Victim of Bill Gothard’s Teachings Shares Emotional Aftermath

Bill Gothard, IBLP, Child Abuse, Discipline


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For some, the ramifications of following the teachings of an influential spiritual leader (or cult leader) can be lifelong. As difficult as this next personal story is to read, it is the reality for some, and that is why I will continue to post stories like this.

Part of being an advocate for those who have been abused is never forgetting the reality that they face. It is believing them and standing with them, even when it is ugly and uncomfortable. We may not be able to walk in their shoes, but we can come alongside them and let them know that we are here for them.

We’ve heard from Dash (pseudonym) before and how the teachings of Bill Gothard influenced his parents and the way they “disciplined.”  The other day, Dash sent me a note sharing his thoughts and struggles, and it made me angry and sad. Dash is still suffering physically and emotionally from the abuse and trauma he faced as a child.

While Gothard may not have specifically taught parents to “discipline” their children as Dash’s parents did, his teachings laid the groundwork for “sparing the rod.” For Dash’s parents, the sparing-the-rod teachings gave them a license to beat and abuse, all for the sake of children demonstrating godliness and good character. Basically, it was whipping children into submission so that they cheerfully and robotically complied with every command.

My family also attended Bill Gothard seminars. Gothard had an unhealthy preoccupation with children maintaining an outward appearance of joy. Whether there was authentic joy did not seem to matter. So, as I was thinking about Godthard’s teachings, I realized that it is foreign for Dash to speak out like this and to express what Gothard would view as negative emotions, such as sadness, anger, etc. Thankfully, Gothard is not controlling Dash’s emotions anymore, nor are his parents. He now has the freedom to express all emotions, even the ones that may be uncomfortable. That’s good!

I no longer believe anger and sadness are negative emotions. They are simply emotions that God has given us. Dash has become acquainted with his anger. Part of the recovery process is finally connecting abuse with the anger it deserves, rather than stuffing the anger away as something ungodly. I kinda think God expresses anger at abuse. No, I know He does. That should tell us something, shouldn’t it?

Because Dash’s angry words and emotions are his reality, I am not going to remove any “offensive” language. It is not offensive to me anymore. It conveys to me that someone is in touch with their anger. I’ve come to realize over the past years that sometimes we need to express ourselves with words that most accurately describe what we’re going through. For me, to conceal these words is a way of minimizing the strength of Dash’s feelings, and I’m not going to do that. I want us to see and understand exactly where he is and feel his anger along with him. So if you are uncomfortable with reading swear words, now is the time to stop reading. Thank you for your understanding.


Dash Shares More of His Story

I had a real epiphany today. It finally came to me that Bill Gothard basically viewed his ATI families as a kind of Off-Broadway production for advertising purposes. The purpose of ATI was/is to present the evangelical community with living, breathing examples of “Perfect Family” results that can be obtained with his materials, to increase enrollment and revenue. The family home is the “backstage” area, where the performance is produced, and herein lies the really sinister part because I finally understand that Bill literally did not care how his “Perfect Family” image was achieved outside the home. Beat the kids, break them, scream at them, molest them, humiliate them, devalue them, remove all traces of self from them by any means necessary. Anything and everything is fair game so long as the ATI “Perfect Family” image is achieved outside the home, because then Gothard attains his true goal, which is self-aggrandizement. “Look at how effective my ATI materials are.”
Son of a bitch.

Bill Gothard, child abuse, IBLPYou want to know about Bill Gothard’s true legacy? Let me tell you about his legacy.

It’s very interesting to me how y’all talk about “relationships.” Boyfriends, girlfriends, married, divorced, kids, grandkids. I’m 47 and I don’t date. I haven’t dated in over a decade. I gave up on social interactions in college. I hate people with a passion. All the goddamn drama for nothing. I’ve never been married and I’ve never had a kid. I leave my apartment to work and that’s it. I live alone with two cats; I haven’t had a roommate in 20 years. If I could just sleep all the time, I would.

A lot of you still go to churches, which frankly amazes me. Why? Not for me. Never again in this lifetime. Why the hell would I go to some building where an arbitrarily appointed authoritarian in a monkey suit glowers from the pulpit and tells me all the ways I’m living my life wrong? All you preachers out there, take your exegesis and your scholarly opinions and shove them up your collective asses. You don’t matter. The Bible is bullshit. It’s a bunch of fairy tales and stone age folk stories. It’s superstitious hocus-pocus and it’s a joke.

