Personal Stories

There have been many stories of spiritual abuse coming from Driscoll’s Mars Hill family of churches.  This post has a listing of personal stories:  Stories of Former Mars Hill Members

Holy Terror – The Pendergast Story – Couple from Canada share their heart-breaking story and describe the pain of spiritual abuse by their church worse than the pain they felt when they lost their 28-yr old son in a car accident.

The Search For the Perfect Church – Jennifer and Mark Epstein’s story of how they came to Boerne Christian Assembly.  Doug Phillips is very popular in the homeschool community as a speaker, selling videos, toys, etc at his site.  Jen tells the story how they are treated when she confronts Doug Phillips with her husband’s anger issues, how the pastor institutes church discipline, how church members treat them (shunning), how new churches treat them, etc.  You will read about legal threats and attempts at professional Christian mediation.

Let Him Alone; God Hath Bidden Him to Speak: FBC Jax and the Consequences of Silencing Dissent – Blogger Tom Rich sued FBC Pastor Mac Brunson in a several-year court battle and won.

Athena Dean’s blog, Not Afraid to Tell My Story, tells the 12-year journey in the cult and chronicles her journey of healing.

Joyful Exiles – Paul and Jonna Petry – “Four and half years ago, I was fired from Mars Hill Church because I refused to resign under pressure. I was a pastor on staff, an elder, and an officer of the corporation along with a group of other men.   I spent months seeking formal reconciliation and years hoping for a better course. I have not spoken about these matters publicly until now. With the mounting stories and “histories” coming out regarding Mars Hill Church, it no longer seems right or beneficial to remain silent.”

Anouke’s Story:  Publicly slandered, shunned, and abused by her pastor.  Abuse symptoms last for years.  Very sad story – very similar to many I know from our former church.

Jeannette Altes Story

Calvary Chapel Visalia Personal Story: Tina’s Story

Can Spiritual Abuse Destroy a Marriage?  Paul’s Story

Click here to find more personal stories posted on the blog (that I haven’t had time to list individually here).

If you have a spiritual abuse story you would like to share publicly, please send me your personal stories to:  SpiritualSB @ gmail dot com


Julie Anne

2 thoughts on “Personal Stories”

  1. I grew up in a Vision Forum household. My family dynamic led to my mother pursuing very conservative and patriarchal Christian groups, we spent a few years in IBLP and then ended up with Vision Forum. As I became a teenager the iron patriarchal hold on my life strengthened with strangling force. My mother and I’s relationship is permanently damaged from this group giving her license to completely devalue me as a human being. I hated Doug Phillips from the beginning, I thought he was creepy and controlling and when I met him these feelings only intensified. When I confided in my mother I was told to stop be a rebellious and sinful child that bad mouthed godly men. Being taught that my only proper use as a female was as a glorified incubator for as many godly little warriors that god chose to bless me with and dedicate my entire life to raising them was scarring. Being taught that if a guy liked me for normal reasons and didn’t pursue a rigid courtship through my father it was my fault for not being modest and chaste enough was debilitating. Not being allowed to dictate my own boundaries concerning my body and personal space was horrible. The ramifications of these parenting choices follow me every day. The “Return Of The Daughters” movie and the book So Much More, by the Botkins, was held up to me as my personal guides on how to be a good daughter. I broke away from this when I was 17, as soon as Doug Phillips was brought down by his abuse of Lourdes I cried with relief that finally this cultish reign of terror was over in my family. I had already fought my way into attending real college, in person and felt that I was finally free, but I had no idea of the psychological ramifications that would continue to follow me. The next 3 years were basically an entire rewiring of my brain. I had almost daily anxiety attacks from normal daily interactions that were never allowed when I was growing up. Working in a regular workplace was both liberating and torture. I had no idea how to handle healthy adult dating relationships which led to me falling into a short term abusive relationship with a “Christian” man. Through all of this I was still fighting my mother tooth and nail to maintain every fraction of independence I gained. She withdrew from Vision Forum but still withholds some of the ideals, none of which I live up to. I am now happily engaged to a wonderful man who respects and loves me for my fierce independence and has no desire to use religion of any description to exert his control over me or my body. My mother apologized one time for dragging me through the hell that was Vision Forum. She refuses to have any further discussion about it or to admit that any of her parenting calls were misguided. I feel like when you have hurt someone you don’t get to decide that you haven’t, or that you have done enough to repair the damage. I’m not sure if my mother and I will ever have a good relationship, any religion or parenting model that gives parents supreme power with no accountability and rips all agency from their children should be avoided with extreme caution and prejudice. I have never had the outlet to talk about my experience before and I so appreciate this blog. Thank you for creating it and all of you that have shared your stories. I stand with you.


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