Tag: Patricia Walsh Chadwick

5 Shocking Memoirs by Cult Survivors

There is an abundance of cult literature out there— exposés of various cults, sects and organizations, but memoirs are where the real stories are. Here are five of the most shocking memoirs by cult survivors.

 

1. Little Sister by Patricia walsh Chadwick 

 

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Sirius XM Host Gary Dell’Abate praises Patricia Walsh Chadwick’s “perseverance, wit and courage” as she describes her upbringing in the sequestered community that called itself the “Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Bestselling Catholic author Mary Gordon notes that Little Sister “sheds light on a part of the history of American Catholicism that has been kept in the shadows. This fascinating, often horrifying story lets us in on the secrets of a cult that separated parents from children, fostered psychological abuse, and isolated its members from the modern world… all in the name of the One True Church.”  Despite entering society for the first time at eighteen, never having read a newspaper or used a phone, Chadwick achieved a BA in Economics from Boston University and embarked on a thirty-year career in the investment business, leading to her becoming a Global Partner at Invesco. In 2016, she founded Anchor Health Initiative, which serves the LGBTQ community in Connecticut, where she lives.

 

They promised her heaven, but there was no savior.

Imagine an eighteen-year-old American girl who has never read a newspaper, watched television, or made a phone call. An eighteen-year-old-girl who has never danced—and this in the 1960s.

It is in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Leonard Feeney, a controversial (soon to be excommunicated) Catholic priest, has founded a religious community called the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Center’s members—many of them educated at Harvard and Radcliffe—surrender all earthly possessions and aspects of their life, including their children, to him. Patricia Chadwick was one of those children, and Little Sister is her account of growing up in the Feeney sect.

Separated from her parents and forbidden to speak to them, Patricia bristles against the community’s draconian rules, yearning for another life. When, at seventeen, she is banished from the Center, her home, she faces the world alone, without skills, family, or money but empowered with faith and a fierce determination to succeed on her own, which she does, rising eventually to the upper echelons of the world of finance and investing. 

A tale of resilience and grace, Little Sister chronicles, in riveting prose, a surreal childhood and does so without rancor or self-pity.

 

2. The Burn Zone by Renee Linnell 

 

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Images Via Amazon

 

Linnell’s memoir details how a hugely successful entrepreneur found herself powerless in a cult, and how she managed to escape and regain her life and herself once more. In this hugely inspirational memoir, Linnell shows how anyone can end up brainwashed, and the strength it takes to leave and become whole again, once you have experienced such life-altering loss of control.

After seven years of faithfully following her spiritual teacher, Renee Linnell finally realized she was in a cult and had been severely brainwashed. But how did that happen to someone like her? She had graduated magna cum laude with a double degree. She had traveled to nearly fifty countries alone before she turned thirty-five. She was a surf model and a professional Argentine tango dancer. She had started five different companies and had an MBA from NYU. How could someone like her end up brainwashed and in a cult? 

The Burn Zone is an exploration of how we give up our power―how what started out as a need to heal from the loss of her parents and to understand the big questions in life could leave a young woman fighting for her sanity and her sense of self. In the years following her departure from the cult, Linnell struggled to reclaim herself, to stand in her truth, and to rebuild her life. And eventually, after battling depression and isolation, she found a way to come out the other side stronger than ever. Part inspirational story, part cautionary tale, this is a memoir for spiritual seekers and those who feel lost in a world that makes them feel less than perfect.

 

3. Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill and Lisa Pulitzer.

 

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Niece of the Church of Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, Jenna Miscavige Hill escaped the Church at the age of twenty-one, after a life of controlled abuse within the secretive organization. Her memoir reveals the Church’s methods of recruitment, reliance on celebrity endorsement, control, theft and punishment.  

Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org—the church’s highest ministry, speaks of her “disconnection” from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

In this tell-all memoir, complete with family photographs from her time in the Church, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider’s profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood’s brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

 

4. The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser 

 

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The nineteenth wife of the eighty-five-year-old polygamist leader of her people’s prophet, Rebecca Musser escaped the dangerous cult in which she grew up, and testified against its leaders, including her husband Warren Jeffs. Her testimony led to his imprisonment and revelations of the horrific abuse suffered by the child brides in the fanatically religious Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

 

Rebecca Musser grew up in fear, concealing her family’s polygamous lifestyle from the “dangerous” outside world. Covered head-to-toe in strict, modest clothing, she received a rigorous education at Alta Academy, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ school headed by Warren Jeffs. Always seeking to be an obedient Priesthood girl, in her teens she became the nineteenth wife of her people’s prophet: 85-year-old Rulon Jeffs, Warren’s father. Finally sickened by the abuse she suffered and saw around her, she pulled off a daring escape and sought to build a new life and family. 

