Escaping a Cult and Discovering Yourself with Jessie Shedden

Today I’m talking with Jessie Shedden, a British-Australian chicken-loving, cult-escaping badass woman, who has become a sought-after speaker, consultant, and inspirational author of Tomorrow’s Not Promised. In today’s episode, Jessie is talking about growing up in a cult, her plans to escape, her life on the outside, and her determination to use her experiences to help others.

What to Listen For: 

  • Feeling different than those around her starting at age 8
  • Learning in her 30s that she has dyslexia
  • Being bullied for 23 years
  • Being sexually abused at age 16 by somebody outside the cult
  • Knowing she didn’t want to be in a relationship with someone inside the cult
  • The limiting rules of the cult that really didn’t work for her
  • How to know it’s time to leave a cult

“I don’t think you ever really want to realize it because you know you’re going to have to leave everything behind, and I’ve had to leave my entire family behind.

So you probably know it subconsciously, but you don’t want to acknowledge it to yourself. And I knew it was going to have to happen that way from about the age of 18, but I knew I wasn’t strong enough. I had the option then. The guy I fell for on the outside of that would have taken me.

But I was like, if we don’t work out, I don’t feel strong enough to continue on my own. I haven’t got the street smarts. I haven’t got the knowledge. I’m going to lose my job. I don’t have much money behind me. I just can’t do this. So I didn’t do it.

Then by the time I left at the age of 30, I had finances. So I was in a much stronger position, but it had taken me doing some self-development exercises in September 2016 to realize that.”

  • Considering what she really wanted to do with her life and realizing she wasn’t doing that
  • How her mother’s cancer diagnosis at just 66 pushed her to leave
  • Connecting with the outside person from her past to start her healing journey
  • Going to see a counselor behind everyone’s backs and having to cover her tracks
  • Her struggles in finding the right counselor for her while still inside the cult
  • The loneliness that followed getting out

I’m so glad I didn’t know how hard it was going to be. I literally had to escape at the end.

I had to do everything behind people’s backs, and that was crippling in itself. Cause you love these people. I had to rent a property to move all my bits out bit by bit as I could. And then when I’d gotten out, I was so lonely. I didn’t know anybody. I’ve got no friends.

I wanted freedom, but it was a void. A massive void. Hadn’t anticipated that at all.

  • Looking over her shoulder even after she left
  • Creating a spreadsheet of all the things she wanted to do on the outside
  • Getting comfortable walking around
  • Worrying people would notice she was awkward and thinking they were going to look at her weird
  • Developing a relationship with herself
  • Learning self-love, how to take downtime, how to relax while finding her style and identity
  • The excitement of discovering her own preferences
  • How it felt to start dating in the outside world

It was kind of fun and scary all at the same time, actually being allowed to.

There was a lot that was taboo. A lot that was not acceptable. No physical contact. We were given no sex education; even reproductive pages were glued together in our workbooks at school. So there’s a real lack of knowledge, and we weren’t actually allowed to spend any time in a man’s presence.”

  • The freedom of being able to experiment and the vulnerability that comes with it
  • Going into modeling for a year and enjoying the external validation after getting bullied by her parents for how she looked
  • The flip side of that and why she left modeling
  • How a healthy relationship helped her see the ways she was still devaluing herself
  • One of the hardest things she found on her journey on the outside
  • Protecting her energy and doing quick spurts of friends, up-leveling every time
  • Writing her book and including not just the parts after she left, but also where she came from

I’ve done fully nude photo shoots, but I’ve never felt as naked as when I put my book out there because there’s nowhere to hide, and you have to be ready for that. You just bear it, sharing and baring your soul to everyone.”

  • How her book has deepened the conversations she has
  • The pull she feels to provide support for those ready to step into the next thing
  • Jessie’s advice for those who are fearful of letting go of what they have to level up their lives
  • How rapid exposure to things outside her comfort zone has helped her push through obstacles
  • Her advice to her younger self – reach out to people who left before you

About Jessie Shedden:

Jessie Shedden is a British-Australian chicken-loving, cult-escaping badass woman, who has become a sought-after speaker, consultant and inspirational author of Tomorrow’s Not Promised.

Jessie’s specialty is helping women own their worth so they can authentically live their best lives, discover true love, find their soul mate and earn their worth. With bucketloads of first-hand real-life experience and a down-to-earth genuine approach, she shortcuts the route to confidence and success for ambitious women who seek freedom and independence and are ready to seize the moment.

Visit to download the first chapter of her book for free.

Website and social media links:


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Read my memoir, Unravel: Rising Up and Coming Back from a Season of Living that Damn Near Killed Me at