Tween Marriage and the Culture of Polygamy with Tamara

Generation Cult

Dhyana Levey


Dhyana Levey: Hi there! Welcome to Generation Cult, a podcast that follows the stories of people who grew up in coercive groups, also known as cults. I’m Deanna Levy, and on today’s episode, we’re going to be speaking with Tamara, who was raised in a Sufi group from the age of five, married at age 12, and left at age 20.

Later in the show, we’ll have a discussion about polygamy and the trauma experienced by women in authoritarian religious groups. Ashlyn Hilliard will be joining us for that part of the discussion. Hey, Ashlyn.

Ashlen Hilliard: Hey, thanks so much for having me on. I’m excited to speak with you and Tamara later on.

Dhyana Levey: So why do you find stories like Tamara’s so interesting?

Ashlen Hilliard: Well, we talk a lot about the unique experiences of women in these high control situations. And, you know, my experience is more helping women from polygamous groups, but it’s more so from like the Christianity affiliated, loosely affiliated side of that, you know, there’s obviously some deviation with polygamous led groups, but I think it will be really interesting to speak with Tamara about.

Her experience from a Sufi group, there’s going to be similarities. There’s going to be intersections, but I’m excited to learn some of the cultural aspects that created maybe an environment for high control. So I’m really excited to learn from Tamara today about her experience.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah, me too. I think this is going to be a unique interview.

We’re not going to go into detail about certain aspects of Tamara’s life for safety purposes, but I am excited, or excited as someone can be about this topic, to talk about everything else.

Hi, Tamara. Thanks for being here today. Would you mind introducing yourself further?

Dr. Tamara MC: Sure. Yes. Thank you so much for having me, Deanna. I’m really, really honored to be on your podcast today. So my name is Tamara MC, and I was brought up in a Sufi group in Texas during the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Dhyana Levey: Thank you for being willing to talk to us about it.

Dr. Tamara MC: Thank you. Yes. I’m new to sharing my story. I published my first piece a couple of years ago, but I’ve only began sharing it verbally over the past year or less than a year. So this is all new to me, but it’s also a new part of my healing process because now I’m sharing my story and a story that I’ve had hidden most of my life.

I’m 50 years old, so I’ve basically hid this story for nearly 50 years.

Dhyana Levey: Well, we’re really glad you’re trusting us enough to share it with us. Let’s talk about how your parents got involved with the group, which we aren’t naming specifically today, but we will be talking about generally. You said that you were age 5 when they joined.

Do you have any memories from that time?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, I have very clear memories of when this all happened in my life when I was 5 years old. My mother actually went on a backpacking trip for the summer and left me with my father alone for the summer. And It was at this time that my father went into a spiritual bookstore.

We lived in Tucson, Arizona, and when he was in the bookstore, he ended up reading a book by a spiritual teacher who he’d already read before. But it was a really interesting time because actually when he was in the bookstore, some of the followers of this leader happened to be in the bookstore at the same time, and they invited my father to a community center for an event that they were having.

So I was with my father the first time that we actually attended the first event of this community, and it was then that we ended up spending the whole summer together with this community. And at the end of the summer, my mother came home, not even knowing what had happened because she was in Europe.

And at that point, like. Nobody obviously had cell phones. And so she rarely called if ever. I don’t even know if she called. I think she only sent postcards. So when she came back, my father had told her that he had converted to a new religion and had joined a new group of people. So that was when my life really changed was that summer.

Dhyana Levey: And what happened from that point on? How did you become more involved in the community?

Dr. Tamara MC: So, after my mom came back, my dad was so excited to tell her all about this new group, and that he also wanted her to join, and I think he was quite surprised by her response, which was, I think, maybe, hell no. And so, So my mom was not at all interested in anything that my dad was speaking about.

And I think they were not officially married. They were 1960s flower children. And so they didn’t have an official divorce, but I think my father tried to convince her for several months and she refused and it was then that they decided to get separated. So my father joined the group and my mother did not.

So I grew up simultaneously with both of them living within both of the rules of their household. So half of me was in the group with my father when I was with him and then the other half was with my mother. My f Father ended up leaving Tucson, Arizona, following the group. They were very nomadic and ended up on the East coast in several different cities.

And eventually they settled in Texas and that’s where I ended up growing up. And after he did settle in Texas, I started splitting my time between my parents. So I spent four months of every year with my father and the community, and then the school year with my mother. So I had the. experience of being within the group and not being part of the group as well.

Dhyana Levey: What was it like to go back and forth like that?

Dr. Tamara MC: I had to live two completely separate lives. They did not function in any, I don’t even know if there was a similarity in the way that my mother’s life functioned and my father’s life. They were so disparate. So It was incredibly hard trying to balance as a now six year old, how do I balance these two lives and, and how do I fit into both?

And how do I know the rules of each? And when I say the rules of my mother, there aren’t real rules. It’s just being a normal American kid that goes to elementary school. But that was really loaded and difficult thing because on my father’s side, I was taught the exact opposite, like. The children in the community were not schooled in public school.

The children were homeschooled and only in religious education. So it was always a balancing act and I had to be a chameleon in order to fit into both. And it wasn’t that I was trying to be a chameleon. I just had to be able to survive.

Dhyana Levey: Well, what was the biggest difference? Like what was the switch you felt like you had to make with either or situation?

Dr. Tamara MC: Well, with my mother, I was an only child and we lived a really simple. Life. My mother was a working mother as well. I was in public school when I went to my father’s, we lived in a commune, like, you know, a 250 acre commune and Texas in the middle of nowhere. And so again, like my mother kind of lived. You know, in a city.

So I was around people at my dad’s, I was completely isolated. Um, my father remarried a woman almost immediately, and she already had four children of her own. So I went from being an only child to being one of five immediately. In the commune, there were probably between a hundred to 150 people. And I was really used to being with my mom and just kind of being alone with her and not being around so many people.

And of course, like all the religious education, my mother’s not religious. And in the commune, we had religious education, like nonstop, whether or not it was formal or not formal, but we were constantly praying. We were constantly chanting. Everything about our life was that also the children didn’t like, we didn’t live in an actual house on the commune.

They were just rooms separated by a courtyard. So I lived in a room with my siblings. And so I wasn’t in an actual house. I was just like in a room with pretty much strangers. Like, cause they were all siblings. They’d known each other their whole lives, but I was now put in a room with all of them. I had lots of supervision.

