Not Without My Sister: The True Story of Three Girls Violated and Betrayed by Kristina Jones, Celeste Jones and Juliana Buhring
Kristina, Celeste and Juliana openly share the painfully disturbing memories of their life in a religious cult, The Children of God (also known as The Family International). Each woman, born to the same man, discusses her own experience as a second generation member - being torn from her parents and siblings, being left in the care of strangers, having the very basic of freedoms being ripped away as she is abused by those expected to protect her.
These women take us through the teachings and practices of the followers of David Berg and through their own lives of being moved from one country to another, always trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities, and always defensive of their beliefs. They show us the power of blind faith and how the desire to believe can overwhelm conscience and instinct, forcing one to believe they are weak simply because they doubt.
I just finished my second reading of this book. My first reading was haunted by the realization that this is not a work of fiction based on a made up city, in a made up land. The reading of the reviews on Amazon.com only made me see more clearly that this isn't even an isolated occurrence of abuse that happened in a tiny little nothing sort of town in a country few have ever heard of. Many of these homes were set in the center of some of the biggest cities around the world. The second reading made me associate the births and lives of these women with my own, them being raised in the same decades I was raised, having children within years of my own, and the reality that as of 2005, there were still active homes and members practicing the twisted teachings and beliefs of self proclaimed prophets.
I recommend this book to anyone who works with children, more so to those who work with children who have been abused and neglected. These women effectively describe how one can remain in a hostile, abusive situation, that they know is wrong, because of the lies and fears they have been fed about life outside the only world they know. It also accurately describes the resilience, the unconditional love and the ease of forgiveness these children have for their parents, despite their involvement, or lack of responsibility taken, in their abuse.
While working with abused and neglected children, it always amazed me at how readily children want for their abusers and how easily they let go of the memories in hope of change. I was sad at how easily they seemed to forget, knowing they would be let down again, but I also felt hope for them, that their abuser would see the forgiveness given by the child as a gift - a chance to make things right.
It is never easy to read about situations like this, but pretending they don't happen is foolish.
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