‘Lovingly Abused’: Life after escaping the cult

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The documentary “Shiny Happy People” reveals the whole truth about the Duggar family. Beneath their carefully maintained TV image of white-bread wholesomeness, there’s an ugly ideology of control and violence. Their belief system is devoted to the preservation of patriarchy and the subordination of women.

The Duggars are devotees of a preacher named Bill Gothard, who created an organization called the Institute in Basic Life Principles or IBLP. Not a church per se, IBLP is an ideology that spreads in conservative Christian communities, using churches of many denominations as a vector.

Among other things, IBLP teaches homeschooling, purity culture, Quiverfull beliefs, arranged marriage, female submission and male headship. Its most infamous teaching is the “umbrella of protection”, which depicts human existence as a hierarchy of obedience to one’s superiors. Independent thought and freedom of choice are never permitted, on pain of demonic attack and eternal damnation.

One of the IBLP survivors interviewed in the Duggar documentary is a woman named Heather Grace Heath. Lovingly Abused is her autobiography. In it, she tells her own story of how she grew up in the clutches of the cult, how she escaped, and how she created a new life for herself.

Heath grew up in the IBLP cult. Her parents didn’t. They both attended public school and had positive experiences there.

However, they both had lifelong problems which may have contributed to their falling under IBLP’s sway. Her father had a drug addiction which eventually he managed to shake. Her mother came from an abusive home; her own father, Heath’s maternal grandfather, was a violent alcoholic who molested his own children. Growing up, she thought her grandfather was kind and loving, especially to her, though she wondered why she and her cousins weren’t allowed to be around him without another adult present. It wasn’t until she was an adult herself that she learned the word “grooming” [p.24].

Content retrieved from: https://onlysky.media/alee/lovingly-abused/.

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