I had like, like hyper vigil, like in terms of everybody watching what I was doing, but there was no care for me. Like, did you take a shower? Are you hungry? Do you need to eat? Like there wasn’t care for me in that same way. Like with my mother. I was very much a child and my mother looked after me, but in the commune, I wasn’t looked after at all.

I was just one of many children who was supposed to survive on my own.

Dhyana Levey: Did they have a practice of separating children from their families in the group?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. Yes, there was definitely that. And it came in many. Ways within the group, but yes, there were many times within the years that children were actually completely separated and brought to different states than their parents and brought to children’s schools where only children were, and with like a few adults who are not their parents.

But yes, the whole point was to separate the family.

Dhyana Levey: And what did you think about that at the time? Like, what were your impressions when this started happening?

Dr. Tamara MC: It was incredibly scary. I didn’t really know where I was. I mean, I would. Get off of the airplane and for a while we change locations And so I would be brought to a brand new location with brand new people that I didn’t know So my environment was always changing and I couldn’t quite expect like I didn’t know what to expect And so it was a really scary time.

I didn’t feel as if there was any freedom in that I just felt as if I was completely on my own trying to figure things out.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah, you mentioned that although you didn’t get a lot of care, you were under constant scrutiny. So what kind of things did they care about in terms of the children? Like what were they actually paying attention to?

Dr. Tamara MC: I think mostly our work workload. The children were the workhorses of the community. At a very young age, the children were responsible for doing most of the work, especially being a girl because work. Household work was supposed to be. Left for the girl child. And so from the earliest age I can remember, I was in the kitchen and I was helping prepare food at a very young age, was washing dishes at a very young age.

I was setting the table, just whatever needed to be done. We were caring for the young children. And so in that way, it was always making sure that every minute of our day we were serving. And so whatever that looked like, whether. Like I said, it was cleaning or watching children. And then other than that, it was about prayer.

Like we were praying throughout the day. So making sure that we were always praying, that was a big deal. And also making sure about our clothes. Our clothes were very, very important as a young girl children. So we had to be covered from head to toe. And so what we were wearing and how we looked was always monitored.

We couldn’t show like even a strand of hair, so people were always making sure that not an inch of our skin or our hair was showing, so that was definitely a way that our entire body was being scrutinized throughout the day.

Dhyana Levey: Wow, it sounds really stressful, and especially for a young child.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, absolutely.

Dhyana Levey: Well, what was the status of your education during that time? Were you only getting an education when you were with your mom or did they do any type of homeschooling in the group when you were there?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, so I had education with my mom. There was officially homeschooling. On the compound, my siblings were homeschooled.

Now homeschool is a very, very loose term. It means when the women decided that they wanted to teach, and it was also what they decided to teach. So there was no structure or system. I think there were some workbooks to teach the children and there were different points in the commune, different parts of education, but usually my stepmom would like homeschool her own children.

And that would maybe be a mix of reading and mathematics out of a workbook and it would be lots of yelling because my siblings never wanted to study because it was so boring working out of a workbook. And obviously the parents who were teaching did not have the education to be teaching. They, they were not teachers and didn’t have any pedagogy or any skills to be teaching.

So school days. Or, they weren’t days, but whatever school hours were, like, all of a sudden, you know, my stepmom would run into the bedroom. It’s school time, and my siblings would have to, like, run in there, and it would just be a whole bunch of yelling and chaos.

Dhyana Levey: Hmm. It sounds like you had two lives. You spent time with your mom, and then you were also in this group.

So, When you were with your mom and just in normal school and everything was normal or air quotes normal, was that difficult to transition in? Like, were you kind of jumping into lessons that you hadn’t had much background in or?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, I think. After all of this began, I started first grade. I actually have no memory of first grade, and I have a really good memory, and I don’t remember any of first grade.

I almost don’t remember second grade. I have very few memories. And after that, when I was in school, because I was Bouncing back and forth. I actually was not at all in any classroom that I was sitting in. My mind was somewhere else. I was so confused within myself and I was always back in the commune, even when I wasn’t in the commune.

And so I left school like. Having almost no skills myself. It’s almost as if I did not go to school.

Dhyana Levey: That’s too bad. Do you remember any happy times, any upsides, or was it just a confusing experience all the way through?

Dr. Tamara MC: So yes, it was a very, very difficult time, but there were many, many moments of beauty as well.

And I think my greatest memory and something that I still like aspire to in my life that I wish I could go back to is during that time, there was really a girl gang. There were a whole bunch of young girls and we just stood together and got through everything together. And we slept together and we prayed together and we cooked together and we cleaned together and we watched babies together.

And so our little group. of girls was just like, it’s something I’ve never been able to replicate in my life. Like, like I’m always like, Oh, I wish I could have, have another group of girls in that same way. But we were so, so close. We shared each other’s clothes. We braided each other’s hair. We told each other every last secret that we had.

We complained about all the adults. We complained about our situation. So we had. This inherent support group that was always there, day and night.

Dhyana Levey: That’s great. That is one of the upsides, and one thing that keeps people in groups like this, I mean, if they’re not a child and they have a choice, is the community.

Yeah, I remember that myself. I grew up on a commune as well, and that was one of the biggest fond memories I have, is just spending time with the other kids, the other children my age, and especially during a situation that intense. I mean, that’s really good to have some support, so I’m glad that you had that.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes.

Dhyana Levey: I understand, though, that women, or more accurately, children, got married in the group particularly early. Can you tell me a little bit about that, you know, what was the reasoning behind that, and kind of how that ended up applying to you?

Dr. Tamara MC: Sure. I think the girls held the most power in the community, although we were the most powerless.

But our sexuality was actually what governed the community, and I’ve thought about this much throughout my life. But. In order to control the group, they had to control the young girl’s sexuality. And to do that, girls were married off very young for fear that, one, they would leave the community and become part of the outside world, or two, they would perhaps steal another woman’s husband, which of course is so ridiculous.

I mean, I can’t believe I’m saying that right now. Oh, because the furthest thing from our minds were men or boys or stealing anybody’s husband. Like we were just trying to like have some freedom, but definitely we were not thinking about other women’s husbands. And so our beauty, our clothes, our sexuality, all of that was controlled for fear that the men would, I guess, have sexual thoughts about us.

And so the. best option was to marry girls off as young as possible.

Dhyana Levey: You mentioned when we talked earlier that you were actually one of the first to get married off because you were one of the earlier kids in the group.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, so I was one of the older girls in the group, one of the older children, and I was married off particularly early.

