather was like on his deathbed. Remember Nippy? And it was, he ended up actually living another year or two after that, but he was going for a surgery. We thought that it might be it. And that was my exit to like not attend a big event. Where they were doing another round of branding and I had to get out. Isn’t that crazy? 


Dr. Tamara MC: That is crazy. 


Sarah Edmondson: It’s so wild. What was life like? What, what did you notice or what did you feel that, that like kept you there? Tell us about freedom. 


Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. I mean, when I came back, I was so heartbroken. Like I didn’t know how I was going to go on. Like I had only been taught that I was going to be a wife and a mother. And I thought from the time I was 12, like this is the person I’d been with for eight years that I was going to live with him forever. And I was going to be a mother. And I was going to have kids with him. And we were going to work, you know, we were both, cause like we both worked for the cult leaders, you know, him being like the man slave and me being the girl slave. Like we were going to serve the leader for the rest of our lives. And like, we just had all of these plans or I had all of these plans and now I had like no plans. Like I didn’t have like a plan B, like there was nothing else in my life I had planned to do. And so when I returned, oh, that was another thing. When I arrived in England, I was like in really good shape. I had like been with my mom. I’d been backpacking Europe and I was like beautiful and thin and all of that. When I was there for two years, like I got really overweight and like, I was just so unhappy and I feel like they were, I don’t know if I should say this, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, which I never thought about, but I felt like the wives were really trying to like, to put weight on me so that that way I wouldn’t be competition for them. Because I think that the leader always had planned to. And that’s why he never allowed me to marry my husband. And so like I was in the house and he was always keeping me close to him and allowed me to be in his bedroom and all this because he had been grooming me all these years and like waiting to marry me. That’s what I think. 


Sarah Edmondson: That makes sense. 


Dr. Tamara MC: Like I don’t have like proof of this. I don’t have proof of this, but why was I the chosen girl? Like it’s so complicated. And then I was just in these house with these women. And yeah, so by the time I left, I just came back. I just had such low self-esteem and I just didn’t look like myself. I had put on so much weight and I just like, there was no way to exercise there. I was just always in the kitchen and like being in the kitchen and always around food. So when I came back, I just didn’t, I mean, I just remember my grandmother like making a comment about like how I looked because nobody had ever seen me look like that. And so that was just like one of the things too. Like I just, I felt. I felt terrible about my situation. I felt terrible about myself and I really didn’t know what to do. So I ended up becoming a waitress. Like what else was I going to do? Like I needed money. I didn’t have education and I started serving and I just hated it so much because it was just like everything I had been doing in the cult. Like I was just serving people their food. Like it was almost identical and it was just so triggering for me that I was like doing the same thing. And then I don’t even know how this happened. But out of nowhere, I heard that the university taught Arabic language classes and that was something that I had learned in the cult. I had actually become like fluent in Arabic as a child and I’d always loved language and that was actually an activity I did with my father. So that was kind of the one way like I was really close with him was because I was such a good language student. So when I found that out, like I went to the university and I asked like, is it true? Do you actually teach Arabic? And again, this was like in the early 90s. And so, I mean, that was pretty odd that they had Arabic in their language program and they did. So I ended up enrolling in university with no intention of graduating with a university degree, just like taking Arabic language classes. And I had to take six units of credit and Arabic was five units so that I could be part time. So I needed one credit. So like I looked through the whole schedule and there was an aerobics class and I was like, oh my God, I want to take aerobics. And so I got into it. I got into my aerobics class and we weren’t allowed to dance at all. We weren’t allowed to wear leggings or anything like that. And so this was like a really big deal that I like had enrolled in this aerobics class. Now, I still like wore very big clothes, like my clothing didn’t change. I wasn’t covering my hair at that point, but I was still like, you know, my whole body was covered. And actually the aerobics class was all women. So like in our religion, like that would have been okay. But that was kind of my introduction. That was kind of my introduction into like a totally new way of life that I had never thought that I was going to university.


Sarah Edmondson: This is the golden age of cult recovery. The more we speak up and share our stories, the more we realize we are not alone. Your voice and your story can empower others. This is Sarah, and I’m proud to be a founding collaborator of the hashtag I got out movement. Learn more at I got out dot org. When did you like figure out that you’d been in this? This cult? Like how did that part of your learning happen? 


