Cult survivor speaks out on physical and mental abuse

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A former member of a controversial religious cult has spoken out about her experiences – and will tell a Glasgow audience how to recognise the red flags themselves.

The Children of God – currently known as The Family International – was founded in 1968 by David Berg, who believed there should be no age or relationship restraints on sex because he viewed it as a divine act, and in the 1970s and 80s operated at sites in Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Jeremy Spencer, a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, left the band to live with the cult, which at its height claimed 10,000 full-time members, while actors Rose McGowan, River Phoenix and Joaquin Phoenix were all members in childhood.

The group is controversial and has been accused of sexual abuse of children: Alexander Watt, a former member, was convicted in 2018 of abusing children in Renfrewshire and on the east coast, Derek Lincoln was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years after admitting offences in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire between 1989 and 1996.

It has been criticised for its practice of ‘Flirty Fishing’, wherein female members of the cult would ‘fish’ men to join – the practice was stopped due to the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections.

Bexy Cameron was born into the Children of God and will speak about her experiences, as well as her research into cults and cult leaders, at Glasgow’s CrimeCon on September 16.

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