A SURVIVOR of a notorious cult has revealed the brutal beatings and starvation of his childhood after he was snatched from his mother by an evil “Messiah”.
Ben Shenton was one of up to 28 children who were drugged and viciously abused by elders in The Family.
thefamilysect.com Ben Shenton was one of up to 28 children who were drugged and viciously abused by elders in The Family cult
The wicked sect was led by charismatic yoga teacher Anne Hamilton-Byrne, who “collected” kids from brainwashed parents in preparation for doomsday.
Doctors and lawyers who believed she was a reincarnation of Christ helped her take babies from psychiatric patients and forge birth records to say she was their natural mother.
She dressed them in matching Von Trapp-style outfits and bleached their hair in identical white bobs.
They were also drugged with tranquillisers and LSD, and if they stepped out of line were whipped and denied food for days on end.
The scandalous abuse was exposed when cops raided The Family’s sprawling compound near Melbourne, Australia, in 1987.
WHIPPED AND DRUGGED
Ben Shenton, 15 at the time he was rescued with his “siblings”, had spent his whole life there with almost no contact from outsiders.
He later learned his birth mother was one of the brainwashed “aunties”, the female devotees who imposed a brutal regime under the leader’s orders.
Ben, now in his mid-50s, told news.com.au how anyone who shared details of their life with outsiders was “severely punished” – leaving him terrified to speak on the rare occasions he saw any.
He said: “No non-cult member was invited into a cult property without the express permission of Hamilton-Byrne or that was an immediate excommunication offence.”
Ben recalls horrendous memories — “water torture, beltings, missing out on meals for days on end, loss of the meagre privileges we had, fingers being held over candles.”
While other children would rebel and take brutal beatings, he coped through compliance, telling on his siblings to limit the torture.
He said: “I was rightfully treated as the ‘snitch’ and ostracised with any hope or ability of bonding with my peers not possible.”
Other survivors have told how they ate grass and gnawed on bones left out for dogs because they were deliberately starved to keep them docile.
They were given Tramadol and valium from birth and aged 14 were fed huge doses of LSD.
The kids’ only knowledge of the outside world came from books, and they slowly began to realise their upbringing was not like other people’s.
Ben recalls: “We didn’t leave the compound and had to be secretive, weren’t allowed to go anywhere without a chaperone.
All these things began to register, this wasn’t what other children went through in lifeBen Shenton
“All these things began to register — this wasn’t what other children went through in life.
“I would have been around ten when we began to refer to the cult compound as the ‘Concentration Camp’ – my home, from my earliest memories, up until I was 15 years old.”
Hamilton-Byrne, who founded the cult in 1963 and milked a fortune from her rich believers, fled to the USA with her husband after the raid in 1987.
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She later returned to Australia but most of the charges were dropped as her devotees refused to give evidence and experts said the children were too traumatised to be reliable.
But Lex de Man, one of the senior detectives who tried to bring charges against Anne, said: “She is the most evil person with the most evil set of crimes I have ever investigated.
“If you want to know the definition of evil, you look at Anne Hamilton-Byrne.”
thefamilysect.com Victims were drugged with tranquillisers and LSD, and if they stepped out of line were whipped and denied food
thefamilysect.com The wicked sect was led by charismatic yoga teacher Anne Hamilton-Byrne
thefamilysect.com She ‘collected’ kids from brainwashed parents in preparation for doomsday
thefamilysect.com The scandalous abuse was exposed when cops raided The Family’s sprawling compound near Melbourne, Australia, in 1987
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Documentary ’The Family’ investigates life inside a notorious Australian cult where children were starved, tortured and given LSD