A lot of people recognize that Josh Duggar is a disgusting monster.
What they don’t understand is why Anna is supporting her disgraced husband or why his parents constantly cover for him.
But to members of the cult to which the Duggar family belong, it’s all very clear — and very simple.
Girls, including Josh’s own victims, are taught that sexual assault is their own fault … and also, God’s will.
Many years before Josh Duggar was arrested and charged for the possession of child porn, he was already a predator.
As a teenager, Josh molested multiple young girls — we know that four victims were his sisters, and at least one was not.
Jim Bob his his crimes from law enforcement, paving the way for Josh to avoid change or accountability.
The Duggars are linked to the Institute in Basic Life Principles, known is IBLP.
The organization is known for producing religious seminars on their extreme Christian fundamentalism.
The brand is and remains a perfect fit for the Duggars.
IBLP was founded by the infamous Bill Gothard, who also created the Advanced Training Institute.
ATI is a faith-based home-school program that fuses some academics with religious instruction in place of a real education.
It was also in Gothard’s facility that Josh received “counseling” after confessing to molesting five young girls.
It’s very much worth noting that, in 2014, Gothard had to step down after being accused of sexual harassment.
But he continued to work with the Duggars and other families, and denied the accusations.
Meanwhile, he had something of an infamous reputation within the cult — as all of the prettiest teenage girls were assigned to work with him.
Gothard’s perverse ideas about gender and sexuality are intrinsic to the beliefs within the IBLP.
Men are said to be insatiable, horny beasts with no self-control when it comes to sex.
As such, women — whom we’re to believe have “no” sex drive — are entirely responsible for not “tempting” them.
Deep down, it seems like IBLP do understand that the world sees their despicable views as those of a nefarious cult.
Because this is not quite how they present themselves to the outside world.
Thankfully, some of those who have escaped from ATI and IBLP have shared their horror stories, exposing the truth.
Lara Smith, who escaped that extreme lifestyle but was raised within ATI, spoke to The New York Post.
“A lot of abuse occurred” due to the group’s extreme teachings, she shared.
“With [abusers like] Josh,” Lara shared, “the whole environment set him up for success in his disgustingness.”
Lara Smith’s parents were Southern Baptists, and she grew up outside of Houston.
When she was 12, they fell into ATI and attending IBLP seminars.
It wasn’t long before Lara was sent to “serve” at training centers in Oklahoma, Indiana, and Michigan.
“We were taught our bodies don’t belong to us,” Lara reflected.
She explained that they were thought that, when it comes to their bodies, “They belong to God.”
“And so in that realm, anything that happens, God wants it to happen,” Lara recalled.
Another who escaped the cult, Heather Heath, reflected upon her own experiences.
Her parents began using ATI when she was 9 years old, though she had always been homeschooled.
As a teenager, she traveled from Connecticut to Oklahoma as her family became further immersed in the cult.
ATI teaches real math and even some real science, but teaches Christianity alongside them in a way that supercedes other humanities subjects.
The goal is to indoctrinate students with the extreme fundamentalist views of IBLP without exposing them to new, “dangerous” ideas.
At training centers, girls like Lara and Heather attended “wisdom searches,” a form of bible study.
There was more to it than discussing particular verses within the bible and their insights.
These sessions also included revealing “sins,” including sexual assault.
“If we had been assaulted,” Heather explained, “we had to confess what we did that brought the assault on us.”
Though Heather (unlike Lara) was not personally sexually assaulted during her time with the cult, she knew others who were.
She recalled when another teen girl confessed that her older brother had sexually abused her.
Heather shared that this was a relatively common experience.
Heather was told that she “wouldn’t understand” the other girl’s situation.
The reason given to her was that Heather did not have an older brother of her own whom she could “tempt.”
“She was like, ‘No good Christian man will marry me because I’m not a virgin,'” Heather grimly recalled.
“I was like, ‘No, it is not not your fault if someone else hurt you,'” Heather described.
“And then I got locked in my room to pray about that,” she revealed.
She was ordered to pray on the topic “because I was wrong,” by cult standards.
Those who were sexually assaulted were strongly discouraged from reporting the abuse to anyone outside of their family.
There was a reason for this — an internal hierarchy known as the “Umbrella of Protection.”
The idea is that God is at the top, followed by pastors, then by fathers, then by mothers, then by children.
“As long as you’re under [your] umbrella, the rain” — sin and temptation from the devil — “can’t touch you,” Heather explained.
The natural conclusion of that mindset, of course, meant that disobedience to a parent or pastor has lifelong consequences.
“Every decision we encounter in life was basically a heaven-or-hell decision,” Heather characterized.
IBLP and ATI’s resource chart for counseling those who experienced sexual abuse was leaked in 2013.
In the documents, it’s made clear that the victim is the wrongdoer for “defrauding” their abuser.
“Immodest dress, indecent exposure, being out from protection of our parents,” are all reasons that God “let it happen,” the chart describes.
Lara Smith also shared how these toxic ideas were drilled into them.
“You need to be very careful what you do, what you say, what you wear, how you act,” she recalled being taught.
Lara explained “because at any moment, you could trigger a boy, basically.”
“There’s absolutely no personal responsibility for the boys,” Lara characterized.
When she was 17, a 21-year-old maintenance staffer began to sexually assault her on a nightly basis, using his master key to enter her room.
Having never been taught about consent or bodily autonomy, Lara explained: “I didn’t have the capacity to say, ‘Hey, I don’t like it.’”
Lara and her father were contacted by Bill Gothard, who was viewed as “basically God” within the cult.
He had learned about the assaults, possibly from a friend of hers.
Lara expected a reprimand for “defrauding” the man. What she got was somehow worse.
“[Gothard] wanted the dirty details,” Lara described. “He started asking the creepiest questions.”
She detailed: “He was like, ‘What time did he kiss you?’ and ‘What time did he put his hands here?’ and ‘Did he do this to you?,’”
Lara’s parents never spoke to her about the assault again, she was never offered help, and her assailant was never punished.
Lara and Heather were both able to leave the horrors of IBLP behind in early adulthood.
Lara’s parents also left.
Heather’s mother left, but her father is still following the cult’s teachings.
Unfortunately, being raised in such an extreme and harmful environment has done lifelong damage, though both women are in their 30s.
“My sense of bodily autonomy is still really messed up,” Lara admitted.
“To this day, there’s people like me who aren’t totally convinced we were abused,” she shared. “But we were.”
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