I grew up in a cult. It was heaven -- and hell. | Lilia Tarawa | TEDxChristchurch

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Lilia Tarawa was brought up in the Gloriavale Christian Community on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, where she was constantly surrounded by everyone she loved. But over time, she began to see the dark side of her community, and ultimately realised that she had to get out. In this raw and emotional talk, Lilia shares the reality of life in a cult, and her heart-wrenching journey to break free.
Lilia Tarawa is a New Zealand writer, speaker, holistic health consultant and business coach. She is a member of the Māori Ngāi Tahu tribe. Lilia was born into New Zealand's infamous religious cult, Gloriavale, and fled with her eleven family members at eighteen years of age. Her extraordinary life experience compelled her to pursue a career promoting human rights, welfare and empowerment.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at www.ted.com/tedx

Published on


Nov 16, 2017




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Yalena Sorokina
Yalena Sorokina 22 minutes ago
Oh my Lord honey I feel your strength and also your pain
Reena 7 hours ago
One of my way to deal with PTSD is by smiling and I actually smiling while talking to my therapist. Idk why people are being harsh for this girl...
Nidhi Kale
Nidhi Kale 16 hours ago
So beautiful
Violet Swindlehurst
you are smart you are smart
Protea Wines Japan
Scary stuff. I know a few people who have left their cult environments, with similar stories. Hard to imagine for outsiders. Scariest to me is that technocrats are trying to force the entire world population into such a cult, with no agency or possibility for creating profit but with the ever-present threat of punishment, through the re-branded terms globalization and sustainable development (which used to be known simply as technocracy back in the 1930's when the movement was rejected). The manipulation of people's psychology and violence is absolutely no different from the grooming process of vulnerable people for human trafficking. She is smart to learn about human behaviour, which is the only real protection individuals have to fend for themselves, even with good parental guidance, etc.
I Ron, Man
I Ron, Man Day ago
Beautiful and inspiring. God bless you
Kuro Shiki
Kuro Shiki 2 days ago
Those were clearly not christians! Far from that...
M B 2 days ago
Poor her
Douglas Karlinsey
This lady is so creepy 😳
Superchick221B 3 days ago
They were not Christians. A proper Christian should never treat anyone in this way. She was definitely stuck in a cult.
Kateřina Šafrová
Such a Shakespearean professional delivery... It sadly makes it seem almost like an act
Ava Duncan
Ava Duncan 4 days ago
im legit only continuing to listen to this because of her voice😂
illougal nation
illougal nation 4 days ago
End of the story you found a nice wife/husband and/or boyfriend/girlfriend. Why do strong woman always leave that out?
illougal nation
illougal nation 4 days ago
You're the actor from the mandalorian?
Julie Gernale
Julie Gernale 4 days ago
I remember a Korean drama about a cult with the same doings
ThatGirl Ahyawnah
her accent " fackk them" LMAOOO ..omg
jootai 6 days ago
Ban all religion!!!!
IzzyTheSloth 7 days ago
You go, girl!
Duke the Reaper
Duke the Reaper 7 days ago
This reminds me of the anime "The Promised Neverland"
Pete Alexis Bathan
first time i ever hit the "thumbs up" button on youtube.
Mary Roller
Mary Roller 8 days ago
So sad that cults like this turn people away from the truth that God the Father loves them, Jesus forgives, the Holy Spirit empowers them and comforts them. That truth takes away all guilt and shame. Prayers for those affected, that they find a true relationship with Jesis , not a man made religion.
4 year old Timmy From the pub
This is weird. 1 second she’s happy the next, she’s crying. Like what.
Sara Stimpson
Sara Stimpson 7 days ago
That’s cause her life went like that. One day she’s enjoying living there and the next she sees her friends being beat. Trauma is very sensitive and recalling those memories probably takes a toll on her.
jinneemagic302 9 days ago
I grew up in a cult to. It was called the human race.
