Sexual assault victim felt silenced and shamed in sect: ‘I had only ever known fear’

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A woman who was a victim of sexual violence as a child and teenager has spoken for the first time of the abuse – and how the secretive sect she was raised in turned a blind eye and later condoned her husband’s affairs.

The FBI is working with international law enforcement partners to investigate abuse within the group known as the ‘Two by Twos’ or ‘The Truth’, and police in New Zealand are investigating at least one former minister for historical abuse.

Former insiders have described the control the closed Christian group has over its members, with many unwritten rules and a belief it is the only true church, and that those who leave are destined for hell.

The sect has no official name or church building, and its itinerant ministers travel in same-sex pairs, staying in members’ homes.

Grace – not her real name – was subjected to years of sexual violence both in her home and the wider church when she was a child living overseas.

“By the age of 10, there wasn’t a single room in my house that was safe for me. I had only ever known fear – and needing to always be hypervigilant in trying to escape the inevitable.”

She remained in the same religious group when she came to New Zealand, attending meetings in people’s homes

Grace described how her subsequent marriage to a man who had grown up in the Two by Twos became psychologically abusive – he often mocked the mental health impacts of her trauma – and he had affairs, which she eventually disclosed to one of the sect’s top leaders at the time.

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