Queensland mum speaks out against 'mind-controlling' religious cult

9 News, Australia/January 8, 2015

A Queensland mother who spent 14-years in a religious cult is now speaking out and warning others about the sect and the woman who runs it.

Four years after escaping the Magnificat Meal Movement (MMM) which still operates out of Helidon in southeast Queensland, Alison Forden claims she has been left without a support network and with self-esteem issues.

"I feel as if I was sucked in, chewed up and spat out basically," Ms Forden told A Current Affair.

"I can't believe I went along with everything that was told to me and I actually didn't question it earlier."

The MMM was founded in 1986 by Debra Geileskey, a woman who claims to see and hear Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Ms Forden joined the cult after a marriage break-up and admits she was "brainwashed". She lived in the group's commune and visited the church daily, while her mother paid rent to live on the actual site where she was closely monitored.

The former cult member says members were also required to give up 10 percent of their income.

"I had no connection with the outside world," Ms Forden said.

"I was encouraged not to watch TV, not to read news, not to buy magazines. The media were all one-eyed, so you were discouraged from having anything to do with the media."

According to Raphael Aron from Cult Counselling Australia, the psychological damage people suffer as a result of being involved in a cult is far greater than the financial loss.

"If people feel a sense of submissiveness, a sense of obligation, a sense of belonging and also the fact that if they are going to leave they may end up in not a very good place, that's when I talk about not having the freedom to go," he told A Current Affair.

Ms Forden says while the cult has cost her a lot it has also affected her children, who have no friends or outside support.

She says cult members were ordered to shun the family after they quit the MMM.

"You just get treated like you didn't want to be here so God must not want you."

Founder Ms Geileskey is believed to still run MMM but is currently living overseas.

"She is lying to a group of people, misleading them," Ms Forden said.

"How many homes will be lost? How many marriages will be wrecked? How many people will have their lives destroyed?"

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