Dr. Tamara MC: So then the next semester I was like, oh, I got to take second semester aerobics. So I started second semester and then I started taking history and political science classes. And that was when I started like really getting into it. I remember my first research paper I ever wrote was about cults. And I didn’t even like, I don’t even know how at that young age, like, because cult wasn’t a word that was thrown around them, but it was just something that I was like, was I? I’m in a cult. Like it just started to hit me. And so I wrote this whole research paper. And after I went through all the characteristics of a cult, I was like, oh, I was in a cult. And I didn’t like place my situation within the paper. I was just like doing a whole research on it. So I think that that was my first time that I thought about it. But my life hadn’t really changed then. It was just this, my first like knowledge, like, okay, something wasn’t right with what happened. Like there was a charismatic. Like, you know, so I was just kind of looking at all of it. I was like, wait, every single thing was us. 


Sarah Edmondson: Yes. I know that you’ve, we’ll get more into this later, that you’ve done a lot of writing and spoken to other survivors since as part of your healing. And I’ve noticed and specifically highlighted by what you just said, that it seems like 10, 20 years ago, like before this now golden age of cult awareness, that a lot of people like yourself were able to extract themselves or to leave or escape, but they didn’t necessarily like, you know, like, you know, like, you know, like, you know, like, you know, like, like realize what happened to them or wake up to the reality that they were in a cult to leave later. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Yeah. The reconciliation is done over time. 


Sarah Edmondson: It’s over time. Whereas now people are like in the group and then they watch a documentary and they’re like, oh shit, I’m going to call and they get out. Like it’s a different series of events. Do you notice that? Or am I just making it, am I jumping it to a conclusion?


Dr. Tamara MC: No, I think definitely. I mean, just, there’s so many resources. Like when I did my research paper on, was I in a cult? I was going to the university library. And like going onto microfiche and like looking things up, it was taking hours and days and months. So like extracting that information took a ton of time. But like you said, now people just turn on a documentary. They listen to a podcast like such as yours and it’s like, wait, I was in a cult and then they can leave. But no, things have completely changed. I mean, this is like the golden age of like knowing that you’re in a cult. Like this never happened before. 


Sarah Edmondson: And for our young listeners who don’t know what microfiche is. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Oh my God. I remember that.


Sarah Edmondson: I think I caught the tail end of microfiche. I did my university like papers in the library, looking things up in the library. Like that was the tail end of the like mid nineties. Anyway, we date ourselves, don’t we?


Dr. Tamara MC:  And I was like in the basement of the library. Like you’d have to go to the window. Now you can find out. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: It was always like this kind of remote part of the air, of the library.


Sarah Edmondson: Now you can find out on Instagram and a TikTok or a TikTok reel. You’re in a cult in like 20 seconds. 


Dr. Tamara MC: You’re welcome. Much easier, much easier.


Sarah Edmondson: So what’s the journey from there to being an advocate and a writer and a truth teller and a journalist? Like how’d you get here? What’s your healing been like from the nineties till now?


Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, I just kind of have found in my life. And when I was going through a divorce 12 years ago, I was just so overwhelmed. I had this huge house that I had to pack up and I had two kids and like my life was just, so overwhelming. And I didn’t even know how to begin to get out of this big house that I was in. And I was just so frozen that I ended up writing this, like, like I put a sticky note, like on my computer and it was actions answer. And I was just like, I just need to take one action. And then that action will give me the answer to what I need to do next. And I kind of feel like that’s kind of been my life. Like I, my grandfather died. I decided to go back to America. I found there was an Arabic course. I took the Arabic course. Then the Arabic course took me to all these different, different history and political science courses. And so each thing was kind of leading me there. So I think that that’s always been my process is just like taking the next best step and not thinking about like the future or like, what are these huge things that I need to do? Because that’s just too much to think about. So I started taking classes. I started with six credit hours, my first semester. And I started taking 27 to 30 credit hours a semester. And I graduated with a university degree. And three years, which is kind of unheard of. So I graduated like with my high school degree in three years. And then like first my bachelor’s degree in three years, because I was just insatiable. Like my curiosity was like, I wanted to know more. So like I would take one course and then I’d be like, wait, no, I need to take anthropology. No, I need to take linguistics. Like everything would just be like, I need to get to the bottom of this. And all of my education, I never was like, oh, I want to become this thing after I get a degree. It was like, no, I want to understand like, what did I do? What did I just come from? Like, what are the original teachings? And like I started learning language so I could go back to the original text that I had studied. And to really look at how women were treated. And to really look at the rules for women. So I then wanted to like take everything that I had been taught from all of the men. And like go into the text myself and to go into the original text. So I was able to then not have to look at translations. But I was able to translate everything on my own. So I was able to do that. So I became a scholar in that way. And so I guess it was just really taking control of like the words. And like getting to the bottom of everything. But in order to do that, I had to have the skills and the knowledge. And so these courses were all that helped me get there. So after my bachelor’s degree, again, I had like no idea what I was going to do. But then I found out, oh, my goodness. Oh, I can go for a master’s degree. So I ended up, you know, applying. I got into a master’s. And before I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I met my husband. I met my husband like soon after I arrived in university. And we ended up getting married fairly quickly. And it was a regular normal marriage with a regular ceremony. And we lived together. So and I was pregnant. So we got married like a year before we graduated. We were both like graduating at the same time. And I got pregnant. Like right after the summer, we were graduating, I think. And so then I ended up having two kids, one after another, like they’re 20 months apart. But then I also found out about getting a master’s degree. So I then went back to school. And I had a baby that was nursing. And I had a toddler. And I was in a master’s program. So my life was incredibly full. And then as I was maried, I think that I didn’t. I was always studying about like what had happened to me. But from a very historical perspective, and also a social perspective, because I was really studying anthropology. And I was really learning how to do ethnographies and how to do ethnographic research, kind of looking at my community through that lens. But I was so overwhelmed with motherhood and raising these two kids that then for the next many years, like I almost forgot about what had happened to me. Like I didn’t talk to my husband about, you know, like my first husband. That whole part of my life, almost erased for like, I don’t know, almost 20 years, I think. I was just so busy or 15 years at least. But I was just so busy being a mom and raising these kids. And my ex-husband, who’s now my ex-husband, we were married for 18 years. He traveled. And so he was gone five days a week. And so I was in charge of the children all the time, like all of their afterschool activities, everything. I was completely acting like a single mother, even though I was married. And so I was in charge of the children all the time. So after I finished my master’s degree, I then found out about a PhD program. I then went to get a PhD. So the whole time that I was being a mother, I was also in school the whole time. So all of that was happening at the same time. 


