Former Gloriavale woman recounts being humiliated by leadership

Gloriavale (file picture).

A former Gloriavale resident who had sex before marriage claims she was humiliated by the leadership and called a "whore" and a "slut".

Crystal Loyal is giving evidence at the Employment Court, which is deciding whether six women who worked at the West Coast commune were employees or volunteers.

She said she developed a relationship with Isaac Loyal, who is now her husband, which progressed to sex before marriage.

“I was in trouble with the leaders and I was put in front of what has been described as the ‘Shepherds and Servants meeting'. I was only in there for probably half an hour, but it was a humiliating experience.

“They used words like “whore” and “slut” to describe me,” said Loyal.

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The court heard the Loyal was told it was her fault, “didn’t have downcast eyes”, and “he was only going for me because I was easy”.

The leaders then made the couple sign the commune’s Declaration of Commitment so they could get married in 2014. There was no wedding ceremony.

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“I held out for Isaac, had I not had sex with him they would have married me off to one of the other young men. I don’t know who they would have chosen, but I would have had little choice. You’ve got no choice,” said Loyal.

Crystal Loyal’s time at Gloriavale was detailed from the age of five, when she started helping in the kitchen setting tables for dinner.

She said by the age of seven, young girls get up at about 6am making toast and a “health drink” for breakfast. After school, they’d occasionally be expected to help with laundry or cooking.

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“When I was 10, 11, 12 like all the girls my age I started doing more early mornings. We would start doing a bathroom cleaning as well, just clean a toilet at your hostel. And probably work another afternoon too.

“When you’re 12 you start looking after other ladies kids while they’re at their cooking duties”.

Loyal said she finished school at 14 years-old before going onto the fulltime roster for women at Gloriavale.

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“From an early age you just know that’s what’s going to happen, there is never any option. You were just “I’m in that rotation. That’s it”.

She left the commune in 2017.

The hearing continues.