We all wish we could fight Lord Voldemort along with Harry, Hermione, and Ron, but one woman actually did. In testimony against her father, Aravindan Balakrishnan, 32-year-old Rosie Davies said that reading Harry Potter helped her escape his cult. Rosie said she recognized Lord Voldemort as having similar qualities to the cult leader Balakrishnan, known to his followers as Comrade Bala.
Balakrishnan convinced his followers that he was an immortal god, Rosie said, and that he would rule the world someday. According to his daughter, he told cult members that only he and Chairman Mao Zedong were fit to establish the International Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
Balakrishnan founded his London-based cult in the 1970s. Rosie was born at the commune in 1983 to her mother Sian Davies, who was studying law when she became involved with the cult. Sian died in 1997.
Although her life was strictly monitored, Rosie told the court that she read everything she could find, even though the punishment could be severe. She testified that her father struck her and accused her of being a "fascist agent" after he overheard her singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
Rosie was 19 when her father agreed to let her read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Lord of the Rings series. He believed himself analogous to Harry and Aragorn and thought that his daughter would be more obedient and loyal if she read the books. When Rosie read them, however, she aligned strongly with Harry and Aragorn, herself, and instead saw her father represented in Voldemort and Sauron. The books helped her shift her perspective against her father and his cult.
In October 2013, Rosie escaped with two other cult members. Balakrishnan was arrested one month later, and faces 16 charges, including rape, assault, false imprisonment, and child abuse. His trial began on November 11, and continues as of this writing.
Image: Warner Bros.