Christina Babin spent most of her childhood in a controversial religious cult — and is now opening up about the trauma she experienced.
Babin, now 44, grew up as a member of the Children of God cult: a sect that required its members to shed all earthly possessions and live together in communes.
For Babin, the indoctrination started at a very young age.
“We were told we were slaves,” she says in the second-season premiere of People Magazine Investigates: Cults, which airs on Investigation Discovery on Monday, June 3, at 9 p.m. ET. “We didn’t belong to anyone but the cult; we didn’t own anything. We didn’t even own ourselves.”
But things got worse for Babin when she was 11 years old. After cult leader David Berg decreed that all sex — even with children — was ordained by God, a married couple in the group took Christina into their bedroom and sexually assaulted her.
After it was over, she went into their bathroom. “I felt bad about myself that I didn’t like it,” she tells the show. “I thought there was something wrong with my heart and my soul. That I wasn’t right with God.”
But Babin was only reacting to the twisted teachings of the cult. “We were told that sex was how to show God’s love,” she says.
The Children of God group was formed in 1968 by David Berg, a former evangelical preacher. Based in Huntington Beach, California, the sect grew quickly. Soon, the Children of God boasted hundreds of followers, including the parents of child actor River Phoenix.“They wanted to make a good life for their kids that wasn’t the typical ‘white picket fence’ kind of life,” Phoenix’s friend Joshua Greenbaum tells People Magazine Investigates: Cults. “Obviously, they were searching for something.”
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Babin had no choice but to join the cult; she was only a young child when her mother joined in the 1970s. Although Babin left the group in her early 20s, she is still dealing with the aftermath of her oppressive upbringing and sexual abuse.
“I still think about it,” she tells PEOPLE. “It will always be with me. But there is healing and there is hope. I choose each day to move forward with my life. That’s really the message here: no matter what you’ve been through, you can get through it.”
People Magazine Investigates: Cults airs on Investigation Discovery on Monday, June 3, at 9 p.m ET.