Hello friends and kind strangers. After many years of writing about photography and marketing, I’ve decided to pivot and try writing about the more personal and relevant topics that have been rattling around in my brain. Hopefully getting them down onto the page/screen will help them coalesce into something useful/interesting or, at the very least, entertaining. In the meantime, I will use this post to help set some expectation and create a kind of “mission statement.”

If you’re here, you’re probably curious about one of a few things: who I am and what my work is about. Maybe you’ve been…


In my last year in the Unification Church, I worked for a non-profit called The International Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), one of the Church’s many front groups. The core work involved putting on conferences and related events that surreptitiously forwarded the mission and ethos of the Unification Church, and my job had me traveling all across the world as support staff. …


Back in May, writer and fellow second generation ex-Moonie Lisa Kohn, and I were interviewed by Fen Alankus for the “Follow the Woo” podcast. We were comparing and contrasting our experiences growing up in the Unification Church in different decades, and in different “castes.” While I was born in, Lisa’s mother joined when Lisa was just 10. In Church theology, much is made about the level of purity of the children born into the group. …


“A life of faith involves putting ourselves in the position of an offering. Only by dividing good from evil in ourselves can we become living offerings pleasing to God. We should constantly separate good from evil within ourselves, according to the standard of God’s Will. If we neglect to do this, a condition is set up for Satan to invade.” Sung Myung Moon; The Divine Principle, Chapter 1, Section 2

I awoke to the harsh, tinny sound of a lifeguard’s whistle. In between long blasts a voice shouted, “Brothers and sisters, time to get up!”

My eyes peeled open and…


“First love is something that is strongest, greatest. Until your death, you will never forget about your first love.” Sung Myung Moon, Change Of Blood Lineage 1–18–1973

Sweat trickled from my scalp into the waistband of my shorts as we boarded the buses, smeared with mud after a service project. It was August in Miami. My mother had sent me away, across the country, for two weeks to join the Pure Love Alliance tour. It was a front group of the Unification Church where leaders bussed youth around the United States, promoting a purity culture-based abstinence-only curriculum that the Church…


Several months ago I was listening to an episode of the Falling Out Podcast, in which the host, Elgen Strait, interviews people who grew up in and left the Unification Church. In this particular episode he was talking to Donna, who had gone to the same church boarding school I did, but had been kicked out the year before I arrived. At one point, Donna says that she had to do research on the school and look back at records and announcements to make sure that her bad memories weren’t some sort of fever dream.

Her words stopped me in…


The term “love bombing” seems to have come into the cultural consciousness in a big way in the past several years, perhaps because of the prevalence of toxic behavior in arenas like online dating. Culturally we’re at a point where the term gets tossed around quite casually. A quick Google search on the term brings up cautionary articles from sources as varied as Cosmopolitan to Business Insider and Psychology Today.

Many articles highlight the fact that love bombing is a control tactic, and go as far to say that it’s generally used by people on the narcissistic personality disorder spectrum…


A few years ago someone commented on one of my social media posts, asking me to explain why I felt that growing up in a cult was such a bad thing. It was such a diminishing question that I felt my brain completely freeze up. The question mirrored much of the gaslighting that the Unification Church and other high demand groups & cults inflict upon their membership, telling them that things aren’t that bad, or that they should be grateful for their suffering. …


In focusing on art as a healing tool, I want to hone in specifically on religious trauma because that area of focus is where my personal experience is rooted. However, I believe that many of the resources shared in this post apply to other areas of trauma as well.

Let’s start by defining religious trauma. According to therapist Sheri Heller, who specializes in treating complex trauma, addictive disorders, survivors of narcissistic abuse in addition to religious and spiritual trauma,

“Religious or spiritual trauma is a form of psychological abuse and brainwashing that inculcates the shameful message that we are sinful…


Today I’m working on my presentation on Healing Through Art for the virtual Conference on Religious Trauma next month, and I wanted to start by sharing my experience of using art as a tool for reclaiming my story and rewriting my narrative.

If you felt yourself tense up at the idea of creating art, I want to reassure you: many people I’ve met over the years have told me that they’re not creative. Despite their assertion, I believe we are all born creative, or at the very least, with the capacity to be creative. …

Jen Kiaba

Artist, Educator, Childhood Cult Survivor

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