Anne Hamilton-Byrne has been labelled the epitome of an evil woman.
Hamilton-Byrne called herself the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and during the 1960s, 70s and 80s she led one of Australia’s most notorious cults, The Family.
Located in Lake Eildon outside Melbourne, Hamilton-Byrne spent decades stealing and then raising children as her own.
Since one of the children first went to the police in 1987, Hamilton-Byrne and her victims have been mostly silent. But, in a new documentary called The Family, which has been released at the Melbourne International Film Festival, the children brainwashed in the cult have spoken out.
Anne Hamilton-Byrne now. Image via Facebook.
Speaking to The Age, the director of the documentary, Rosie Jones points out that The Family is a story of a haunting nightmare.
"It's got the children, it's got the locations that are kind of dank and sinister but beautiful," Jones said. "It's sort of like a Grimm fairytale."
Hamilton-Byrne, a former yoga teacher, first founded The Family in the mid-1960s with help from the physicist, Raynor Johnson.
"Raynor Johnson had connections to all sorts of people," Jones said. "He and Anne recruited doctors, lawyers, architects. They only recruited really wealthy people, in fact, or people with status and skills they needed."
Speaking to 60 Minutes in 2009, an ex-member of the cult said that he left his wife on the promises of Hamilton-Byrne.
"I was told to leave my first wife and go up to the hills," the anonymous member said. "I did. I was told that I would have a baby with another woman, and I did."
These children held at Lake Eildon were collected and Hamilton-Byrne raised them to believe they were her biological children. Along with this, she recruited teenage mothers to give up their babies.
Sarah Moore, (formerly Hamilton-Byrne), a child who was given away to the cult, says that the recruitment process was evil, as its leader.
Sarah with Anne. Image via Facebook.
"My mother was a 15-year-old girl whose doctor was a member of the sect, and the doctor organised the adoption, drugged my mother and took me away from her at birth."