Not Without My Sister: The True Story of Three Girls Violated and Betrayed by Those They Trusted Paperback – Jan 7 2008
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‘A chilling account of life in the grip of a sinister madness' Daily Mail
About the Author
Kristina, Celeste and Julianna were all born into the cult The Children of God to the same father, David Jones, who remains a member of the organisation. Kristina and Celeste share the same mother. The three girls were separated from each other and their mothers at an early age and lived in various missions throughout the world under the ‘care’ of various foster parents.
Both Kristina and Celeste were eventually able to escape the cult and study psychology at university. Julianna remained in the cult until well into her twenties, when falling pregnant provided the catalyst to make her escape. Julianna now works in Uganda, where she remains in contact with her remaining siblings in the cult.
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Although I grew up in "Family" cult communes in another continent half a world away, not knowing the authors (except for seeing videos and pictures of Celeste Jones at Music With Meaning, which the cult published and circulated), as I read "Not Without my Sister" I recognized the various directives from the cult leaders' "letters" that the authors mentioned - and the unfortunately mirrored consequences when the adults around us implemented those directives on me and the other children around me.
So many of the incidents that the 3 authors recount and the trademark environments, atmosphere and modus operandi during the various phases of the cult's history, echo uncannily with what I experienced and saw when I was confined in that insular world. Like the authors as children, it was the only world I had ever known; escape from servitude and a better future seemed impossible dreams. I think the authors handled particularly effectively the challenge of communicating, in a direct and almost conversational manner notably devoid of melodramatics, a child's inner experience of confusion and entrapment in the face of cult-approved and sponsored molestation and exploitation delivered by the perpetrators in tones of religious devotion and of being all "sweetness and light". Disabling distress is felt when one has no other frame of reference to confirm the unruly feelings that all was not well, feelings that went against something we were raised to think was "of God" while surrounded only by grown-ups who embraced that ethos (or were not sufficiently concerned about us children to confront it).
I should note for others raised in that cult that the reading brought back so much of what I experienced and saw that at times the painful memories were too much to continue and I had to put the book down for a time. If, on the other hand, you are unfamiliar with the cult, you may wonder why I would continue reading when that was the case. This brings me to one reason why it is so important that a book has finally been written about childhoods in a cult that has sunk enormous efforts and resources into rewriting its history (aided by certain "academic" types and others that have come within its sphere of influence) in its pursuit of recognition, acceptance and the resulting financial success it craves, all while being unwilling to make reparations to the children who were abused by it. There is a source of pain far greater than bad memories, which can be lethal to sanity and hope: being told that what you remember did not happen, that you are crazy, that you are lying. It is maddening enough when it is various perpetrators; it is absolutely devastating when it is, say, a parent.
As part of the first wave of children born into captivity in the "Family", I ran away one pre-dawn into the unknown, a minor in a 3rd world country at a time when those born in the cult did not leave it (unless, say, you became a runaway, perhaps never heard from again). I had never met or spoken with any relatives outside the cult to whom I could turn.
For what seemed like forever, I felt so alone without anybody else who could bear witness to what happened. I had no examples to show that there could be a future after that childhood, that one could get an education and carve out a fate other than the self-destruction the cult predicted for its "backslidden" children. If I were to dare that today, I would have this book, and my suffering would be immeasurably lessened.
In fact, back then, Kristina Jones' was one of the first voices I heard that bore witness. It seems that her sisters Celeste and Juliana take after that same courage.
This book strikes a blow against child abuse in all its guises, because the perpetrators' wager is that even if you live, you will not tell. However, this book also renders a very specific public service because, while The Family International may not be original among child abusers in the crimes it committed against children, it definitely pushed the envelope in its sustained operation - under the guise of a "Christian" movement - of an international clandestine conspiracy that carried out, covered for and profited from such exploits as child abuse, rape, incest, kidnapping, false imprisonment, torture, child slave labor and trafficking, prostitution, money laundering and medical neglect of minors (like me - I suffered severe and irreversible consequences affecting basic physical functions) and of vulnerable adults, which neglect sometimes resulted in negligent homicide, as my case almost did.
