From as early as three years old, Juliana, Celeste and Kristina were treated as sexual beings by their 'guardians' in the infamous religious cult known as the Children of God. They were made to watch and mimic orgies, received love letters and sexual advances from men old enough to be their grandfather, and were forced into abusive relationships. They were denied access to formal schooling, had to wander the streets begging for money, and were mercilessly beaten for 'crimes' as unpredictable as reading an encyclopaedia.
Finally, unable to live with the guilt of what had happened to her children, their mother escaped with Kristina, cutting herself off from her remaining children in a bid to save at least one child. Desperate to save her sisters, Kristina eventually returned to the place of her torture to free Celeste. Years later, Juliana found the courage to escape, knowing that the child she was carrying would be subjected to the same fate if she did not.
Now the three sisters have finally come together to reveal in full and horrific detail their existence within the Children of God cult. Their stories reveal a community spread throughout the world and its legacy of anorexia, depression, drug abuse, suicide and even murder. Lives are ripped apart and painstakingly mended with a shared strength that finally enabled the sisters to free themselves from the shadows of their past.
Kristina, Celeste and Julianna were all born into the cult The Children of God to the same father, David Jones, who remains a member of the organisation. Kristina and Celeste share the same mother. The three girls were separated from each other and their mothers at an early age and lived in various missions throughout the world under the ‘care’ of various foster parents.
Both Kristina and Celeste were eventually able to escape the cult and study psychology at university. Julianna remained in the cult until well into her twenties, when falling pregnant provided the catalyst to make her escape. Julianna now works in Uganda, where she remains in contact with her remaining siblings in the cult.
Follow the true stories of Juliana, Celeste and Kristina in “Not Without My Sister” as they struggled to flee from a community which denied them formal schooling, mercilessly beat them for unpredictable crimes and even forced them to watch and mimic orgies. When the girls’ mother manages to escape with Kristina, she is determined to return to the place of torture to free her remaining sisters – but will they all make it out together?
In “Born Into the Children of God”, Natacha Tormey is exposed to similar terrors, torn away from her parents to be beaten daily and forced to sing and dance for entertainment in prisons and malls. When Natacha managed to escape at the age of 18, she found herself struggling to come to terms with the world she had left behind, yet unable to fit into the life she had run to. Shocking, moving, but ultimately inspiring, this is Natacha’s full story; both a personal tale of trauma and recovery, and an exposé of the secret world of abuse hidden behind commune walls.
Cathy, an experienced foster carer, is pressured into taking Jodie as a new placement. Jodie's challenging behaviour has seen off five carers in four months but Cathy decides to take her on to protect her from being placed in an institution.
Jodie arrives, and her first act is to soil herself, and then wipe it on her face, grinning wickedly. Jodie meets Cathy's teenage children, and greets them with a sharp kick to the shins. That night, Cathy finds Jodie covered in blood, having cut her own wrist, and smeared the blood over her face.
As Jodie begins to trust Cathy her behaviour improves. Over time, with childish honesty, she reveals details of her abuse at the hands of her parents and others. It becomes clear that Jodie's parents were involved in a sickening paedophile ring, with neighbours and Social Services not seeing what should have been obvious signs.
It’s clear that Josie needs psychiatric therapy, but instead Social Services take Jodie away from her, and place her in a residential unit. Although the paedophile ring is investigated and brought to justice, Jodie’s future is still up in the air. Cathy promises that she will stand by her no matter what – her love for the abandoned Jodie is unbreakable.
Juliana Buhring had been mired in a dark hole of depression after the death of a man she loved, and when an acquaintance suggested they honor his memory by biking across Canada, she thought, “Canada? Why not the world?” And why not alone.
She had never seriously ridden a bicycle before. She had no athletic experience or corporate sponsorship, but with just eight months of preparation, Juliana Buhring departed from Naples, Italy, in July 2012 aiming to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. She set out believing she might not ever return, but that she had nothing to lose. Over 152 days, Juliana’s ride spanned four continents and 18,060 miles. She traversed small-town and big-mountain America, Australian desert expanses, South Asian rainforests and villages, and Turkish plains. She suffered innumerable breakdowns, severe food poisoning, hostile pursuers, and the international longing for a good Italian espresso. When she crossed the finish line into Naples before the end of the year, she officially became the fastest woman to cycle the world (beating prior men’s records, to boot).
Accomplishing what she never thought she could, buoyed by the outpouring of support from friends and strangers, Juliana rediscovered herself. In the process she proved that there are no extraordinary people—there are only people who decide to do extraordinary things.
Joe was just five years old and the horrific scene literally struck him dumb. He didn't speak for four and a half years, which meant he was unable to ask anyone for help as his life turned into a living hell.
His schizophrenic mother and two of his older brothers spent the following years beating him, raping him and locking him in the cellar at the family home. Fed on scraps that he was forced to lick from the floor, he was sometimes left naked in the dark for three days without human contact.
Unable to read or write, all Joe could do to communicate his suffering was draw pictures.
The violence and sexual abuse grew in severity as more people, including his stepfather, were invited to use him in any way they chose.
The only thing that saved Joe was the kindness of his elder brother and his only school friend, both of whom showed him that love was possible even in the darkest of situations.
At fourteen he finally found the courage to run away, hiding in a hut by a railway line, fed on scraps by some local children who found him.
Joe's is the ultimate insider's story, casting light into the darkest of hidden worlds, and a truly inspirational account of how one small boy found the strength to overcome almost impossible odds and become a remarkable man. Now that he has found his voice again, Joe speaks out against child abuse and helps support and protect other children whose lives have been blighted by it.