TW: Sexual abuse.
Something that has really hit a little too close to home for me both in 2015 and now has been the Josh Duggar scandals. I did not grow up in the IBLP or ATI, but growing up IFB has a lot of parallels.
I always couldn’t fathom why the world seemed to glorify the Duggars and their cult-like behavior. I especially couldn’t fathom while they were still accepted, especially in the Christian community, after 2015 when the abuse allegations and affairs came to light. Especially because that same Christian community is so quick to call for the cancelling of any other actor or political figure who did half of what Josh did. A lot of the messages I saw was about how he was young and dumb and the left was just trying to use this situation to cancel a Christian family broadcast. Absolutely no double standard there…
A lot of the questions I hear now are why doesn’t Anna Duggar take those precious children and just leave. Why can’t she respect herself enough to just leave? Why is she staying with this pedo and putting herself and her children in danger? I’m also asked why my brother doesn’t just leave. I was asked why I didn’t just leave. I’m asked why my Mom hasn’t just left. It’s not that simple though I wish it were.
I grew up similar, yet different from the Duggars. One of the major differences was that my parents did believe in birth control. They enjoyed money and knew that having an excess of children would be a drain on finances, if I’m putting it bluntly. So there were only two of us children growing up, born years apart. I did, however, grow up wearing skirts, reading out of the KJV Bible, being taught the Biblical gender roles and how to be a submissive wife and stay-at-home mother, and was homeschooled most of my life.
Also, another parallel is that I was also molested as a child though not by any family member. Two brothers from the church that my Dad pastored who were 7 and 8 years older than me. They were also heavily submersed in the purity culture. This is why I have such a problem with purity culture. Children are taught from an early age that sex is evil and you aren’t supposed to have those feelings. It doesn’t get rid of these feelings in teenagers. It only makes it come out in unhealthy ways. I remember a friend of mine trying to normalize the fact that her teenage brother and sister had had an incestuous relationship. Boys are just curious she told me. Couple that with teachings of modesty and how a girl is supposed to dress so as not to tempt her brethren to sin, and that a man can’t control his lust, it’s a recipe for disaster and victim blaming. “It was what she was wearing. I couldn’t control myself.” and on the string of logic goes. These teachings facilitate abuse and victim blaming to the full.
So why doesn’t Anna just leave? I mean, he’s clearly only sorry that he’s been caught. He probably will never change. He probably will serve jail time. There’s a possibility that if he is this perverted, and has a history of abusing family members, he maybe doing it to her own children…
She won’t leave for the same reasons my Mother never has. For the same reason my brother feels he can’t. And for the same reason I did my family’s bidding until recently.
When you grow up in that culture, religion is everything. There is nothing else. Step out, and you must never have been saved. Step out, and your opening yourself up to God’s judgment. And not just that, step out, and your family will manipulate and bully you ‘out of love’ to keep you from the flames of hell. It’s twisted. It’s backwards. But it’s effective.
This is especially true if you are a woman in this movement. You are taught from a young age that you are nothing without a man. Your place is under a man.; to submit and obey that man unquestioningly. Living alone, holding a job, having your own bank account, etc. is the equivalent to living outside of the will of God and opens you up to his wrath and judgment. Lighting will fall from the sky, you’ll end up in a horrible car crash, or worse. Couple that with harassments from family. Bullying and manipulation that they are doing for your good because they love you so much, but if you step out, they cannot and will not support you. Not only will they not support you, but they will use every bullying tactic and manipulative tactic to get you back in.
I know I will write more about my story in time. Just believe me when I say, If you don’t understand why Anna Duggar doesn’t JUST leave, consider yourself to be lucky that you don’t understand.