Speaking to "The View" on Monday, a former QAnon believer explained that she didn't go from a regular Republican voter to believing Tom Hanks was drinking the blood of children overnight.
Ashley Vanderbilt told the hosts that it began just as a series of Trump videos and then grew to stories about child sex trafficking. As a mother, that was something that scared her. From there it was a slow walk into the conspiracies about the government killing children. Then, she said, social media algorithms started showing her more and more, recommending groups she join, which helped her meet others who could send her more conspiracies.
"Well, Ashley, you're clearly emotional about this, and, you know, you did believe these conspiracy theories for many months, but you say that when President Joe Biden was inaugurated, you started to see the truth," said Meghan McCain. "And I want to tell you that I think it's brave that you are sharing this story because I think we need to understand how people get radicalized and how to stop it from happening."
"Thank you. Leading into Inauguration Day, it had been going around in the groups that there would be a blackout," Vanderbilt recalled. "Electricity might not work. There would be an emergency broadcasting alarm go off, and so I prepared. I went and got groceries, and filled my car up with gas, and I just waited for days for that alarm to go off, and it never did. So, come inauguration day, I really did think it was going to happen. I didn't sleep that night, and I stayed glued to my phone. I kept watching the TV, watching the inauguration, and when I saw Kamala Harris get sworn in, I was, like, 'Okay. They're cutting it really close.' And then when President Biden was getting sworn in, I mean, I just started to have tears and I was, like, I'm waiting. I'm waiting for the TV to turn off. I'm waiting to hear this alarm, and it didn't happen, and I was devastated after that."
She said that she then became more afraid, thinking that her worst fears were coming true and no one was safe. She called her mother in a panic. But her mother talked her down, saying that if Biden was the president then it was in God's plan.
"She was just, like, 'Ashley, it's okay. You're safe. China's not going to take over. We're not all going to die, you know, this must have been God's will,'" she recalled her mother saying.
"I think part of it was I had been praying for days leading up to the inauguration," said Vanderbilt. "Granted in the back of my mind as I'm praying, I was thinking about what I thought was correct, but either way I had just been praying to God and asking for Him to reveal the truth to me and to the country and to the world, and then obviously when President Biden was sworn in and nothing went to how I thought it was going to go, it was an indicator that, okay. So, we were wrong."
She explained that's when she began to have doubts and see if she was wrong and began to fear she was crazy.
"Then going into the groups and hearing that they were talking about March 4th, I was just, like, 'that just doesn't make sense,'" she said talking about the next date Trump supporters are expecting their candidate to rise to power. "I don't know how a president can be sworn in, and then not be the president anymore."
She went on to tell people who are QAnon followers not to be afraid to walk away.
"I just want them to know that life outside of that group is nowhere near as scary as what it seems, and there is a lot of people that are starting to understand, you know, what we're thinking in that group, and there's a lot of support offered, and so many people are offering to be a soft place to land," said Vanderbilt. She went on to say that anyone having doubts or wondering what is true, they have a chance to "leave all that disappointment and anger and lies and come be with me and so many friends that I have made that are so supportive and they're offering so much encouragement."
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