Cameren Bonz
Cameren Bonz 11 days ago
14:20 audience member on the right
Lisa Martinez
Lisa Martinez 11 days ago
So horrid . That is not what Christ is about
chris sonofpear1
chris sonofpear1 11 days ago
So - what is? And what of Luke 14:26? Also, serving WHICH father, and what was Jesus' take on rotten meat, as a parable? Compared to Numbers 11:19? And what is a 'natural man'?
Олег 11 days ago
I once was a child, with innocent eyes And my family swore, they knew best for my life I followed their rules, as I played with my friends When it came to the world, I never thought it would end...
Kristin The BadBad
Kristin The BadBad 11 days ago
I have a story of how my cousin escaped an a African Cult!!! Watch it on my channel and comment
Buff 4A7
Buff 4A7 11 days ago
Read the Book there Never was any Cult at Gloriavale! To make the book sell the word "Cult" has been falsely used otherwise the book wouldnt sell! Theres NO defining of Grace and LAW, or Religious Legalism in the book. This indicates the writer doesnt know one way or the other what Religious Legalism is or what a Cult is or isnt! There is no Cult at Gloriavale because it never was a cult!
Safariwow 11 days ago
14:18 the woman tried to give her a napkin but she didn't see her
qwerty asdf
qwerty asdf 11 days ago
On her report card it said that her leadership skills could come in handy once she gotten older. Turns out that it did.
Heather Shultz
Heather Shultz 12 days ago
Heather Shultz
Heather Shultz 12 days ago
Heather Shultz
Heather Shultz 12 days ago
Heather Shultz
Heather Shultz 12 days ago
Heather Shultz
Heather Shultz 12 days ago
Heather Shultz
Heather Shultz 12 days ago
Heather Shultz
Heather Shultz 12 days ago
Heather Shultz
Heather Shultz 12 days ago
MarksBikeExports 12 days ago
Lilia, your message will travel further if you do no speak to your audience as if they were 8yrs and under.
Oluwa Sunday Destiny
Good day every one i want to inform the public on how i get cured of HIV/AIDS by a Doctor called Dr Irosi . i visited different hospital but they gave me list of expensive drugs to treat the symptoms and never cured me. A closed friend of mine introduce me to a Herbal Doctor who cured her. I was scared to contact him but i found people testimony online testifying about his goodness. when i contacted him i asked him series of questions, i also ask him to show me his herbal certificate and license given to him by his Government he gave all the information i needed that gave me hope. He send a Herbal medicine to me that i took and it seriously worked for me. am now HIV negative. God bless you for being a sincere and great men. Am so excited, you can contact him if you have any problem. whats-app him via: +2348118829771.or contact him on email (drirosisolutioncenter@gmail.com)And he can also cure the following diseases1) HERPES2) HPV4) HEPATITIS5) ALS6) BLOOD CANCER
Steve Stringer
Steve Stringer 13 days ago
Lilia, thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for all that you and the others went through. God Bless you and the others. Your strength is amazing.
Yani 13 days ago
What a strong and powerful woman. How fortunate she was to have ended up with parents that wanted to leave just as much as she did! So glad they were able to leave and stay together.
awendt 14 days ago
can we pls make this into a movie tho fr this is so interesting and sad at the same time
Luc Vandecandelaere
Sofia Goicoechea
Sofia Goicoechea 17 days ago
Its 12 on a school night and im watching ted talks abt cults
Random Happiness
Random Happiness 17 days ago
I never knew You Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? 23 And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Audrey David
Audrey David 18 days ago
9:48 irresponsibility and lack of education. Also anger because they can’t even discipline their children the right way in the first place.
isabella p
isabella p 19 days ago
She is an inspiration
Magentakisses38 19 days ago
I am basically here to hear her voice, it's very soothing, for a while at least!
Victor Silva
Victor Silva 20 days ago
As a Christian I am very sorry my family isn’t like this and we love and respect everyone
Nandana Balakrishnan
"....an inquisition of 20 men seated in a small room......" 13:23
Aishwarya malemath
Mariah Gonzales
Mariah Gonzales 22 days ago
This was beautiful thank you
Julia Cordero
Julia Cordero 22 days ago
5:38 .. so i’m not saying she’s lying about her story but i’m not the only one who realized her age changed from 7 to 10 right?