Am I depressed? You bet I am. I live with migraines, numbness in my hands and feet, blurred vision, tinnitus. The doctors I have worked with most recently agreed that the likely diagnosis is CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), which is a degenerative disease of the brain tissue that occurs later in life when you’ve been hit repeatedly in the fucking head.

My parents beat the shit out of us kids in my family until we were old enough to leave. Before Gothard and twice as badly after we joined ATI. Not just spankings, either, but full-on beatings with open hands, closed fists, dowel rods, belts. My mother hit me in the head hard enough to knock me sprawling and knock me out cold on numerous occasions. My dad used to start swinging with closed fists at the slightest provocation. They used Gothard’s teachings to justify all of it. They screamed and bellowed them at us. We were bad evil children deserving of death.

My mother sexually molested me when I was two. The mere idea of sex makes me physically sick.

I doubt I’ll live to see retirement. I’m not even sure I’ll make it another five years. Life is intolerable and the world we live in sucks. God does not exist, and his followers are gibbering lunatics. There is nothing in this world that I want. Even my music begins to pall with age. What’s the point of any of it? Death would be a kindness to me, and I fucking mean it.

^^^THIS is Gothard’s real legacy.

Other articles by Dash:

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Christian Blogger Invited to Speak at Free Thinkers’ Meeting about Abuse in Christian Churches

Free Thinker, Atheist, Christian Blogger, Thought Reform, Patriarchy, Spiritual Abuse, Cults




Last Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking at a Free Thinkers group. Privilege, some might ask? You bet. I will take any opportunity afforded to share the truth, set the record straight, and especially let people know that I, as a Christian, am displeased by the state of the Body of Christ when it comes to abuse and our response to abuse.

I feel I have a connection with many atheists. You see, when my defamation lawsuit went viral, I received over 500 emails of support. Many of those emails were sent by people who were harmed in the church, and then became atheist. This was originally a surprise to me, and  it saddened me. So many of these folks get spiritual abuse. They see the dysfunction and hypocrisy of celebrity pastors and leaders. Many of them are upset by what they see, and rightly so. If only those within the Body of Christ would get worked up about it!

It all started when I was in my Environmental Science class at school. Continue reading

Josh and Anna Duggar Announce New Pregnancy After His Sex Scandal

Josh Duggar, Sex Scandal, ATI, Ashley Madison


 

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The eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC’s popular TV show, 19 Kids and Counting is in the news again. Josh and his wife Anna Duggar made an announcement on their family’s website. This announcement comes two years after accusations of:

  • alleged sexual abuse against his sisters and another young minor as a teen
  • having an Ashley Madison online account
  • paying for sex
  • entering a pseudo Christian “treatment” facility
  • separating from his wife, Anna

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Bill Gothard Documentary

Bill Gothard, Advanced Training Institute (ATI), Institutes in Basic Life Principles (IBLP)

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When I was in Chicago visiting my daughter in the fall, I met with Jake Youngman who had contacted me weeks earlier about the cult of Bill Gothard, Institutes in Basic Life Principles and ATI. He wanted to interview me based on my knowledge of cults and the culture of this group, why I viewed it as a cult, and why it caused/causes harm especially to girls and women.

My background: I remember hearing about Gothard’s program in the 70s which was then called Basic Youth Conflicts. Many Christians and their families from various denominations attended their seminars. My family went through the Basic and Advanced seminars in the 90s, when it was called Institutes in Basic Life Principles. Our children went to the Children’s Institute. Others continued further with the program and joined the ATI (Advanced Training Institute) homeschool program, and even sent their kids to some of the “training” facilities throughout the country and the world.

Bill Gothard’s training was sold as a program to help Christian families to be successful if we just followed his formula. He had answers to all of life’s problems.

The reality is that he didn’t. Not only do his teachings harm women/girls, they also harm men/boys because they teach that men are to rule over women, that women cause men to stumble sexually, etc. That is only one of many problems, but one that I know about most because of listening to the stories of victims who were harmed by Gothard.

When reading over his teaching materials on sex abuse, it occurred to me that Gothard’s teachings is essentially grooming material for young men/men to sexually abuse girls and get away with it, blaming girls instead: for dressing immodestly, for having unconfessed sin in their life, etc. The blame is consistently shifted to the victim, with no responsibility placed on the perpetrator. (The Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting used this curricula and is it any wonder Josh Duggar got into so much sexual trouble?)

A couple of years ago, I contacted Bill Gothard himself and asked him pointed questions. He danced around the questions I asked regarding repentance and asking forgiveness from his victims. Instead, he tried to shift the conversation to his latest program, just like a used cars salesman. The man is evil. He should have no place in ministry.

Here is the documentary that was made by Jake Youngman about cult leader, Bill Gothard.