The Family International is now intent on strengthening its foothold in respectable circles that do not know its past, often putting forward as Project Managers of its charities (projects which more often than not focus on vulnerable youth) cult members who severely abused children. The constituencies that it is targeting have a right to know who they embrace or champion.
Perhaps progress will bring the day when institutions such as the USA's Internal Revenue Service will be informed enough so as to stop granting to the Family Care Foundation and other alter egos of such enterprises as The Family International the aegis under which to make millions through tax exemptions.
The book is carefully researched in terms of the history of the children of god, and succintly written without dwelling on the 'trauma' of the experience. The authors draw on only what they know and experienced themselves. The voices of the three girls come through clearly, intertwined with their adult selves.
What surprised me was the level of forgiveness they express towards their parents, who come across as drifting souls who were sucked into a cult that gave them the feeling of structure to their lives, and a sensation of importance, especially in the case of the father. The girls come across as positive and determined to move forward. The book is not a navel gazing searching for the reasons why their lives are bad, it is a clear thinking, well written account of what they actually experienced. I learned a lot. read it, if only to realise the blessings that you experienced in your own childhood
I picked up this book, in paperback, from my local library a couple days ago, just perusing the shelves for a quick book to read. The cover photo caught my eye, and with the title, gave an inkling of a tragic event these girls must have gone through. I did not pick it up because I knew it was about cult survivors, I picked it up because it made me think about my own sister and the bond of friendship we have together and how we have always helped each other through life's ups and downs and laughs and good and bad times. When I finished reading it a day later, I realized this recounting of abuse and terror beyond belief, hidden from the outside world, most likely will stay with me for the rest of my life. You don't forget atrocities like this, especially to young innocent precious children....children who look to adults for gentle and sure guidance, and well founded morality, and mostly, the LOVE of the parent for his/her CHILD, repeat: CHILD, not 21 year old, CHILD, THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE knowledge and/or actual actions of: intercourse, oral sex, strip teases and suggestive nude dances, nude photo sessions, sex ed at age 3, sex practices at age 3, belief that it's good to "LOVE" Jesus, etc....(AS IF you needed to have anymore to add to that list).
As for the people who reviewed here saying this was a fabricated story, why would you sincerely doubt them? Why else would these women go on in their lives to start an organization to help children in life threatening abusive situations? [...]
They could have been accountants, teachers, sports pros, scientists, etc., but they chose to be abused child advocates...a job ALL of us aspire to, don't we? Yep, sounds like they are full of hot air, uh huh, yup. Sigh.
All you have to do is watch this video [...]
by a young guy who was driven to suicide and murder by these sicko cult members, who was right in the middle of this cult, by his own parents, founders of the cult. Sick stuff...
I am so very happy for these women that they were able to escape this so-called family to start their new lives outside; but all these horrible memories still are fresh and painful and they will have them forever. Can you imagine? Can you EVEN.....imagine?
To Celeste, Juliana, and Kristina:
know that your words will live beyond this book; many people will continue to come out for years, through your words if they are able to get this book, and there will be a collective voice larger than you ever imagined, if you are not already seeing it now. With this book, you have sent a beacon of hope out to many. Your online site has forums that are helpful to survivors and informational to those who are wanting to help. There are dangerous, damaging, very enticing, and on-the-surface charismatic cults existing everywhere in this world at this very second...and knowing this very fact, if we don't protect our children from their twisted visions, we can and should be held accountable for the damage done to our very own families.
Bravo to you all for speaking out!!! You are believed.
Upon seeing the size of it I felt confidant that I would never read it, however, after skimming through it and seeing all the familiar terminology and names, I decided to start from the beginning. I finished it in 5 days. That's fast for me.
I could relate to almost every situation, and to all the feelings of frustration, boredom and anger that arose from being in those kind of situations. I will never go back.
After spending the first 20 years of my life in "the family" I can say from first hand experience that the information presented in this book, is an accurate representation of life in "the family".
Anyone who has a problem with my review can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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