I was married when I was 12. Wow. They, I mean, not thank you, but yes, well,

Dhyana Levey: I don’t know what else to say. I’m so sorry. I have a 12 year old, like I can’t, I can’t even fathom that. So

Dr. Tamara MC: I know when I say that now and I look back, I’m like 12, really 12. Like I have to like question myself because it just seems.

So, so young and I guess then it was young too, but for some reason, I guess when you’re in it, you can’t like be like, Oh my God, I’m 12. It’s like only like many, many years later. Can you like add that? Well, yeah, that, um,

Dhyana Levey: of course, cause you’re 12. You, I mean, you probably don’t even know how to process something like that at that age.

No, I guess I just, I’m really curious. Like how, how was this idea floated to you where you just told you you’re getting married and you were like, uh, okay. Like, I guess I just. I have a lot of questions on how that even came about.

Dr. Tamara MC: So I was considered the special child, and I’m using special in air quotes as well.

I was just kind of considered the good girl, and I maybe had special privileges, and I’m using privileges in a really, again, in like these air quotes. But because of that, the leader wanted me to live with him. He didn’t actually live on the compound. self. He lived an hour away and he had three wives up on a hill and nobody was allowed on the hill, like no commune members were allowed there.

It was just for him and his multiple children and his like mother and his close family members. But I came to my dad’s when I was 12 years old. I came from Arizona. I had just completed seventh grade. I got on a plane the day after school ended and I flew to my dad’s and I thought that I was going to be back at the compound with my siblings, but my father told me that the leader wanted me to live with him on.

The private hill. And so it was like this big deal, like, oh my goodness, you know, you were chosen. You were the chosen one. You get to be right next to the leader. You get to have special teachings. That’s like an honor. Yeah, an incredible honor. But I didn’t know that I was just there to watch all these kids and to like work as free labor.

And that’s immediately what happened. Now, mind you, the leader was a multimillionaire. And so these houses were gorgeous. But I happen to live like in a little tiny shed area that wasn’t at all like the rest of the house. And there was a glass door that kind of came into my room from the outdoors and there was no lock on it.

And after everybody went to sleep, the leaders adopted, some began sneaking into my room and then within the week realized that he was not acting religiously because we weren’t allowed to have intimate relations with anyone unless we were married. And. So he decided, I think it was at midnight in the dark.

And like, I’d been washing dishes all day and my sleeves were soaking wet and he snuck into my room and there’s absolutely nothing I could do. I was completely alone in this house with these people I didn’t know. I obviously didn’t have a phone. I didn’t even speak to my dad. I didn’t speak to my mom. I didn’t have any access.

To anybody. And so when he snuck into the room and he did a special marriage in which he could marry himself to me and there did not need to be any witnesses. And so he conducted a marriage ceremony in a different language that I didn’t even understand. So I didn’t even really know what I was saying or accepting, but I was basically saying that I married myself to him and after the ceremony ended.

I was married to him. And that was how I got married at 12. Wow. And how old was he at the time? He was several years older than me, but even though there wasn’t a huge age gap, which is a lot of times the case, and that’s really what happened with my commune sisters, they were married to much older men.

But by that point, he’d already lived on several continents. He spoke several languages. He was part of this community. He knew the leader. So we were on totally like, I was playing with Barbies. Like I was just a child. I had never kissed a boy, had a, like, I had never thought about getting married or having a boyfriend.

I never was like a fantasy person who thought about anything like that. So. He, like, had already thought about marriage. He’d already grown up around this community and seen all of this. And so, we were just very, very different, despite us being, like, several years different at that point.

Dhyana Levey: So the leader picked this guy.

Why was this person picked or was that even explained?

Dr. Tamara MC: No, the leader did not pick him. This guy just was basically molesting me and then needed to marry me. And so the only way to kind of make it right with God was to marry me. So the leader was not aware of this. Nobody was aware of this. This was a secret marriage.

Dhyana Levey: Apologies. I’m so sorry. So at 12, like you’re married, like what is going through your head at this point?

Dr. Tamara MC: What was going through my mind at that point was my workload. I was living with the leader. I was working about 15 hours a day, caring for four children under five years old. There was a six month baby that I had to take care of for the entire day by myself.

I was basically locked in a playroom and four children and I wasn’t given food. I was hungry. I was. I was thirsty and I was working, so I wasn’t actually thinking about the marriage. I was thinking about how to protect all of these children that were now in my care. And I was being completely sleep deprived because after my long day, this person would come into my bedroom and be my husband, whatever that meant.

And so then my nights were busy with him. How long did your life Go on like that. Well, there’s many phases to this. I ended up going back to my mom’s at the end of the summer. My husband ended up traveling abroad. So we had a long relationship of letters. The community changed and moved. So there were lots of changes throughout this time, but I was with my husband until I was 20 years old.

So this lasted eight years.

Dhyana Levey: Do you remember during all of these years? Do you remember any kind of turning point, any kind of, I’ve got to get out of here, like, is there anything, I mean, I hesitate to say that stands out, I mean, it all stands out, it sounds

Dr. Tamara MC: awful,

Dhyana Levey: but at what point were you like, I can’t do this anymore, or I need to leave?

Dr. Tamara MC: So that happened when I was 20, and building up to that, there were so many moments that build up to that, it’s not as if just when I was 20, I was like, okay, I’m ready to go. Yeah. No. I mean, every day of my life was like trying to

figure out

like how do I get out of this? Like what am I in? How do I survive?

You know? So, so to just say that it was this one moment would be completely inaccurate. Yeah. There were thousands of moments that built up to the moment that I actually left. And so just to back up, I graduated high school when I was 16, miraculously. Oh, congrats. And I ended up going to live with the community full time at that point.

So I wasn’t going back and forth. So my husband at that point was living in America and we were separated when I was living with the leader and I lived with him for nearly two years and I was working so hard and I think it just began to build up. In the meantime, my husband was in America. And whereas he was always writing me and was very active and trying to pursue me.

And when I was in England, he stopped writing me or he would write me very infrequently. So I was then like writing him from England. Is everything okay? What’s happening? And he didn’t have a response. He just wouldn’t respond to me. Eventually he ended up coming to live. With the leader in England as well.

And so we were now both in England together. And it was that point that I was like, what’s going on? You have to tell me what’s happening. And he had been holding it back for so long. And then he says, he was like really quiet. And then he said, I married another woman and I didn’t even know how to respond.

