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Growing Up Like a Duggar — Ex-Followers of the Family’s Religion Share Their Stories

It’s easy to dismiss the Duggars as being a big, eccentric reality TV family with some pretty strict views on purity and marriage, but what many people don’t know are the ties the family has to a controversial ministry. The Duggars are followers of the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), a non-denominational religious organization that former members have flat-out called “a cult.” IBLP’s founder, Bill Gothard, was even accused of sexual assault back in 2014, but that still hasn’t stopped the Duggars from speaking at his yearly conferences, igniting new interest in Bill’s teachings that, for former followers of IBLP, is downright scary.

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Although the Duggars portray a picture-perfect image of family togetherness in public, survivors who were raised in the same ministry as the TV family say the reality is a lot less wholesome. In order to truly understand, we reached out to former followers of IBLP/ATI to share their experiences and discuss how harmful its teachings are and get their advice on what they’d say to the women of the Duggar family. Their stories vary, but all of them have one thing in common: Gothard’s teachings have had a deeply negative effect on their upbringings.

Keep reading to hear their stories in the gallery below. 

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