Friday, July 1, 2016

Demanding Duggar Cradle, Teen Homes and the Baptist Myth of Family

Welcome to the resource page that accompanies the discussion:

From Demanding Duggar Cradle to Troubled Teen Home:  
Overcoming the Baptist Myth of Family
Friday, July 1st, Dallas, TX

View the slides here, and visit Slideshare's website for download.

Please use the tabs at the top of this information blog
for further research (or use the links also listed below)
~ something of a dynamic bibliography introducing topics relevant to the subject including

Cable television's Learning Channel publicizes the wholesome facade of family through the Duggar Family's "19 Kids and Counting" show, but few viewers understand the dark underbelly of their formulaic, high demand ideology.  Considering this reality show family as a prototype and their deep roots in the Independent Baptist movement, this presentation will delve into the variety of extreme measures used to enforce their panacea of a mythical family ideal.

With a special focus on corporal punishment and the incarceration of children in "troubled teen industry" homes, two Second Generation Adult survivors of this system will recount their experiences within this religious movement.  This presentation specifically endeavors to highlight the unique recovery needs of those who have endured the profound trauma of the Baptist residential teen home experience.  Janet Heimlich will explore the challenges of addressing and preventing this variety of Religious Child Maltreatment.

Panel Participants

          Jo Wright. Raised in the jungles of Paraguay, Joanna Wright grew up in James Saint John's pseudo-Christian cult compound of 76 people known as Beulah Land. Her father, an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) minister, was eventually imprisoned there after a civil uprising created by "the Group" (as they chose to be called). She escaped the abusiveness of the IFB system and a violent marriage in early adulthood with an infant and no preparation for living in the outside world. Therapy and growth enabled her to raise three children into independent, educated, and kind-to-the-core adulthood. She also completed two college degrees, studying both criminology (A.S.) and psychology (B.S.). In 1998, Ms. Wright founded Hope4Kidz, Inc. with a focus on foster children placed in Residential Treatment Centers and worked with the Texas State Comptroller to expose and address problems with institutional warehousing of children in foster care. Ms. Wright provided valuable input to The Forgotten Children’s Report in 2004 that resulted in numerous policy changes. After retiring from Hope4Kidz, Ms. Wright now works as both book editor and author while encouraging others in their writing.

          Susan Grotte.  As a teenager in the 1980s, Susan endured 29 months at Hephzibah House, a troubled teen residential home for girls operated by an Independent Fundamental Baptist affiliate in Winona Lake, IN. She has contributed vital information about life within the walls of religious teen homes through many media interviews and documentaries. Her website,, documents the testimonies of her former sister residents and workers at the "boarding home" which continues to operate today. She resides happily in the Midwest with husband and family.

          Sunny Linkfield is a survivor of Straight Incorporated. This abusive teen rehab center, convinced thousands of parents that normal behavior was a sign of druggie behavior. Sunny was an over achiever but became a moody teenager, experimenting with pot, alcohol and a few other drugs. After her parents read an article in Reader's Digest, they dropped her off in a warehouse called Straight Inc. Sunny is now a make-up artist/esthetician and a trainer in retail cosmetics. She was recently interviewed in the new documentary, Fix My Kid, and was also the lead make-up artist for the film. Ms. Linkfield is active with the International Cultic Studies Association. She has been interviewed for NBC Nightly News and has spoken at Columbia University about the troubled teen industry. In April, 2013, Sunny spoke with Congressman Miller's office to modify the bill: Stop Abuse in Residential Treatment Centers for Teens Act. She also organized a seminar in DC on The Abuses in the Troubled Teen Industry. Sunny is active in raising awareness abroad on these abusive teen programs and is fighting for the US to ratify the United Nations Convention for the Rights of a Child. Currently, the US and Somalia are the only two countries who have not ratified the treaty.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Understanding the Duggars: A Series of Posts at **Redeeming Dinah**

As part of a presentation, I decided to create what is essentially an online bibliography for those interested in background information about the Duggars, the Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB), Gothard, Quiverfull, and the Troubled Teen Homes within the IFB. Information about them all can be accessed at the new site, Redeeming Dinah

Overviews of these subjects are provided/  Just the tabs at the blog's header for pages of info that include brief descriptions, helpful links and videos.