Sarah Edmondson: During this time, you weren’t like in therapy or like deprogramming, like any of your earlier erased experience. And I’m just having this thought, like at any point, did you see the parallels between your role as a caregiver and as a mother at that point? Compared to your earlier experience in the cult?


Dr. Tamara MC: So I was in therapy, but in therapy, I was never addressing the cult. I don’t think I ever even mentioned that whole part of my life. Therapy was like about what was happening with my current husband and like just being a mother and all of that. Because even though I left, my father was still very much part of the community and I was still in contact with my father and my stepmother and all of my siblings because I have five siblings on their side and most of them are still involved in the community or they were involved. And all of the old community members, like we still had a group and so I’d still go visit them two or three times a year. So it wasn’t like I was completely out. Like I had left England, but I hadn’t really left the community because my dad is still today part of it. So it’s like, it’s still very much part of my life. Like I don’t know if I’m ever gonna be able to like walk away.


Sarah Edmondson: Wow, does he know about what happened to you? Have you told him since?


Dr. Tamara MC: My father?


Sarah Edmondson: Yeah. 


Dr. Tamara MC: Well, I mean, he was around for it. So a lot of times is what happens in these cults, which is very common, is the children are separated from their parents. Like families are completely like torn apart. And so I was torn apart from my family because I was always living with the leader or like I always had a different place. And then for a while, we had a whole children’s school that happened. And so my siblings were sent to a completely different state, completely separate from like, like my dad and stepmom. And all of the children were sent there and they didn’t see their parents for like three years, two, three years, whatever it was. And so there was like all this separation. So like saying that the parents knew what happened is like a little, like it’s very complicated because in some ways they knew what happened. But in other ways, like my dad wasn’t with me when I lived at the leader’s house and I was doing all of this. He has no idea really what I was doing. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: But he’s not taking responsibility for raising you. So, I mean, I mean, that in itself led to a lot of abuse for you. So yes, it’s complicated, but that’s an undeniable gaffe, if you will, or major contributor to what you went through, right?


Dr. Tamara MC: Right. And I guess like my situation is not unique in terms of all of the other children because, and especially the girls, like we all went through this. And so, yes, because our parents were just busy being like these spiritual followers, they were just in their little, little worlds, like being there, these whatever you want to call it, spiritual beings that like parenting was not part of that. Like there wasn’t any space for that in their lives because they were so busy praying and chanting and bowing down to the leaders and like being with each other. And like the women in the community, like were actually my worst abusers. And they were all of the girls’ worst abusers

 because the women were actually who worked us the hardest, who were the most horrible to us, who gave us their babies and made us watch them. And the women were the ones who would sit around all day and just gossip and really not do much of anything. Like they gave us all of their workload. Like a woman, like there was one woman that would be in charge of the kitchen for like the day. Like we were on a rotor, like a schedule, like every whatever day another woman was in charge. And so she would come in and say, okay, make this. And then she would just leave. And that was basically the extent of it. And then she would come in and yell at us. And so, so the women were actually the ones that were like the ones who were beating the kids mostly. Right. Or the girls and like who were yelling at us the most. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: The whole entire regime is abusive. So it’s impossible to be in it without participating in someone else’s abuse. And then how do you address it? And how do you reconcile it? And then how do you stop it if you can? But that’s what it sounds like. And the only solution is removing yourself from it. 


Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. And there really is no reconciliation like for our group. Like so many of us kids have approached our parents. We’ve approached the other women, the other men in the community. And the adults are still in denial. Like maybe there’s been one or two who have kind of been like, okay, like this is what happened and we’re sorry. But for the most part, they still have not taken responsibility. And they don’t see us as suffering in any way. They see that what they did was like the best thing that they could have done because they were bringing us close to God and they’re trying to get us to heaven. And it’s just like their whole thought, like their whole way of thinking, just like that can’t change. Like my dad still believes in this. Like if something goes wrong in my life, like I get a divorce or whatever happens, it’s because I’m not praying or I’m not spiritual enough or like there’s all these things. So anything bad that befalls me, bad, which is just regular life that happens to everybody, it’s because I’m not high enough on this spiritual thing that I’m not doing enough still. Like I’m never doing enough. And doing enough is like how they still, they still live, a lot of these people, they don’t work, they pray all day. They live in a little bubble. They don’t interact with the outside. And yet they’re the chosen people. Like God chose, like, I don’t know how many of us are on this earth at this point, maybe a hundred. So God came down out of all these billions of people and said, okay, these hundred people, I’ve chosen you and you’re going to heaven and everybody else is going to hell. Like it just doesn’t even logically make any sense.


Anthony Nippy Ames:  Hey there, listener. Hope you’re enjoying this. Hope you’re enjoying this episode and that you’re taking deep breaths when we cover the enraging stuff that cult jerks are up to. Let it out as in the yoga practice, inhale positivity, exhale negativity. That’s for you, Sarah. We got this. No hulking it out, all you little hulksters. And if you need some helpful resources on the topic of cult recovery, check out our website at a littlebitculty.com. And now here’s a brief message from our sponsors. 


Sarah Edmondson: And don’t they know that there’s all these other groups that also are the chosen people?So, 


Dr. Tamara MC: well, they would never acknowledge that. They are not the chosen people. 


Sarah Edmondson: Of course, of course.


Dr. Tamara MC: Like within this big religion, like our community, even all the other people that are the same religion as us, they’re still not even going to heaven. It’s just the way that we practice. Like we’re the ones going to heaven. So it’s like, it’s the most niche, like it’s just so like, oh yeah, just us. 


Sarah Edmondson: Right. So this group is still going and I’m wondering how active the group is in terms of, you said they pray and they don’t work. Are they still relying on child, labor and human trafficking? And is there still underage brides or what’s happening in the group now? 


Dr. Tamara MC: So the group is not at all the same. It’s just families that kind of now live in the same city and maybe they have dinner together once in a while. But no, everybody’s grown up and all the kids are now adults. And so that’s not going on. Everybody’s just kind of still has the same belief system in terms of the spiritual belief system and religious belief system. Now, our first leader has died and he had a big community out of the country. And so whatever they do, I haven’t been part of, so I couldn’t speak to that. Our second leader is still living, the one who I lived with, and he has another community. They’ve, they had left the place where I lived with them. They now live in a whole different country. And I don’t really know what’s, I mean, I kind of know what’s happening there, but I don’t really know what’s happening there because I’m not staying there in any way. But I can’t really speak to that anymore. And then the third leader died recently, but there’s all sorts of chaos happening in that community and they’re outside of the country. But they all moved outside of the country to kind of lawless countries where they can kind of do whatever they want. 


Sarah Edmondson: Wow.


Dr. Tamara MC: I’m not saying that the countries are lawless. 


Sarah Edmondson: Yes.


Dr. Tamara MC:  I’m saying that they’re able to find loopholes to kind of create their own laws where they’re living.


Anthony Nippy Ames: And to your point, like I don’t think it’s an accident in our situation, that Keith picked kind of a sleepy town to do what he did. So there’s pockets of more densely populated places that have, you know, it’s harder to get away with things. And the more rural you get, you can say it’s less suspecting that it’s going to go on there. 


Sarah Edmondson: One other thought I was just having as you were speaking is that this was in the seventies and eighties, right? That you were, you were there. And we noticed this with Daniela Mestinick-Young’s book on culture, which I know you’ve written about how it was a similar timeframe. And I think, I think that a lot of these groups have had to have dissipated, even with the FLDS and certain Mormon communities because of technology. Like you can only isolate groups of people from the rest of the world for so long. Like the seventies and eighties was that time, like with the advent of the internet and then social media, like it’s almost impossible. You’d really have to be fully like locked up in a room. No interaction. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: You’d have to renounce technology. You’d have to come up with a doctrine that renounced technology or something like that. 