Draconia Drawing
Draconia Drawing 22 days ago
I think she is talking about different baby’s
Mary Lynn
Mary Lynn 23 days ago
I am dumbfounded by the negative comments on this presentation. Apparently you can't handle the truth because she is describing what life is in a cult.They engage your with promise of a beautiful life, use your vulnerabilities to convince you of your lack of self worth, and play you you in a back and forth game of overt and covert abuse and threats to control you. It's the ultimate power trip for cult leaders . She is a victim, not a moron or an actress.
chrissy ෆ
chrissy ෆ 23 days ago
christianity isnt a cult, yall scary tf, like iM jUsT a KiD
Luke. 11 days ago
ye but this is a cult
Ursula Griffin
Ursula Griffin 24 days ago
is no one gonna mention the mammoth in the picture at 0:45??
Sandi Billingsley
Sandi Billingsley 25 days ago
I highly recommend reading The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian James. It explains so much about religion and human behavior.
Bob Bobbins
Bob Bobbins 25 days ago
Hope she still marries a Godly man, has many babies, and raises them well. The cult sounds awful, but that doesn't mean she should forsake her childhood dreams. I bet she'd be a great wife and mother.
Krisztina Erdélyi
Krisztina Erdélyi 25 days ago
She is so precious
MsAminaShah 25 days ago
She is a really good story teller tho. Really captures the emotions, almost palpable.
אוהד קים
אוהד קים 26 days ago
Every unlike is a cult member...
Kitty Cuppers
Kitty Cuppers 26 days ago
Wasn’t this cult on a show called escaping polygamy I am not trying to be mean I just saw the farm place again I am not trying to say anything rude I am just wondering
Tsuna Takahiro
Tsuna Takahiro 29 days ago
All Religions are CULTS. Just because it's widespread and more widely accepted doesn't change it being a cult and mythology.
Søcks Mear
Søcks Mear Month ago
I saw a person commenting something like “She deserves these tournament for switching her emotions so much” Excuse me but what?
filoIII Month ago
Was she REALLY crying during this, or is the "emotion" for show??? I've seen preachers get fake emotional in their voices, too, so, I'm always skeptical.
filoIII 11 days ago
@Mostafa Zahid I have EVERY right in the WORLD to wonder if it's real. MAYBE it was, and MAYBE it wasn't. As I stated, I've seen preachers fake cry for effect, and this seemed like those preachers, but, IDK.
Mostafa Zahid
Mostafa Zahid 11 days ago
It's her trauma, you don't have the right to tell her whether her own emotions are real or not.
Anneka Kinch
Anneka Kinch Month ago
I escaped a cult, where I was abused from 18-21 years old. It’s still seen a church. Prophet TB Joshua, the synagogue church of all nations in Nigeria. My prayer is that this organisation will been seen for what it is, a cult disguised as a church, led by a narcissistic, systematic, abusive cult leader.
seret be adonai
seret be adonai Month ago
"Father in heaven. Our holy God. You have known me before i was born. You did love me from the beginning and only you know what is the best for me and my life." "Dear Lord Jesus Christ. I believe, that you are the son of God and you did die for my sin on the cross and you was risen from the dead on the 3th. day. By your holy blood what was fallen on this earth iam saved. Please fergive me my sin, and help me to fergive those who did hurt me. I confess that I have sinned in deeds, words and thoughts. Today i want to come home to you, because only in you i find healing and salvation" "Please open me the door to eternal life. From today, my heart, my soul and my spirit is yours and is under your protection. Please let me become a new creation. Strength my faith, give me a new spirit and a new heart. Please let eternal life be my gift, please write my name in the book of life in heaven and send the holy spirit to guide me into all truth. Please come into my life and give me signs and messages so that I realize your way and all your truth." "Lord Jesus Christ. You are my Lord and from this day Iam yours." "Amen."