As part of that effort, I turned a fairly extensive email interview with a journalist about a year ago into a blog series at the new site. I hope will provide resources and encouragement to those who have exited the high demand systems listed above. It was a nice opportunity to review and consolidate information to make it more accessible.

Quiverfull: The View from Here series of posts draws from the information shared with a journalist in August of 2015 who had questions about the Quvierfull Movement as it related to the Duggar Family.

(Special thanks to Suzanne Titkemeyer and NLQ for helping me to select some of the best material in response to the questions regarding birthing.)

Follow links to excerpts from the interview, organized here by topic.

The High Demands of Quiverfull

Group Expectations

Social Problems

Pregnancy and Birthing

Raising Children and the Aftermath

Leaving Quiverfull / Patriarchy

Saturday, June 11, 2016

What are Your Barriers?

This is a nice image.  (Though I suspect that the volatiles in the ink had more to do with the ant's behavior.)  But that's still a barrier, and there just might be unbounded freedom on the other side of yours.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Anticipating Father's Day

Excerpt from a previous post  ~  

Purity Balls,29307,1822906_1736958,00.html
A few days ago, I happened to see some new photos of fathers and daughters at purity balls by photographer David Magnusson from his book on the subject that will be available later this year. The portraits were featured on several online sites, but despite the “colorful” language of vulgarity in the commentary, this site shows more of the pictures in an easy-to-view format. Some of them look like the dads are getting ready to lead their girls off to the slaughter, or perhaps they were on their way to a funeral. Some of them actually remind me of a sick version of American Gothic, primarily because the poses don't look anything like ones that I find appropriate for fathers and daughters. I also can't get beyond why they all look so morbid in their expressions. ??? I'm also noted for my strong opinion about the depiction of such a ritual in Courageous, a Quiverfull Movement indoctrination film.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Drama of Mother's Day in High Demand Religion

For many reasons, Mother's Day takes on great significance for me this year. I turn fifty later this year, and my high hopes of possibility of having a baby of my own have vaporized with my age.

My next sentence that I must write? I take a deep breath, as I know well the showers of words of well wishers who ask why why didn't pursue adoption. The answer to that question is very complex and only people who struggle daily with chronic illness – those often suffered by children who grew up in troubled families – aren't really anyone's business.

But people ask, and people pressure for answers that they find comforting and satisfying to them with little awareness or regard for any pain that such questions might pose for others. They ask because we human beings fantasize and idealize the virtues of motherhood, and we need them. But for many of us, the reality of the subject of motherhood is not at all pleasant.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Considering Angst as a Healthy Part of Growth while Anticipating Mother's Day

The Quiverfull and Patriarchy Movements in Evangelical Christianity (which are strongly associated with the Religious Right and with the homeschooling movement among Christians) understand any deviation “from family” as a great moral problem. 

 Family translates for many as only the specific will of the parent, and for many, this means obsequious submission to the “vision” of the father concerning even banal elements of daily life. Not every family is so stringent, but children, budding adult children, and fully grown adults are expected to write their lives according to the dictates of the family script of their family of origin. Such families do not tolerate true differentiation from their ideal, regardless of what price children may pay.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Anticipating Mother's Day

Mother's Day (Cindy Kunsman)

My first multimedia work inspired by a vignette about five year old Ashley's behavior described by Francine Shapiro in
EMDR: The Breakthrough 'Eye Movement' Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Trauma.

I know too well what it's like to be Ashley.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Daffodils Along the Way of the Higher Path

Through daffodils forgotten and found and reclaimed in my recent meltdown, perhaps those reading here can catch a glimpse of how healing from trauma can unfold. In the writing of this, I am almost amused by how spontaneously the whole concept bubbles up in me. I spent many years wondering whether I ever even know joy because it seemed that I'd forgotten because trauma alienated me from the memories of it. I couldn't find it no matter how hard I tried.

