Ashleigh Freckleton is a former contestant of the current season of The Bachelor Australia. She was sent home last week by the current bachelor, Jimmy Nicholson.
Recently, Ashleigh shared her experience of narrowly escaping a cult three years before coming to The Bachelor and how the whole situation has affected her.
Who is Ashleigh Freckleton?
Ashleigh Freckleton is a speech pathologist by profession. For her education, she went to La Trobe University where she studied Health Sciences and Speech Pathology.
You can find her on Instagram under the username @afreckle_
How did Ashleigh Freckleton Escape a Cult?
In an interview with Australian news outlet Mamamia, Ashleigh talked about a dangerous point in her life when she had just turned 25.
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A person raised in a family engraved in Catholic beliefs, Ashleigh was considering relocating to India to study yoga in 2018 when she was living in London. This was when a friend, who she called “charismatic,” convinced her to join a European-based yoga school.
Ashleigh recalls her friend saying, “Look, rather than going to India, come to Romania and live for a month amongst all the yogis. It’s one of the only true schools that teaches real yoga with a real guide.”
It was a few months later that Ashleigh took her friend’s suggestion and flew to Romania.
But when she joined the “school,” they apparently forced her to take a vow to never speak of whatever happened in the program. She was then ordered to undress and confess her deviation to the leader of the school, who they only referred to as “Him.”
According to what Ashleigh told Mamamia, her body was “screaming” that the whole thing felt wrong, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave.
"Even though my body’s telling me this is wrong, I’m shaming myself thinking, 'It’s your ego. You need to spiritually evolve. You’ve got to push through, keep going.'"
For the next few months, Ashleigh said that, alongside spirituality training, she was subjected to lessons surrounding Freemasonry propaganda, conspiracy theories, and anti-vaccine rhetoric.
She added that the participants were also expected to perform sexual acts with each other and view pornography.
When the program was nearing the end, Ashleigh was flown to Paris, where she was told to engage in sexual activity with the program leader. She refused to do so.
“They promised the whole world at your feet, if you go through with the initiation. And they say that if a woman gets the opportunity and she says no, then she is stubborn, stupid, superficial.”
“I felt like I was losing touch with reality. It felt like (the leader’s) claws were grabbing my brain and like pulling it out from underneath me. I had to write letters to myself in my diary and tell myself to stay lucid, because I was so afraid.”
After she refused to act in the final “ritual,” Ashleigh said she spent several days negotiating her way out of the “school.” Even after arriving home in Australia, it took her months to register everything that had happened. She has managed to open up about everything to her family and has been diagnosed with PTSD.
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Her family, she says, has been a strong support system throughout her life since her escape. She added, “People that don’t have that in their lives, they end up in there and they don’t ever leave.”
Ashleigh has finally chosen to speak publicly in hopes to raise awareness about cult groups and the tactics they use to pull people into joining.