Lilia Tarawa, the grandchild of a religious cult leader, and the author of the 'Daughter of Gloriavale,' a work that explains how she broke free, begins her talk on cults by speaking to some of the draws it had to her young self.
As a child, she quickly developed an appreciation for the sense of community the cult had, and looked forward to working for the benefit of the collective, rather than just herself. She explains that all the money those in the cult earned went towards a shared bank account, which was used to provide housing, clothing, and other essentials to those there.
She remembers a turn in this sense of enjoyment when she was just 6 years old, when she had achieved excellent grades on her school report and notes of encouragement from her teacher. Her grandfather, the leader of the cult, read out her results to a crowd of 500 people at dinner, only to conclude by looking down at her and saying, "We don't want women like you." Devastated, she found herself overwhelmed with humiliation, a feeling that she said became common place during her time with the cult.
While the rampant culture of misogyny that the cult promoted continued to flourish, Tarawa found that pressure to marry and have children consumed her. Although she was happy with the idea at first, despite only being 12 years old, she realized the lack of freedom those in the cult had when her husband to be was brutally punished for going against the rules.
By witnessing this, Tarawa began to grow more suspicious of the laws that governed the cult, and started to question those in control. The violence she witnessed in the community caused Tarawa to no longer wish for children of her own to be raised there. When she witnessed a friend of hers try to escape, she saw the insidiousness of the cult's leadership rear its head again, as they tried to force her to say by threatening her. This event caused her to see just how deep the manipulative actions of the cult went.
As she grew older, Tarawa planned to run away too, and she left with her family. Once she was gone, she began to research human nature to get a better understanding of how she was taken advantage of. By taking this information and applying it to her own experiences, Tarawa has been able to find the power behind self-love, and teach others what's possible with a conscious and empowered mindset. With her speech on cults, she inspires her audience to take ownership of their greatness, and never let others allow them to think differently.
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