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Saturday, 22 December 2012
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Personal Stories - Born into Scientology

I, Astra Woodcraft, declare as follows:

1. I am over the age of 18 years.

2. The statements herein are of my own personal knowledge and if called upon as a witness, I can testify competently thereto.

3. I was born in 1978 in London, England. At that time, my mother was a member of the Church of Scientology.

4. When I was 5 or 6 years old, my mother took me to the Scientology organization in England called Saint Hill, which is located in East Grinstead, Sussex. There I received approximately 12 hours of "auditing." The auditing I received consisted of an "auditor" telling me to "look at that wall, thank you, walk to that wall, thank you, touch that wall, thank you, walk away from that wall, thank you," and similar such commands. I was made to follow these commands on a repetitive basis.

5. When I was growing up in England to the age of seven, my mother would apply the Scientology technology for sicknesses. When I hurt myself, she would make me do a "contact assist" which meant that if I hit my elbow, I had to touch it back to the place where I hit it over and over until it felt better and I wasn't allowed to stop until it felt better. If I was ill, my mother gave me a "touch assist" where I would lie down and close my eyes and she would touch me with her finger and ask, "feel my finger." This was also done until I felt better. I never felt better from theses processes but would have to pretend I did because she wouldn't stop until I said I felt good.

6. Throughout my years in scientology, in all the auditing I received I never felt good at the end. I made up wins to get it over with and generally felt relief that it was over and dread that I would have to have another session. I kept this secret always because it is scientology policy that if a person does not get gain from auditing, it means they are a suppressive person.

7. In 1986, when I was seven years old, my mother's father died. He left her some money and she used it to go to "Flag" which is the highest-level Scientology delivery organization in the world, located in Clearwater, Florida. While she was there, she was recruited for the Sea Organization which is where people dedicate their entire life, and supposedly the next billion years of their lifetimes, for the purpose of "clearing the planet" which means getting everyone into Scientology and processed to the level of "Clear." She called and told us she had joined after she had already started working there.

She told us we all needed to join, that we were moving to Flag to live in a beautiful apartment, that we kids would go to a very good private school and this would all be paid for by Scientology. She additionally told us that her and my dad would get bonuses, time off every other weekend and family time every evening.

8. When we arrived in 1986 to the Sea Organization in Clearwater, myself, my brother, my sister and mother all lived in one motel room for several weeks. Then we were moved into the main living quarters for the Sea Organization members who had young children called the QI (Quality INN) and at this point my dad joined us. Again, we lived in one small motel room. All five of us lived in this room for approximately 3 months, when my brother moved out. From this point on, the four remaining family members lived in this room for about a year, wherein I was moved into a dorm with 4 or 5 other girls. In this dorm, I slept on a couch, as there was no bed for me. I lived there for another year, which was the remainder of our time in Clearwater.

9. We were never sent to a private school as promised. We instead went to the local public school. I only recall my mother taking 3 days off out of the two years we were there. She almost never spent the evening family time with us (1 ½ hr), but stayed at work across town. After being in Clearwater for about a year, my father was sent off to help on the renovations of the Sea Org ship, The Freewinds. As I was moved into a dorm, my father was gone and my mother didn't take time off to spend with us, I almost never saw my parents.

10. At one point of our time in Clearwater, we went back to England to take care of our Visas. My father, my brother and I begged my mom not to take us back to Florida, as we disliked it so much. I spent a lot of my time crying about it. My mother refused and insisted we return.

11. For the two years that we lived in Clearwater, I went to school until 2 p.m. and then worked at the "Cadet Org" where we did such jobs as cleaning, etc. On weekends, we would work as well.

12. In 1988, when I was 9 years old, my mother was transferred to middle management of the Sea Organization, which is located in Los Angeles, California. When we arrived, my father took a leave of absence so that he could obtain our Visas and work to pay off debts. When we arrived in Los Angeles, we were moved into a rundown studio apartment. After living there for about a month, my father paid for and moved us into a proper apartment.

13. For approximately a year, from the age of 9-10, I was in the Cadet Org in Los Angeles. This is where the children of Sea Org members go. During the day, we went to school at a building they had rented where there were two classrooms; one for older kids and one for younger kids. The teacher was not a trained or certified teacher, but a trained Scientology "Supervisor." We had no class lessons, but instead worked straight out of books and were made to make clay "demonstrations" of what we were studying. If we acted up in class at all, the supervisor simply threw us out of the room. This happened to me on several occasions. One time, when I was 10, there was going to be an inspection of our school. Many of the children were made to stay until about 3 a.m. cleaning up the premises.

14. Every day after school, we were made to work. We were sent to the basement of one of the main offices for the Sea Organization and made to do filing, as there were mounds of it piling up. When work ended at approximately 9-10 p.m., we went to sleep on cots or directly on the floor with pieces of blankets to keep us warm. When my mom got off work, she picked me up. From what I recall, this was between 11pm-12am.