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A Young Woman’s Personal Story: The Residual Effects of the Teachings by Doug Philips, Bill Gothard, and Patriarchy

Doug Phillips, Patriarchy, Vision Forum, Stay-at-home daughters, Courtship, Quiverfull, Bill Gothard


It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, Bill Gothard, or Patriarchy teachings. A young woman who identified as “Done Running” posted her personal story and it deserves its own post. Done Running describes the residual effects of patriarchal teachings by Doug Phillips. These ideologies (stay-at-home daughters, courtship, quiverfull teachings) leave women completely dependent on their fathers for their choice in marriage partners, schooling, work, etc. It is abusive, and in my opinion, a form of emotional, if not physical kidnapping.

Young women whose parents participate in these teachings/ideologies are not allowed to have independent thought, to make their own choices for their future. The plan is to have the father pass his baton of authority over to a man he selects as her future husband. A woman is always under the authority of a man, never to be free to think for herself. Her role in life is to bear children (as many as the Lord provides) and serve her husband.

~Julie Anne Continue reading

Second Amended Complaint Filed in Bill Gothard & IBLP Sex Abuse Lawsuit: 18 Victims in Lawsuit

Bill Gothard, Lawsuit, IBLP, Institute in Basic Life Principles, David C. Gibbs III, Sex Abuse, Sexual Grooming, ALERT

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Bill Gothard Added to Lawsuit; Victims Alleging Sex Abuse and Rape

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While the Board of Bill Gothard’s Former Ministry, IBLP, Claims Judge Dismissed Lawsuit, Attorney for Plaintiffs Says Four New Plaintiffs Have Come Forward

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Bill Gothard Defenders Launch Website within Days of Civil Lawsuit against His Former Ministry, IBLP

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Attorney David Gibbs III Discusses the IBLP Lawsuit and Answers Important Questions

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Will Anna Duggar be offered as the next live sacrifice to save the Duggar Family Brand? Scapegoating, “Spread Your Legs Theology” and the Modern Molech

Toward understanding the blame borne by wives in Duggar Family religion in the wake of Josh Duggar’s involvement in the Ashley Madison scandal

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How has the Josh Duggar Scandal affected you? Are you experiencing painful reminders?

Josh Duggar, sex scandal, painful reminders, homeschool movement, patriarchy, purity and modesty culture, Bill Gothard

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Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and Their Son, Josh Duggar Release Statement Regarding Josh’s Marital Unfaithfulness, and Poof, it’s Gone!

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Jim Bob and Michelle and Josh Duggar release statements related to reports of Josh’s sexual infidelity

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Josh Duggar Reportedly Had Account at Ashley Madison, the Site Used to Help Married People Find Someone with Whom to Have an Extramarital Affair

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Josh Duggar reportedly had accounts at Ashley Madison for the intention of connecting with  people who want to have extramarital affairs.

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NonFamily Sex Abuse Victim Expected to File Civil Lawsuit against Josh Duggar

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Josh Duggar’s (nonfamily) sex abuse victim intends to file lawsuit against him.

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Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are Still Scheduled to Speak at ATI & IBLP Conferences which Promote Bill Gothard’s Teaching Materials

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Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Homeschool Curricula

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Victim of Bill Gothard’s Teachings Speaks out about Josh Duggar Scandal, Mike Huckabee: Bill Gothard’s Dangerous Agenda and Influence in Political Arena and Society at Large

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Bill Gothard, Mike Huckabee, Sex Abuse Coverup, Political and Social Influence, and an Agenda

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Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children, Part 2

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Personal Story of Abuse following the teachings of Bill Gothard, ATI, IBLP

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The following is Part 2 of Dash sharing how the teachings of Bill Gothard influenced his parents to “spank” his siblings. Although I know Dash’s identity, he has asked to remain anonymous. Dash’s account shows that they were not spankings, but abuse:

I am a survivor of Gothard’s cult. I experienced unspeakable physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from my mother and father, who were at one point among Gothard’s “model parents.” Gothard is not human. Gothard does not deserve compassion. Gothard is not a man, and he does not have the slightest shred of decency or humanity within him. Bill Gothard is a monster in human form, and as far as I am concerned, he can’t die soon enough.

I asked Dash questions about his childhood and more specifics about how he was disciplined. Again, I must issue a trigger warning to those who have experienced abuse.  There may be some parents reading who used to follow Gothard’s teachings and have now left that behind. This, too, might be difficult for you to read.