And were you upset? Oh yes, absolutely. I mean, I grew up in a polygamist cult and. Everybody around me was polygamous and that was kind of his promise to me that we were not going to be polygamous. Like his mother had lived in many polygamous marriages and had all these children who were left and whose her husband’s left.

My stepmother had escaped a polygamous marriage when she married my dad with her four kids. And so all around us, we had seen polygamy and we knew how harmful it was. And so that was kind of his promise to me that that wasn’t going to happen. So when he told me that he married this other woman, I was in complete shock because I wasn’t expecting it.

Now, looking back, I shouldn’t have expected anything else because of how we were brought up. But at that time I just couldn’t believe it.

Dhyana Levey: And you mentioned that it was a secret marriage. this point, was it out in the open? Like, did everyone know you guys were married?

Dr. Tamara MC: That shouldn’t be a complicated question, but it is a little bit because we never had a formal marriage.

So nobody was ever invited to a ceremony. We always had these little secret marriages because the marriage we had is called a temporary marriage. So it lasts for a certain amount of time. So I was probably married to him. God, I wish I could say maybe four or five dozen times, like so many times. So you had many marriage ceremonies.

Yes. Many, many marriage ceremonies. And they were all in the dark or not, not necessarily in the dark, but they were just between the two of us. So nobody was present. So yes, everybody knew that we were together and that we planned to have what we called a forever marriage where we were going to. Live together like proper husband and wife.

The leader did not okay that he wanted to make sure that we were not living together because he needed us to work for him because my husband was also working to him as the kind of as the male slave and I was the girl slave. And so the leader knew that if we were to get like this kind of forever marriage, that would change the situation and he’d lose his workers.

And so we were married and it’s like people spoke about it, but it was also like we were also I can’t say not married because that’s not correct. Like we couldn’t have been together unless we were married in our community, but it was just a really different looking marriage. Like my other commune sisters, they all had ceremonies.

They all had much more kind of traditional religious weddings. But I never had that, but I was waiting for that. And I thought for certain, when my husband came to England, we were going to have that marriage. We’re going to finally have that life. And then he like tells me that he’s married. And so I just was.

So, so hurt. And I spent so many months begging him to leave this other woman. And all, as he said is no, I love her. I will never leave her and you’re going to love her too. And you’re going to be best friends. And we’re just going to have this wonderful life together. And I just knew that that was not going to be my life.

Like I had. I mean, I guess we all kind of had these boundaries, but because I’d grown up with polygamy, I knew that was my boundary. I would never live in a polygamous marriage ever, ever, ever. And so that was really the impetus and that was the turning point of, I got to go. Like I got to go, I don’t know what, but I cannot stay married to this person and I need to do something else.

I’m not sure what it is. But I need to leave England.

Dhyana Levey: And I feel silly even asking this question, but with everything else going on, what about polygamy was like the ultimate boundary? Like what about it was so upsetting to you when it was happening around you?

Dr. Tamara MC: So first of all, my little girl gang that I spoke about earlier, every time they would each get married, I was with them.

Like one of the girls would be told all of a sudden, like one day that in two hours they’re marrying this man, it would be a complete stranger. And so the leader would suddenly have these visions that these two people need to be together.

So I was with all of my sisters when they got married and all the fear that they had and all the men that they married had wives who were like 20 years older, like, cause the man was like 20 years older. So their first wives were usually about the same age as them. And so I kind of went through so many marriages and divorces because.

The man would usually stay with a girl for like a year or two, give her a baby or two, and then leave her and then marry somebody else. And so it was this constant like churning of girls within these marriages and I just was. around all of their pain. I saw all of the women who were always left with these Children without support that they were now having to take care of.

And I also had access to living with the leader who had three wives. And so I was in the middle of all of these wives. Like, the first and the second wife were always fighting, and I was constantly in the middle, and they would each tell me secrets about each other all the time, so I was kind of in the center of so many marriages, and I knew the inner workings, and I knew how all of the pain, like, I wasn’t on the outside looking in, I was like way, way on the inside, and I didn’t see anything good that came out of them.

Dhyana Levey: I can’t even imagine. So your husband said, okay, we’re going to do this and you were like, no way.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. And I just, no, I mean, after I, you know, I tried to make it work and it just wasn’t working, my grandfather, my grandmother lived in Arizona and it wasn’t my official grandfather, but she was with this man, he ended up dying.

And I knew that I wanted to be with my grandmother cause she was now going to be alone. And so it kind of happened at about the same time. So I told everybody that I was going back to America to be with my grandmother and to take care of her. And that was actually the way that I left. I don’t know if I really would have had a way to leave.

Had that not happened, I wouldn’t have had an excuse. I don’t know if I would have been allowed to leave. When I left, I thought that I was going to come back, like not to my marriage, but to the leader. But I never did. That was the end of it. Okay. Well, that’s good.

Dhyana Levey: Did your husband object at all when you were like, I’m leaving?

Or was he just like, all right, I have this other marriage.

Dr. Tamara MC: Well, I mean, he objected all the time, but he also told me that he wasn’t going to leave the other person. And. That was more important to him than me leaving. Okay.

Dhyana Levey: First of all, I’m really glad you got out. I’m glad you were able to leave. I would like to talk about your process of leaving.

That must have been quite a transition for you.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, it was a very difficult transition.

I left, I ended up waitressing. When I came back to America and I hated it because I was still serving people. And I just knew that like, I needed something different for my life. And I found out that my university offered a class that a language class that I was really interested in. I never planned to go to university, but I really wanted to study this language.

So it was a five credit course. I ended up enrolling in this class and I needed six units. So I took another, like, one credit course, which was aerobics. So my first semester, I ended up in college without ever thinking of it. And I was like in an aerobics class and a language class. And then the second semester I was like, Oh, they offer second semester of this language class.

Oh, okay. Oh, I can take ballet second semester. I always dreamed of being a dancer and we weren’t allowed to dance on the commune. And we weren’t allowed to show our body. And even after I left and I ended up in these dance classes, I was still completely covered, and there was only girls in the classes.

So we were allowed to dance in front of girls, perhaps. So I was still like kind of enveloped and like, okay, I’m still like not leaving my teachings because I’m dancing, but it’s only around girls. And I’m still like, I never wore a leotard or tights. Like I wore like these huge blousey shirts and these huge pants and I looked absolutely ridiculous, but I always wanted to dance.

And so that was kind of how my healing began was through dancing and was through education.

