Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Locked In by John Huddle

How does an intelligent, educated, reasonable individual get duped into being under the abusive control of a religious cult? It happened to John Huddle, and his book details the journey that led him, his wife and his children to a physical, spiritual and emotional prison where they lived under constant control of the cult’s leaders. 
I was particularly interested in reading his story, Locked In, because this could occur in any family. I know from personal experience because someone very dear to me in our own family was in a cult for many years and may possibly once again be entangled in one at this time. We do not know for certain because she has cut off contact with our entire family with a silence that has now reached a sixteen year anniversary.

Reading John’s story gave me a clearer understanding about the insecurities that the members experience regarding leaving the organization. They are made to feel that they cannot survive the world outside of the affiliation and “protection” of the group. The cult's way is the only way.

John Huddle
While one might think that it would be easy to simply walk away, no one knows the level of brainwashing that occurs in these cult environments unless they have experienced it or have been told about it by someone who lived it. When my loved one was actively involved, she shared with me tales of sleep deprivation and mind control. She was told whom she should marry within the group and blindly obeyed without question.

In most religious cults, Scripture is twisted by the leaders into convenient “rules” that no one can object to, dispute or dismiss. Other members are charged with being watchful to insure that everyone follows the cult policies.

In Locked In, John Huddle exhibited great courage in revealing the details of his own experience in this mysterious realm. A special thank you to him for providing personal insight into this topic that is typically shrouded in secrecy. Many blessings to him!

Happy New Year to all, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Mary Anne Benedetto

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Dead Flowers for Hollywood

Do you have a childhood friend with whom you still connect? If so, you are fortunate. Many friendships come and go, and if you have maintained a relationship with a friend who has known the real you since youthful days, that is a blessing!

Amanda Sue Rose and I began a friendship in our southern California junior high, continuing through high school, and have never severed that bond. Graduating from high school in 1969, I moved to New York; however, in those forty-six years (how is that possible?) we have always stayed in touch. In the ancient days before email, we sent letters by snail mail, describing what was currently happening in our lives. We simply never lost that connection.

Amanda Sue’s experiences in life could easily be material for a movie on the Lifetime television channel. She is extremely trusting, and when people hear Amanda’s story, they always tell her, “I can’t believe all of this happened to one person!” or “You have to write a book!”

At our 40th southern California high school reunion that was held in Las Vegas, Amanda Sue and I allotted time to sit by the hotel pool and capture the details of her life story. I recorded and transcribed the recollections of her early life as the daughter of a man who enjoyed a long career as a cameraman in the Hollywood film industry and a stay-at-home mom who suffered a debilitating injury to her legs in an auto accident in her late teens.

The young Amanda Sue had all of the advantages that any girl could want. One of our close friends, Katrina, and I nicknamed Amanda “Hollywood” when we were teenagers. This nickname represented two origins:

1-With her father’s connections in the movie and television industry, she was exposed to many celebrities during her adolescence.

2-She had a certain flair. She knew how to wear subtle makeup that wasn’t overwhelming, but enhanced her perky features, giving her a far more glamorous appearance than we were able to muster during our awkward teen years.

Somehow she ended up being referred to as “Hollywood,” but didn’t even know this until we reminisced about that phase of our lives.

After the Las Vegas meeting, I continued to interview, record and transcribe Amanda Sue’s memories, and we finally developed a manuscript that reflected her story in her own words. I emailed the manuscript to her, and the experience of seeing one’s life spelled out in black and white with size 12, Times New Roman font, had an unexpected impact on her. She actually found it to be distressing to see the entire scope of her life replayed right before her eyes. You may not understand that until you read her story: four husbands represented four harrowing, dramatic experiences. Seeing it in print was like having to live through the trauma all over again. It was an unsettling rewind.

The project was placed on the back burner, with the knob in the “off” position until Amanda Sue felt emotionally ready to release it. That time is now. She has agreed to move forward with the book project, and the names and locations have been changed to protect the privacy of all parties involved.

Dead Flowers for Hollywood takes the reader through Amanda Sue’s younger days and then proceeds through the succession of disastrous marriages. There is a lesson to be learned from the astounding story that Amanda Sue shares. Hopefully, this memoir will help others learn to watch for red flags, pray about it, and get to really know their intended spouses before becoming financially, physically, emotionally and legally entangled via matrimony. Even under the best of circumstances, people can change and become someone you feel as though you never really knew. A special thank you to Amanda Sue Rose for sharing her story. It was my privilege to facilitate the publication of book.

Will Amanda Sue discard the negative effects of a series of catastrophic marriages and exchange wedding bands for the fifth time? You will have to read this tale of multiple weddings to find out!

Links to purchase are: 

Paperback-Preferred link   


Paperback and Kindle link

Nook link

 Stop on by at our newly designed website at http://www.awriterspresence.com!

 Much love and blessings,

Mary Anne Benedetto