Having already defined my dilemma of moving through the Third Stage of healing in the last post, I feel as though I tackled the integration element well. Moving forward and reconnecting, the other tasks involved in Stage Three, blend for me in what I have yet to work through. I noted an example of a meme that objected liars and gossips as “lowlifes,” yet I wanted to aspire to something better. But I hadn't figured out how to get to “the high road,” having made the choice to seek resolution of conflict as opposed to perpetuating it. For my own benefit, I wanted and needed to aspire to something better.

Disclaimer: Everyone has to find their own way through their conflict in ways that work well for them, and It's important to note that not everything works for everybody. I draw on my own supportive beliefs to transcend pain and loss and trauma, though I understand and expect that many people will find their way through such conflicts differently. I also find myself at a point in my own exemplar conflict where I've come to terms with my anger and the injustice. I also don't want anyone to misunderstand this approach as offering forgiveness to people who aren't sorry for what they've done. I do hope to see justice for everyone involved. Taking an approach that avoids marking people as adversaries or that comes from the secure perspective that love can offer shouldn't be mistaken for cheap forgiveness that ignores justice. (Here's an index of over seventy blog posts that basically argue that without justice, forgiveness and mercy are meaningless.)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Daffodil Season Ends but Recovery Continues

More than a month ago, I learned about some cruel gossip that's being spread about me and it triggered a host of complicated hurdles for me. The questions of others sent me back to revisit my history of hopping around through some truly fringe varieties of cultic Christianity, but I also found myself more affected by the deep personal losses that are all wrapped around that history, too.

Ironically, I'd just started blogging about the stages of recovery right before this happened, but I suddenly realized that I was living an experiential reminder, too. Stage One persisted for a good two weeks before it faded into decrescendo, mostly because I still can't understand that if people took issue with me that they didn't feel comfortable with approaching me. And the truth is that there may be no rational reason behind their actions.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Daffodils of Integration: First Promise of Joy through Recovery
(Photo Credit)

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 in
my Quick Revisit of the Stages of Recovery.
But only if you want to.)

James Taylor's melancholy Fire and Rain which laments the unexpected loss of a friend, and I now think of the loss of integration of trauma when I hear him sing “sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.”

In a way, that is what trauma does to us. Our dreams break apart, perhaps because they weren't very realistic but sometimes because we don't have time to realize them because we're so busy trying to figure out how to put ourselves back together. Sometimes, we just can't recover all that we've lost. Sometimes, we lose our ability to fly because the pieces lay on the ground, smashed and broken because of what happened to us. We become no longer whole. We dis-integrate.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

#TGC16 and Soveriegn Grace: Break the Story. Break the Silence.
I'm watching the film Spotlight, and I stopped it because my husband came home from work. I'll finish watching it in a bit. I needed to express this much before I do.

A New Springtime: Daffodils Reclaimed (A glimpse into Stage Three of Recovery)

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 in
my Quick Revisit of the Stages of Recovery.
But only if you want to!)

I wonder what I thought when I was old enough to find those scattered daffodils in the woods behind my parents' house. I must have been quite young, for in my mind, I seem to have always known that they were there. 

I had a good sense of what belonged to my family and what did not, for that is all wrapped around how I treated them. I must have asked permission to pick them, though I remember only being concerned about whether the property owner wanted them. Yet still, in their own way, they were mine. I saw what no one else saw in them. And I remember that excitement of going to look for their blooms when I saw daffodils bloom at my neighbor's house.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Gospel Coalition's Inclusion of CJ Mahaney: Words are not enough.

Adapted from two works by nakedpastor David Hayward with much gratitude.

The Real Left Behind

Children in Gaza

Daffodils Grieved in Recovery

After the first stage of recovery where we find safety and stability (things we sometimes must learn about for the first time), we find ourselves in a place of revisiting trauma to see it for what it is.

