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

Belt

<Part One

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Julie Anne Smith’s blog Spiritual Sounding Board. It was originally published on March 31, 2015 and has been slightly modified for HA.

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.

triggerzone1

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

15 comments

  • Pingback: Man Shares Personal Testimony of How Bill Gothard Used Bible Verses Which Led to the Abuse of Children | Homeschoolers Anonymous

  • I have no words for you, Dash. I’m in tears. Please accept my most profound sorrow and wishes for total healing for you. I cannot even imagine.

  • Dash, sharing your story is yet another reason you need to keep living. Don’t let your past win.

    • Absolutely !! Your life has value, and your cat needs you, as you know. Please don’t allow “they” to have you snuff your life out. The natural world has joy in it, like being an advocate for cats and other animals. These church creeps robbed you of joy in life, everyday things like baking cookies, other things. We don’t need church creeps, ever, but we DO need people like yourself.

  • Pingback: Lives damaged by Bill Gothard’s teachings; insights into fundamentalist child abuse | Public Work

  • Pets are a great step. It’s cliche, but… it gets better.

    As one who has traveled deeply among the ATI/Gothard lifestyle (both as victim and leader), I’m profoundly glad to hear another man speak out about the physical, emotional, psychological, and yes, sexual abuse that boys and young men suffer in the cave of fundamentalism.

    I particularly identify with the mothers being the worst. For whatever reason, our pocket of Gothard/fundy was thoroughly femme-centric while still espousing all the same doctrine that many folks identify as “patriarchy.” Lots of angry, controlling women and simpering beta males for some reason.

    Going to an awesomely sinful university (along with great therapy) helped. Despite my mother’s actions, I ended up avoiding much of the gender bigotry/hate that some female friends are stuck in with regard to their dads and men in general. Wish I knew more guys willing to share.

    I certainly cannot have much of a relationship with my mom. I’m quite lucky to married to a uniquely sweet and intuitive woman.

    Abuse happened >> Learned helplessness >> Unlearning learned helplessness >> Finding yourself again >> Helping others

    Victim >> Survivor >> Healer

  • Everything described about Dash’s past (short of the broken bones) is essentially identical to what I experienced as a direct result of my parents’ subscribing to Gothard’s (and Dobson’s and a much lesser-known child-beating Christian cult leader’s) despicable teachings.

    I’m 36, and while therapy has helped somewhat, I don’t feel that I’ll ever be “over it”. The mistakes that I’ve made and the faults and deficiencies I have as a direct result of this stuff has shaped my life in many deeply negative ways. One of the most obvious was the end of my 13 year marriage a couple of years ago, which was largely due to mistakes I made at the beginning of our marriage (it just took a while for those fissures to open up). And the end of the marriage means that my six year old son is a child of divorce. He’s wonderful, and happy, I think, but who knows how the instability he’s experienced will affect him down the road.

    Fortunately, although I was profoundly afraid that I’d unintentionally continue the cycle of abuse with my son, I’ve never struck him with anything. And he’s the best behaved kid I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been around plenty. People who are in a position to know say that he reminds them so much of me at that age. Which is about where my memories of the horrors I experienced start. I didn’t deserve that shit.

  • Everything described about Dash’s past (short of the broken bones) is essentially identical to what I experienced as a direct result of my parents’ subscribing to Gothard’s (and Dobson’s and a much lesser-known child-beating Christian cult leader’s) despicable teachings.

    I’m 36, and while therapy has helped somewhat, I don’t feel that I’ll ever be “over it”. The mistakes that I’ve made and the faults and deficiencies I have as a direct result of this stuff has shaped my life in many deeply negative ways. One of the most obvious was the end of my 13 year marriage a couple of years ago, which was largely due to mistakes I made at the beginning of our marriage (it just took a while for those fissures to open up). And the end of the marriage means that my six year old son is a child of divorce. He’s wonderful, and happy, I think, but who knows how the instability he’s experienced will affect him down the road.

