This is a great question and the honest answer is, I have no idea. A lot depends on what therapists might call "ego strength" and because I haven't ever watched the show, I have no idea how strong her most adult part of self might be. Here are some thoughts though...
When someone is raised in an environment in which stated reality does not match what the child sees/perceives with their own senses, a child starts to develop divisions within themself. Example: a child hears "God has placed men in charge of women for the good of the family. If you love God you will obey your father and your future husband and you will be blessed." But maybe dad is abusive, or maybe mother is clearly better equipped to lead the family but submits to dad's erratic whims to the detriment of the family. The child, on some level, knows that what they are seeing with their own eyes does not match what they are being told. Dad is NOT a wise and loving leader. But to question this is to question God. Who wants to do that? And to question Dad would be the same, as God has placed him in authority. The child NEEDS their parents. Alice Miller has a wonderful quote, which I couldn't find, something to this effect: The child will cling to the parents when bombs are falling, even if the parent is the bomb.
How to make sense of the dilemma? The answer is to develop internal partitions. Some therapists refer to them as "boxes". The boxes can't touch because the beliefs within them are incompatible. Another term for this is dissociation. There is a continuum of dissociation. We all dissociate some. The mild end would be like when we are at the movies and the lead character dies and we cry, even though we know it's just a story. At the other end is multiple personality disorder (now called dissociative identity disorder). People who have been abused, like Anna, usually fall somewhere in between. For example, she is probably completely unaware, consciously, of that healthy part of her that knows she was fed a load of BS and is furious. It's in a box, tucked away in a corner.
Another way of looking at Anna's dissociation is, she's in a hypnotic trance. The likelihood of the trance being broken depends on how deep and strong it is.
I agree 100% with those who said her lack of response at the trial is due to dissociation. She's not an uncaring bitch, she's literally in a trance, brainwashed by the cult. She's numb. I also agree with the person who said that anger - ANY anger, no matter where it's directed, will help bring her out of it. Exactly. Because it can ultimately connect with her anger at her whole messed-up circumstance.
Mind control is a powerful thing. Anna must be VERY dissociated. A lot of mothers, even when they don't recognize the severity of their own childhood abuse, will connect with an adult protective part/mama bear side when their children are threatened. Anna obviously didn't. Is she ultimately responsible for her lack of action? Yes. Do I have sympathy for her circumstances? Yes. It's easy to demonize her but I've worked with enough cult survivors that I get how powerful the brainwashing is.
Factors that will influence her ability to break the trance/come to her senses/protect her children include:
- How deep her programming/dissociation actually is
- Who the major voices are in her life. Is there anyone speaking the truth? Or are they repeating the party line? I know her brother was encouraging her to get out, but what is the position of her parents?
- How strong is her (hidden) sense of self? To admit the truth will be to acknowledge that her life has been built on a stack of lies. This is difficult for anyone to face.
- Does she see any viable way forward in terms of how to support 7 children? If not, it will be easier for her to live in denial.
Ultimately it comes down to whether the pressure to stay in denial is stronger than the pressure to wake up. For the sake of the children, I hope she is able to manage to listen to any people who are trying to help her.