Dr. Tamara MC: Exactly right. Like it couldn’t be replicated. Again, like nothing that happened in the seventies or eighties could happen to get day. Like my community was very similar to Daniela’s. Like we lived behind walls. We lived like 30 minutes away in car away from anywhere. Like there was no way in, there was no way out. We had no cell phones. There was no television. There were no Mac. Like we had no way to communicate with the outside world. And that has completely changed. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Through all your writings about, and people should check out our show notes for all this stuff. Tomorrow has written. It’s great. After your experience, like after my experience, I was super sensitive to certain things that I recognized as precursors to abuse, right? What are the things that you noticed inside these groups and that you’re most sensitive to now that you have an aversion to when you see the abuse? 


Dr. Tamara MC: I don’t join groups. I never joined groups. I don’t care if it’s a yoga group. I don’t care if it’s a running group, a cycling group. I just don’t join groups. I go to a gym. I go every day cycling on my own. And I’m very, very happy. I think that any sort of group mentality, like I see it happen in any situation. Like I did yoga for four years. And, you know, I used to go to a place all the time. And I just feel that after you stay in a place for a while, that the people’s voices around you start to become your own. So I’m very careful. I kind of flit around everything. Like I have so many communities, but I only kind of flit in and then I leave. And I come back. I come in and I leave. And that’s like what I like, because then I can like be exposed to so many different ways of thinking. And there’s not a particular group that’s always like saying the same thing that I begin to believe like them. So like that’s one thing that I’m very careful of. I don’t know. Like I have this new thing now, which I never had before, but I have insomnia. I can never sleep. And so I started listening to like meditation apps, which I really don’t like at all. But like in the middle of the night, when I can’t fall asleep, like I’ll put on like one of the sleep time ones, but I cannot turn on any of those because as soon as I hear their voice and I hear like they speak like a computer or they speak like really slow. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Take a long walk with me down a pebbly path. It’s just


Dr. Tamara MC: horrible. It’s like, okay, dude. So I cannot listen to any of that. But what I do find, like I do Insight Timer, which is one of these free ones at this point. I’ve had them all. And I turn on all the stories. So I listened to childhood books because then I know that whatever I’m being told, it’s like, I already know the story of Hansel and Gretel. Like I already know what’s going to happen with the house and the witch and all of that. But I know that somebody can’t like control my brain. And so now like, like I can’t even deal with like any sort of meditation apps, but like listening to childhood stories is like a beautiful way to just be like, okay, nobody’s not controlling me. You know, I listened to the Wizard of Oz, like Peter Pan. And like all these tales.


Sarah Edmondson: Oh, I don’t know about that one. I don’t know about that one. 


Dr. Tamara MC: No, the stories are actually really horrible.


Sarah Edmondson: Yeah. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: But they’re metaphorical.


Sarah Edmondson: The man behind the curtain and the flying monkeys. Jesus Christ. You’re doing it again, Tamara. 


Dr. Tamara MC: No, I love, I mean, but I feel safer in those stories because there’s not somebody just making something up behind a screen that I don’t know is I’m falling asleep. So I feel like, like I can predict it more. 


Sarah Edmondson:  What else have you noticed in terms of parallels and anything, any nuggets of wisdom that you’d want to impart to our hungry listeners?


Dr. Tamara MC: I went through education all those years. And like I said, it was my savior. But even academia is a cult of its own, like the cult of academia. I thought that when I went for my PhD, I’d finally be able to think for myself. I’d finally be able to think outside of the box and I’d be able to come up with my own theories. Even within my PhD, I then was only told like, well, you can take the research of these scholars and then add to it a little bit. But there was always, like there was always this ceiling that like my thinking couldn’t go above or beyond. Like I always still had to be within a bubble within academia. I had to write like the people, I had to use the same theorists like everybody else in my field. And so it was very claustrophobic for me. I was in an interdisciplinary program. So I was taking classes in literacy and education and anthropology, like all over the place. But still each department had, it’s own rules. So to think about it, and I mean, even like schooling, I mean, my kids went through schooling. And when I look at what they went through and how they were always taught that they have to sit down and they can’t speak and they can’t, like all of that, like there’s so much constriction and control in all of our environments. And that makes me angry. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: This is a source of a lot of our conversations. I listened to a short clip of someone describing it last night and the downsides where academia is a little bit of a rise. They think they’re peak education and they think that they’re experts on the truth. And so it becomes kind of like you get armed with these PhDs and you become somewhat dogmatic that your process is the best. And in a lot of ways, it is the best of the best. And so it becomes kind of this chicken or egg. We have experts, but the experts can be, you know, not flexible. And it becomes ripe for, I have the truth. 