L K Month ago
Fabiana Peralta
Fabiana Peralta Month ago
I have no words...
blunter57 Month ago
she's the anti-christ
Mostafa Zahid
Mostafa Zahid 11 days ago
@Finding Utopia Yup, he is in the cult.
blunter57 Month ago
@Finding Utopia lol!!
Finding Utopia
Finding Utopia Month ago
I'm assuming you are part of the cult.
Consolee M
Consolee M Month ago
I can't stop crying while listening to her. So many similar experiences between me and her; and I'm so glad & proud we are here today ❤
Tabitem Markly
Tabitem Markly Month ago
They are not Christian,they are a cult. Those are not the teaching of Jehovah written in The Bible.
Dawson Bell
Dawson Bell Month ago
jehovah's witness i assume?
Kati Sheets
Kati Sheets Month ago
My town has a helicopter drop candy from the sky once a year at the park fun family friendly event.
Bareaah Malik
Bareaah Malik Month ago
14:19 someone in the audience tries to give her a tissue
Jasmine Vekariya JA
To share my story with Tedx is my dream. As world is cruel and now I rise above
Jasmine Vekariya JA
Do follow my channel Jasmine Vekariya A, ant check the glimpse of my life story. Be the Survivor
Buff 4A7
Buff 4A7 Month ago
Christians with Genuine FAITH in Jesus Christ will have Gods Grace and will NOT be Dissuaded by false teachers, false doctrines and LAW. (Romans 6:14) "sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under LAW but under Grace." The Reverse is True: Christians who follow LAW sin will have dominion over them and theyre under Satan! THERES A CURSE ON ANYONE WHO FOLLOWS LAW (Gal 3:10). The false religions who follow LAW (islam, judaism) and the Religious Legalists are supposed to ABANDON LAW but come under a curse, under legalism, under Satan! Legalism is people trying to be RIGHTEOUS with God by keeping LAW. Therefor Christians with Genuine FAITH in Jesus Christ will have Gods Grace and will NOT be Dissuaded by false doctrines or LAW.
Wonda wohmen
Wonda wohmen Month ago
Her voice tho ❤️
Marcus Lloyd
Marcus Lloyd Month ago
This has been happening everywhere around the world harshly since the 70s💜🧡🕷🌼🌼🌼🕯🗝🛡 Lord I Hope the younger generation is able to hear these stories that are true
Ma- gee
Ma- gee Month ago
That's real strong woman...Thank you...keep it up !!!
Rich County Rat Rods JROD
She is a badass!! The world needs strong women like her.
fudsicle678 Month ago
Dark forces are being seen in leadership disquised as good. Their end is near. Change for humanity is upon us. Those without heart will no longer exist. We will experience a better Earth.
jayden2 2012
jayden2 2012 Month ago
Is she from Britain?
diddlydooha Month ago
it is also written in the explanation of the TED Talk that she is from New Zealand
jayden2 2012
jayden2 2012 Month ago
@hooi ooh, thankyou.
hooi Month ago
jayden2 2012 She says she is from New Zealand at the beginning
Space Lover
Space Lover Month ago
That's why the word "gaslighting" exists
I'm so distracted by how pretty she is 🥺
Tuheen Panda
Tuheen Panda Month ago
Too dramatic narration
Jayce1712 Month ago
I was beaten and thrashed my entire childhood,both at school and at home. Theres no need to cry young lady, you had it better than most of us. That story is actually ok.
Mostafa Zahid
Mostafa Zahid 11 days ago
Look, I do feel bad for you. But at least don't invalidate other people's trauma, respect her emotions.
AlharbTheBeast 24 days ago
And this is why she's successful and you're out here being bitter.
Jayce1712 27 days ago
@Cookie Im just saying theres no need to cry miss. You're fine.
Cookie 27 days ago
So? That doesn't invalidate anyone else's struggles. Stop making this a competition.
Jayce1712 Month ago
@Ivy Rose Yeah that abuse is not as bad as mine and other people like me. She gotitmuch better than us.She got food , shelter and stuff ike that atleast
bethany newman
bethany newman Month ago
It happens all over the world, all people can do is pray for those who suffer. keep Ur friends close and Ur enemies closer, pray for all.
