Survivors of Cults Speak Out

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When she was a child, her parents moved from her birthplace of St. Louis to Hammond, Indiana, to be near the First Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) megachurch then run by Jack Hyles.

Pordea, now 48, remembers her early life tightly revolving around this church.

The outside world, she was taught, was a threatening and scary place. Her parents subscribed to Hyles’ child-rearing methods, which promoted hitting children into submission — spanking babies as young 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, which they would snap against her skin to keep her in line. It wasn’t until Pordea was 14 and listening to a talk about promiscuous women during an IFB 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,” Pordea said. And she had been conditioned to believe it.

As a teenager, she tried to keep the peace in her family, especially after her 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.

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