Dr. Tamara MC: But again, it’s an expertise. And like, it’s one expertise. It’s a teeny, teeny expertise. 


Anthony Nippy Ames:  It’s a perspective. 


Dr. Tamara MC:  Yeah, it’s one perspective. And so, but I mean, for me, that’s not the actual issue. I just know that the way I was taught to think and the way I was taught to do research and like being out of it, like I was teaching full time and I left my academic career because I couldn’t be part of it anymore. Like I had to teach students in a certain way. I had to give exams. I had to like fall within all these parameters that I don’t believe in. Like I don’t believe in testing students by giving them exams. And that’s going to be a big problem. And that’s going to tell me what they know. And so I don’t believe in the grading system. Like there’s so much that I’m so against. But when universities are forcing their teachers to behave in this way, then it’s not allowing the creativity of their community and of students, like to be able to have all these different viewpoints and to be able to choose for themselves. Because for me, that’s what education is. Every student should be able to come into school and be introduced to all different sorts of classes, all different sorts of theories, all different sorts of teachers, and then they can make their own choices. And that’s like the most important thing. But again, it’s almost like bounded choice in education. Like you kind of think like you have choice when you get in, but you really don’t. Like you have to follow the system to a T in order to accomplish it. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Or thrive in it.


Sarah Edmondson: I totally feel like that conversation Nippy and I have had over and over again, because we’ve got these two boys and we’re like, how are we going to educate them and struggle with this? And when I think about what I actually really want, I feel like that I might be starting another cult. Like not that I started NXIVM, but like in terms of like, I want to like move to an island with a group of like-minded people and let my kids roam free in a field and like go look for bugs and then learn about X, Y, and Z and have this very free-flowing education. And then I’m like, oh no, that sounds like it could be another cult. And that’s like, I guess put them in school. You know, like could there be somewhere in between? 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Yeah, I think structure, too much structure, I think is what Tamara’s talking about. 


Dr. Tamara MC:: Yeah, but I think that too, because homeschooling is like, like where some of the worst child abuse happens.


Sarah Edmondson: Exactly, I know. 


Dr. Tamara MC: I am so anti-homeschooling, even though I’m a totally liberal, let’s let kids go out. But I want children to be protected. And when they’re not protected, like all of our kids were homeschooled and so many religious communities, kids are homeschooled. And our homeschooling was the women taught when they wanted to teach, what they wanted to teach, which meant that it wasn’t mathematics. It wasn’t English. It was like religious studies. And so there’s so many problems with homeschooling. So for me, like it was really important that I didn’t want my two sons to grow up like that. I wanted them to be able to be part of society, to be able to go to a regular public school. So when they come into life, like they have the skills that I didn’t have and my siblings didn’t have. We couldn’t just come into society and like instantly be accepted. Like we were always different, no matter what it is, we think different. Everything about us is different. So for me, I put my boys in like, you know, the best public school that we had, but it was still a public school and they learned all that they needed to learn about the social cues of being with other people in school. They need that when they have a job, whatever they choose to do, they’re going to need those skills. But then at the same point, I always gave them like, we’re making puppets and we’re going on, like I did all of the homeschooling myself. So I gave them both.


Sarah Edmondson:  When Troy was three, we were still in NXIVM. We’re trying to figure out like what kind of program to put in. Experiment with different like preschools and daycares. And one of them was Waldorf. And which we’ve since found out is a little bit culty. And we’re going to do an episode on that. But that was too bad to find that out because I was like, oh, it’s all, you know, it’s natural and it’s woods and it’s…


Anthony Nippy Ames: Yeah, it comes in on the coattails of all that progressive stuff. 


Sarah Edmondson: Yes. 


Dr. Tamara MC: No, I didn’t send my kids to Waldorf either for that reason many years ago because it just felt too familiar. Like when something feels too familiar, like then nobody was saying Waldorf was that. Now they’re only saying this. My kids are now 27 and 25. So I was having this conversation. 


Sarah Edmondson: You were ahead of the game. It was five years ago for us. We hadn’t even started the podcast or anything, but I was like, I don’t like the rules. I don’t like the dogma. I don’t like the, you know, the shaming of their parents if they like let their kid watch an iPad for 20 minutes. Like there were certain things that were very clearly problematic. And I’m sure there’s people listening to this. They’re like, oh, my kids are in Waldorf and it’s amazing. That’s great if you’re having a good experience, but you might want to know about the people behind it and what their theories actually are. And if you look at the culty checklist, it’s definitely on the checklist. So just, you know, buyer beware, but we’ll save that for another episode. Tamara, where can people find you? What’s the best way for people to get ahold of you and tell us what you’re doing now? Sorry, that was a three-part question. 


