The Order of St Charbel

Special Guest: Claire Ashman

Claire Ashman's memoir 'Lessons From A Cult Survivor' is now available for pre-order here.

Claire is known for her strength, courage and tenacity in the face of fierce opposition from her ex-husband and cult leaders, shortly before being evicted from one of Australia’s largest Doomsday Cults. Determinedly believing that she and her 8 children deserved a better life, she set about doing getting it for them.

Born into a “normal” Catholic family, Claire’s life changed dramatically when she was only 4 years old. Her mother went from being a Sunday Catholic to ultra-religious, almost overnight. Claire’s youth and teenage years were spent on a country property in Victoria, where she and her siblings were home-schooled. They had no access to television, newspapers or other media and no friends outside the sect. Their lives involved daily indoctrination, manipulation and religious guilt.

This restrictive upbringing heavily impacted the life choices Claire made when she left home. After marrying an older man whilst still a teenager and birthing five children in succession, her husband sold their Melbourne home and moved the family to the NSW South Coast. Shortly after moving there, Claire learned the ugly truth of a supposedly religious order and wanted to move out.

Having no access to money she was forced to stay another few years, birthing four more children in the meantime. Eventually she took to writing letters to the cult leaders which were seen as a threat to authority. Finally an opportunity to escape, in the form of eviction, presented itself. Claire grasped this newfound freedom with both hands, firmly fixed on making a better life for herself and her children.

Quite often their new life was a struggle due to lack of life experience and lack of education. Claire was tenacious in her commitment to improving herself, so she took to reading books and attending personal development seminars.

After her first marriage ended in divorce, Claire was intent on experiencing real romance so set about finding her soul-mate. Her dream was to attract a gentleman from England, Ireland or Scotland because she absolutely loves the accent! Four years ago, she met her love and you’ll find them living in sunny Brisbane, Australia with their children.


March 14th, 2018

1 hr 33 mins 1 sec

Season 1



William Kamm has a 10pm curfew, and is not allowed to spend time with girls under the age of 17. He is prevented from entering the Shoalhaven district of New South Wales, and his movements and communications are monitored. These are conditions of his release after serving 9 years in jail for crimes he committed against two teenage girls – yet his followers still believe that he is the next true Pope, and that the Virgin Mary speaks to him on the 13th day of every month.

CW: references to manipulative behaviours, and sexual assault of minors. A small amount of coarse language. Please consider whether you would like to listen on this basis. Content is not suitable for children.

The opinions expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of the makers of Let's Talk About Sects.

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, and you can find resources outside of Australia with the International Cultic Studies Association (via