Former Scientology member Astra Woodcraft alleges both sexual and physical assault occurred while she was involved in the Sea Org wing of the religious sect in Clearwater, Florida.The young woman tossed aside the veil of secrecy often associated with life inside the controversial Scientology religion during a recent interview with The Daily Mail. Woodcraft claims she was “chased” by members of the Church of Scientology when “fleeing” to the airport after she broke a new “rule” by becoming pregnant.
Woodcraft moved from the United Kingfom to Florida with her family as a young teen and was enrolled in a “church backed” school, according to her Daily Mail interview. She claims to have seen her mother only once a week and was told to stop calling her “mom” and to start calling her “sir.” Woodcraft also reports that children at the Sea Org branch of the Church of Scientology were kept in a “filthy compound” adorned in “old, torn clothes” and frequently had head lice.
When Woodcraft was just 14 she signed a “billion-years of service” contract with the Church of Scientology. At 15 Astra Woodcraft was married to a 22-year-old man in Las Vegas. The former Scientology member also asserts that she suffered both physical and sexual abuse by other Sea Org church members. Determined to “escape” from the Church of Scientology, Astra intentionally broke a new church rule and became pregnant at 19. The Daily News reports Woodcraft’s claims of being pressured to have an abortion and “fled” to England to live with relatives. Her mother reportedly disowned her and has seen her only one time since she fled Sea Org with her brother in 1998.
“I was miserable and it seemed like there was no other way out. If you simply said you wanted to leave, you had to go through a horrible year-long process. At the end, you still might be labeled suppressive and cut off from everyone you know.”
Woodcraft notes that Scientologists place greater emphasis on titles than gender, so everyone was referred to as “sir.” Two years after arriving at Sea Org, Woodcraft’s mother Leslie had “advanced enough” in the Church of Scientology to move the family to Los Angeles and the teen was placed in a Cadet Org school. Astra told the Daily News that she learned the “basics of reading, writing and math but did not have classes in history or other common high school courses. According to Woodcraft she worked for hours in the basement office of the church doing clerical tasks and often spent the night at the facility with her fellow students.
“There was no real curriculum. Our teacher spent hours reading to us from L. Ron Hubbard’s science-fiction book Battlefield Earth,” Woodcraft noted during the interview.
Woodcraft chose to raise her daughter Kate away from the church and has become an outspoken critic of the Church of Scientology in the years since she left the religion. Sea Org has approximately 5,000 members, according to The Daily Beast. When Astra was 12 her father left the family because he was “dissatisfied at the route their lives were going down.” She now works for her father’s architecture firm and credits him with helping her regain her freedom.