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.
Now retired and living happily in Melbourne with her husband and family, Annette has a Diploma of Teaching (Primary) and a Graduate Diploma of Media Studies. In the course of exiting Kenja, Annette received considerable media exposure, including national television, documentary and newspaper coverage. She has been a guest speaker at the Cult Awareness Conference run by leading anti-cult activist Stephen Hassen. Annette is keen to finally share the story that has been 20 years in the telling, hoping it will it will in some way help others.
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