Dhyana Levey: Can I ask where you ended up going?

Dr. Tamara MC: To the University of Arizona.

Dhyana Levey: Okay. And so it sounds like, you know, you were physically gone, but possibly still mentally in because you still had those concerns about covering up.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. I would say that. I mean, I’m still mentally in, in so many ways, as far away as I am from it. Uh, every year I’m able to shed some of the teachings, but even so I still have that little voice that is in me that sometimes is like that, that little voice that is still saying, Whatever I was told in the group.

So yes, I was mentally in, and for the first 10 years, I felt like I was still really, really, really struggling.

Dhyana Levey: What were you struggling with? Was it day to day things, like just getting your life together, or was it just kind of accepting this new life?

Dr. Tamara MC: Uh, let me think.

Dhyana Levey: Or was it all of the above?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, I would say it’s, it’s all of the above, but I think within my mind, it was making sense of the teachings.

And I just ended up studying so much history and political science and religion and spirituality. I started studying cults and communes and intentional communities. And so like my whole mind was like, I got to figure out what just happened and I’m going to come at it. I thought from this academic way of like really understanding history and like, really like understanding like women’s role within the society I was within.

So I really took that approach. And so it was just me always working things out in my mind. It was me learning how to dress. I still have a problem dressing. I still don’t wear sleeveless shirts. I still like. I don’t necessarily wear shorts. I don’t think I ever wear shorts. I don’t wear tight, like I don’t wear jeans because we weren’t allowed to wear jeans.

I mean, I’ll wear leggings and stuff, but I’m even like careful to still cover my butt. And it’s not like, I think that I’m supposed to not show my butt. That’s not it. I just feel so strange. Like, like if I’m out and I’m wearing leggings and like my shirt doesn’t cover, I’m like, Oh, you know?

Dhyana Levey: Yeah. So it’s like ingrained things since you were a child. So. So that makes sense. And you mentioned that dancing really helped you with your healing. Um, can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Dr. Tamara MC: I think throughout my life, movement is so important and it’s probably my main way of like managing everything that’s going on within my mind. So whether or not it’s dancing alone in my room, I’ve done many dance classes throughout the year, or it’s running, or it’s walking, or it’s being on my bicycle.

But like I have to keep my body moving. Like that is so important to me. And I feel like my mind is able, I can’t even say that it slows down in those parts, but it’s able to like also concentrate on the movement of my body. So yes, so, so in that way feel like it’s so healing.

Dhyana Levey: What were your relationships like with other people after you left when you were going through this education? Did you find yourself able to make friends, fall into relationships, or was that kind of a struggle?

Dr. Tamara MC: So growing up in a commune, I know how to be around people, which I think is like a wonderful thing that I was taught. So I can kind of be in any group of people and get along and like I can just watch them and I know how to respond.

bond. I do really well in that way. So kind of on the outside, I get along really well in groups, but on the inside, I never feel like I belong. So when I’m in all of these situations, I’m not telling people about my life and how I grew up. They just think like, Oh, I’m this university student that is taking this.

History, you know, 202 class, but they don’t know anything about me. So I felt as if I always had this whole life that nobody knew. And so in that way, it was incredibly lonely. And my life now is very lonely because there’s very, very few people who I share my life with. And then even if I do share my life with somebody kind of in an intimate way, it’s really hard, even if somebody can be like, Oh yeah, you know, I hear you, how horrible you got married when you were 12.

That is like something that nobody can really understand unless they’ve been in the same situation. So. It’s, it’s hard. It’s not like sharing things in common. Like, Oh yeah, we both play tennis. Isn’t that great? It’s like, Oh yeah, we’re both child brides. Uh, you know, so, so that overlap of commonalities is so little that I always feel very stressed.

Separated and separate.

Dhyana Levey: Talk to me about what your life is like now.

Dr. Tamara MC: So my education just continued. I ended up going on to get my bachelor’s degree. I think I might’ve done it in three years. I was taking 27 or 33 credits a semester because I just loved it so much. From there, I went on to get a master’s degree.

And then from there I went to get a PhD. So education just became my love and. Aside from that, I’m always in different workshops and different year long programs. I’m always learning. That’s a very important aspect of my life. I did get remarried while I was in university and I was married for 18 years.

I’m now divorced for over 10 years. And I had two sons in that marriage. So after I got married, I was in school, but I was also just a full time mom to my two boys. I stayed home with them and that was my life. Now I’m an empty nester. My boys are in their mid twenties and this is like a whole new, like, this is like not even a chapter, but it’s like this.

second half of my life. So I’m in a completely new place where I am not serving anybody anymore. Like I don’t have children, a home, a husband, like all these responsibilities. I’m actually able for the first time to focus on myself, on my career, on my passions.

Ashlen Hilliard: That’s wonderful. And what did your career end up being?

Dr. Tamara MC: So I became a linguist in our commune. I think we learned like five different languages. My grandmother also. So I spoke seven languages. So I grew up with language and that was really my love in life. So it’s not surprising that I went on to become a linguist. And I was teaching as a faculty member at the university.

And since then I am no longer teaching. I decided to leave academia and to work for myself and to become a freelancer. Now I do creative writing. And I’m a speaker. So I’ve like kind of left that behind too, because I felt within academia, I was too bound to too many rules, very much like in my group, it’s just like another group dynamic and I do so much better when I’m just able to work for myself and I’m able to make my schedule and I’m able to do what it is I know that I should be doing.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah, that makes sense. And have you talked to your children at all about your upbringing? Like, are they aware of how you were raised?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, so my kids, I really protected from my life because it’s not anything that I ever wanted for them. So while they know certain things about my life, they don’t know the details about my life.

Only recently, since I began sharing my story, have I told them more because now it’s becoming more necessary. And My youngest is 25 and he’s in a great space now as well. So I really did wait to share my story until both of my kids were about 25 years old. My other one is almost 28. My boys have like, they’re doing super well, so I think they can handle my stories now and they’re able to process it.

It won’t impact them in the same way had I told them when they were so much younger.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah. So you want to make sure they were settled. They knew who they were, they were good, and then you could. Kind of bring that information in. So was that the driving factor behind you wanting to come out, you know, around this time and start

telling your story?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. One factor was my children. I wanted to wait until they were in their mid twenties, both of them. So that was a big factor. I also wanted to make sure that I had all the proper education and all the proper research. So I wanted to make sure I had a doctorate and that I was an expert in my field when I began to share my story, I knew that I wanted all this.

skills to become a writer. Like now I’m a writer and I’ve spent 10 years learning the craft of writing, creative writing, outside of academic writing. So that was really important to me. I wanted to be in a place where I was fully. single and very happy with where I am in my life. I wanted to make sure that I was healed in a way that I felt I could share my story.