The church, however, had a way of pulling her back in-and by 2007, Rebecca had no choice but to take the witness stand against the new prophet of the FLDS in order to protect her little sisters and other young girls from being forced to marry at shockingly young ages. The following year, Rebecca and the rest of the world watched as a team of Texas Rangers raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a stronghold of the FLDS. Rebecca’s subsequent testimony would reveal the horrific secrets taking place behind closed doors of the temple, sending their leaders to prison for years, and Warren Jeffs for life. 

The Witness Wore Red is a gripping account of one woman’s struggle to escape the perverse embrace of religious fanaticism and sexual slavery, and a courageous story of hope and transformation.

 

5. Synanon KidA Memoir of Growing Up in the Synanon Cult by C.A. Wittman

 

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In the late 70s, C.A. Wittman was kidnapped by her own mother and brought to live in the infamous Synanon Cult. For five years she lived in the cult, and in this memoir, she details a childhood of warped relationships and feelings of displacement, of strange dichotomies and the need for survival. 

In February of 1977, during a weekend visit to her uncle’s home in Riverside Valley, California, Celena was taken in the night. Two radicalized women planned the kidnapping. Both were members of the Synanon cult’s Kidsnatchers group in Marin. One of the women, Celena would learn, was her mother, whom she had not seen for two and half years. Leaving Los Angeles, she came to enter a strange, secluded world where childhood was an experiment, and no relationship was sacred. Immersed in the strange and deviant society of Synanon, Celena would spend the next five years subject to the unpredictable whims of Charles Dederich, the cult’s shadowy leader. In a series of scenes, Synanon Kid chronicles cult living from a young girl’s perspective and her search for identity and belonging in a world of physical and familial displacement. From the African American communities of South Central Los Angeles to the racially integrated, yet rural and isolated world of Synanon, Celena tries to make sense of and navigate the dichotomy of the mainstream blue-collar life into which she was born and the counterculture lifestyle she inherited. A haunting tale of estrangement, Synanon Kid, is a coming-of-age story of hope, survival, and determination. It is also a story of the unconditional love between a mother and daughter and how that love helped a young girl to grow and flourish against the odds of her distorted childhood.

'Trans Mission,' 'Little Sister,' & 'Knockout'

Bookstr’s Three to Read This Week 6/13/19

Sometimes, the most incredible stories are true. Yes, that includes the anecdotes of party fouls and beach meet-cutes you’re surely hearing from your friends as summer rolls in. But it mostly refers to true stories on a much grander scale: tales of overcoming adversity and accomplishing incredible things. This week, Bookstr is bringing you three life-changing works of nonfiction, from a trans man’s memoir-slash-guide to pursuing the life you want, to a financier raised in a cult, to the legacy of an enduring cultural icon. All three of our authors have faced difficult circumstances, whether it’s coming out and undergoing surgery; being isolated from TV, music, and the outside world through adolescence; or growing up under segregation. Keep reading to get a look at three stories as powerful as their narrators.

Check out Bookstr’s Three to Read, the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week!

 

OUR HOT PICK

Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard 

 

'Trans Mission' by Alex Bertie

 

Synopsis:

Being a teenager is difficult enough, but having to go through puberty whilst realising you’re in the wrong body means dealing with a whole new set of problems: bullying, self-doubt and in some cases facing a physical and medical transition.

Alex is an ordinary teenager: he likes pugs, donuts, retro video games and he sleeps with his socks on. He’s also transgender, and was born female. He’s been living as a male for the past few years and he has recently started his physical transition.

Throughout this book, Alex will share what it means to be in his shoes, as well as his personal advice to other trans teens. Above all, he will show you that every step in his transition is another step towards happiness. This is an important and positive book, a heart-warming coming-of-age memoir with a broad appeal.

 

Why?