AlharbTheBeast 24 days ago
Nah, praying is the least we can do mate. Looking for people who suffer and helping them is a MUCH better option and I think Jesus would approve.
Kelly THURSTON Month ago
this made me cry! Kia kaha wahintoa!
charukrsnadasa Month ago
Leaving a community that has some malfunction is one thing. Lilia never said loves Jesus in entire video, and kept selling do your own thing. Truth is no one goes to heaven except through Jesus. No amount of work or money or anything can buy your way to heaven and that is part of original sin so Love Jesus then all others. If loving others leads to rebellion of Jesus and God, then make reparation. John 3.16
AlharbTheBeast 24 days ago
Hm... she sounds a lot more "Chistian" to me than a lot of bitter, terrible, judgmental people out there... Go figure.
diddlydooha Month ago
​@PirateRay -- you're right in all you say but she was actually never a christian, she was born into a cult that faked the the true meaning of christanity and used their own wicked laws and rules while using god's / jesus' name. so she had no clue what christianity was or ever could have been. all she knew was that as soon as she got free from that cult, whatever it was that they all believed, she knew she had to reject it as it was horrific for her.
PirateRay Month ago
@Ivy Rose No. Apparently, Lilia is no longer a Christian, which is a great tragedy. If she were, she would have made that fact clear, and used the word Jesus at least once in her speech. The "heaven" part of her upbringing was apparently very good, since Lilia has a very joyful and positive personality. Yes, the abuse was wrong, but she is rejecting the one true religion because of the bad behavior of a few members of her cult and that is a mistake.
Ivy Rose
Ivy Rose Month ago
Seriously? That’s what you got from this?
대니 Month ago
Religion is manipulation. Belief is another thing.
Robin Castle
Robin Castle Month ago
@Toogaytolift well that depends on who teaches you religion, ive never been manipulated from religious courses. That would be a sin in itself..
Toogaytolift Month ago
@Robin Castle no but there is an underlying sense of manipulation in most
Robin Castle
Robin Castle Month ago
do... do you think all religion is like that cult..?
PirateRay Month ago
The Academy Award for best lead actress goes to Lilia. Her acting classes were worth the money. And now, she is turning events which may or may not have happened into a lucrative speaking career. If any of this is actually true, she should be thanking the cult for making her the person she loves so much today. Most women who were not raised in a cult are not as well-adjusted as she is.
PirateRay 24 days ago
@AlharbTheBeast Well, thank you. Some of the other comments got 13,000 thumbs ups, and I only got one. Glad to know that I'm not alone. LMAO.
AlharbTheBeast 24 days ago
Ah, here you are... I was looking for a comment like this.
Etch Lord
Etch Lord Month ago
i looked at the title and thumbnail and i said: "ju lee?!????111 uh oh"
Ian Stretch
Ian Stretch Month ago
Nut Job.
K D Month ago
I loveee her accent, her story is truly breathtaking
Leah Nicole
Leah Nicole 26 days ago
@PirateRay 😆
PirateRay Month ago
You mean breeeth taking?
labika khan
labika khan Month ago
I was upset today with the way society type casts people in the name of region and religion. I accidentally found this video and it was a sign to my question ❤️
Andy Witch
Andy Witch Month ago
Where's the wist?
SYD NQV Month ago
Lilia, That is so beautiful! Love is the bond that is the strongest, even stronger than hate! It is sad that the goodness of man is so terribly mixed up at times with our flaws. The Almighty has given us independence and freedom. Let no one take that from you!! Thanks for sharing your experiences. It is important however not to put all Christians or religious folks in a box. We are all human with flaws!! But our strengths are greater than our flaws. If not the World would be a terrible place, which it is not!! Ali
Christine Weihbrecht
This is so heart breaking
Sam_playz ttv
Sam_playz ttv Month ago
Atheists be like: 😎😎😎😎😎😎
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