What happened to Stephanie, the twin from 'Escaping Twin Flames'?

  • Louise Cole spends nearly all of "Escaping Twin Flames" trying to communicate with her estranged daughter, Stephanie.

  • Cole says Stephanie has been a member of Twin Flames Universe, which she calls a "high control group," since 2018.

  • Here is everything we know about Stephanie's whereabouts today.

Netflix's new docuseries "Escaping Twin Flames" focuses on the controversial spiritual dating community Twin Flames Universe (TFU). Headed by Jeff and Shaleia Ayan (who now use the last name Divine), the organization has been labeled a cult by former members and the relatives of current members who spoke to Vice News and Vanity Fair for investigations published in 2020.

This isn't the first documentary series about the group; Prime Video's "Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe," was released in October. In both, former members of TFU say members are told that if they follow Jeff and Shaleia's teachings — and purchase the couple's coaching series and classes — they'll be united with their "twin flame" — a romantic partner with whom their connection is so deep it defies physical attraction and moves into the spiritual realm.

But many say that they were encouraged by Jeff and Shaleia's teachings to engage in stalking behavior that resulted in restraining orders, were told to disconnect from their families, and allege they were coerced into living as a gender they didn't identify with to comply with Jeff and Shaleia's twin flame program.

One of the people most prominently featured in "Escaping Twin Flames" is Louise Cole, the mother of a current TFU member named Stephanie. According to Cole, who also spoke to Vice News for its February 2020 investigation, Stephanie cut off all contact with her in early 2019 — and Cole believes it's because of Jeff and Shaleia's influence over her daughter.

So, what happened to Stephanie, and where is she today? Here's what to know.

Stephanie first joined Twin Flames in 2018 and cut off contact with her family soon after, according to her mother

Louise Cole on "Escaping Twin Flames."
Louise Cole on "Escaping Twin Flames."Netflix

Cole explains in the docuseries that she decided to speak to the press about TFU after her daughter sent her a letter in 2019 declaring that she would no longer communicate with the family. Her "go-getter daughter," who'd once worked in the Peace Corps and lived overseas teaching English, initially joined TFU in 2018 and had spent an estimated $5,000 on travel, classes, and accommodations related to Twin Flames Universe.

"I didn't connect all the dots," Cole told Vice. She initially believed her daughter was taking classes in Chinese medicine. "She'd always been responsible, level-headed, smart with money."

After the publication of the Vice article, Cole and former members of TFU who'd also spoken out against the organization were named in a defamation lawsuit filed by Jeff and Shaleia. In the legal complaint viewed by Insider, the couple denied encouraging members to disconnect from their family and said that the Vice article hurt their business.

The case was dismissed in 2021, but when director Cecilia Peck began filming "Escaping Twin Flames," Cole still hadn't heard from her daughter. The filmmakers chronicled Stephanie's family's attempts to reach her. In one of the first scenes of the docuseries, Stephanie's twin Paula Hardy calls the Leelanau County, Michigan, police department out of concern for her sister.

Hardy explains to the police that Stephanie, who didn't participate in either docuseries, is in what she calls a "high-control group" founded and led by Jeff and Shaleia Ayan, who live in the county. When asked if Stephanie is there of her "own will," Hardy replies, "I'm not sure if coercive control counts as 'own will.'"

Stephanie's mother and sister are ultimately unable to reconnect with her by the end of the docuseries, but say they won't stop loving Stephanie or speaking out against TFU.

The root of Stephanie's estrangement

Sara, a former TFU member who was once close to Stephanie, tells the filmmakers that Jeff convinced Stephanie her family had abused her, leading her to cut them off. Sara recalled going to the mailbox with Stephanie to drop off the letter in which Stephanie declared she was ceasing communication with her family.

At the end of each episode of the Netflix docuseries, the filmmakers note that Jeff and Shaleia did not respond to their requests for comment and that they claim that criticisms of TFU are a "coordinated effort" by former members to discredit the organization.

Stephanie in footage of a TFU meeting on Netflix.
Stephanie in footage of a TFU meeting on Netflix.Netflix

Before the release of "Escaping Twin Flames" on Netflix, Twin Flames Universe's chief operations officer Christine Emerick told Insider in a statement that TFU hadn't viewed the docuseries. She also wrote: "We remain hopeful the production will be inclusive of the facts and our community's perspectives." Emerick also shared Jeff and Shaleia's full statement to the media, previously posted on the TFU website, which reads in part:

"We take seriously recent allegations implying we wield inappropriate control over our community members. After a careful review of both media coverage and recent productions, we are saddened that so much effort has gone into taking swipes at an organization and community founded on love and mutual respect. The allegations levied against Twin Flames Universe not only distort our true aims, methods, and curriculums but also misrepresent the autonomy of our community members, who are free to engage with our resources as they see fit. We are committed to confronting these allegations in an open and accountable manner."

Where is Stephanie from 'Escaping Twin Flames' today?

Stephanie with her husband Kiran being interviewed for a "Twin Flames Universe" podcast in June 2022.
Stephanie with her husband Kiran being interviewed for a "Twin Flames Universe" podcast in June 2022.Twin Flames Universe/YouTube

"Escaping Twin Flames" details how, after some failed twin flame union attempts, Stephanie married fellow TFU member Kiran Zimmermann in November 2020. A video of their wedding ceremony was published to YouTube days later — and in the Netflix docuseries, Cole and Hardy recount learning that Stephanie was getting married when they saw a social-media post about it.

Per an interview with the couple on the official TFU website, their marriage is legally binding and recognized by the TFU church, called The Church of Union. Stephanie, who took her husband's last name, now goes by Stephanie Zimmermann.

According to their TFU interview and their wedding ceremony video, Stephanie and Kiran were declared by Jeff and Shaleia to be in "harmonious twin flame union" — which appears to mean that Jeff and Shaleia said they could marry — just three days after they met virtually via a Facebook Messenger video call.

Kiran and Stephanie Zimmermann.
Kiran and Stephanie Zimmermann.Church of Union/YouTube

According to a post on the Twin Flames Universe Facebook page announcing their union, Kiran first joined TFU in May 2019 and, through his work with the organization, came to learn "he is a Divine Masculine in a female body."

In its post about the couple's union, TFU said, "The spiritual reason Kiran incarnated into a female body in this lifetime is because that was the most compassionate way for him to meet Stephanie due to her history with relationships and where she is on her healing journey."

In the teachings of Twin Flames Universe, one can be either Divine Masculine or Divine Feminine, and can only be paired with someone of the opposite gender expression in a twin flames union. Former TFU members interviewed in "Escaping Twin Flames" say they were told by Jeff and Shaleia that, though they were born in female bodies, they were actually "Divine Masculine" and needed to change their gender and begin living as males alongside their assigned "Divine Feminine" twin flames.

Stephanie and Kiran currently live in Switzerland and are both certified Twin Flames Ascension coaches, which means that Jeff and Shaleia have deemed them qualified to teach TFU beliefs to others for profit.

They run a coaching business together called Make Your Rainbow and regularly support TFU teachings on an Instagram account for the business, though Kiran admitted in a recent interview that he's hoping to pursue an art career.

In their TFU interview, Kiran said that one of his goals was to build a TFU church in Switzerland. He also hinted that they'd like to expand their family as he feels that children will be a part of their lives in the future, "either as parents or as a foster family."

In a 2020 email to Vice, in response to the allegations against the organization, Stephanie said that "this community and work taught me how to have happy, healthy relationships" and that she now feels "the full spectrum of my emotions for the first time in my entire life."

Stephanie and Kiran didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment via their business Instagram account.

Read the original article on Insider