Dr. Tamara MC: So what am I doing now? So I went through a divorce. It was a horrible divorce. That was many years. I had to get my kids through high school. And then even after high school, you know, 20-year-old boys still need a lot of, or some boys still need a lot of help. So I’ve been, you know, I’ve been a single mom to my boys and my two boys are doing fabulously now, which I’m just so thrilled about. And I was in a relationship after my marriage, a long-term relationship. And for the past several years, I haven’t had a relationship and I’m an empty nester. And this is the actually the first time that I’ve been able to go into my past and really know what happened to me. It’s like all of this was leading up to this point, but I could only get here when I had the space to do it. Like when I didn’t have all these responsibilities, because I had so many responsibilities for so long between my kids and my education. And just, you know, after my divorce, my whole life was, you know, I lost my home. And so I was very, I didn’t have, like my home was a major issue for me, the security of that. So I finished my PhD, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done besides having children. And then after that, I, I went back after, oh, I started teaching at the university and I left that position, but I left it because one day I decided that I was going to apply to go for an MFA, a Master of Fine Arts. And I looked online and I only wanted to go to one place to become a writer. And that was to New York City because that was like the place I wanted to become a writer. And so I looked up and I wanted to go to Columbia University. So they actually, I think it was right at the end, like there was a couple of days to apply. I applied for Columbia University. After already having a PhD, after I was already teaching, I was still teaching at the university and I just waited. I didn’t even think about it. And then I got, you know, my acceptance letter that I got into Columbia. And after I got into Columbia, I left university. That was kind of when I went and I then went back for an MFA, like after all of this education and I went to New York. That’s where my mom is from. That’s where my family’s from. So I visited there throughout my life and it just feels like one of my homes. And I kind of lived there. I lived in the Upper West Side where my mom like lived when she was like a hippie and she was a waitress there for many years. And so, and that’s how she met my dad. And so like all of my history. So I kind of went back to New York to kind of recreate my life or to recreate my mom’s life and like my grandmother who was a Holocaust survivor and her refugee life. And I kind of wanted to live like them and feel the cold air in the winters and like write about their lives. So that’s what I did. Then I came back. I came back to Arizona and I just decided that I’m going to be a writer full-time and that’s it. Like there is no, like there is nothing else I’m going to do. Like this is what I want to do. There’s nothing else I want to do. And I’ve just been living incredibly simply. I live in a little teeny home, a tiny home. And I am just, I write all the time. I’ve taken, actually for the past 10 years, I’ve taken writing courses. Like I am just an education fiend. Like it just doesn’t end. Like I’m still in so many writing courses all the time. And that is kind of where I’m at. And then I was in a year-long memoir program. It’s called the Memoir Incubator through Grub Street. That was three years ago. And I spent a whole year writing my memoir and about being in the cult. And that was where everything came to me because I wrote it all down. I spent one year and in 12 months, I wrote 400,000 words, which is the equivalent of four novels. So that is how long my story is. Like that’s how much happened. And it only takes place from the time I’m 12 until I’m 20. So this is like only writing that takes place from then. So I wrote that all out. And that was where I really began learning about human trafficking. That’s when I really began researching child marriage. Like I didn’t do any of that sooner. I just wasn’t ready emotionally to deal with any of that. So it’s really within the past few years that I have been like really getting involved within this area. And then I started studying, studying journalism and essay writing. And I just started writing essays and just working with so many editors. And so within the past two years, that’s sort of been my track. I’m still working on my memoir. I’m now revising it down to 80,000 words. And I just love my life now. Like I absolutely love my life.


