Surviving a Sinister Sect

Life after fleeing an abusive cult

Surviving a Sinister Sect The Colonia Dignidad was a German cult-like sect established in Chile in the 1960s. In 2003, Franz Baar escaped. After suffering years of abuse, Baar worked with a journalist and a lawyer to expose the sect’s leader, Paul Schaefer.
An accomplice of Pinochet, Schaefer enjoyed protection until he was arrested by Interpol in 2005. He was guilty of torture, forced labour and sexual abuse of the members of his cult, including children. Franz and his wife Ingrid were brought to the cult as children by their parents seeking a better life. They grew up there, but the reality of life was harsh. As adults they "were drugged and forced to work as slaves." Franz and Ingrid tried to leave the sect: "I had the dream of going somewhere to start over" says Ingrid. But they struggled to adjust to life outside and were forced to return, where they faced more abuse. Many years later, living on a farm, Franz finally feels free from the sect. "There is no healing in the Colony" he says. "Here, you can heal."

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