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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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 […]

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