‘I got out’: Cult survivors to perform their stories in St. Louis

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Shelly Snow Pordea grew up in a fundamentalist religious sect.

Her parents moved from her birthplace of St. Louis to Hammond, Indiana, to be near the First Baptist Church, a fundamental independent Baptist megachurch then run by Jack Hyles.

Pordea, now 48, remembers her early life tightly revolving around this church. The outside world was taught to be a threatening and scary place. Her parents subscribed to Hyles’ child-rearing methods, which promoted hitting young children into submission — spanking babies as early as 6 months old. Pordea said her parents later told her that they kept rubber bands on her wrists when she was 2 years old. They would snap them against her skin to keep her in line. It wasn’t until Pordea was 14 years old and listening to a talk about promiscuous women during an Independent Fundamental Baptist youth camp that she realized she had been sexually abused as a 4-year-old by a church member.

After the lecture, she confided the abuse to a camp counselor.

“I was told I was tainted and not clean anymore,” she said. Pordea had been conditioned to believe it. “The scare tactics were very intense,” she said.

As a teenager, she tried to keep the peace in her family, especially after a brother ran away from home at 17. She attended the unaccredited Hyles-Anderson College, where she took classes that taught her it was a woman’s fault if a man strayed from his marriage.

Content retrieved from: https://www.stltoday.com/life-entertainment/local/i-got-out-cult-survivors-to-perform-their-stories-in-st-louis/article_7d7a0fa2-6835-11ee-be5f-2f029e6c78cf.html.

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