In the following, Dash responds to my questions. My questions are in green:

What kinds of things did you and your sister do that resulted in “spankings?”  Can you give an example of what disobedience looked like, i.e, talking back, not doing what you were told to do, etc.?
It’s hard to dredge up specific examples of behaviors that resulted in beatings (I’m going to use the term “beating” rather than “spanking,” because that’s what they were), because frankly my recollection of the events leading up to the beatings are hazy. However, punishable offenses included: Not getting a chore done on time, or to the required degree of perfection (chores included dusting, vacuuming, taking out the trash). Arguing or fighting with my siblings (to clarify, I have an older sister and younger brother), and I mean trivial things like arguing over which record we were going to listen to or who got to play with which stuffed animal. Arriving home late from a friend’s house, arriving home late after school, not getting out of bed promptly in the morning, complaining about going to church. The list is endless.

As our family began to seriously decay and slide toward doom, punishments extended to include: making a salad incorrectly, accidentally dropping a dish or a milk bottle, getting the bathroom floor wet during a bath, not setting the table for dinner quickly enough, forgetting to put clothes in the laundry basket, putting a book back on the bookshelf in the wrong place. In other words, any trivial perceived imperfection became grounds for beatings.

One of the worst beatings of my life was administered by my mother around nine years old when we were making chocolate chip cookies. I was given the task of running the hand-held mixer, which I was happy to do because then I might get one of the detachable beaters with cookie batter on it after. I was standing on a stool, and I turned to ask my mother a question. Being an absent-minded kid, when I turned I unconsciously lifted the mixer out of the batter and cookie dough flew all over the wall. My mom went livid and slapped me full in the face, knocking me sprawling off the stool. She then dragged me bawling upstairs and beat me with the 3/4″ dowel rod for almost 30 minutes.
What made them stop the beatings after an hour or however long?  Was there something you or your sister did that helped them to stop? Were your parents looking for signs of remorse?  Did they finally give up?
The stipulation was that we had to hold still and submissively accept the beating, and we had to stop crying and be silent and not make a sound. This was a specific part of Gothard’s beating protocol, found in one of his pamphlets: the silent, limp submission to a beating was his metric for a “repentant spirit.”

To this day, I cannot show normal emotional responses to my environment as a result of this aversive conditioning; I reflexively suppress every emotional response. I cannot maintain a long-term relationship with a woman because of this emotional dysfunction, which is why I am still single at 44. I have had therapists hint that I might be a sociopath because of the superficial appearance of this emotional dysfunction, which I know not to be the case. I have emotions, I just cannot show or express them properly. It makes me want to kill myself.

Did your parents talk to you while you were getting “spanked?”  How was their tone of voice? Were they yelling or did they use a normal tone of voice?  Did they use scripture while “spanking?”  Did they pray with you after?
They would yell and scream and bellow. They would tell us what bad, awful, evil, horrible, sinful children we were. In the beginning, there was no pretext of spiritual context; later on as I got older and the beatings continued, my father began making attempts to pray with us after a beating, as if it was a spiritual exercise. For the most part, however, the beatings took place in an atmosphere of apoplectic, psychotic rage, especially when my mother was administering them. I use the term “psychotic” because my mother has been diagnosed as bipolar, and her fits of apoplexy were probably manic fugues. It was terrifying. To this day I have nightmares about it.
Did they realize you were bruised?  Did they ever acknowledge they went overboard or apologize?
The bruising and other injuries (which at one point for me included a broken finger, and for my brother once included a broken forearm) were never acknowledged by my parents. It was implied that we deserved it. “That’s what you get for your sinful disobedience” was the message.
My parents have never really acknowledged the specific details of what they did. Both of them have acknowledged that hitting us was wrong, but we can’t discuss details properly because they are so horrified and humiliated by the recollection of what they did to us. My mother has sobbing fits when I try to bring any of this up. Both my parents have tried to make amends through financial reparations: paying for therapists, occasionally helping with rent or medical bills. But I’m still broken, so everyday life is a constant struggle. I wake up every morning and look in the mirror, and I have to find a reason not to kill myself.
I have a cat that I adopted 13 years ago who snuggles with me and is my little buddy. Having a cat is the only thing that keeps me going; I have to take care of my cat, so I can’t kill myself. I have to focus on something other than myself in order to go on living. It’s pretty bleak.
I’d like to state again for the record that Gothard apologists are remorseless sadists, and this includes that Alfred character who comments on your blog. These people KNOW THAT THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN THE IBLP/ATI PROGRAM, AND THEY ARE FINE WITH IT. They are sociopaths. And Gothard is a monster, because he knows about these events and he ENCOURAGES THEM.
photo credit: bark via photopin cc