Vivian Shillander and children

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Reply Sat 6 Aug, 2005 09:42 pm
Vivian Shillander and children
She was featured on 20/20 recovering her children from Thailand. Several years later another program showed that some of her children were under the legal custody of their father who had become a respected citizen in Vivian's city. Does anyone know what has become of this family since then?
Thorwald 1
Reply Sat 6 Aug, 2005 10:08 pm
We have an article on her and the complete 20/20 video Online (see: Multimedia). You can find it here:

One of her sons is registered on this site and was frequenting it a while back.
Reply Thu 1 Sep, 2005 10:02 pm
Vivian's family
I noticed that the oldest boy, I believe, appeared in one of the TV shows about Ricky. He was very articulate and clear-headed. I do believe, if I remember right, that Barzali had also left TF - so even though he got the children back for awhile, they all left anyway.
Reply Sun 4 Sep, 2005 12:32 am
Answer to questions you're asking?
Hi, It's late (or rather, early) and I should be going to bed, but browsing the web tonight I see that some of you are wondering what has happened to me and my children. I won't take much time tonight to say it all, but I will in the future... maybe tomorrow when I have some time. I am re-married and live in Sioux Falls, SD. Richard (Barzalli) lives in Brookings, SD just 45 north of me. He has done well for himself, but I can't say he is really out of the cult because I do believe that he still associates with them some and doesn't consider the group evil, as I do. I don't have any personal contact with him at all. All I know is what I can glean from what the kids say. John (Mahaleel) is living in Thailand right now... not in the group but (I believe) there staying with his step-grandmother... Richard's Thai wife's mother. April is in Rapid City married to a man from Kazahkstan (He is Muslim which has started to present some problems.). Caleb has recently moved to Rapid City, also. He has studied Chinese and is very knowledgable of alternative medicines and believes in eating vegan -- mostly (I believe still. Very smart kid and has an amazing brain that can retain a lot of information). Francisco (Tito) works for IBM in GA. Yan is a senior at SD School of Mines and Technology majoring in Physics.

It was Francisco (not the oldest) who appeared on a program concerning Ricky. Richard never did have legal custody of the children. They just chose to live with him and I was powerless to stop them. Thanks for all of your concerns. Love, In Christ. Vivian
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2005 02:16 pm
well im hoping that regardless of the pain and suffering you went through at the childrens early age, that now you have a bit of peace knowing that they are having a life unhindered by the family.
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2005 09:14 pm
Thank you, Vivian.
It's amazing what time does and how things change. Thank God your kids have their own lives now and are getting on outside TF. Thank you for sharing about your and their lives with us.
Mary 2
Reply Sun 11 Sep, 2005 11:29 am
Hi Vivian - I remember you from long, long ago in Seattle and Spokane when Mahaleel was an infant. My name was Shalom then & I was w/ everyone at the "leadership" house in Seattle, briefly and later moved to Spokane, got married and left. You were always kind to me - actually, way back then, Barzalei was too. Am so sorry for all your very public trouble. I have some stories too..... some of which are posted on the NDN board. If you have time & inclination, feel free to send me an e-mail. Very Happy
Reply Sun 11 Sep, 2005 12:45 pm
Hi Vivian
Vivian - it's so good to hear of how all the kids are doing. So glad they are doing so good. What a traumatic thing they had to go through. My heart goes out to you all.

You will remember me as Mercy (or Victory) in Thailand, married to Gibeah.
Reply Mon 3 Oct, 2005 11:05 am
I met Barz and 2 of your kids in Denmark
Wow, this thread really brought back memories.

To Vivian:

I was around the same age as one of your sons when Barz and 2 of your sons came to our home in Vallensbæk, Denmark (I'm 25 now). I don't remember your sons names, I think one was Michael. Well anyway, the older of the 2 sons that were visiting us talked a lot about his mom. He told me how she would let him play video games, drink soda, and eat out. I was in awe at how cool he was since he was able to do all those things. He only talked about his life with you and how he wanted to go back. I remember it very clearly.

