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This Girl Grew Up In A Cult Without Realising

by : Hannah Smith on : 24 Jun 2021 16:50
This Girl Grew Up In A Cult Without RealisingFaith Elizabeth Hunter/UNILAD/Facebook

A woman who grew up in a cult has spoken about what her experience was like, and how she realised she needed to get out.

Faith Elizabeth Hunter, who goes by Liz, was raised in Texas in a family belonging to the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) – also known as ATI – an ultra-conservative Christian sect established in 1961.

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As a child, Liz remembers that her family had no television, and weren’t allowed to watch films or TV or listen to any non-Christian music, cutting off their exposure to the outside world.

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Liz told UNILAD that instead, her entire upbringing was centred around traditional ideas of a patriarchal Christian family, and that most of her education consisted of Bible study, and learning how to be a good wife.

‘I would wake up at least by 6am and read the Bible for 30 minutes,’ she said. ‘And then all of our life skills were drive [toward being] married…I learned how to bake bread, I learned how to sew, and I learned how to play the piano.’

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She and her siblings were led by her father to believe that breaking any of his or the IBLP’s rules, or straying for their beliefs, would lead to her being ‘punished by God’.

Liz and her siblings were raised in the IBLP Christian sect (Faith Elizabeth Hunter/UNILAD/Facebook)Faith Elizabeth Hunter/UNILAD/Facebook

‘If you do anything that goes outside of your dad’s instructions, then God will no longer protect you and you could be open to all sorts of danger,’ she says she was told.

Things eventually changed for Liz when she left her hometown to go to college. Her parents had expected that she would ultimately return home and educate her siblings, and eventually her own children, but after making new friends, and going to see a therapist she says she began to realise that something wasn’t right.

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‘My therapist looked at me and she was like, Elizabeth, that’s child abuse,’ she remembers.

Liz broke away from her family after attending college (Faith Elizabeth Hunter/UNILAD/Facebook)Faith Elizabeth Hunter/UNILAD/Facebook

Liz says up until that point, she had no idea she’d lived her whole life in a cult, and that being confronted with the real world came as a shock. ‘I was a child who played with dolls, and then I was an adult, and there was no in between,’ she said.

Over the past decade, Liz, now 27, has managed to break away from her family’s cult, and is now living outside of Texas. She’s now using TikTok to raise awareness of the dangers of cults, and hopes that her story might help others being raised in cults to realise that they’re in a similar situation.

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‘You don’t have to let your abuse define you,’ she says. ‘It will hopefully be healing for other people too who have gone through that [to know] that you can recover, you can move on.’

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: Life, christianity, Now, Religion, TikTok

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UNILAD/Facebook
  1. UNILAD/Facebook

    I grew up in a cult without realising