Awareness in Grief

For me, though, the experience is more than that, and I find it to be more spontaneous. The best analogy that I have is that of driving home from work after a busy twelve hour shift as a nurse in critical care. I don't know how long it took for my body to become self-aware after a hard day, but I know that by the time I hit the ten mile point, I'd suddenly have acute awareness that I hadn't emptied my bladder in quite some time. Epinephrine or adrenalin suppresses function of the gut and the urinary tract, and for me leaving work, its effects lasted until I'd driven ten miles from my workplace. My brain would become magically aware of the needs of my body. I'd race in the house and retreat to the bathroom, and then, I'd remember that I was hungry, too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Protest Against The Gospel Coalition 2016 for Inclusion of CJ Mahaney
I am so angry and feel so helpless that I have been unable to write about this issue.  Protestors from SNAP (Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests) have joined Pam Palmer in Louisville this week to protest CJ Mahaney's presence at the The Gospel Coalition's conference.  I can't think straight enough to write about it (and I know that's hard to fathom considering my verbosity).  I'll let others do it for me.

(Learn more about the media event HERE.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Stages of Trauma in the Flowers of Spring: Daffodils Forgotten

I grew up in a house that stood at the edge of a small plateau on the incline of a mountain. It was bordered by unoccupied wooded acreage that sloped down behind it. In the spring, the forsythia and the azaleas bloomed in our yard, but we had no daffodils. Down in the woods behind the house however, daffodils poked their heads above the crisp, brown leaves that had covered them all winter. Nineteen plants grew there within twenty feet of the edge of our land on the hill as it rolled downward toward the city.

I don't know how they came to grow there in no particular pattern, but I looked forward to the appearance of the daffodils every year. I can only imagine that someone bought and forgot about them and just threw their remains into the woods. Maybe some naughty children used them to see how far they could throw them. I never harvested them to replant around our house because they weren't mine to take. I would wait for the first bloom to wilt first before I picked the ones that remained, just in case the owner came by, for he did occasionally used our driveway to gain easier access to that edge of his land. He may not have even known that those plants existed. I knew every single one of them.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Safe Expectations as the Safest Place in Recovery

I used this quote a short time ago, but I read something that brought it to my mind again. There is so much truth to the saying that “we learn what we live.” Alice Miller makes that fact so clear for us by explaining why people who have been hurt often repeat the same tactics that were used against them. But how does this relate to feeling safer?

Hurt People Hurt People

Many weeks ago, I ended up in a conflict via social media that didn't end well. People who were connected to the same type of trauma fell into two groups – and each was traumatized in a different way within a totalistic and authoritarian system. From that emerged a discussion that essentially pitted the comfort and perspective of one subgroup against the other. It became a survivor war.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Watershed Moment in Stage One of Recovery
The Mighty
The message in this meme from The Mighty website speaks so well about how trauma pervades one's life, feelings, and sense of self. I found it to be essential to my own healing, and I often wonder why no one had said this to me much earlier. I'd been to counselors many times before, worked at my recovery, and read about everything I could find. Why didn't someone tell me this during one of my first few visits?

At age thirty, after I walked away from my spiritually abusive church, I eventually found my way to an exit counselor. It was a year after the Cult Awareness Network folded (and was bought by Scientology), but she worked with them as a volunteer prior to that. She addressed the issues faced by people who exit high demand groups, but she was not a therapist. She quickly recognized that I needed deeper work and more help than she could offer.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Balancing Hope and Safety in Stage One of Recovery
During the last year in a spiritually abusive Shepherding-Discipleship church, I developed all sorts of allergies, partly because of how my body voiced what I could not through new, more intense illness, and partly because of the general hard toll that trauma took on my immune system. Two physicians recommended that I see a hypnotherapist, but I didn't feel comfortable with the idea.

It took another decade and the advice of yet another physician to see if hypnosis would help. Most notably, medications that were meant to ease pain and symptoms became severe, life-threatening allergy triggers for me. I quickly ran out of available treatment options, and I spent all of my time avoiding physical triggers and chasing symptoms. It's much like the challenges that Suzanne of No Longer Quivering deals with in her recent blog post.