Entertainment

‘One Tree Hill’ Co-Stars Supported Her After Cult – The Hollywood Reporter

Bethany Joy Lenz shared that her One Tree Hill co-stars supported her after she left a cult she had been a part of for 10 years.

In an appearance on Southern Living‘s podcast, Biscuits & Jam, Lenz opened up about how she was part of a cult throughout the duration of her time on the teen drama, and when she left, she felt like the kindness she experienced from her fellow actors made a world of a difference.

“I was a smart person. I was a good actor. You can’t be a good actor without being smart,” she said. “You can’t dissect a script without being able to assess things. But I had a big blind spot in my life — and everybody does — and mine was something that I was going to have to work out on my own.”

She continued, “I feel like a lot of the people there, whether consciously or subconsciously, knew that just their presence and being an encouragement and letting me know that they still loved and cared about me in spite of the fact that I was a little weird, that made a big difference. It made me feel like there was safety when it came time for me to leave that group.”

Lenz is currently writing a book about the decade she spent in the cult, which encouraged her to distrust in and disconnect from non-members. She hopes that in detailing her experience, she can help anyone who may be going through something similar to what she went through and will see that they’re not alone.

The cult began as a home Bible study in Los Angeles when she was on break from filming One Tree Hill in Wilmington, North Carolina. Per the cult’s instruction, she distanced herself from her friends and family, missing out on life events and career opportunities in order to live with the remote, small group of people.

“There is life after trauma,” she said of what she hopes people take from her novel, out next year. “[It was] 10 years of pretty intense mental, spiritual, financial abuse. There’s so much shame attached to that, and then so many people that don’t understand. They hear the word ‘cult,’ or they think, ‘Spiritual abuse? That sounds real hippie dippie,’ but it is very real and people experience it not just in a group level but one on one relationships with a partner or sometimes with family members. It’s insidious, and it exists not just in the big bad places that get all the attention like cults.”

She told the host that she wants to create a safe space for people to learn about her experiences, and if they are in a similar situation, discover tools to avoid falling too deep into the trap.

“If you’re already in that trap, and you don’t know how to get out,” she concluded, “maybe this will help inspire you and give you some ideas to be able to know what’s normal and what’s not normal, how to have boundaries, how to recognize it.”



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