And when I’m sharing it, I’m not saying that they’re healed is like, like it’s this destination and I am healed, but I’m in a place where I feel safe and I feel empowered. And I feel that I have power over my life where much of my life, I didn’t feel that. So that was really important to me.

Dhyana Levey: Well, great. Well, I’m glad you feel that way now and you’re able to talk. Thank you for telling me your story and I hope you don’t mind sticking around for a little discussion

with Ashlyn.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, that’ll be great. Okay, great.

Dhyana Levey: Ashlyn, hello.

Ashlen Hilliard: Hi, hello. Thank you so much for bringing me in, Deanna, and thank you, Tamara, for sharing and the vulnerability that went into your sharing. I love how intentional you are, Tamara, about about really when you chose to share, who you chose to share with, how you wanted to make sure that you were sort of an expert and in a place of your own healing.

You have this sense of, I know the term mindfulness can kind of be like a tough term for people who came, but I think you guys know what I mean by mindfulness in this context where I feel like Tamara, you really have put so much thought and energy into determining what is best for you. And navigating these issues and when to share and what to share, and I really appreciate that about you.

So thank you.

Dr. Tamara MC: Thank you. Yes, I appreciate that.

Ashlen Hilliard: So, from the beginning, I thought it was really interesting how you talked about, Tamara, how your father was in a bookstore. And basically people from the group came and invited him to a group meeting, and there was this interest that was piqued. within him that cascaded into the events that led you on this journey as a child to now where you are as an adult.

And I think it really illustrates, you know, when people think about cult recruitment, cult involvement, group involvement, it doesn’t matter if you’re joining a group or a club or something more sinister. Oftentimes the process of recruitment conversion could just look so benign in nature. I mean, we’re talking about a bookstore.

How many times have you been in a bookstore and like you connect with interesting people or you’re like in a certain aisle and you’re looking at books that interest you and it may interest others as well. I mean, it just really illustrates like, of course, there are groups that really go hard, you know, at the recruitment, you know, Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, there’s a lot of door to door evangelism involved and things like that.

But it’s really sort of illustrative of the fact that the spectrum of group involvement, it can start with something as simple as having a conversation with someone in a bookstore. And I found that really fascinating. And I’m glad you shared that because it illustrates to me sort of this spectrum of recruitment where it started so benign in nature.

Dr. Tamara MC: Thank you. Yeah, that’s interesting that you brought that up. But yes, absolutely. It can begin that benignly.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah. Yeah. It’s really interesting that it can start like that. Just a really good example of how off guard people can be taken.

Ashlen Hilliard: You know, I, I actually had a question for you as well, Tamara. Why Texas?

Do you know why the group chose to settle in Texas?

Dr. Tamara MC: So I believe Texas began because the leader was in the petroleum business. So he came to the United States and. oil was in Texas. So that’s how it originally began. I also think maybe Texas was chosen because of land, maybe because of somewhat you can disappear in society.

And at that point you could just get like these huge pieces of land. And like many people wouldn’t bother you, you could kind of be unseen in many ways. Also, I think Texas law is a little bit lenient or maybe more so when it comes to certain things like child marriage. So I think in that way, I don’t know if that was actually seen like that was the choice.

But now that I look back, I think that that could definitely also be a reason.

Ashlen Hilliard: So getting into women and how women experience high control groups, you know, my past experiences, Tamara, is working with women who are fleeing polygamous situations, but it’s been within the context of polygamous groups out West, where there’s this like cultural identity and religious identity within the FLDS and the Warren Jeffs group, very Latter day Saint breakoffs, Christian sex, things like that.

And I found it Incredibly interesting to learn from your perspective because you had a totally different cultural, you know, lens that you experienced being a woman in and experienced polygamy in and navigating these things and yet there was just so much in your story where you could have replaced Sufi culture with whatever group or faith and it’s just so textbook similar, a lot of these similarities.

That women experience, you know, for example, being in a commune environment where you aren’t necessarily given boundaries, where you are living together, you’re living with all the children. There’s no separation where there’s very gendered roles where the women are chosen to be in the kitchen, bear the children to get married while the men may be doing more of the physical labor.

I love that you talked about. I think that’s really beautiful that you guys were drawn to each other and had that kind of relationship in the midst of what was going on. I realize it was probably a very trauma bonding relationship because you were all experiencing that adversity together, but I think those relationships are so powerful.

And it is, like what Deanna said, a lot of the times why people stay in these situations is because you are with people who Absolutely. Unquestionably. Get it. Yeah. And when you leave these groups, there is that sense of loneliness, which you alluded to where you wonder, do I have to now navigate and re explain my whole story, my life?

How much do I disclose? Who do I talk to? Does it even matter? You know, and it can feel extremely Lonely. And those sorts of relationships that involve trauma bonding, especially amongst women, right, where women were seen as almost traded goods, where women were seen for what they could bring and married very young.

And there was always this jealousy component. I see that with even FLDS, like, um, The boys would actually be the ones who, they would sometimes get kicked out of the group because they were seen, young boys were seen as competition when the older men were looking for more wives to add to their family.

Dr. Tamara MC: I’ve really studied a lot about the FLDS, you know, in recent years. And when I watch different documentaries or I read different memoirs, I just see myself. It’s like, I don’t even see there being a difference. I’m like, that’s, like, those are my people. Like, my whole life I haven’t found my people. I’ve been in so many places and I’m like, no, they don’t get it.

They don’t get it. And then I’ll be like. turn on, keep sweet, pray and obey, for example, the documentary. I’ll be like, yeah, that’s me. Like that’s who I see myself as. And I can totally put my body within the bodies of the women who are going through these things or the girls. And I can be like, I know how you feel because I felt that way.

Ashlen Hilliard: Of course, polygamy can be very religiously motivated, but there is this like culture of polygamy. within itself, which can be so relatable, no matter what religious practices the group may be employing. You referred to it as like a temporary marriage. They refer to it as, you know, they’re the spiritual wife.

It’s like a spiritual marriage where it’s not a legal one. It speaks to sort of this cultural component within polygamy. And I find that really interesting. You remind me of so many brave. Uh, women who left, you know, those polygamous groups as well, who I’ve been able to connect with over the years. So, yeah.

