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22-Aug-2017 03:20

'I realised I wasn't going to go to hell for having sex.

That was the beginning of my freedom.'Ms Tarawa's freedom came about partly thanks to her two older siblings, who began a rebellion within the cult and eventually ended up running away and escaping.'It was hard when they left.

Meanwhile, young girls were married to much older men in arranged marriages.'I couldn't speak out,' Ms Tarawa said.

'Your whole life is lived in fear of hell and damnation.'On another occasion from her childhood, Ms Tarawa admitted to stealing rolled oats, after her charismatic grandfather told the community that it was better to speak out than stay silent and be damned:'Grandad reminded us of the consequences of stealing.

That was really healing.' * Gloriavale Christian Community is a small Christian group based at Haupiri on the west coast of the south island in New Zealand.* The group was founded in 1969 by Neville Cooper, an Australian-born evangelist who was invited to preach in New Zealand.* In 1995 Neville Cooper was jailed for almost a year on sexual abuse charges.

He was convicted based on the testimony of his son and of a young woman who had fled the compound.*Neville Cooper has changed his name to Hopeful Christian.* Members of the community live a fundamentalist Christian life in accordance with their interpretation of the teachings of the New Testament.* The group teaches that the only true way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to the commands of God.

Ms Tarawa writes in her book of the occasion where she returned to Gloriavale as a modern woman to see what it was like from her new perspective.

She told FEMAIL of her return: 'My grandfather treated me like a stranger. He treated me like an outsider.'It was hard, but I wanted some closure from the world I had left.

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She was born in Oklahoma City on February 28, 1984.Ms Tawara spoke to FEMAIL about life inside the cult, her grandfather, Neville Cooper - who is an Australian sex offender who was jailed on three counts of indecent assault against girls aged 12 to 19 - and how she finally broke free only to return to the cult as a modern woman to look back on her experience.Lilia Tarawa (pictured centre with Shepherd Fervent Stedfast and Shepherd Howard Temple), 26, grew up in the repressive, fundamentalist religious cult of Gloriavale Christian Community which was founded in 1969 by her grandfather, Neville Cooper (not pictured)While Ms Tawara's life inside Gloriavale as a woman was one of submission, domestic servitude and fear of eternal damnation and hell, Ms Tawara said her earliest memories were in fact ones of happiness:'I learned to work as a team when I was a girl,' she told Daily Mail Australia."If your hand or foot causes you to sin then it's better for it to be cut off than have all your limbs and be cast into everlasting hell fire,",' she recalled.'I wanted to ignore my conscience but the guilt was too much. If I didn't cleanse myself then I'd be damned to eternity with Satan...

I'd rather look like an idiot now than lose my salvation.' At the age of 16, like many of the women in the 90 families inside the Gloriavale community, Lilia made a vow to her grandfather during her commitment ceremony.Lilia (pictured in a yellow dress, third from left) and her High School classmates attended a concert in costume - females were allowed to remove head coverings for theatrical purposes, but always had to wear modest clothing While she knew that things weren't right, Ms Tarawa was actively encouraged not to speak out in the repressive community.