Hallmark star Bethany Joy Lenz has opened up in recent months about living under the influence of a cult. In a new podcast interview, the former “One Tree Hill” star revealed additional insight into the experience.
During the November 28 episode of the Southern Living podcast “Biscuits & Jam,” Lenz revealed quite a bit more.
Despite the challenges she endured both during and after the experience, Lenz noted, “There is life after trauma.” She has written a book about her experience, which is expected to be released in 2024. By publishing her memoir, she hopes to help other people who are stuck in similar “insidious” situations.
Here’s what you need to know:
Bethany Joy Lenz’s ‘One Tree Hill’ Family Was a Huge Source of Support
During an October episode of “The Tamron Hall Show,” Lenz opened up about how she had been lured into the “high-demand group.” She noted it happened during a time when she longed for connection to others.
The Hallmark star was just 22 years old at the time she first became connected to the group. It happened when she had just moved from New York to Los Angeles. She endured a lot of “love bombing” from the group, although she didn’t recognize it for what it was at the time.
“I had a big blind spot in my life,” Lenz said on the “Biscuits & Jam” podcast of being drawn into the religious group. “Everybody does and mine was something that I was gonna have to work out on my own,” she said of the experience.
While she had to work through what she had endured on her own, Lenz believed leaning on her “One Tree Hill” family was a big part of why she was successful. “Especially the older cast,” she explained of those who helped her the most.
Lenz looks back and thinks they believed she could make it through. “I think they saw that in me and their confidence in my ability. They knew I was a smart person.”
“I feel like a lot of the people there, whether conscious or subconsciously, knew that just their presence and being an encouragement and letting me know that they still love and cared about me in spite of the fact that I was a little weird. That made a big difference,” Lenz noted.
Leaving the cult she had been a part of for a decade could have been a terrifying experience. However, thanks to her “One Tree Hill” family, she felt there was safety within the show group. “I did still feel like there were many open arms and that felt really, really good and it was very helpful,” she explained.
The Hallmark Star Hopes to Help Others Facing Similar Challenges
The Hallmark star is still working on her recovery. “It was 10 years of pretty intense mental, spiritual, financial abuse,” Lenz admitted. “I’m back at square one, and there’s so much shame attached to that, and then so many people that don’t understand.”
Lenz explained, “They hear the word, cult, or they think spiritual abuse, and that sounds real hippy-dippy.” She countered, though, “it is very real.” The Hallmark star hopes her memoir can help others “avoid getting into those traps” at all.
She also hopes, “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.”
As Entertainment Weekly noted, Lenz joined the cult after the first season of “One Tree Hill.” She eventually left the group in 2012. The Hallmark star wants to “create a space that feels safe” for others as she continues to rebuild her life after her difficult experiences.