Sarah Edmondson: That makes me so happy. And you have to be sure to tell us when your memoir is coming out so we can help promote it. And no wonder we needed two episodes because it’s got 40,000 words. 40,000 words. Eight years. You’ve been through it. And one article that you wrote about Britney Spears, which we also would love to do an episode on, by the way, and that conservatorship and how messed up that was. There’s a quote that you said that I wanted to share that I really liked. You said, when you see a woman acting out, don’t question her sanity. Instead, ask who and what is making her behave hysterically, which I thought was really cool. And that’s so important. So important. And so much of like the conversation right now, with like women who were defending themselves and domestic violence and ended up behind bars, you know, and things like that. Like people are looking at that dynamic differently now, I think. So I think you’re part of that shift in the zeitgeist. I’ve met so many amazing survivor women in recent, like in the past couple of years. And we all kind of are around the same age. And it’s just, I am kind of thinking that around 40 or 50 is like when women, are now able to kind of come out and share their stories. Like, especially when they’ve been way in the past. I think there’s a much younger generation that’s coming out sooner. And people are, like you said, getting out of cults and telling their story like immediately, which it took me 30 years to tell my story. So I think it’s very, very different. But I do think that there’s this movement now of all of these women who are banning together and who have like survived some of these situations. And I think that they’re really truly the voices. And I know you’ve had so many guests on the show. And I think like our voices are what matter right now and what need to be heard. Because there are still girls all over the world, all over the country who are like me, who are like me, who are living behind gates, who can’t leave, who are married in underage marriages, who are working for their parents or working for their communities without pay. Like this is happening all over. This is happening all over the world still. So it’s so important that like for those of us, like me now, I have the education. I have the time. Like I have everything where now I can put all of myself into helping as many girls and women in the world that I can and letting them know that even if there’s me that was able to get out, that hopefully they can get out too. And it doesn’t happen quick. Like maybe some people it happens quick, but it took me years and years. And sometimes you see somebody that gets out quick and like their story is like lightning speed. Like they’re already sharing their story, but all of us are so different and our healing is so different and it takes so much time for some of us. And so just to be totally okay with where you are at in your healing journey and to know that there’s just gonna be these little steps and maybe you don’t know where you’re going yet, but that’s okay. We’re not supposed to know where we’re going. We just have to take that next best step and that’ll lead us to the next step. And then… Suddenly here I am 50 years old and all those steps of going through my education and everything has allowed me to be here today. Like every single step was important to where I am today. 


Sarah Edmondson: You are such an inspiration. We thank you so much for your words and your time and your advocacy. And we really are so honored that you shared your story with us today because it’s important. And we hope that our audience devours your book when it comes out. Please do keep us posted on that. Thank you so much for coming today. You’re just such a ray of light in this… Unfortunately, dark space. 


Dr. Tamara MC: Thank you so much. Yes. And you can find me under Tamara, T-A-M-A-R-A-M-C, just two letters. And PhD is usually at the end in all of my social media. So… 


Sarah Edmondson: Yes, as it should be.

Thank you so much for having me and I’m glad it worked out. I’m glad it did too. Thanks again for your patience with us. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Thank you. This podcast is brought to you by Citizens of Sound, a podcast production agency committed to developing and launching shows with gravity and depth. From consumers to entrepreneurs, from inception to launch, Citizens will partner with you every step of the way, whether you’re an actor, business owner, doctor, fitness coach, hairstylist, or influencer. Connection is the future of communication. Jump on board with Citizens of Sound today and start your show. Go to citizensofsound.com and follow them on Instagram. And trust me, it’ll be a really good decision for you. Quite a story there, Sarah. 


Sarah Edmondson: Quite the story. I really commend Tamara. I’m really happy to be connected with her and I’m also really excited to see what she does next. I really like chatting with her. I also really liked her articles. We’ll include some of those in our show notes. Please share your thoughts over on the socials and on Patreon if you’re there with us. Hopefully we’ll be doing a follow-up with her if she is so inclined. Stay tuned. We’ll be announcing that on Patreon. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Yeah, she does a really good job of putting language to the abuse. 


Sarah Edmondson: Yeah, and it’s kind of cool. You don’t have to have the name of the cult.


Anthony Nippy Ames:  It’s actually a little bit better because people don’t get caught up in this salacious aspect. They can focus on process.


Sarah Edmondson:  Or any religious bias that they have in their mind about different… sects. All right, guys. Thank you for listening. We appreciate you and we’ll see you next week with some more delicious culty content. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: Bye-bye. 


Sarah Edmondson:  Bye. Sinking down to the depths of the ocean I’m hanging on to the weight of my love


Anthony Nippy Ames: If I let go Hope you liked this episode. Let’s keep the conversation going and come hang out with us on Patreon where we keep the tape rolling each week with special episodes just for Patreon subscribers and where we get deep into the weeds of unpacking every episode of The Vow.


Sarah Edmondson:   And if you’re looking for our show notes or some sweet, sweet swag or official ALBC podcast merch or a list of our most recommended cult recovery resources, visit our website at alittlebitculty.com. 


Anthony Nippy Ames: And for more background on what brought us here, check out Sarah’s page-turning memoir. It’s called Scarred, The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, The Cult That Bound My Life. It’s available on Amazon, Audible, Narrated by My Wife, and at most bookstores. 


Sarah Edmondson:  A Little Bit Culty is a TalkHouse podcast and a Trace 120 podcast. We’re executive produced by Sarah Edmondson and Anthony Nippy Ames with writing, research, and additional production support by senior producer Jess Tardy. We’re edited, mixed, and mastered by our rocking producer Will Rutherford of Citizens of Sound. And our amazing theme song, Cultivated, is by John Bryant and co-written by Nigel Asselin. Thank you for listening.


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