Devastated parents reveal how a married couple from Michigan coerced their ... trends now
The last time Louise Cole heard from her 28-year-old daughter, Stephanie, was in 2019.
By then, Stephanie had fallen deep under the spell of a twisted new age cult that promised its followers a path to meeting their 'twin flame,' a person created by God to be their divine soulmate.
'All of a sudden, out of nowhere [Stephanie] said that these people that she found online told her that she could find fame and fortune and love all from this one group,' said Louise.
'That's when she effectively disappeared.'
Within a matter of weeks, Stephanie was on a plane to Switzerland to marry her 'twin flame,' a person that she had never met before: a trans male named Kiran.
Her mother and twin sister found out about the marriage (also known in the Twin Flame Universe as a 'harmonious union') via Facebook.
Today Stephanie and Kiran are the poster children for the Twin Flame Ascension School, a new age self-help program run by two unassuming Michigan YouTubers named Jeff and Shaleia Ayan.
Preying on those who feel lost and alone, the program guarantees a path to finding true love...provided they are willing to fork over $8,888 for the services.
Now family members and victims are coming forward in an explosive new Netflix documentary, 'Escaping Twin Flames'—which details how the cult coerces clients into transitioning genders, encourages stalking behavior (which in some cases has led to restraining orders), and has torn countless families apart.
'He took my child,' said Cole, in the docuseries.
'He twisted her memories, her mind.'
Unlucky in love, Stephanie (center) fell deep under the spell of Jeff and Shaleia Ayan (pictured) when she went online looking for advice about an unrequited romance. Before long, she was coerced into cutting off all ties with her family, and moved to Switzerland to marry her 'twin flame' that she had never met before
The last time Louise Cole (pictured) heard from her daughter Stephanie was in 2019. She says: '[Jeff] took my child,' and 'twisted her memories, her mind'
Jeff and Shaleia started the Twin Flames Universe on Facebook in 2016. The Michigan couple claims they 'channel God' to help people find their soulmate. The community preys on people looking for love, encourages them to 'chase their twin flame at all costs' and forces people to transition genders
Isaiah (right) is a trans male who born and identified as a female until he joined the Twin Flames Universe after college. His mother tells Netflix that he was coerced into changing genders when he was paired with Sage (left), a trans female also involved in the cult. 'We got five hours notice that he was leaving the next morning to be with his twin flame,' said his mother. 'We begged him not to go. We hugged him goodbye in the morning, and that was the last I saw of my child'
For many victims, their lives have been turned upside down.
Some have left successful jobs to peddle the Twin Flames gospel, a lot have cut off contact with 'unsupportive' family members, many have transitioned genders (after never having questioned their identity prior), some had run-ins with the law — all under the fake promise that these sacrifices will result in 'harmonious union.'
Jeff and Shaleia met on Facebook sometime in 2012.
At the time, Jeff was fresh out of business school, living in Hawaii and going by the alias 'Ender Ayanethos;' an online persona that he created as a new age lifestyle guru.
In one old video, he jokes, 'Maybe I should start a cult?'
Shaleia, a free spirit from Canada who's real name is Megan Plante, was living in Arizona at the time 'journeying with a spiritual teacher' when she sensed that Jeff was her twin flame.
A crass pick-up line sealed the deal and within a few years the couple created the Twin Flame Universe — a virtual 'healing business' for lovesick students that blended theories of numerology, spirituality, crystals and Christianity.
'Jeff and Shaleia were a married couple and they seemed to have all of these answers about relationships and that's something that I was looking for,' explains Keely, an early devotee of the Twin Flames Universe.
'I clicked the link on their website which brought me to their Facebook page and there was this whole giant community of people working together to heal to try to find love.'
The couple claimed to have a special connection with God, and charged hefty sums of money for access to the 'Twin Flame Ascension School' which gives students access to exclusive online workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions known as 'Mind Alignment Process' (MAP).
Keely introduced her younger sister, Marlee to the group, and before long, Jeff declared that a man named Josh was her soul mate.
'I had no idea who he was,' said Marlee. 'He was just some random guy that joined the Twin Flames Universe open forum on Facebook and he started messaging me. He was a total stranger.'
'I did not like this person, he seemed creepy.'
Nevertheless, Marlee moved cross-country and to enter a 'harmonious union' with Josh that turned out to be toxic and abusive.