I later read some stuff about you and how evil you were. It seemed like TF enjoyed passing persecuted single parents through Scandinavia for a few months at a time before moving them on to their next hide out. Anyway I don't know if I read or heard about the testimony of how your kids chose to stay with their dad, but I never really forgot about what your son would always tell me. I dismissed it as him being tempted by the system and maybe got the victory.

From my experience "persecuted" kids always had a celebrity complex where they thought they were superior to others because "Dad" talked about them in the letters. They were often bullied because of this, at least in Scandinavia.
Reply Mon 31 Oct, 2005 12:13 pm
Are you still in denmark? If so, I would like to get in touch!
I live in Ã…rhus...
My Email is [email protected]

Reply Sat 15 Apr, 2006 10:42 pm
"us".. all of us.
Wow. It's taken me a long time to get back on this sight (Must have been winter blues). Mercy, glad to hear from you! I've often wondered about you.
The one from Denmark -- I don't believe (or remember) Richard going into Denmark with the kids. I don't remember going there at all. I certainly wouldn't have been the one to let them drink pop, etc. as I was definitely (and still am) the health food freak (well, kinda). I don't think we had video games either and certainly didn't have money to eat out... if you're talking about in the early '80's. Or did he come there with the kids in the 90's? My kids went to Thailand in '95, but I don't think they would have gone to Europe, that I know of.

Shalom, I believe I remember you also... blond and fairly slender? Barz was a fairly "good" (well, at least mostly kind... to others) guy back then. He has his good qualities and I am praying for him... because how he is, is going to affect how our children will be. They are learning from us, still, I believe.

Thanks for all of your messages and well-wishes. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I gotta work for a while in the morning before church (I don't play church, either. I am very thankful for everything the Lord has done for me and consider myself blessed to have been counted worthy to have suffered for his sake. "If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him." ) God bless you all. Vivian Ellis
Mary 2
Reply Sun 16 Apr, 2006 10:30 am
Happy Easter!
Very Happy Yes, that was me [Shalom].....married Seth/Daniel & left, returned & was on the fringes of the Family until finally losing touch in the '80's. A few people have contacted me over the years, but there's no one in the COG that I communicate w/ anymore. I currently live in N. Calif., am employed & my 2 sons are grown - Daniel left the U.S. when our divorce was final 2 yrs. ago. Again, if you have any time or curiosity - I'd enjoy catching up some. Take care ..... Mary
Reply Thu 20 Apr, 2006 12:57 am
Hello everyone... I've been learning about this particular cult (CoG/TF) after doing a fair bit of work trying to wade through the absolute mess that is Scientology. As a break (or so I thought), I decided that I would learn about other cults, therein learning about Cog/TF.

It's interesting to read about the creator of this group (Berg) and compare notes about the CoS creator (L. Ron Hubbard). Many of their ideas (and ideals) are quite similar... in the most basic sense, that is. Of course I'm not so stupid to realize that this pattern has not been recognized before or since, and that most of the leaders/creators of such cults have very similar personality traits, ideas, etc. Just something I found particularly intriguing. Perhaps this is a sweeping generalization, but at least these 2 men seem to fit quite nicely into the diagnostic criteria for having narcissistic personality disorder.

I was wanting to ask the members here, or anyone else just dropping by, if it's true (generally) that most of these leaders fall within a certain, and narrow, spectrum of disorders/idealogy, do you believe that members of such cults would, by default, have an opposite, although complimentary, disorder or idealogy?

I've read that those who become members of a cult are from all walks of life, but what I'm asking about specifically are those members who stay for long periods of time, those devoted blindly to the concepts of said organization, and those who would break generally accepted societal morals/laws.

I would love to know what you guys think... especially since, from the threads I've read, you are a very insightful group.

