Spanked and Brainwashed: Raised by a Born Again Christian, This Maltese Man Escaped
Belt the lashes to release demons, pray for sex and blame your father’s death on your mother’s cigarette smoking – welcome to the crushing world of fundamental religious organizations in Malta.
The murder of Paulina Dembska and the suspect Abner Aquilina’s subsequent testimony – which includes receiving orders from a deity – have brought the issue of religious brainwashing back to the fore.
Now a man – who asked to go by his middle name of Julian Townsend for security reasons – who was raised in a fundamentalist organization as a born-again Christian, is opening up publicly for the first time about the abuse he and his mother faced. – and how many others have also been victimized by these organizations in Malta.
Education from an early age
“I was born into a Catholic family, then became a practicing Jehovah’s Witness before becoming a born-again Christian, and I want to share my story because I was among the first to join the movement when it came in Malta, which has led to other movements, like River of Love…I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, but I know there are more victims in Malta,” Julian Townsend told Lovin Malta.
“Because of the hatred and mistrust they instilled in me, I live like a hermit today.”
Townsend spent his formative years in these organizations, trusting his pastors and religious leaders – faith he is now totally lost. “After everything was done, I lost my faith in everything, stopped believing in religion and developed a major drug problem. However, I have now been drug free for six years.
tearing families apart
“When my father was dying of cancer, I was afraid to talk about it with the pastors because my mother is a smoker and a Catholic too. I had to lie about my family situation, even though I was told that i would go to hell for my sins if i wasn’t honest but they always told me that my mother had the devil in her and that i had to rid the world of this kind of evil…they planted this in my head from my youngest age.
“When he showed up at the funeral, my mum was shocked that he even entered a Catholic church.”
“Finally when my father died and the funeral was done they came to our house and my mother was still carrying the crucifix from her casket. The pastor came to me and said it was demonology , and I remember it really offended me. He came with another pastor who started trying to hit on my mom. My mom felt very vulnerable at the time and I felt unable to stop them.
Regular physical hits
“The pastor told us regular stories – once he told us about a boy who stole three matches, and God told his father to spank his son to get rid of the devil.”
“I was spanked; I once got a spanking because I walked through Paceville in the daytime with classmates on a Saturday…he needed to get the heck out of me so he spanked me hard.
“He said, ‘God told me you had to be spanked’, and he took me upstairs to a room and bent me on his knee, took his belt in his hand and started to spanking me… very hard, about 13 times, while shouting “Lord, take the devil away from him!”
“I was crying, I couldn’t understand why this was happening, why my mum was putting me here… that’s all I could think of at the time.”
Another approach to sexuality
“At school we had story time, and our pastor would talk about how he had sex with his wife, praying beforehand for what they wanted. They would then say that sex was only for having children, it was the Christian way.
“He was talking to my mom, who was really embarrassed, about having sex with his wife, and it wasn’t about making babies. It’s the ideology they teach the herd and all that is bad. And once you are accepted into the flock, you are promoted to be a soldier of God, that will save you from your addiction and everything else is the work of the devil.
Infantry following members
“They have foot soldiers, people who would follow you to see if we were breaking the rules.”
“Once, when I had a girlfriend, they sent foot soldiers to follow me to her house. Now she wasn’t a member of their church, so they started telling her mom and brother things about me to stop me from seeing that girl again.
“Another time I saw them breaking up a family owned by a half-Maltese man. He was a Catholic evangelist and had a media platform, his wife joined the community and they started pressuring her to have her husband join – they told her he was teaching his family badly.
“He came to a few functions, but that was it. But they kept up the pressure and she eventually left him because it was getting too hard to stay with him.
“Most likely, these foot soldiers will slander.”
“Just a word of warning if their food soldiers knew it was me writing this they would send their God soldiers after me they would do anything to slander me and try to persuade my employer and landlord that I am a bad influence and untrustworthy person, i could lose my home and my job, i know what they are capable of and as you know i have a past that i still have the scars of.
“Sometimes missionaries from places like Canada would come and take us, but soon they were stopped because my school didn’t like them, they were too open and the pastor told us the devil was playing with their minds. They often separated people when they wanted to – I saw marriages broken up because the mother gave her son candy, or whole families in exile simply because they were too down to earth.
Dealing with problems physically
“Later, I had visited a church in Qawra once run by another pastor to seek help for my drug use. They were pinning me against the wall and placing their hands on my head, pushing against the wall, shouting and telling me that I was possessed by the devil.
“When they saw the crucifix I was carrying, they started shouting again, telling me that it was wrong, that Jesus Christ is not on the cross and that it was idolatry. After that, I went out and never came back.