A couple of days ago feb 3 2008, I got involved as reader in a discussion about how bad cults are in internet and after that discovered the story of the family in wikipedia.
Never ever did I talk or write in a public manner about my experiences by the Children of God.I got involved in the organisation 30 years ago in Portugal, by hand of the man that soon after that became the father of my children. He was more than twice my age,made sure my family broke with me, and never told me beforehand anything about how the organisation really worked. 4 years later I left, with much effort and fear because all the time I was afraid the group together with the father of my children would take them away and I would never see them again.
I was in Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Holland and I witnessed sexual behaviour of adults with children, polygamy, sexual promiscuity, men imposing their selfish (sexual) desires on women in the homes, men humiliating other men by taking their wives aside in another room to share the Lord's love, flirtyfishing ( prostitution), exorcism and laying hands on sick people instead of taking them to the doctor. This all in the name of God. I felt sick and guilty of witnessing this things. My upbringing was conservative catholic and quite authoritarian, and with many things I disagreed but in the Family many dont's of my prior life just became doe's. Among the ones who used God to pursue their own desires there were also many truly humble, honest believers who just weren't strong and intelligent enough to think for themselves and as result just followed the leaders. they had to go out every day and beg for money (and give mo letters to passers by) to give much of it to the leaders. Women thought they were doing the Lord's work by having sex with strangers, but most of those strangers just saw them as prostitutes even if they didn't ask for money. But again everyone wanted to please God by pleasing the leaders and following the letters, and it was quite something if you had some nice stories to share with the others in the meetings. Peer pressure was big and the system was the enemy. Not everywhere where I came were people doing bad things, but the letters were mostly taken very seriously and followed. I was nearly 19 when I met the group an knew nothing of the world. 4 years later I had 3 children and knew one thing for sure: I had to go away or nothing would be left of me and my ability to use my own discerning power. I was also very much concerned about my responsibility as mother towards my children, whom I was afraid I wouldn't be able to protect and bring up in a way that they later could make their own choices in life. Now I feel compelled to do write here specially after reading that many young people brought up in this cult have experienced lots of trouble, even committed suicide. I am sorry for them and for their parents. My stay in the family marked me for life: from an innocent girl full of idealism and belief in people and god I became an adult struggling to build a new life and keep my belief in people and God. It worked. Against all odds, my life turned out quite well and I brought my kids up to make their own decisions and stand on their feet. I believe in God and testify of my believe to people who ask me about it but I am not in the business of converting others. No matter what people think or believe God is and will always be.
To all who read this I wish the best.