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 […]

Read more

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 […]

Read more

On Guinevere Turner’s “When the World Didn’t End”

ON JANUARY 5, 1975, when Guinevere Turner was seven, the world was supposed to end. She grabbed her favorite toy and donned a fancy dress, but the spaceship to take Turner to Venus never arrived. Turner’s new memoir, When the World Didn’t End, follows her life as she grows up with the Lyman Family, an apocalyptic cult […]

Read more

Born to Stand Out: Daniella Mestyanek Young Interviewed by Tamara MC

As soon as I heard about Daniella Mestyanek Young’s book Uncultured (St. Martin’s Press), I knew I had to interview her. Both of us are “cult babies,” children born or raised in cults. Young was born a third-generation member of the Children of God, the infamous sex cult alleged to have encouraged sex with children as a way to get closer to God. I grew up in a Sufi cult in the eighties in Texas, and although our cult was not a sex cult, our girls were sexually assaulted. I was married at age twelve in an Islamic temporary marriage called a mut’ah, and most of the girls I grew up with were married off at age fourteen to men much older than them and usually in plural marriages. So, although we grew up in different places with different religions, our experiences mirror each other in many significant ways.

Read more