A woman who grew up in a sick and twisted cult has described early memories of orgies, child sex films, beatings and sex work.
Serena Kelley was born into the Children of God cult in the Philippines in the 1980s and was married by the age of three years old.
Founded in 1968 by David Berg, the cult’s followers devoted themselves to ideologies of promiscuous sex. In the years since, the cult has been plagued with allegations of sexual and physical abuse made by survivors.
Now dedicated to working with victims of trauma and child abuse, Serena told the Shaun Attwood podcast about the horrors of life on the inside of the west coast cult.
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She revealed she was given as a child bride aged just three to notorious leader David Berg, 67 at the time.
Serena explained how she had been “cursed” with a “crystal-clear memory” growing up and remembers the sights and experiences of life in Berg’s household.
Recalling “drunken orgies” in Berg's home with all the adults, she explained: “They would all drink and have sex together and they would leave the children alone.”
Berg, who died in Portugal in 1994, would go on to dominate the cult with its members becoming his subjects. He even had a throne.
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He would go on "four-hour drunken rants" where people would be forced to listen to him scream and shout and "shame" people.
Serena says things started off “sweet” but as Berg got more power things went down a “darker” route.
Berg had introduced “FF-ing” on the West Coast of the US, or Flirty Fishing, where Berg sent out the women to meet men in clubs and go back to their hotel rooms for paid sex.
This sex work was described as “pimping” by Serena, who explained that it wasn’t long after he “figured out her could pimp the women that he could pimp the children as well”.
“Another memory that I have from about two or three years old is Berg started getting into doing pornographic videos with children and having children doing stripteases,” she continued.
Serena explained that she was a victim of this too – and chosen for the videos at the age of three.
“I ended up crying because I was so petrified and I was taken out of the video and punished and beaten and put in a dark room – 'you’re not going to eat you ruined the video'," she continued.
“In my mind, I actually figured out that if I cried, that if I looked ugly I wouldn’t have to be in the videos.
“So there were ways where, as a child, I had to figure out survival of the fittest.”
Serena’s parents joined the cult before she was born. Like many other families and hippies, they had wanted to break out of the constraints of normal modern society.
While most of the cult's members lived in “extreme poverty” her and her family lived in “top leadership” households, which were basically mansions.
But things were often worse in the expensive leadership homes, she explained.
“If anything it was even more abuse, more evil and a lot of testing on children going on in his household to see what works to see what he could do,” Serena added.
Official investigations into the alleged crimes of survivors of Children Of God have at the time of writing found no evidence of child sex abuse.
If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.
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