15. After being in the Cadet Org for about 1 year, I refused to go back.

Several things happened that caused me to feel this way. A boy who was there got upset and climbed to the top of a billboard and threatened to jump and kill himself: another boy threw a cockroach at me and kicked me. My mother continuously tried to get me to stay but I refused and moved in with my dad.

I did continue to go to their school, but after a few months, I was told that I either had to work in the Cadet Org or discontinue attending their school.

At this point, my father enrolled me in a private school. It was a Scientology run school at my mother's insistence.

16. At the Scientology school I attended, which was called "Ability Plus," there were again two classrooms, one for younger kids and one for older kids.

There was no proper curriculum and no student had ever graduated from high school, even though they claimed that you could. There were no class lessons;

we just worked from books and "checksheets". Our "teacher" spent several hours reading us the science fiction book from L. Ron Hubbard called "Battlefield Earth."

17. When I was 14 years old, I started doing a Scientology course at the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood. Soon after, two Sea Org recruiters approached me. They were recruiting for Bridge Publications, which is a Sea Org organization. They told me that if I joined their group, I would get paid minimum wage {which was several hundred a week, a lot of money for a 14 year-old); that I would not have to wear a uniform like most Sea Org members;and that I would go to school and finish my education. They also told me that when I was older and wanted to have children I could. They spent several hours convincing me including telling me that the only thing stopping me from joining was my "reactive mind." The recruiter's names were Gavin Potter and Malcolm Chisholm. I ended up agreeing to join. One of the reasons I agreed to join was that my mother and brother had persisted in trying to recruit me and I knew this would make them happy.

18. Soon thereafter, I started on the "Estates Project Force" (EPF), which is like boot camp for the Sea Org. I started in May of 1993 and was on it for approximately two weeks. When I first arrived, I was made to fill out a "life history" form where I had to write down any sexual experiences I had had, all my friends' names, and dozens of other extremely personal details. I also had to sign a contract for a billion years. I never got a work permit.

My schedule on the EPF went something like this: 6:30 a.m. wake up and get dressed; 7:00 a.m. breakfast; 7:30 a.m. muster (meeting); 7:30-8:00 a.m. run (not walk) around and empty all the ashtrays and trashcans outside three different buildings; 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. study Sea Org policies; 1:00 p.m. muster and polish boots; 1:15-1:45 p.m. lunch; 1:45 p.m. muster, drilling and marching; 2:15 p.m.-7:00 p.m. work, which included cleaning pots and pans, cleaning out a clogged toilet, sweeping and mopping floors, etc.; 7:00-7:30 p.m. dinner; 7:30-10:00 p.m. more work; 10:00-10:30 p.m. shower; 10:30 p.m. muster; 11:15 p.m. go to bed. This was a 7-day a week schedule.

19. After I finished the EPF in June of 1993, I started working at Bridge. The day I started working there, they told me I was being transferred to another organization for 2 months. I was told that I had no choice but to do it, as I had no "staff status." I went to work in the International Justice Chief's office doing secretarial work. I had to wear a military uniform. After I worked there for approximately three months, I was told that I was being transferred to another organization permanently and that I again had no choice as I still had no staff status. The organization I was transferred to was the International Training Organization. The staff there were on $15 a week pay as they had no money and the food they were given was beans and rice. I tried to refuse to go there but was told again and again I had no choice. Once there, I felt I couldn't survive on the refried beans and rice we had for every meal, so I took other food that wasn't supposed to be for us because I was starving. This was considered stealing. This lasted approximately 1 year.

20. For the first 6 months that I was in the International Training Org (ITO) I was the Receptionist. I had trouble attending the 6 hours of school that the minors went to on Saturdays because in order to attend I had to find someone to replace me on my post. The school here was, again, substandard with all the approximately 60 kids enrolled in one room with one non-certified teacher. We had no lessons, no curriculum and no way to graduate: you just stopped going when you turned 18 or got a GED.

21. Soon after I joined the Sea Org when I was still 14, I started having a relationship with another Sea Org member named Jason Merrill. Jason was 21.

After two months we were heavily pushed by senior scientology managers to get married, as in the Sea Org you are not allowed to do anything other than kiss before you are married and if you do more, you may be sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force, which means heavy labor for at least a year. In December of 1993, when I had just turned 15, Jason and I went to Las Vegas and got married.

22. Once married, the Sea Org did not have a room in which we could live together so we were instructed to live in our separate dorms until they found room that we could share and this would take several months. Instead of this, we decided to stay down the road at Jason's parents house, and we did so for about four months, knowing we would get into big trouble if we were found out as it was against policy for sea org members to live outside of church provided facilities.

23. After about 4 months, the Executive Director International and the Commanding Officer of the CMO International, who were at the top of the management of Scientology, came to inspect our organization. They asked me if I knew anyone who was not living in the Sea Org berthing and I was compelled to confess that my husband and I were not. We were immediately ordered back into SO berthing and since there were still no rooms available, we stayed in a storage closet that was 3/4 full of storage for a week. We slept on the floor and there were no windows.

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