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Not Without My Sister: The True Story of Three Girls Violated and Betrayed by Those They Trusted Hardcover – 2 Jul 2007

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Element (2 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007248067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007248063
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 14.5 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,015,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A chilling account of life in the grip of a sinister madness' Daily Mail

From the Author

Kristina Jones
When I left the Children of God in 1987 at twelve years old I had to start my life from scratch. In just one day my whole life had changed.
My newfound freedom was tainted by the fact that although I had escaped, other members of my family and childhood friends were still trapped in that world. What I had experienced was so extreme and so secret that there were times when I doubted myself that this dark world existed. Meeting other second generation ex-ers three years later who told similar stories, and who I could immediately relate to, was an important factor in doing what I could to somehow right the wrongs that were being committed against my generation every day.
I made a decision that I would not play ball and keep quiet. I have never regretted taking this position. Cult leaders demand 100 per cent loyalty and secrecy - in fact, they rely on it! My loyalty has always been to my family and to the truth. It was often stated by cult apologists and Family spokespersons that I was an isolated case. This was clearly not true, as can now be attested to through the cult's own literature and the accounts of thousands of other brave survivors who have been able to break free.
For many years, I was a lone voice speaking out against the abuse I suffered as a child, and even had to deal with my own father calling me a liar. I have consistently put my experience and knowledge to use by raising awareness about cults and never gave up hope that one day my family would be reunited. Revisiting the more traumatic memories from my childhood and hearing my sisters' stories have triggered some difficult emotions in me. But being re-united with and writing the book with Celeste and Juliana have gone a long way in enabling me to put to rest a very painful aspect of my life, and taught me that some dreams do come true.

Celeste Jones
From as early as I can remember, I never had a place I could call home. When I was ten months old our family left England for India. But soon I was not only separated from my extended family back in England, but my mother and father also separated, and I didn't see my mother, sister and baby brother again for fifteen years. My father told me that Jesus would reward me for sacrificing my family and that it would all be worth it in the end. The promise of a reward in Heaven was the carrot on the stick, the reason we were given for why we had to give up everything for the Family.
As a child, I believed everything I was told, just as a five-year-old accepts the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. But I also remember having questions as early as six. One afternoon I woke up from a nap with a burning feeling in my chest. I can still recall the dream I had vividly to this day. I dreamed that I had died and gone to Heaven. Amongst the clouds stood a tall, white statue. It was God, only he wasn't real, he was just a lump of stone, and a sense of disillusionment and anger overwhelmed me as I stood staring at it. The dream impacted me deeply and for the first time the thought entered my mind, `What if God doesn't really exist? What if everything I've been told isn't true? What if all this is just for nothing in the end?' Later on as an adolescent I questioned and at times rebelled, but after one too many knocks back, I shut down and stopped thinking.
It was only after I became a parent that I found the strength to take charge of my life and no longer let fear enslave me to a system of control that stripped me of my right to choose what was best for me and my daughter. Being reunited with my family, my brothers and sisters who were virtually strangers to me for most of my life, has been the biggest reward and source of happiness I could have ever imagined.

Juliana Buhring
I always wished to fly. I used to stare up at the sky from the confines of the cult commune walls and imagine growing wings and flying away. When I finally broke free from the cult of the Children of God/the Family, I was released from my cage, but the freedom was frightening. When I needed to get a bank account, or register my existence in order to get a job, officials looked at me like an alien from the moon. Apart from my passport, there were no records of my existence.
The most common line the Family uses against the ex-members who try and pursue justice for the wrongs they have suffered is, `Why can't they just get over it and move on? They need to leave the past behind and look ahead to the future. Forgive and forget.' I was indoctrinated to think this way for so many years. Now at last on the other side, I understand the reality. You may be able to forgive, but you cannot just `forget', nor erase a lifetime of memories.
I wanted to make sense of my life, and so I sat down and started to write my story. It was through this cathartic process that I came to understand the full implications of the power that one human can hold over another, that one narcissistic man held over the lives of thousands. This is not just the story of my family; it is the story of many families trapped beneath the deceptive facade of the cult I grew up in. It is my hope that our story will be the knife that slashes away the weeds, freeing those caught within to kick their way to the surface and breathe the air of freedom.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Celeste Jones on 19 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover
When we decided to write our memoir we were keenly aware of the controversy and notoriety that has surrounded the Children of God, now called The Family International. We endeavoured to produce an accurate account of our lives as children born into this evangelical breakaway group that started in the late 60's. As part of our research, we re-read through many of the Children of God's internal publications and watched the only remaining video footage of ourselves as children that was recovered only recently. The memories these images evoked were disturbing and painful. (Much of this information is now available at [...])

