The survivor stories blog interview project 2024

1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)? I grew up in a cult in Texas during the 80s and 90s and was married at 12 as a child bride. I stayed with my husband for eight years, until I was 20 and […]

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Tamara’s story of surviving child marriage at 12.

AHA Foundation: Can you start by telling us about your upbringing? Particularly the religious culture that you were brought up in. Tamara: When I was 5 years old, my life completely changed. My father joined a new religion, which he thought would be a utopian community where all was going to be good. However, that […]

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‘Uncultured’: The Intergenerational Trauma of Girls Growing up in Cults

Daniella Mestyanek Young’s powerfully immersive and exceptionally honest debut memoir Uncultured opens with a scene of Young standing in line to get spanked by Uncle Zephaniah. This man is not her blood uncle, but what the kids in the Children of God cult call the men in the community. The women are called “Aunties.” Young […]

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I grew up in a cult and was married at 12 — in Texas

My mother was a liberal feminist; my father was a religious zealot who left the family to live by the cult leader. Two months before I married, I had my first period. I still wore a training bra. I was 12 and had never kissed a boy, never fathomed marriage. “Repeat after me: I, Habiba, […]

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I was a child bride. It’s time to stop teaching young girls to stay sweet.

I was a child bride. It’s time to stop teaching young girls to stay sweet. Like the young girls in Netflix’s #2 trending true-crime docuseries, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obeyabout Warren Jeffs’ Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), I also grew up in a religious fundamentalist community and was brought up to […]

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TCR Talks with Michelle Dowd, Author of Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult

By Tamara MC For fans of Educated by Tara Westover, Maid by Stephanie Land, and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Michelle Dowd’s debut coming-of-age memoir Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult contains echoes of all three, yet it is wholly unique unto itself. Dowd was born in the 1970s into a survivalist cult called the Field, governed by her grandfather, who […]

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Letter: Child Marriage is Never Cutesy

I am a survivor of an Islamic Temporary Marriage, called a mut’ah. I can attest that framing child marriages as cutesy and heartwarming rather than complex misogynistic practices is unacceptable. Child marriage is never okay—permanent or temporary. Despite their name, temporary marriages are anything but temporary; they change a child’s life forever. The NYT article also […]

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