By now, you’ve likely heard the story of the Turpin family; parents David and Louise have been arrested and accused of torturing their 13 children, who ranged from ages 2 to 29, by allegedly shackling them to their beds and refusing to feed them. The children were only freed after one of their children — a 17-year-old girl — was able to break free and alert the authorities.
Since the story first broke, many have asked questions about the family’s troubling and unusual behavior and wonder how it was able to fly under the radar for so long; and it turns out that one of the ways the alleged abuse was able to go unnoticed is because all of the children were homeschooled. They had such a large family because they had a “call from God,” the children’s grandmother alleges. If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s not all that different from the Duggars, who infamously hid a story that Josh Duggar molested four of his sisters, and proudly declare their large brood is the result of following God’s will.
And their similarities don’t end there — it turns out, the Turpins are also Quiverfulls, the sect of Christianity that strongly values a patriarchal, conversative culture. With the Duggars fronting as the group’s most visible members, the movement has been met with countless criticisms in the years since we met the reality TV family and stars of 19 Kids and Counting.
In a piece for AlterNet, a woman who spent 16 years being raised in a Quiverfull church detailed what the abuse was like — detailing how “spiritual abuse” in the forms of physical, emotional, and mental abuse was especially detrimental. “Let me tell you what makes spiritual abuse so devastating: The more a Christian woman cares and the harder she tries to live according to biblical principles for godly womanhood, the more she, her husband, and their children suffer,” the author, Vyckie Garrison, wrote. “These women who take ‘biblical family values’ to their logical extremes are phenomenally strong, and are single-mindedly determined to follow God’s path no matter how difficult and painful the journey may become.”
This is far from the first time we’ve learned of the Duggars’ ultra-conservative community being problematic. On reddit, an anonymous member of the Duggars’ church — the Institute in Basic Life Principles and its subsequent ATI teachings — detailed how the combination of homechooling paired with the patriarchal community created a perfect storm to hide abuse.
“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 justify 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.”
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