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Scientology disconnection rips apart another family, this time affecting a familiar face


[Ramana Dienes-Browning and her daughter, Iyana]

We recently received a message from Ramana Dienes-Browning that, sadly, was all too familiar.

“Well, it finally happened,” she said to us over Facebook. “My mum has disconnected from me so she can continue Scientology.”

And it appears that her mother took this step in part because last October, we finally got to meet Ramana in person when she attended our book tour event in Sydney. But let’s back up a bit and remind newer readers who Ramana is.

In 2011, we wrote about Ramana and her incredible ordeal serving as a young Sea Org executive on Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds. Initially, we interviewed Ramana because she could corroborate some of the points in another Freewinds saga, the story of Valeska Paris, who was held on the ship to keep her away from her mother — for eleven years, from 1996 to 2007.

But then it turned out that Ramana’s own story was just as startling as Valeska’s. She had been lured to the ship by Sea Org recruiters that talked her out of her dream of becoming a dancer. She married very young to another crew member. And then she was humiliated by her superior officers once her young husband admitted in an interrogation session that he’d been masturbating. From our 2011 Village Voice story…

“When you’re stats are down, nothing is private. The subject of sexual aberrations is very fascinating to Scientology auditors, when you’re not producing as much as you’re supposed to be. So when you get investigated you get put on the meter and any kind of sexual activity will be brought up.”

Ramana says when she was brought into the room with half a dozen Sea Org members, the first thing said to her was by her superior, the Commanding Officer of the CMO, a woman named Pilar:

“She said, ‘You little fucking bitch.’ She proceeded to tell me that he was found to be masturbating, and that he was touching me but I wasn’t touching him back, and that I was forcing him to masturbate because I wasn’t doing it for him. That I was evil, and how could I do that to him.”

Her husband was also in the room, she says. “He was just numb. We didn’t talk about it between ourselves. Pilar assigned me to Lower Conditions, and she sent me on my way. I can’t remember if I was sent to the engine room, but I think I was.”

Ramana believes that she was assigned the ethical condition of “Treason,” which is below “Enemy” but above “Confusion” on Hubbard’s scale.

Ramana went on to tell us about the harrowing conditions working in the bowels of the Freewinds engine room, where Sea Org members were sent to be punished with arduous and dangerous work. And she also described her multiple escape attempts to get away from the ship.

When she finally did get out, she reunited with her father, who had never been a Scientologist and was happy to get her back, and with her mother, who was still in the church.

At the time, we asked her how her mother reacted when Ramana told her about what she’d been through. Again, from our Voice story…

“About a year ago I told her everything that had happened in the Sea Org. She was in shock, and the next day we met up again and she burst into tears. She was absolutely distraught. And what hurts me the most at the moment is that even though she’s so distraught, she’s absolutely committed to the organization. She’s convinced I was mistreated because someone misapplied the technology, not that the fundamental policies that run Scientology are creating these actions.”

We have kept in touch with Ramana since we wrote that story, and last October, she came to our appearance at the Giant Dwarf Theater. We got to hang out with her backstage before the show with jounalists Steve Cannane and Bryan Seymour.

“Mum found out that I had been to the talk you gave in Sydney, and it triggered a final showdown of sorts,” she tells us.

Ramana, 36, lives in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney with her daughter, Iyana, who is 11. Her father lives in a town not far away.

“Mum came to visit around June 2015. She didn’t bring up Scientology at first, but she had made me promise I wouldn’t interact with the media or my ex-Scientology Facebook friends while she was in Australia. I thought for the sake of the family I could make this commitment, but after two months my PTSD was so badly triggered I could barely get out of bed and had to take time off university to recover.” (Her mother had been splitting her time between Clearwater, Florida and Nova Scotia, before her return to Australia.)

Then, she says, her mother found out about the talk at the Giant Dwarf, and she confronted Ramana about it.

“During this talk it basically came out that I had officially been declared a suppressive person by the church, and that in order for mum to stay in contact with me and also do Scientology services I would have to contact the Continental Justice Chief and resolve my declare. That means giving over control completely to the church again, ‘making up the damage,’ ‘admitting I was wrong,’ and doing ethics conditions. Mum said that until I do that she is ‘withdrawing.’ Not disconnecting, but ‘withdrawing.’ I can’t believe how much control this organization has over her,” Ramana says. “She feels Scientology will not only save her but all of us. It is a heartbreaking reality to swallow but she truly believes she is doing the right thing.”

Although her mother has been in Scientology for more than 30 years, she has never reached Clear, Ramana says. Now, her mother is under pressure to disconnect from her own daughter in order to continue progress up Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.”

“She’s getting some auditing. She is 72,” Ramana says.

