Special Guest: Ben Shenton
Ben Shenton is the author of Rescuing the Family who has told his story throughout Asia Pacific and been interviewed by radio and print media from Australia and places as far away as Chile.
‘Rescuing the Family’ was birthed from a thirty-year journey Ben’s life has taken since being rescued at 15 by the police on August 14 1987 from Australia’s most notorious cult, The Family. Its followers believed the leader's claim that she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Ben grew up believing Anne Hamilton-Byrne was his mother.
Through ‘Rescuing the Family’ Ben seeks to share lessons he’s learnt on how to overcome trauma from his childhood experiences and successfully build a family by navigating through the dangerous ideologies and widely espoused methods on bringing up children that negatively impact families and therefore societies.
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
There is a 95-year-old woman in a Melbourne nursing home who dotes on a plastic baby doll. You wouldn’t guess it to look at her, but this is a woman who amassed a multi-million dollar fortune, destroyed families, and affected the lives of numerous people giving them ongoing psychological issues, some of which ended in suicide.
Former police detective Lex de Man said of this women to 60 Minutes, “Of all the crimes that I investigated, she is the most evil person that I’ve ever met.”
CW: references to physical and emotional abuse, controlling behaviours, death by suicide, forced adoption, and psychological trauma associated with being in a cult. Please consider whether you would like to listen on this basis. Content is not suitable for children.
If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, you can find support or donate to Cult Information and Family Support if you’re in Australia (via www.cifs.org.au), and you can find resources outside of Australia with the International Cultic Studies Association (via www.icsahome.com).
If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support right now, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or find your local crisis centre via the International Association for Suicide Prevention website at www.iasp.info.
- The Diaries of Raynor Johnson Part 1
- The Diaries of Raynor Johnson Part 2
- How to become a successful cult leader: offer love, and then withdraw it— by Mary Wakefield, The Spectator, December 2016
- Creating the family tree — Herald Sun, 16 August 2000
- Bizarrism – Strange Lives, Cults, Celebrated Lunacy — by Chris Mikul, 2002
- Growing up with The Family: inside Anne Hamilton-Byrne’s sinister cult— by Abigail Haworth, The Guardian, 20 November 2016
- Johnson, Raynor Carey (1901-1987) — by Owen Parnaby, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 19 December 2016
- ‘Evil, Wicked’: What it was like to grow up in one of Australia’s most notorious cults — by Ange McCormack, Triple J, 3 August 2016
- ‘The Family’ documentary Press Kit — accessed online December 2016
- The Family’s ‘living god’ fades to grey, estate remains — by Chris Johnston, The Age, 17 May 2014
- Notorious cult ‘Lodge’ in legal battle — by Chris Johnston, The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 April 2015
- Battle for control as cult leader deteriorates — by Chris Johnston, The Age, 22 July 2013
- The Family — by Chris Johnston and Rosie Jones, Scribe Publications 2017
- Read the secret diary that reveals the bizarre beliefs of aliens, super human powers and twisted child mind control inside The Family cult — by Stephen Drill, Herald Sun, 22 August 2014
- UNSEEN, UNHEARD, UNKNOWN: The Children Left Behind in Melbourne’s Most Notorious Cult — by Tara Watson, The Vine, 1 August 2016
- Unseen Unheard Unknown – My life inside The Family of Anne Hamilton-Byrne — by Sarah Hamilton-Byrne (Sarah Moore), Penguin Books Australia, May 1995
- Basic Psychological Needs in Childhood and Adolescence — by Michael Borg-Laufs, Journal of Education and Research, March 2013, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 41-51
- The Secret Life of Swami Muktananda — by William Rodarmor, winter 1983, CoEvolution Quarterly (appendix Letter From a Former Swami by Stan Trout)
- O Guru, Guru, Guru — by Lis Harris, 14 November 1994, The New Yorker
- Anatomy of a cruel cult — by Nigel H. Sinnott, The Skeptic, winter 1997, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 45-46, 48
- Ben Shenton, survivor of the cult The Family — by Elizabeth McKenzie, ABC Radio Ballarat, 23 July 2013
- The end of the Family? Anne Hamilton Byrne is going to die soon — by Dr. Sarah Moore (blog post), 6 April 2014
- Survivor of The Family cult spared conviction — by Angela O’Connor, The Age, 5 July 2005
- A twisted controller — by James Campbell, Herald Sun, 16 August 2009
- Woman sues The Family founder over cruelty — by Jewel Topsfield, 17 July 2004
- Dr Sarah Moore’s Google+ page — has a lot of her thoughts on the lack of accountability from Australian law and society for the damage caused by The Family to so many lives
- 60 Minutes report — by Peter Overton, 25 July 2004 (transcript)
- 60 Minutes report — by Karl Stefanovic, 2 October 2009 (archived transcript)
- The Family cult’s secrets exposed — by James Campbell, 16 August 2009
- Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation — by Daniel Shaw, Routledge, 2013
- Authorities launch review after links between notorious cult ‘The Family’ and Melbourne school — by Stephen Drill, Herald Sun, 26 July 2014
- Payout for The Family sect victims — by James Campbell, Herald Sun, 16 August 2009
- Painful justice — by James Campbell, Herald Sun, 16 August 2009
- Secret Reunion ends father’s search — by David Euas, The Age, 24 September 1983
- Sneaking Around the Headquarters of Australia’s Most Notorious Cult — some pictures of Santiniketan Lodge as it looked in 2015 by David Allegretti, Vice, 3 August 2015
- Ben Shenton’s website — the first chapter of Ben Shenton's book is available for download here