“Four generations of my family have been affected by cults. No one in the family understood. The mystery has now been solved. The knowledge was too late for my grandmother, too painful for my mother but has helped heal my children and will protect my grandchildren”.
On her eleventh birthday, Annette’s parents gave her a cowgirl suit. She loved it: she put it on immediately, and set off for her favourite playground, in a nearby park. Some time later she returned home, her flesh scraped and bruised, her brand new suit now dirty and torn. Annette didn’t answer when her parents asked her what had happened. She didn’t know what to say, so she kept quiet. She would keep quiet for a long time after that day …This powerful autobiography tells the sad story of a life stunted in childhood. Traumatised by a brutal assault, Annette retreats into herself. Many years pass before she seeks help: a friend recommends a ‘personal development organisation’. Before she knows it, she has fallen into the clutching hands of a cult called Kenja. Forsaking her children, her home, her job and her finances, she devotes herself with a convert’s zeal to Kenja’s activities, doing menial jobs to raise money for its leaders, spending all of her life’s savings on its ‘courses’, and recruiting members of the public to join its ranks.
Over time, Annette realises that, for all she has given to Kenja, she has not improved, and is instead completely dependent on the group for her self-esteem. She wants to get out but finds herself unable to: she can’t stop being the prey. When she eventually does act – having suffered further assaults, and witnessed others – she is devastated, forsaken and despised by the only community she has ever belonged to. Determined to bring Kenja’s leader to justice – and, in the process, find some redemption and perhaps even peace for herself – Annette embarks on a legal odyssey.
The Good Little Girl is Annette’s story about a traumatic beginning and journey to a triumphant ending.
What others are saying; “Annette Stephens brilliantly takes us on a journey engaging us with her openness and honesty … a captivating read that allows the reader to understand about cults… Annette has an amazing gift to describe her story and her experiences with such candour.”Ros Hodgkins, Cult Information and Family Support,NSW