Ramana tells us her mother’s decision is “heartbreaking” to her, but also, in a counterintuitive way, something of a relief — she knows her mother has been working up to this statement for a long time. But she’s doing her best to deal with the “emotional blackmail” her mother hit her with in their final conversation.

“This cut pretty deep,” she says.

Ramana, for her part, continues to develop her filmmaking career. She directed a short art-film with allusions to her experiences in Scientology which appeared in local festivals. And it’s also being taught at a local high school.

“I just went in and had a chat with the students and told them my story. It feels good to be educating young people,” she says.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on March 15, 2016 at 07:30

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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  • flyonthewall

    I’ve been working on this shoop since the article it was featured in was posted on the 13th. I hope you like it. f5

    • Tory Christman

      This was my video I made in 2010 to the African American Community, after
      Louis Farrakhan said: “Either you are ALL on course Tuesday night, OR we are
      going to thank you and say “good-bye”.
      I had heard he was “in” $cientology. This confirmed it. However he never said the words
      Scientology OR Hubbard…so I knew most would have no clue what “on Course” meant.
      Thus this video:

      It ended up on TV Sunday. One year later a lady wrote a book called
      “Farrakhan and Scientology”. She called me to tell me “your video is going
      viral in the black community”. I asked why? She said: “You were the only person
      who told us what was going down”.

      Since then ISH has started a great Facebook site: “Scientology The Invasion of
      the Black Community”. If you haven’t gone there (and are on FB)…swing on by.
      They so appreciate any and all facts about this organization.

      flyonthewall: Good article! EVERY Bit helps. Inch by inch, mile by mile. 🙂

    • daisy

      Good job !

  • I’ve no idea who this Lark Voorhies is, but boy she’s got it in for John Travolta for sure….


    • Kestrel

      She looks like she could use a nap … three days ago.

    • Ever met an SP?

      Cripes, she was Lisa Turtle in ‘Saved By the Bell’! Sorry to hear she’s so unwell. I share her displeasure with John Travolta, but if these are her posts the way she’s apparently going about this campaign is more of a commentary on her current mental state than his.

      • Ever met an SP?

        Revised and expanded with the above.

    • daisy

      I think this poor woman has a mental illness. I cannot remember where I read that. She was on a silly teen show * Saved by the Bell

      • Dlisted has covered it. Her mother says she’s bipolar, she claims she has lupus. It’s very sad. When a celebrity, or anyone, is publicly known to be mentally ill in a bad way, there should be decorum in the press and they should be given privacy, not attention.

    • Ever met an SP?

      Following on from my earlier comment, having looked into this a little further I’m not at all sure this Instagram account (which provides the source for the story) actually does belong to her, despite what the article says about it having been linked to her for a long time. It just doesn’t seem credible to me. For example, it juxtaposes posts celebrating leaders of the Black Panthers with posts stating she (LV) does not consider herself to be ‘black’ or ‘African American’, and also features a video of her denying that the account is her, which has been artistically slowed down, to the effect of making it appear ridiculous. I find it hard to believe even someone suffering from serious mental illness would consider that a good idea.

      • Ever met an SP?

        ALSO (and unless questions arise I promise this will be my last on this subject) her verified Twitter account carries repeated denials of her association with the Instagram account. I’m sorry, I know this is all largely irrelevant to the purposes of this site but it seems to me that if, as we stand against Scientology, we also stand FOR something, it should be establishing a correct factual record and thinking critically about things that may be masquerading as facts, when they aren’t.

    • Jenyfurrrrr

      She was on Saved by the Bell I’m pretty sure and gained some recent notoriety from having a semi-public breakdown and her mom making some public statements about her mental state and quickie marriage a while back.

  • Sid (Phil Jones)

    Okay, this just happened. Scientology shut us down,,, again. I just got a call. They exerted some pressure and now Regency has backed out. F#$%!!!!!

    To all those mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, and friends of loved ones who have suffered the abuse of Scientology disconnection, I am so sorry. But know this, we will not give up.

    • Let me say it for you FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Helen Van Patterson Patton

      WTF??!! Thanks for keeping us updated, Phil.

    • flyonthewall

      fucking bullshit man!

    • Ever met an SP?

      Oh, goodness gracious. I’m so sorry. I hope Tony or others can get to the bottom of what’s happened here, because from previous reports they sounded so solidly behind you. It may after all have been threats that they couldn’t reasonably have faced down, such as from other clients or their liability insurers, so ipso facto it wouldn’t be right to condemn them – but that’s why transparency is important.

      Any road, I’m sure you know that if it’s a question of money, there are those of us who haven’t contributed but stand ready to do so if more is needed.

    • daisy

      I know it was scientology but what did they say ?

    • Saint

      Your efforts are worth it. I’m waiting for a story about why a billboard with “call me” is so threatening to the COS. What are they afraid of? Keep going. Keep going.

