Radio Interviews:Video Extract from Ben Shenton Talk
MP3 - Ben Shenton ABC Interview - 24 July,2013 (Duration - 10.56 minutes)
MP3 - 774 ABC Drive "Changing Tracts" - 18 October,2013 (Duration - 7.44 minutes)
ABC Ballarat with Nicole Chvastek from State Wide Drive.
774 ABC Melbourne Rafael Epstein.
Free at Last
My name is Ben Shenton and I appreciate you taking to time to read how I overcome growing up in the Cult called "The Family" based in Melbourne Australia due to what Jesus Christ has done in my life.
God's in Control
I grew up in a religious cult called 'The Family'. My mother had come from a wealthy Jewish Melbourne family, married young and had three children by 1960. This timing coincided with the rolling sixties and the spiritual awakening that came with it. By the mid to late sixties my mother had a calcified spine, was bedridden and suffering from a failing marriage.
A lady called Anne Hamilton-Byrne, the leader of a hatha yoga and mediation group, entered her life. She supposedly brought my mother back from deaths door and providing 'permission' to walk out on her marriage and three sons. It wasn't long before my mother entered another relationship over in England and by the early seventies I was born.
Her family was told that I was born with a club foot and that I had been adopted out to a family in England and as a single mother she was unable to look after me. I was actually handed over to Anne Hamilton-Byrne to be brought up as her son.
Before long I arrived at a sect property at Lake Eildon and spent the following 15 years being brought up with home education seven days a week. A very strict and controlled regime started with Hatha Yoga and mediation at 5:30 in the morning through to an evening meal and lights out at around 7:30 at night.
Schooling was interspersed with more hatha yoga and mediation, brief periods of time outside and punishments that ranged from being brutally belted with meter long wooden rulers and three cornered plastic canes to being dunked in water until we were nearly drowned when minor infractions came to light.
These infractions ranged from wetting the bed to, answering a care giver back to, stealing fruit due to hunger. We ate a very controlled and frugal diet with little or no meat that consisted mostly of fruit and vegetables.
On the occasions when police got wind of children living on the property were being abused we were made to disappear in a dark hole under the house no matter what the time of day with no lighting or on two occasions were schooled on what to say to deflect the truth from the stark criminal reality.
In all of this, based on the beauty and design of the countryside, I knew that a God existed. Due to Anne's beliefs and the strong influence of Siddha Yoga and Swami Muktananda I grew up also believing in re-incarnation taken from the Hindu belief system.
The perverted truth behind Swami Muktananda
We also believed that Anne was the re-incarnation of Jesus Christ. This is a belief that all her followers held.
At the age of fifteen after several older girls had either been thrown out of the cult, left it or were sent to school. They wrote statements to the police about our life outlining the abuse and their great fear that when Anne returned from an overseas trip we would be subjected to being given LSD as part of an initiation right of passage.
This was an horrific experience that caused wild hallucinations that Anne claimed were past life and death experiences, this drug was administered in large amounts to a sleep and food deprived person.
The room was darkened; individuals would constantly badger the initiate with the reality of their weakness and problems and advise them that only Anne could break them out of this cycle. Sarah has documented in her book "Unseen Unheard and Unknown" how she was left in a haze of depression after the first 'trip' on LSD she had in England. We were told that she had brain damage due to an oak tree landing on her head while walking around Broom Farm; Anne's property near Tunbridge Wells in England. They later used this lie to get Sarah into correspondance school to complete the last two years of her education. Kia Lama, the name of the property we lived on at Taylor Bay, Lake Eildon was only registered with the Victorian Department of Education to home school us up to Year 10.
After an amazing turn of events over the period of many years they culminated to the police swarming the place and removed me and eight or so children on August 14, 1987. An event well documented on 60 minutes and many other news sites.
Sixty Minutes Expose Interview by Karl Stefanovic with Anne, Sarah Hamilton-Byrne, Michael Stevenson - Oct 2009
Sixty Minutes Extract from 2004 Interview with Peter Overton, Lex De-Mann, Marie Mohr and Sarah Hamilton-Byrne
From Cult to Christ
A new chapter in my life started. I became a 'ward of the state' and I was subsequently fostered out to a Christian lady. She never talked to me about God unless I asked.
Over time I began to ask her about God and then slowly test God out. She told me that he was the creator of this world and all the physical laws in it, when He superseded them we have a miracle. She also told me that God was a gentleman and would only come into our lives when invited.
I decided to test God out and asked Him to make it rain and stop on request for a couple of weeks and it always did. Before long a quiet voice in my head told me to stop testing God as I knew He was real; time had come to start to know Him.
During this time I struggled greatly with depression and wondering if I could ever fit into society and be a good husband and father.
As I was being taken home one night along a very busy street in Melbourne where the traffic lights were never green the whole way I told God if they stayed green all the way that I would serve Him.
Of course this happened and in August 1989 I began a rocky relationship with God for the next eighteen months. I wanted to be close to Him but depression, anger, sexual immorality and pornography kept driving me away.
At the end of high school I was going to travel around Australia with a social worker I knew whose family came from Ballarat, Victoria.
I was able to eventually overcome this particularly destructive, manipulative relationship formed with this male social worker from St Martins; the place next door to "St John's Home for Boys and Girls" in Canterbury Melbourne where we were all looked after by social workers and cottage parents. It took me up until 1997 to recognise the issue, face the problem and then confront him and overcoming it by judging it for what it was and cutting off all contact.
I moved to Ballarat to live with a girlfriend while he finished off work in Melbourne and God answered a prayer of mine in finding a church for her. While she was working a summer job a lady from the Potter's House Christian Church told her about Jesus Christ and invited her to come out to church. During this period of time God had been dealing with me about how far I had grown from Him and all the things that I had done that I was so ashamed off. I was left wondering what I needed to do to get back in contact with Him. We went along to church and for the first time I was challenged to stay in Ballarat and actually serve God.
A Pilgrim's Progress
To cut a long story short I decided to stay and after hearing a sermon about the actual painful crucifixion that Jesus had gone through and how it was done to reconcile me with God I asked Jesus to come into my life and be my saviour and Lord. God brought me to foot of the cross and made me aware He'd bought me by what He did on the cross.
16 years later I have been forgiven and been able to be set free by forgiving those who willingly destroyed my childhood mistakenly believing they were doing the best for me.
I have been married for over 16 years and have two beautiful well adjusted and happy children. I've held down a high pressure job working for IBM for over 12 years and in 2008 did the traning and successfully passed the exam to become a PMI Certified Project Manager. God has done so much in my life and has called me to preach the Gospel, in mid 2007 I was given the honour of pastoring the Ballarat Potter's House Christian Church. God took a broken-hearted, depressed and messed up child and rescued me; giving me a hope and direction on how to live my life from basing it on the promises that He has in His word.
I can assure you from experience that if God can put my life back together again He can do the same for you. Nothing is impossible with God when we cooperate with Him in achieving His good pleasing and perfect will in our lives.
If you've been abused or ripped of by parents and care givers, faced depression and given into destructive patterns of behaviour; from experience I can assure you there is a path out. "The word of God is a light to our path and a lamp to our feet."
Feel free to contact me on my mobile: 0438121198 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than willing to share with you how to walk "The Road less Travelled" that I've followed and millions throughout History have as they've opened their lives up to the power of Jesus and then obeyed His words and direction.
Unseen Unheard Unknown excerpt
Back Ground and overview of The Family
Gallery of Recent Photos of Anne
Anatomy of a Cruel Cult
The Family Way
Battle for Control as Cult Leader deteriorates - July 22, 2013