Born into a Maoist cult and raised to believe the man she’d later learn was her father was God, Katy Morgan-Davies has spoken about her ordeal for the first time since her rescue after 30 years of terror.
The British survivor, now 33, shares her shocking story in The Cult Next Door, a documentary by award-winning producer Vanessa Engle, which will air on BBC2 on January 26. It comes on the heels of cult leader Aravindan Balakrishnan being sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and false imprisonment.
It was in an ordinary looking house in London’s Brixton where Morgan-Davies was born to Sian Davies, one of Balakrishnan’s most devoted followers. Named Prem Maopinduzi – which translates to Love Revolution – she was told it was her destiny to help their leader rule the world.
Morgan-Davies (she changed her name as soon as she was rescued) grew up with no emotional bonds. Not only was she unaware who her parents were, the other cult members – who were predominantly female – were forbidden from touching her or forming any kind of emotional bond.
Ironically, it was her own mother who was the cruelest enforcer of Balakrishan’s – who they referred to as Comrade Bala - rules. When Sian died after a fall from a window, which Morgan-Davies believes was due to trying to escape after a savage beating the previous day, her only feeling was relief.
“Life got better for me in a funny way,” she says in the programme.
“She was one of the worst servants of Bala. It was such a relief, his worst enforcer was gone.”
It was this harsh world which saw her form attachments to inanimate objects as a way of showing comfort and affection.
“I used to tell the tap, ‘You are on my side,’” she says of the bizarre ways she found to comfort herself in times of distress.
“I’d kiss the tap, I’d hug the toilet when the flush worked.”
Balakrishnan would enforce savage beatings and force his followers to carry out sexual acts during his time in charge of the cult, which was founded in the early ‘70s.
He held them in fear, having convinced them that if they stepped out of line, world disasters would follow.
Morgan-Davies believed that the Space Shuttle Challenger was blown up in 1986 because people in the house were challenging Balakrishnan. When a pizza delivery boy came to their door in error the day before an earthquake in Kobe, Japan, she was convinced that was the reason.
“He said this was the fascist state trying to provoke him,’” she recalls in the documentary.
“He said Kobe means God’s Door. When there was a knock on God’s door, then there was this huge earthquake.”
Balakrishnan further threatened his devotees with a “mind-machine” he called Jackie if they misbehaved.
Morgan-Davies was told she would be struck dead by lightening if she ever left the house. She had never seen a doctor or dentist and when she did finally escape she is described as having the social skills of a six-year old who was unable to even cross the road or use basic appliances.
After once attempting to run away at the age of 22, only to be returned to the house, Morgan-Davies was finally saved when cult member Josie Herival took action. Concerned about the girl’s health, Herival smuggled a mobile phone into the home and called a helpline she had seen on TV.
Now at college and living in her own flat, Morgan-Davies tells the interviewer on the show that she is determined to live a normal life.
“I did used to hate him,” she says. “I just felt completely powerless. But life is also very short. There is no time to be spent on hatred and anger.”