Josh suffered from schizoaffective disorder and on one occasion he was sent to jail after he 'chased her down' in a domestic dispute.
During a MAP session, Jeff and Shaleia encouraged Marlee to stay in the relationship and was told that providing a 'happy, supportive and loving environment' would heal all their problems.
'It was the most traumatic time in my life,' she says on the doc. 'It was just survival, survival, survival.'
Jeff and Shaleia (whose original name is Megan Plante) met on Facebook sometime in 2012. At the time Jeff was going by an online persona named 'Ender Ayanethos' - a new age lifestyle guru that joked about starting a cult. Today, the Twin Flames Universe includes classes, coaching sessions, books, products and a diet program called Divine Dish
Stephanie (right) originally joined the Twin Flames Universe in 2018 when she was heartbroken by a man she met in Taiwan. In 2019, Jeff and Shaleia 'channeled' that Kiran (left) was her true soulmate. Within weeks, Stephanie cut off ties to her family and moved to Switzerland to marry Kiran (a man she never met before)
Marlee (right) was told that a man named Josh (image blurred) was her 'twin flame' by Jeff and Shaleia. 'I had no idea who he was. He was a total stranger,' she says on the doc. 'I did not like this person, he seemed creepy.' Taking their advice, Marlee married Josh who suffered from a schizoaffective disorder and was forced to stay in the abusive relationship which she categorized as 'the most traumatic time in my life.' She tells the doc: 'It was just survival, survival, survival'
'Jeff and Shaleia were a married couple and they seemed to have all of these answers about relationships and that's something that I was looking for,' said Keely, an early devotee of the Twin Flames Universe. The virtual 'healing business' for lovesick students blended theories of numerology, spirituality, crystals and Christianity
Since it began, the Twin Flames Universe has expanded to classes, coaching sessions, books, products and even a diet program called Divine Dish. The Facebook group has 43,000 members
Similarly, another former member named Elle was working in a bio-engineering lab at Stanford University doing cancer research when she discovered the lovelorn community online.
She had just come out of a two year relationship with a man who increasingly wanted nothing to do with her.
'I wasn't in a relationship with him, but I was told to believe that I was,' she tells Netflix. 'Jeff taught us to pursue our twin flames at all costs.'
Eventually, Elle's boyfriend filed a restraining order which led to her being arrested and charged with stalking.
Despite this, Elle said she was encouraged to continue texting and calling her ex.
'I was brought into a session and was told by a coach that the restraining order wasn't real, and that it really didn't exist.'
'There were other people who had restraining orders and it was sort-of seen as something you had to work on within yourself, if you heal yourself then you are able to heal the relationship,' she adds.
According to the Twin Flames Facebook page, 'The MAP Healing Program is proven to resolve trauma at the core.'
In reality, the program uses brainwashing techniques to exert control and extort deep seated secrets from its members.
Elle was falsely convinced that she suffered from sexual trauma as a child, and was told to cut off all contact with her family. 'It was a memory that was planted inside of me,' she realizes now.
The final straw that led to her arrest happened one evening when she showed up at the same nightclub as her ex-boyfriend, though she maintains (to this day) that it was purely by accident.
Elle spent a month in jail and her parents put up their retirement savings to bail her out. Later in class, Jeff congratulated her for having faith in the process. 'It gives me enormous trust in you, when before I had none,' he said.
In exchange for her devotion to his teachings, Jeff promoted Elle to a role within the Twin Flames Universe as social media manager and offered her the costly Life Purpose courses for 'free.'
Like so many others, Elle wasn't being paid for her work within the organization, which essentially rendered her an indentured servant.
Elle had a successful career working in a bio-engineering lab at Stanford University when she discovered the Twin Flames community online. She had split from her boyfriend, but was told by Jeff to 'pursue our twin flames at all costs.' Eventually, Elle was arrested for stalking, after she failed to abide by the restraining order. 'I was brought into a session and was told by a coach that the restraining order wasn't real, and that it really didn't exist,' she tells Netflix
'There were other people who had restraining orders and it was sort-of seen as something you had to work on within yourself, if you heal yourself then you are able to heal the relationship,' she tells the doc
Through online video sessions, Jeff and Shaleia coached their followers on how to find their 'twin flames' which they said came with a 'true love' guarantee. Later they changed the rule to stipulate that ones 'twin flame' also had to be involved in the group, and said they were able to 'channel' from God the partnerships between two people
Jeff preached that following one's life