Ex-member of the community in Sus behind the investigation confides in France Bleu Béarn
Born at the Chateau de Sus, a former member of the community, lived there until he came of age. The young man recounts his childhood, his adolescence, abuse and also the reasons for his departure, while on Tuesday, ten people belonging to “Tabitha’s Place” were arrested in Béarn.
Simon tells his childhood at the castle in Sus.
It was his father who who filed a complaint. A complaint which led to the police operation on Tuesday . But it was he who was the first in his family to be gone. A first attempt when 18, attempt which failed after 2 months. Simon (the name was changed to protect his identity) broke up definitively with the Sus community in 2007.
“No toys, no play. Apart from work, there is nothing else”
-Former Member of the sect
The young man of 27 years says he was a victim of corporal punishment every day, and even several times a day: “We are punished for all kinds of reasons for a yes or a no … Because we asked for food when we were hungry for example. ”
When, in 2011, two members of the parliamentary committee on cults visiting the castle, they met the children who do not know Zidane , not even the name of the President of the Republic.
A family still dispersed
Simon’s brother joined him two years after his departure, from its majority. His father was then expelled in 2010, and it recovered the custody of two of his daughters. His wife (Simon’s mother) and a fifth severely disabled child are still in the castle de Sus.
With his brother, Simon built his craft business. He tries to help other young people who leave the community. And he hopes to get his disabled brother out of the castle.
Interview transcript translated to English:
Simon: There are so many things, so many differences between the life of most kids these days and the life I had as a child.Growing up in there you have many questions about many things but you don’t know life outside.
Obviously you cannot say life was bad because you didn’t know any different.You only know one thing and don’t know other things. And if you don’t know anything else you necessarily just live with what you have. No toys, no games, only work, work and work, nothing else, from time to time schooling, schooling which I would call very basic, maths, french in the morning and in the afternoon work again, and only work.
Journalist: so children work there a lot, you worked a lot as a child?
Simon: Yes I worked all the time, almost all the time, that’s all we ever did, work. Already from a young age children help grow food in the gardens and everything else that needs to be done. Then around 13, 14 years old you start working in business related activities, work which generates a lot of money for the sect.
Journalist: And about physical punishments, did you endure those, do children endure those?
Simon: Yes of course we received physical punishments every day, few times a day, there is no minimum and there is no maximum either. It could be anything from 5 beatings a day to 30, 40 beatings a day. We got them willy-nilly, for nothing, even unjustly. You have not done at all what they blame you for, but they say it’s just in case, and if you haven’t done this wrongdoing in particular, doesn’t matter because you are paying for other wrongdoings that went unnoticed.
Journalist: For what motives are children punished there?
Simon: Could be for anything under the sun, truly any motives at all, for asking for food because you are hungry and you are not supposed to ask for food, because you said no, or because you said yes, willy-nilly.
Journalist: At what age did you think enough is enough?
Simon:When I was 14 I would think to myself that as soon as I turn 18 I’d take off, I can’t stand it, I couldn’t stand it anymore. Well actually when you start working, when you’re 14, you work outside but only with other members and that is when you get to see the outside world. You can’t help but notice the huge gap between and you start having questions and you say to yourself: We can’t stay here for the rest of our lives. This is not right. What we have been told…it is false.
Journalist:What is it like, to leave the castle just past 18?
Simon:Well, that is quite a complicated question. Many children are kicked out, with hardly anything, just the clothes on their back, a backpack with a few things and you’re left to your own devices.
Journalist:Like all the children growing up in there you have a Hebrew name. How do you see this name, how do you view this identity that you still have?
Simon:I hide it, I don’t tell anyone. Today I use an easier name.