    • Mobile billboards? We have them around here at times. This is obviously scaring Co$ so you’re doing the right thing!! This is only going to bring MORE press, as the original rejection, then next approval got press, so this is gonna be press worthy too. It shows them for the cowardly family destroyers they are!!!

      KEEP THE FAITH!!!!! (((HUGS)))

    • aegerprimo

      This is very bad news.

    • SucculentDuck

      you have them scared, Sid. this is working.

    • Chee Chalker

      Did Regency explain what happened?

      • flyonthewall

        they threatened to drag Regency into some imaginary lawsuit that is never going to happen is what they did, what else could they have done? They probably also called, emailed, faxed and snail mailed them 100x a day like a psycho since it was announced until they just got sick of hearing from them.

        • Chee Chalker

          Either that or they paid them off

          • flyonthewall

            Prob a bit of both. We’ll know for sure if/when Regency has Sci or Sci related billboards go up soon

    • Tory Christman

      Just keep at it, Phil. Actually, a huge story is they shutting down free speech.
      We need to try to get some TV interviews on this. Are you available IF they’re set up?
      THIS SUCKS, no question about it. $CIENTOLOGY And “dave”-the-no dick or balls- non-leader,
      AS I SAID BEFORE: This isn’t gonna stop US.

      • SucculentDuck

        (just say the word if/when you need me… i can stand on the side and film/take pictures for the Bunker, or i can provide moral support, etc…)

    • Tory Christman

      When you get a chance…Call me Phil. I have an idea…but I won’t say it in public
      as they’ll just shut it down….but it’s goooooooooooood.

      (And FUCK YOU, OSA Floor mats.
      This is ***not*** a win for any of you idiots).

      (818) 588-3044. Tory/Magoo

      • salin

        <3 Tory, you are courageous and generous. You are a role model for so many who are voiceless.

    • Liberated

      That totally sucks.

    • 9001

      Sorry to hear that Sid. Hope you find another company tomorrow.

    • Chee Chalker

      I have been tweeting my disappointment. Pls join me. @ROABillboard
      (I’ve tried copying my tweets, to share my snark with everyone, but when I click on the three dots I get the option to email, report or cancel tweet… copy option..)
      My goal is to get blocked by Krusty and Greta Van Sustern. Greta needs to be exposed as a follower of a mental and physical midgets (LRH and DM respectively)

      • tap the time of your tweets—-like right after you tweet, it’ll probably be like 2 seconds ago, tap that… brings up that tweet in a box…..copy the url…..

    • Sid I sure hope someone at Regency will speak up about this. And like Tory says it’s gets some media. We know it’s gonna turn into another footbullet for DM. Thanks for not giving up!

    • Always Amazed

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! mothereffers.shit shit shit

    • Spike Robinson

      This should NOT be happening! BIG hug to you!

      Never give up!!! We’re all behind you.

    • Antonia Willis

      Bloody awful, but I’m guessing that the excellent Tony Ortega will pick up the ball & run with it; i.e., turn this into the mega-story it deserves to be, so that the media can take an even closer look both at the disconnection policy itself and the vile tactics of intimidation used by the Co$.

    • aegerprimo

      Stay positive! I feel somehow that this setback is going be bad for the Co$ and good for exposing Church of Scientology disconnection.

      Something my mother has told me all my life….

      When one door closes, another will open.

    • Frodis73

      Phil, i’m so sorry. I was hopeful since so much time had passed since it was announced…I should know better by now.
      Dear DM and OSA
      FUCK YOU for stopping FREE speech in the USA!
      ML, Frodis

      • Dear Frodis:

        I’m sorry to inform you that the Co$’s freedom of religion overrides the freedom of speech of others. The Co$’s freedom of speech overrides the freedom of religion of others.

        This is true.

        Miss Tia

    • seriouslyWTF

      I’m so sorry Sid.
      Please keep whatever you come up with next under wraps until it happens. They are ruthless. However, I have no doubt they will eventually fail. Their demise seems to be the classic “death by a thousand cuts”…. and this cut is deep.

    • Robert Eckert

      I didn’t want to jinx it, but my very first thought when the Regency deal was announced here was that you should not have said a word until the billboard was actually up. Forget having a first day celebration of it, just have it appear.

  • TOT: I’m impressed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s ADA Compliance Department. They’ve already gotten back to me about an email I sent today about my voting location being totally non-ADA compliant. I thought it was bad in the fall when a lady with a walker had to walk over 300′ to vote as there was no close parking. Today topped it. As I left today, a lady was sitting outside the doors in a wheel chair waiting for someone to either enter or exit and hoping they’d hold the door for her because there was no automatic door!!!! I had never noticed the lack of an automatic door before then. WTF?! What if it was raining? How in the hell that location was approved as a voting place I’ll never know. Hopefully it’ll never be a voting place again!!