Dr. Tamara MC: No, it, it absolutely is a culture because it’s like living within polygamy, there’s so much that governs all the different relationships and the first wife versus. The last wife versus the young wife versus the older wife, the children of which wife and who are the preferred children and whose night is it with the leader?

I mean, there’s so much. And it’s like in my life, like we had what was called a Rota, like they called it a rotor, which I. Finally found the word it’s a Rota, which is I guess some British English, but it was a schedule of like, who’s sleeping with the leader when, where is the leader that night? And it’s like this whole thing.

So I felt like my whole life was governed by this Rota and. I mean, I can’t imagine somebody who hasn’t been in polygamy, like, even thinking like, oh, wait, it’s Wednesday. Wait, he’s with this wife today. .

Ashlen Hilliard: Yeah. And in their culture, that’s totally sort of normalized in so many ways, where they do have schedules and Yeah, I think people don’t realize when you talk about polygamy, they don’t realize how cultural it is.

And when you see lived experiences of that, you’re like speaking each other’s language.

Dhyana Levey: One thing I found interesting, and I guess it shouldn’t be an unexpected aspect of polygamy, is The amount of jealousy and fear that’s based behind it,

the marrying women off because they’re worried they’re going to tempt, you know, someone else’s husband, but then also what you mentioned, Ashlyn, how in the communities you’ve worked with and the polygamist communities you’ve worked with, they

were afraid of the boys. growing up there.

Ashlen Hilliard: Yes. And so. Yeah. Yeah.

Dhyana Levey: So I, I guess I hadn’t thought about that before, how driven by, I guess, fear or like intimidation of, I don’t know, young people’s beauty or sexuality, that these things are driven. And it made me want to ask you, Tamara, was that a similar experience for you that boys were kicked out or were kind of treated as competition?

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah. So I know about that in the FLDS community, we didn’t have a specific name for these boys. But the boys actually didn’t marry early in general. All of the men married the young girls and then the boys would have to wait maybe 10 years or whatever before they could marry. So all of the older men had their pick of who they wanted.

And then by that point, when the boys grew up, they would then probably take on girls who had already been divorced and had children from older men. So they would kind of get the men’s scraps at that point. And like, I haven’t really thought about this system, but it’s actually what was happening. So, so yes, I think it is similar and it functioned a little bit differently.

And that’s, I think one reason I wasn’t allowed to have an official marriage with the guy I was with, because we were kind of a little bit in similar ages. And there were many older men that had their eyes on me. And I think in particular, the leader wanted me for him. So I think that there’s a lot going on there.

Ashlen Hilliard: Yeah, you know, we hear about child brides as well within polygamous situations. Not all polygamous situations are child brides, you know, where there’s children involved. A lot of them are and can be or teach that that is, you know, sort of normalized, unfortunately. And, you know, Deanna, like you were saying with this jealousy component, unfortunately, Children in these groups are seen as goods to be traded, whether that’s for marriage, whether that’s for work, whether that’s for, you know, I’m going to have more kids so that they can watch the younger kids or the older kids, they are strictly seen as goods to be traded.

It’s a heartbreaking reality that kids aren’t really seen as. independent individuals, that they can just navigate their own life. They are always used for some kind of purpose.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah. And I feel like to a certain extent, adult women are treated in that same way. Like in some way they’re almost infantilized.

Yeah. They’re treated like their property and they’re treated like they’re there to work and they’re a possession. Yeah. So it’s like in some ways it feels like in some of these groups, they’re kind of just Putting women and children in a separate category. You know, you’re here for this. You’re this person’s property.

Dr. Tamara MC: Well, so for us, the women were our abusers and probably our main abusers because we were not really with the men very much and the women were the one who gave us all of their workload because they didn’t want to do it. So they handed it off to the young girls. So. The women actually had a very elevated status in comparison to the young girls.

So I do not really have much in common with the adult women in my community. Of course, I’m, you know, I grew up very close to them and so on. But is what I’m saying is that they were the worst abusers for me and for all the other girls.

Ashlen Hilliard: Mm hmm. And that’s not totally uncommon, especially when sometimes there’s so many kids, it’s not unusual that they can be placed with another caretaker or overseen by women most of the time because the men are sent off to do x, y, z thing.

And I’m really sorry to hear that. That who were supposed to be safe and important role models for you were the ones who were probably the most abusive growing up. So I’m very sorry to hear that that was a reality. I love hearing that education, which Gianna and I find through interviewing many survivors, education is so key for people’s recovery.

It can really broaden them up to all these different options for navigating life, what your passions are, how you want to make an impact. And I think education just. It speaks to the importance of education, and it’s something that can often be so restricted in these groups. What you were talking about with the modesty, you know, being covered up and all of that is just so relatable.

It’s very interesting in that women who are in cultures that are so either modesty focused, purity focused, whatever it may be, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a Christian context or in a different cultural context, is that, you know, when Women leave these groups, and it’s all they’ve ever known, this sort of purity thing, covering up to a T.

It’s interesting in that some women so comfortably go one way and say, I’m gonna start dressing totally opposite of how I was raised. It’s almost like a rebellious, I want to look and dress how I was raised. ever. I want to, and no one’s going to stop me. And I love that for them. And then there’s women who it’s kind of a, like, you know, I just feel comfortable.

This is just how I’ve always dressed. And I’m still sort of navigating my feelings about it, but like, I feel comfortable and still dressing conservatively in some ways. And that’s okay, too. I think sometimes when women are raised in really conservative cultural environments, it’s almost this expectation that if you were to leave that, that you just have the freedom to dress however you want.

And that could be revealing and what have you, but it’s also okay if you choose not to. And I’m someone who was raised in a very conservative environment as well. Not as conservative as what you were perhaps raised in, but I still love to wear jeans in the summer. I wear shorts, you know, still sometimes, but I really love wearing jeans.

And for me, I don’t know if I’ll ever want to wear like a dress. like a long dress again, or like a skirt again. But I still love, I kind of love being covered sometimes. And I think that sort of speaks to, there’s no one right way to this stuff. And there’s no expectation that if you leave a conservatively dressed culture that you will just feel comfortable to then depart from that radically.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, yeah, you’re right. I mean, like my sister who’s Very close in age to myself. And many of the girls, as soon as they left, like they put on the shortest shorts, they could, you know, they were showing their bellies, like whatever they could do, and I never did that. Like, I was just kind of like, uh, I still don’t feel comfortable.

