Former Charles Manson Follower Tells All

“I needed to be loved and adored and respected and, you know, I needed to have a purpose. And I didn’t have that until I met Charles Manson and family.”

Dianne Lake was a child of the 60s hippie movement. Her father led her on her first LSD trip when she was only 13 years old. That same year her parents sold their Southern California home and moved the family into a bread truck, where they could be free from societal restrictions. Dianne says, “It was difficult living in a bread truck with five people. And so it was uncomfortable. And when I thought, what was God’s voice, telling me it’s time to leave home I talked to my parents and they wrote me a note.”

The note gave Dianne permission to leave her parents and live as she saw fit, even though she was only thirteen. When she met Charles Manson and family, Dianne quickly fell under the influence of the sex, drugs, and mind control he used to manipulate the girls who joined him.

“I needed to belong,” she says. “I needed to be part of this movement, part of a family. It’s part of his con that he was able to hone in on whatever a person’s weaknesses were, whatever their needs were and then fill it, provide it. I mean, he was a master at that. And he used it to manipulate. He made all of us, I think, feel individually that we were his favorite, that we were loved and adored.”

Manson distorted spiritual ideas and tried to convince Dianne and others he was the messiah. “He would, you know, talk things that came from the Bible or scientology or who knows where, you know, different aspects of life and they made – seemed like – he had an ability to make nonsense make sense,” she says.

Dianne was a devoted follower giving her mind and body over to Manson’s will and desires. “You don’t want to accept the truth. You don’t want to accept the truth that you committed yourself or you’ve, you know, given yourself over to a madman. It’s hard. It’s –that’s kind of the process that I’m going through now is really realizing and accepting that I gave myself over to a madman.”

She endured physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hand of Charles Manson and those he gave her away to. At times it seemed more than she could handle. Dianne says, “I was going to jump off a cliff after Charlie raped me. I was really hurt by that and I was ready to jump off the cliff. I just didn’t –you know, I didn’t feel I belonged there anymore. But I didn't know where to go.”
As time went on Manson’s preaching became more violent. He taught the family how to use a knife to prepare for Helter Skelter, a race war he said would soon be coming. Dianne remembers, “In order to protect myself or to avoid being killed, I was going to have to kill. But I didn’t realize that –and was he training us to –to start Helter Skelter? That we were going to go out and kill? I viewed it as a way to—that we might need this information to protect ourselves from being killed.”

But a short time later, Dianne learned Tex Watson and other Manson family members had taken part in a grizzly murder spree killing actress Sharon Tate and several others. “It didn’t make sense,” she says. “You know, these people that I had loved were – had murdered people? There was a certain amount of glee, giddiness, detachment you know, there were almost like –as I remember thinking, they were kind of bragging about what they had done. You know. And that just didn’t seem right at all. And Tex was, you know, when he first told me, he was like I did this, you know. Charlie told me. He was proud too. He was proud that he had done this because Charlie had asked him to.”

When Charles Manson and his family members were arrested, Dianne became a key witness for the prosecution. “And I was able to look, you know, the girls and Charlie in the eye and I was kind of afraid going in. It was like, is he going to have mind control over me? But he showed me his real colors and that, you know, with his antics in the courtroom–it broke any lingering doubts about my affection for him for sure,” she says.

After the convictions, Dianne was able to rejoin society and eventually became a Christian where she found her true purpose and identity. She now says that her survival was only by God’s love and grace. “Jesus is a servant. He’s a servant leader. He loves us no matter what, you know, and He’s there to hold us up with the dirty face and the tears. But I really feel like He was holding me in the palm of His hand. And, you know, I just thank God for seeing me through and that’s why, you know, I want to share that with people. I didn't want it to be a secret anymore. It was a dark, dark episode in American history.–it was dark, but I survived, I prevailed. You know, and I want to bring some light into this whole dark era.”

In her book ‘Member of the Family’ she says she believes God was with her through it all, and gave her the grace she needed to move past her time in the Manson family. “Now I really want to, you know, share this remarkable saving grace that I can only attribute to –to God. We’ve had a wonder—you know, I have a wonderful husband, have wonderful children. You know, great church family. It’s just; it’s only by the grace of God. I’m thankful for God. I’m thankful for Jesus Christ as my Savior.”

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