    • flyonthewall

      you’re good peeps Tia

    • Allie

      Good for you, Tia, for reporting on this. When I broke my leg years ago and hobbled around on crutches, I was surprised at how many places that weren’t compliant, no automatic doors, etc.
      And what surprised me even more was how HEAVY many doors were, esp wood ones. Almost re-broke my leg trying to open a door since no one else was around to help. During my recovery whenever I came across this situation, I immediately talked to someone or filed a report on it. It’s good to be assertive about it–too many ppl aren’t.

      • Yeah, it’s something most of us take for granted unless we’re in a situation as yours, or we see someone struggling or just waiting, like I did today. You’d be amazed at how many places I discovered weren’t ADA compliant when calling places for HowdyCon too!! If no one reports something nothing is done!!

        Not as bad as using crutches, but after my surgery in ’03 after not being allowed to drive for 6 weeks—due to size of my incision in abdomen, I was told I could NOT lift anything over 5# at one time for another 6 weeks. When I went to the grocery store, I would always apologize to the cashier beforehand and tell them I couldn’t lift anything over 5# due to recent surgery and could they please bag my items lightly? Most were fine with that; but ONE snotty biatch said “You don’t look like you had surgery” and started plopping stuff in a bag. I lifted my shirt and said “Do I look like it now? You wanna rebag that stuff?” Once she picked up her jaw, she tried to apologize and I waved it off and told her to never doubt anyone again.

        People can be total fucking dicks!!!

    • Frodis73

      TY MissTia for bringing this to their attention. There is NO excuse for that shit…esp at a freaking voting place!!

      • I have no idea how/why North High School was EVER approved as a voting location!! The parking is atrocious—-IF there’s any parking available you have to walk at least 100′ or more. Or park creatively, meaning, probably not legally. Then the no automated doors for wheelchairs?! And what of people with walkers? Canes? Crutches? Having to walk that far? Fucking ridiculous!!

        We use to vote at Patterson Park and that was easy to park at, they have an automatic door for wheelchairs and there was never any problems there. They need to scrap North High as a voting location before November!!

    • salin

      Thank you for making noise on behalf of others. It is the only way things will change.

      • It truly is, and I give proper credit to the S.O.S. ADA department for replying so promptly to follow up!!! Sometimes you send an email and hear nada. This place means business!!! YEAH!!

        • salin

          Again, thank you. Glad to hear that the department is responsive.

          • REALLY impressed with how quickly they replied!!

  • Ever met an SP?

    This may have been noted earlier, but Ross and Carrie have Part 3 of their ‘infiltration’ of Scientology podcast posted now. It was up last night, but I only listened this evening – and it’s worth the time!

  • outraged

    Once I was seven years old my mamma told me go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely…..

    Soon I’ll be 60 years old
    Will I think the world is cold
    Or will I have a lot of children who can bore me

    Call your children, call your parents. Life is not worth living without love.
    It’s not too late, it’s never too late.
    Your friends are waiting. You owe no money. Leave Scientology before the world leaves you.

    • Baby

      beautiful song Outraged..Thank you..Lukas has a gorgeous voice.

  • salin

    My reminder to ‘click the heart’ as an upvote for today’s Underground Bunker – powerful story, detailed reporting with links to back story, and heartfelt comments.

    While the Tromso skycam is obscured by clouds. But – a NASA site tells us that there has been big recent activity – and people around the world have sent in recent photos.

    Pi Day ended with an explosion of color. During the late hours of March
    14th (3.14), a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) hit Earth’s magnetic
    field, sparking bright auroras around the Arctic Circle.

    From Finland:

    From Ontario, Canada:

    From yesterday – at the North Pole (is that building Santa’s workshop?)

    From yesterday – in Scotland:

  • Tony Ortega

    New post is up

    • aegerprimo

      I’m there!

  • flyonthewall

    Regency, you cowards. Remember when I said you were moral, brave and socially conscious? I’m taking it all back. Why couldn’t you just ignore the cult? HBO did and look what happened to them, NOTHING! Hello!? Wtf is your problem anyway!!???

  • Robert Eckert

    Pam Bondi, the Scientology-adjacent Attorney General of Florida, endorsed Trump at the last minute. It is becoming clear that Trump got her endorsement the old-fashioned way: he paid for it.

  • Todd Tomorrow
  • PoisonIvyHerself

    You rock Ramana. The courage and strength of character of former Scientologists like you just slays me. Seriously, everyone on this board who is an ex- I salute you. I’ve been through some tough stuff in my life but it pales in comparison to what you’ve survived. Keep telling your stories. You matter.