And I’m not saying it’s a good thing. Like I would actually prefer to be like them to kind of have that comfort level. But I don’t, and I may never. Yeah. And I guess that’s okay.

Ashlen Hilliard: It is, it is. Yeah. I love that you kind of have that self awareness to be like, you know, sometimes I wish I was that, but I’m not, and I’m okay with that.

I think that’s amazing. I think that Everyone’s healing and how you navigate these issues, there’s not one right way.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah, it’s all about having the freedom to do what makes you comfortable.

Ashlen Hilliard: Yeah, to make those decisions.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, and I mean like, even like, you know, my girlfriends after they left, they started partying and drinking and smoke, like everything under the sun that they weren’t allowed to do.

But I didn’t go in that direction. I still have never tried a cigarette.

Ashlen Hilliard: I haven’t either. If it helps me feel better, I haven’t either.

Dhyana Levey: No comment.

Dr. Tamara MC: And I’ve never had like a glass of alcohol. Like I’ve never had, you know, sort of an illegal drug. Like it’s just not me. And so I just, like you said, I just have to accept that this is me.

Like I’m just a really, I don’t like the word conservative. But I think I really like to be in control of my life because I’ve been so out of control in my life that my way of controlling my life is by controlling the substances that go inside of me. And so I eat really healthily. Like I just kind of take it in a different extreme.

I’m like, okay, I’m just going to control in this way. So that I’m still in control, but I’m not going to do things that put me also in a place where I don’t know what’s happening, because I think I have so much trauma that I never want to be drunk or something. And then be in a situation, for instance, where I could be taken advantage of.

So I take that to a whole different extreme. And again, it’s not like I’m saying this is great. Like I wish I was more free and I wish I could go to a party and drink a little bit and be okay. But I’m just not

Ashlen Hilliard: right. And I love that for you. I love that that’s, you’re, you’re getting to make choices for yourself in your life, and that’s ultimately what’s really important.

And I really appreciate you sharing all of that.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah, me too. Well, Tara, I’m so glad that You talked with us, that you shared your story, that you stuck around for this discussion. It was fascinating. Ashlyn, thanks so much for coming in on this as well.

Dr. Tamara MC: Yes. Thank you so much. And it was so wonderful to spend this time with both you, Deanna, and with Ashlyn, and just to be in a room of people who understand.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah, I agree.

Ashlen Hilliard: Thank you so, so much. It would be my hope that you never feel lonely. with people like Deanna and myself, Samara. We share so much more in common than we even realize. And I just so appreciate you spending time with us today. It was a real joy. So thank you.

Dr. Tamara MC: Thank you. Yes. That’s the beauty of this is like finding these connections.

And I think that’s the greatest joy at this point in recovery and healing is now we’re in a place like where there are podcasts like yours and there is a way for us to connect where years ago this couldn’t have happened. Yeah. So this is just such a pivotal. place in, like, like we’re at a pivotal point in time where we are able to connect over these stories.

Dhyana Levey: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, that is one reason I started this podcast, because when I first started going through the process of figuring out, hey, what, what was that I was raised in? I didn’t have, Really anyone to talk to, like, I wish there had been a podcast I could stumble across and listen to people’s stories and be like, Oh, other people get it.

And I, you know, I feel that way now, but yeah, that’s just so important to have that. So thank you to both of you.

Dr. Tamara MC: Alrighty. Well, take care.

Ashlen Hilliard: Thanks so much guys. Have a good one.

Dhyana Levey: So that’s the show for today, and it’s also the finale to our third season. Thank you for listening and supporting the show, and also thank you, Ashlyn, for joining me on a lot of these episodes.

Ashlen Hilliard: You’re so welcome. It was such a pleasure to even be a part of this podcast. I love that this Podcast focuses on those who were born or raised in groups. I think it’s a really important population whose experiences should be covered more. And I feel like over the past season of Generation Cults, we’ve heard from not only survivors who have experienced coercion in one on one settings, but also in destructive group settings.

Whether religious or not so religious, could be cultural, and I just, I really appreciate the diversity of the lineup that you had on this season, so, thanks so much, Deanna.

Dhyana Levey: Thank you! It’s been quite an addition having you involved with your experience, your comments, yeah, I think it’s been a really good season, I really like The range of people we’ve had on.

So what are you up to these days, Ashlyn? What’s next for you?

Ashlen Hilliard: Yeah. So I’m still doing cult intervention work with my mentors, Pat Ryan and Joe Kelly with my LLC, People Leave Cults. You can find me in the work that I do on the website, peopleleavecults. com. I offer consultations in psycho ed for survivors.

as well as work with families who have been impacted by coercion and cults with loved ones. So I’m here and I’m in these spaces and if you guys would like to chat or meet, feel free to email me and check out my website, peopleleavecults. com.

Dhyana Levey: Great. Thank you. That’s such an excellent resource to have out there.

for people who are in the process of getting out of, or have already left, high control organizations like what we’ve discussed on the show. So yeah, if you need further help, please reach out to Ashlyn. So moving forward in the cult recovery space, I have a paper coming out in the International Journal of Coercion, Abuse, and Manipulation, summarizing my recent research on the effect that the media has on former cult members.

It’s called Cults and Media Stereotypes. Does media coverage of current and former cult members hinder victims recovery? So that’s kind of been my focus lately that I’m moving into, is the media’s relationship with cults. And if you like obscure academic journals about unsettling topics, by all means, Keep an eye out for my paper.

Ashlen Hilliard: I can’t wait to check that out. I also will be submitting a paper for that journal as well. And you’re probably further along than I am on that, but on reproductive coercion, uh, my research on that through the University of Salford. So I’m excited to read your paper, Deanna.

Dhyana Levey: Thank you. So I’m not sure if there’s going to be another season of Generation Cult.

At the end of season two, I said it was done for good and that ended up not being true because. We did this third season, so I’m not going to make any, you know, definitive statements at this point, but I would love to hear what you think. Do you want to hear more of the show? Listeners send us an email, generationcult at gmail.

com. What did you think of this season? Do you think there’s room for more seasons, even with all the other cult podcasts out there? Like, what do you think? Hit me up, let me know. Generation Cult is hosted and produced by me, Deanna Levy, with co hosting by Ashlyn Hilliard, original music by Leanne Dunn, and opening and closing tune by The Cha.

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