Aravindan Balakrishnan's daughter forgives cult leader despite 30 years of beatings and mind control

'I feel sorry for him really because I don't know what way that is to live - to be so full of anger and hatred all the time'

Kate Ferguson,Paul Peachey@peachey_paul
Friday 04 December 2015 17:34
Aravindan Balakrishnan faces a long prison sentence for his crimes including regular physical attacks
Aravindan Balakrishnan faces a long prison sentence for his crimes including regular physical attacks

The deeply traumatised daughter kept prisoner inside the court of Comrade Bala has forgiven her father despite enduring 30 years of beatings and mind control that has left her unable to cope with every day society.

In her first interview since being freed in 2013, the woman said that she felt sorry for her tormentor who faces a long prison sentence for his crimes including regular physical attacks when she went against his will or questioned his position as the most powerful figure in the universe.

The woman, who wishes to be known as Fran, said that she used to be full of anger and hatred when she was stuck in the “Dark Tower” that she called the cult’s home, but found that it only made her miserable.

"Of course I forgive all of them because to be angry and full of anger and hatred is never the solution,” said Fran, who is now in her thirties. "So I believe in what Nelson Mandela said: that if you hold on to that anger, hatred and bitterness than you are still in prison. It is no way to live - to feel anger and hatred.

“I feel sorry for him really because I don't know what way that is to live - to be so full of anger and hatred all the time and wanting to hurt other people. Just living a life like that is a lonely existence. I feel really sorry for him."

Fran, who gave evidence against her father, was denied knowledge of her own parents and was brought up as a collective “project”, denied freedom to move outside of their homes, and chastised when she became aware of her own sexuality.

Despite her sheltered upbringing she appeared lucid, intelligent and poetic in her answers as she read extracts from the voluminous diaries that she was forced to keep. Fran – who never had a day of formal school - is now studying maths and English and pursuing an interest in politics. "I know I want to spread love and peace to the world,” she said.

Devoid of outside influences other than from the dwindling band of Bala followers and approved books, she grew up believing in Jackie – the mind-controlling machine invented by Bala – which struck down his enemies who spoke against her.

Banned from leaving the house unaccompanied, she recounted how she sat at her window and cried as she saw children playing on a swing outside because she was not allowed to join in. She believed that if she ever sought to leave the collective she would burst into flames, such was the control that her father wielded.

She said she no longer believed in Balakrishnan and Jackie after 2008 after Bala discovered her with a man who sneaked into the house to embark on a sexual relationship. He locked the house down and “took away anything that had any pleasure or happiness in my life”, she said.

Fran believes that if she had been forced to stay there much longer she would have died - either from her undiagnosed diabetes, or because she would have been driven to suicide. "I would be dead. I was so ill I was fainting. And if I hadn't (died) from diabetes I would have committed suicide because I just couldn't bear feeling like that anymore. I just had had enough. I didn't want to live like an animal anymore,” she said.