Also, sorry for the randomness of this!
Reply Thu 20 Apr, 2006 04:47 am
I believe that there are many similarities between cult leaders. There are differences too. Berg was an antinomian (having no moral restraints), other cult leaders aren't. In fact some are just the opposite--teaching ascetisim, restraint--even celebacy. Ann Lee's followers were celibate, her movement literally died out (you don't reproduce when you're celebate).
Anne Lee
Reply Fri 5 May, 2006 02:19 pm
Re: Answer to questions you're asking?
I'm so glad Vivian posted on this site. Over the years I've thought about her and her children. I remember the anxiety of watching the rescue unfold - I can't even imagine the anxiety of having to actually live through it. While watching 20/20, I was disturbed when one of the boys stated that he felt that if he stayed here (I'm assuming he meant in the U.S.) that he would be destroyed (I can't remember the exact words). I didn't realize that the kids eventually moved in with their father. Vivian, how long after you rescued them did that happen? Were you worried that he would take them back to to the Cult? How is your relationship with your kids today? God bless.
Reply Mon 26 Jun, 2006 08:56 pm
Reading for memories
My memories have spent a lot of time behind strong floodgates. I have read my mothers notes on here and the replies, and am touched by how much love and caring I feel from each of you. It brings back good memories. The group did have one thing going for them and that was love, shared with all. I think everyone involved with the group has a sense of compassion that I feel is lacking in most others I've met and worked with. Anyway I do remember some things from my 0-9 years in the group, 5 of which were in Thailand. I'd be interested in finding and talking to other kids that came out of the group in the 7-12 yr window and how they may have adapted then and now. I admit I dont always have smooth relationships with my parents, but do know that they love me emmensely and care about all of our well-being. If any of you want to ask me a question or be there for me to ask you one, my email is [email protected] . I have open communication with my brothers and sister, and have really found that we need each other more than we think. Still finding a use for the parents and how to manage a meaningful relationship. But honestly, I am lucky to be where I am and having done so with only a little help, but a lot of hard work in the system.

Part of the issues with people like me trying to find others to talk to and try to communicate our feelings or memories is all the other people (brothers, sisters, father, mother) that I know can easily search for and find this content. Not always do I want them to know how I feel or what I'm saying. Its a trait I picked up in the group. So I guess I'm a hypocrite, as I found my moms posting here and just went ahead and piggybacked on it to feed this into the site. And mom and dad if you read this, I love you!

Francisco Shillander
Reply Wed 28 Jun, 2006 02:43 am
Hello Francisco

It is very touching to read your words. Seems like you have experienced much of what many ex-CoG/TF have after leaving the group--a sense of isolation and having to cope on your own.

People leave with deep psychological scars that the professionals have little or no experience of. There are virtually no text books and studies done, the cult survivors are fortunate if they find a group of other cult survivors that can offer mutual support.

Reconciliation is often the hardest thing, we must persevere. Sadly the love we felt in the cult was abused, used to manipulate, yet there were individuals that did have some feeling of love (inspite of everything).

I commend you for your openess, your kindness and honesty shown in this posting.
Reply Mon 11 Sep, 2006 08:48 pm
Thanks Vivian for the updates

Thanks Vivian for taking the time to update us on your children's whereabouts. I was about 17 when I saw the 20/20 segment and it really touched me. I commend you on your passion and perseverence. I was happy to see the segment again online. I hope all is well with you and congratulations on your marriage.

Bristol, CT
Reply Mon 11 Sep, 2006 08:57 pm
And thank you Francisco
And thank you Francisco. Sorry I missed your comment before my first post. Congratulations with overcoming the obstacles you have. Though I suspect my experiences growing up are nothing like yours, I strongly believe that whatever one's pain, the best therapy is talking with someone else who's experienced it and identifying.


[email protected]
Cookie 2
Reply Mon 6 Nov, 2006 08:45 pm
evanman wrote:
People leave with deep psychological scars that the professionals have little or no experience of. There are virtually no text books and studies done, the cult survivors are fortunate if they find a group of other cult survivors that can offer mutual support.

Just came across this. Very well put.

TO PEOPLE LIKE MAX, JEB, AND THINKER, etc., it is chiefly for reasons such as the ones listed here that many of us are on this site. I hope you have hearts and can keep this in mind as you "contribute". 8)

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