In the years since In Touch exclusively revealed that Josh Duggar was once investigated for — and admitted to — molesting his younger sisters when he was underage, the walls around the Duggars’ church and religious upbringing have started to come down. But even before the explosive report was made by public exclusively by In Touch, a man took to reddit to share the horrors of the Institute in Basic Life Principles and their ATI teachings — both of which were founded by the controversial Bill Gothard (who has been accused of sexual assault by more than 50 women).
“I was part of a fundamentalist Christian cult known as ATI/IBLP. Recent scandals have hit the news about the cult leader Bill Gothard when over 50 women came forward with allegations that he sexually harassed them. But that’s only scratching the surface. Let me tell you my scariest experience — and just keep in mind, I’m far from the only one,” the anonymous redditor posted in a thread asking for experiences of people who were previously involved with cults.
“First off, throughout my childhood, my father and sisters abused me sexually. Since the cult taught a strict familial hierarchy, with the father being top dog, then mother, then children in order of birth, as the youngest I was bottom of the totem pole. My father would twist Bible verses to justfy rape, death threats, and more. Because ATI is a homeschool cult, it was really handy to cover up the abuse from any prying eyes. My home was a prison for 11 years until he died of a massive heart attack. And that’s not even the scariest experience.”
In the comment, the user continued by explaining how the damage done by the abuse at the hands of his/her father only made thing worse after the death of the family patriarch. “Fast forward two years. I’m 13, with a mother who’s frantically fixated on me being a ‘troubled child’ because 1. I dared resist my father’s advances and argue against the abuse I was suffering, gaining me the reputation of ‘rebellious,’ 2. I’m severely depressed because I’m a freaking rape victim and depression is considered sin, and 3. I asked too many questions as to WHY we believed the things we believed —you don’t ask questions, needless to say. So she calls some cult members here and there, pulls some strings, and long story short, she gets me placed in a secretive program called the ‘Log Cabin’ program. They tell her very little details about it, and she tells me even less. All I know is I’m about to move to Oklahoma for a while to be fixed by ‘nice counselors’ because I’m a dirty sinner.”
As part of “treatment,” the former member of the church was dropped off by his/her mother at compound, which posed at a “residential childcare facility,” meaning that this person’s parent literally signed over her custodial rights to the facility, where the redditor remained for two years. He/she continued, “For the next two years, I am tortured, brainwashed, starved, sleep-deprived, threatened with a shotgun, punished, humiliated, interrogated, and terrorized. I lose 40 pounds in the first month or two. They take me off my medications (believing it is wrong to take them) cold turkey; I exhibit severe symptoms of withdrawal and they go ignored. I am worked grueling hours, sent on aimless hikes and marches, scrubbing floors on my hands and knees until my knuckles are cracked and bleeding from the bleach, punished with hard labor until I’m near fainting. They had fun coming up with new and strange ‘punishments.’”
In the post, the redditor detailed some of the more extreme punishments, which included starvation, being forced to confess humiliating sins (some of which were fabricated) in front of the crowd, being fed uncooked/spoiled food, and more. And with all the horrific details the redditor experienced, this was said to be only the tip of the iceberg.
“The scariest part of all of this is that I am far from the only one. The Log Cabin program was run in Oklahoma, Indiana, and I believe an alternative version for Russian orphans was done elsewhere (either Indiana or Illinois). All of these programs secretly tortured and brainwashed children and teenagers. Many of them were so-called ‘delinquents’ (they had committed minor, petty crimes) who were ordered by judges to be shipped to these compounds and held against their wills,” the former ATI follower wrote. “This runs very deep. It has never been accounted for and probably never will be. They tried to investigate alarming allegations of child abuse (some of which included beatings) in Indianapolis and the whole thing got swept under the rug. The only thing you got to hear about on the news was Gothard feeling up a bunch of women. You never hear about his systematic child torture programs."
Of course, since the post was made three years ago, Gothard and his followers have gotten mainstream press — including when he "treated" Josh Duggar following news that he cheated on his wife, Anna. Despite this, Gothard and his organizations are still going strong — even with more eyes on their work. In his/her own words, the former victim concluded, “Bill Gothard and IBLP simply have their fundamentalist hands in too many pies. They will probably never be caught.”