Twenty-three-year-old Alex Bertie is a popular YouTuber who has been profiled for both BBC and The Times—and, more importantly, he’s chronicled his gender transition online for the last six years. With 300,000+ subscribers, he’s made his platform count with educational videos on binding safely, preparing for top surgery, and avoiding offensive language to describe trans people. While trans issues have recently moved into the public consciousness, activists like Alex who have bravely publicized their experiences for years. In addition to these educational videos, Alex also shares his opinions and experiences having sex as a trans person, attending pride, online dating, and coping with mental health issues. For young people who may not have found a LGBT+ community of their own, Alex’s open discussion of gender & sexual identities provides support and advice that some may not otherwise have access to. Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard is a profoundly honest and potentially lifesaving resource for anyone questioning their gender identity: Bertie discusses self-harm, dysphoria, and how he gradually came out and began his path to emotional healing. Perfect for LGBT+ pride month!

 

OUR BEACH READ

 Little Sister: A Memoir 

 

'Little Sister A Memoir' by Patricia Chadwick

 

Synopsis:

They promised her heaven, but there was no savior.

Imagine an eighteen-year-old American girl who has never read a newspaper, watched television, or made a phone call. An eighteen-year-old-girl who has never danced—and this in the 1960s.

It is in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Leonard Feeney, a controversial (soon to be excommunicated) Catholic priest, has founded a religious community called the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Center’s members—many of them educated at Harvard and Radcliffe—surrender all earthly possessions and aspects of their life, including their children, to him. Patricia Chadwick was one of those children, and Little Sister is her account of growing up in the Feeney sect.

Separated from her parents and forbidden to speak to them, Patricia bristles against the community’s draconian rules, yearning for another life. When, at seventeen, she is banished from the Center, her home, she faces the world alone, without skills, family, or money but empowered with faith and a fierce determination to succeed on her own, which she does, rising eventually to the upper echelons of the world of finance and investing.

A tale of resilience and grace, Little Sister chronicles, in riveting prose, a surreal childhood and does so without rancor or self-pity.

 

Why?

In the tradition of Tara Westover’s Educated: A Memoir, Patricia Walsh Chadwick’s Little Sister: A Memoir tells a story of success despite harrowing odds. Featured in the New York Post, the gripping memoir depicts a childhood as impossible to imagine as it must have been to inhabit. As a child, Chadwick had never watched TV or read a newspaper. After being indoctrinated into a sequestered religious life since birth, a series of natural teenage crushes led to the cult community determining she was not fit to serve God. They allowed her to finish her senior year of high school, and then—not even an hour after her graduation—she was exiled from everything she had ever known. Despite all this, Chadwick became an incredible success with an accomplished thirty-year financial career and a CEO position in theLGBT+ health organization she founded herself. Powerful and moving, this is a memoir you’re unlikely to forget—a memoir unlike any other you’ve ever read before.

 

OUR DARK HORSE:

Knockout: The Art of Boxing 

 

'Knockout: The Art of Boxing' by Ken Regan

 

 

Synopsis:

Ken Regan was a young photographer in 1964 when he covered Muhammad Ali’s first fight: his historic victory over Sonny Liston in Miami Beach. Afterward, the young photographer embarked on a life-long love affair with the sport of boxing.

For the next four decades, Regan would go on to chronicle the greatest fights and the greatest fighters of the age. His extraordinary photographs include many of the most enduring images ever created in the annals of boxing, as well as portraits of notable trainers, managers, promoters, writers, and the whole panoply of celebrities associated with the sport. Featuring some of the greatest ring action in boxing history, Knockout takes us from sparring sessions and press conferences to weigh-ins and post-fight sessions.

Knockout also features Regan’s compelling stories and firsthand accounts of his amazing photographic journey into the heart of boxing. Beginning with his early magazine work shooting prizefights and throughout the following decades, Regan developed close personal friendships with some of the greatest fighters. Regan captures intimate moments showing fighters with their families at home and on the road. With numerous black-and-white and color images, many of them seen here for the first time, Knockout is destined to be one of the most celebrated books ever published on the subject of boxing.

 

Why?

Although it’s been three years since Muhammad Ali’s passing, the legendary boxer remains a cultural icon. Just last month, HBO released What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali, a powerful documentary depicting not only his athletic career but also his legacy as an activist. Knockout: The Art of Boxing contains an introduction from actor Liam Neeson and never-before-seen photos from Ken Regan, a world-renowned photographer who has profiled the likes of Bob Dylan and Madonna, among others. Regan’s photography expertly juxtaposes the brutality inherent in the sport with the grace and strength of Ali’s character. If you’re short a gift for Father’s Day, why not check out this beautiful release from Insight Editions? It’s sure to be a winner.

 

 

 

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