    Fortunately, although I was profoundly afraid that I’d unintentionally continue the cycle of abuse with my son, I’ve never struck him with anything. And he’s the best behaved kid I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been around plenty. People who are in a position to know say that he reminds them so much of me at that age. Which is about where my memories of the horrors I experienced start. I didn’t deserve that shit. And neither did you, Dash.

  • This is strange. What part of Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflicts teaches to beat your children. I seem to remember the opposite being taught when I studied his materials. Funny how two people can get two opposite lessons from a class. James Dobson always taught to not discipline a child when you are angry. I’m having a real hard time connecting what this parent did to anything Gothard or Dobson taught.

    • I’ve always wondered this and maybe you are just the person to ask: so if you can’t spank when angry, then when can you ever do it? Since, the very fact that you would feel the need to spank would be when the child has just done something to make you angry. Do you have some superhuman ability to say “hey you did something really bad against me and I’m totally not angry but I will hit you anyways.” If you can totally remain calm in the face of a grave offense against you then you are just a horror movie character with some messed up creepy affect. My opinion is that Dobson et al advocate not spanking when angry – not because it’s truly even possible – but because by saying so they are clearing their conscience that they really aren’t doing anything wrong, because it’s discipline when calm but a beating when angry.

      • As a parent, I can tell you that spanking angry can and will turn to abuse. I once hit a kid angry. I have always regretted it. It damaged my son, and it damaged me (in the best possible way because I didn’t do it again.) I can use the excuse that I was young and didn’t know any better, but it is an excuse.
        You wait until you are no longer angry. I send my kids to their room and if it takes 10 minutes or an hour for me to calm down they will then receive their seat and on with the day. Easy peasy

  • @Neal Wright- Gothard features Proverbs 23:13 very prominently in the Red Book, and in all of his subsequent publications: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”

    You can feign ignorance all you want to, but nobody is going to be fooled by you. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of testimonies on the internet of people with identical experiences who can corroborate what Gothard teaches about “spanking,” which is a shaded term for beatings. You can’t weasel your way out of this.

    • It’s now time, to really engage churches of all kinds of denominations, and expose the intents of Gothard and Co ,through education, using the evidence- to reject the Gothardist heresies. There is a very good site, sparethekids.com, started by the author, Stacey Patton. Her book, “That Mean Old Yesterday” was painful to read, and there are trigger alerts here. These behaviors all seem to follow a pattern, whether it’s from Gothard or not. He’s one of the most well known, so it makes sense to topple this old fart. He is bad news for families and Christianity alike.

  • I am a historian and former member of a very dangerous “Christian” kabbalist cult called Maranatha Christian Churches, Maranatha Christian Ministries MCC/MCM that is part of a much larger post WWII kabbalist movement called the New Order of the Latter Rain. The leaders in this cult fully embraced Gothard, his institute, teachings, etc. etc. They were an integral part of a religious scheme that went down in the late 70s and into the 80s called Discipleship/Shepherding. All decisions about every aspect of one’s Christian life i.e. dating, marriage, vocation, education, when to have sex in marriage, etc. had to be run through one’s appointed discipler, “under shepherd” etc. etc. The whole scheme was set up for ultimate control using twisted scriptures to mesmerize everyone into submission. 100’s of 1000s of Christians were horrifically affected by this control scheme and are scarred and crippled to this very day.

    I performed extensive investigative research with an emphasis on the historical roots of this movement. After 10-years, I found the cluster of doctrines responsible for the abuse. They came from the occult writings of Jane Leade and the Philadelphian Society written in 17th-century London. They consist of an attempt to reconcile Jewish Lurian Kabbalah with Christian Pietism with the result know today as Christian Kabbalah. This occult movement has strong, but outwardly suppressed ties to Rome, Freemasonry and the Illuminati. Complete control of the Church remains the objective.

    I really grieve for the brothers and sisters who have suffered under the hands of the luciferian rulers of this movement, which includes sociopath pedophiles like Bill Gothard, Paul Cain, Ted Haggard, and countless others who are destined for the Lake of Fire.

    God help us all to overcome these wicked bastards.

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