Rose McGowan is a successful Hollywood star now, most recently appearing in the reboot of classic film Conan The Barbarian.
One of the more well-known aspects of the actress’ history is her colorful childhood experiences- she’s spoken before about having grown up under interesting circumstances in communes in Europe as part of a controversial religious sect. But McGowan had not spoken at length her family’s harrowing escape until recently.
Until she was 9 years old, McGowan’s family was part of the creepy sounding “Children of God” group, described as a “polygamous cult that blended free-love attitudes with Christian proselytizing.” If the polygamy and proselytizing isn’t enough to be alarming, it gets worse.
McGowan describes an atmosphere in which she was surrounded by unstable adults and subject to terrifyingly random abuse. She says:
“You weren’t allowed to have imperfections… I had a little wart on my thumb, and I remember walking down this hallway — a door opened and some adult grabbed me and just cut it off with a razor blade and stuck me back out in the hallway with it still bleeding.”
According to McGowan, her dad “realized he had to leave when he was asked to draw cartoon literature that advocated child-adult sexual relationships” and feared his daughter, not yet ten, would become a victim of the cult’s twisted practices. But, as is often the case with such groups, it wasn’t simply a matter of switching registrations to another parish. McGowan says her family had to escape in the dark of night, finding refuge in a stone house and fending off angry cult members who tried to break into the hideaway- with a hammer.
The cult- now renamed The Family International- has renounced its former abusive policies toward children. McGowan says that even now, she looks back in horror at her formative years under their influence. She added:
“As strong as I like to think I’ve always been, I’m sure I could have been broken. I know I got out by the skin of my teeth.”
Conan the Barbarian, in which McGowan stars, was released on August 19th.