As children we were always told what we should feel and think, and were never allowed to express our own emotions, thoughts and feelings. In order to tell our story we had to unlock painful memories, which we had kept long suppressed. The freedom we now have to speak our minds without fear and intimidation has been cathartic and has helped us come to terms with our past. Through writing the book, we saw clearly the full implications of the power that one human can hold over another - that one man - David Berg, held over the lives of thousands. The power of a narcissistic leader, that both created our family and destroyed it.

David Berg believed that he could mould the children of his followers into a form of his own choosing and often boasted that the second generation would turn out to be the "proof of the pudding." His attitude mirrored closely John B. Watson who said that given "a dozen, healthy infants" and his "own specified world to bring them up in", he could turn them into whatever he wanted.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Williams VINE VOICE on 9 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
I think there is a temptation to judge books like this, not on the basis of how well written they are, but on the extent to which we sympathise with the author's point of view. It is impossible not to sympathise with the authors in this case, and I have no doubt of the truth of what they are saying. The closest I ever came to being involved with the COG was as a target for a failed attempt at flirty fishing in the mid-1970's, but I do have some experience in another organisation which, although much more mainstream and respectable then the COG, is somewhere on the same continuum, so many aspects of this book had the ring of truth for me. I think that what these three young women have done by leaving the organisation and then laying their lives bare so publicly is both very brave and very helpful to others in similar situations. But then to return to my first point, I feel that the book could have been much better written. I found it confusing; I was not always sure who was who, or whose voice I was listening to at any one time, and I was unable to keep track of the host of different characters and locations. I can appreciate the authors' difficulty; this is after all a factual book and not a novel, so it could be argued that too much editing or streamlining would do a disservice to the truth. I just found it a bit long and heavy-going towards the end. Perhaps if each of the sisters had written their stories completely separately they could have been presented as a trilogy. The three sisters had left the COG at different times, Juliana having left very shortly before this book was written. Perhaps a little more time for reflection would have helped, but perhaps it would have blunted its edge. If one or all of them were to write a follow up from a longer perspective in a few years from now, I would be interested in reading it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By reader on 6 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Three brave girls questioned the beliefs they were brought up in and found the courage, despite horendous indoctorination, to figure out what feels right for them in life.

What shines through in this book is the tremendous love and loyalty these sisters have for each other, all their siblings, mothers, and the friends who suffered with them. They even show profound tolerance and forgiveness towards their father.

A thoroughably readable book which shows how controlling and manipulative a cult can be and the effects it has on innocent lives.

I wish these brave and resilient girls happiness and success with their lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John McBride on 26 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
It is never pleasant to read some disturbing experiences that these young lady's have gone through. I kept questioning myself on why I was reading what I was. My wife, Mother in Law & sister in law all read this book & found it disturbing. The only reason I could find as to why I wanted to read such a book, was in the hope that the 3 lady's were now back together & leading 'normal' lives.

If you are planning to purchase this book, the details, I found, are very explicit. However, the truth has to be known & the truth definitely comes out in this book. Yes I feel extremely sorry for these young lady's knowing that while I was growing up, there were people suffering like they did. These young lady's are very brave. Brave to that fact of making it known the disgusting things these so-called 'adults' put them through & then these 'adults' trying to justify their crimes through the word of the lord.

I can only wish Kristina, Celeste & Juliana well, & congratulate them on their brave fight & wish them well in their continued fight to expose organisations such as the 'Children of God'.

This is a very good, well written, but painful book. The 3 lady's courage can be found to be inspirational & a lesson to us all.
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