Cult Survivor Barely Escaped At 15 Years Old

( Newsweek published a column from cult survivor Daniella Mestyanek Young who recounts her struggle to overcome the damage of being raised in The Children of God cult, which she escaped at 15.

The members of the cult, which was founded in California in 1968 by David Berg, referred to themselves as “The Family” and believed their mission was to prepare for the end of the world.

She writes that the cult began practicing “religious prostitution” in 1974 which lasted until 1987. Women were expected to sell their bodies for donations to the group.

Mestyanek Young writes that she chose to leave the cult in large part because when she turned 16, she would have been deemed an adult by the cultists and expected to engage in such sexual activity without birth control.

Mestyanek Young describes her experiences in the group and her struggles adjusting to the outside world.

Eventually, she ended up in Houston living with her sister who also escaped the cult. There she graduated from high school in two years and went on to college. After college, Mestyanek Young joined the military. She explains that she wanted the same structure and discipline she had while in the cult.

For ten years, Mestyanek Young hid her past and struggled to play the role of a normal person. But while serving in the military, she writes, she finally stopped “fighting every moment” of normal life and found a sense of belonging.

She opened up about growing up in a cult and “allowed people to see the real me,” realizing that the shame she felt had not been her fault.

Read her account HERE.