The Details of Abuse experience by Ben Shenton at the Hands of Australia’s most Notorious Cult ‘The Family’
“Do you think justice was done?” It’s a totally valid question that I’ve been asked by many news reporters, interested members of the public, friends and family. In-fact I’m asked it often when I’ve told the story of the criminal abuse that I suffered as I lived ‘Behind the Wire’ at the ‘Concentration Camp’ or ‘Uptop’; the Eildon headquarters of ‘The Family’ where Anne Hamilton-Byrne ‘brought up’ her ‘children’.
She did this either directly or by proxy using ‘Aunties’ and ‘Uncles’ to administer her rules that were kept in an A4 book with her scrawled signature underneath each one. She would add and update them as she sought to control us, isolate us and make us totally dependent on her. This was done through the control and deprivation of the most basic requirement in life – food. Sometimes for days on end. If one of us drew close to anyone we were separated from them physically to stop any emotional wall being built that would’ve nurtured our self-esteem and helped us to grow into humans capable of compassion, resilient in relationships and the ability to easily love others.
Anne used physical abuse that often got out of control as it was administered by either herself, her husband Bill or the frustrated and tired ‘Aunties’ and ‘Uncles’. Hands were held over candle flames, heads were held under water, three cornered plastic canes that cut the flesh and left deep welts along with wooden rulers crashed into our backs, ribs, legs and backsides dependent on the mood or the crime. Up until 1976 a detailed diary was kept on each of our lives and the punishments administered for the different events that took place in our lives. After that no record was kept and the statutory of limitations of ten years kicked in so it was no admissible in a court of law. Anything that happened after that time would have been hotly contested as made up stories by a group of kids that were out to spread false lies about what we went through.
Then there was the administration of drugs. Requested by Anne, prescribed by her minions who we qualified doctors, psychiatric nurses or psychiatrists. These included Anatensol, Serepax, Mogadon, Valium, Largactil, Stelazine, and Tofranil[i]
I was so used to taking them that to this day I have no idea what was normal or drug controlled emotions. I remember the bitter taste of Mogadon that was regularly administered and being extremely photosensitive. What I’m extremely grateful about is that I was never given LSD or psylocibin mushrooms that I’d help collect from the fields around Broom Farm, Anne’s property in Kent, England.
It’s been well documented that although Anne was brought back to Australia and went before a judge she was only with charged conspiring to make a false statement in relation to passports she acquired saying three of her ‘children’ were triplets born in New Zealand. She received a $5,000 fine. None of the administering of drugs including LSD, physical and emotional torture was ever brought before a court of law and no one was tried for it.
What I do know is that if I was to do any of this to any child they would rightly be taken off me and I would be charged and put in jail for child abuse.
Was Justice Served Part 2
[i] Johnston, Chris. The Family (Kindle Location 1441). Scribe Publications Pty Ltd. Kindle Edition.