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This is what ATI teaches families like the Duggars

A few months ago, when the news initially broke about Josh sexually abusing his sisters and others, I wrote a post that examined some of the reasons why his parents were able to cover up what he’d done so effectively: the purity culture they raised their children in blames women for their own assaults. Specifically, they used a program created by Bill Gothard, a man known for sexually harassing women and minors (Josh Duggar received his “counseling” from Gothard’s ministry). This program is known as the Advanced Training Institute (ATI).

I was able to include some of the material that laid out ATI’s approach to counseling abuse victims, and it is horrific. Well, today I’d like to share a few more pieces of information, because it lays out all the reasons why the Duggars (or anyone like them) should not be allowed within spitting distance of TLC’s upcoming documentary.

ati 1

Salient quote:

Do you know what provokes attacks?

  • Evaluate Dress
  • Choose friends Wisely

ati 2

Salient quote:

God has established some very strict guidelines or responsibility for a woman who is attacked. She is to cry out for help. The victim who fails to do so is equally guilty with the attacker.

I decided a long time ago that if that is who God is, I want nothing to do with them. That God is an absolute monster, but that’s the sort of God that fundamentalist families like the Duggars believes exists.

ati 4

Salient quote:

A woman was startled one night by an intruder who broke into her apartment. The attacker stated his intentions, and she replied “You’ll have to kill me first because I’ve given my body and my life to the Lord.”

In this culture it is actually preferable for a woman to die than to “lose her virginity,” even through rape.

~ ~ ~

The Duggars aren’t the only family in America to follow and believe these ideas. The ATI annual conferences see thousands of attendees, and the intersections between fundamentalist Christianity and conservative politics are numerous and influential. This isn’t something we can hold up as an example of extreme fundamentalism gone so wrong it’s easy to make fun of. This shit is serious, and important, because the people who believe these things aren’t fringe. Misogyny and victim-blaming are part of the core values of the homeschooling and Tea Party movements, and that shouldn’t be dismissed.

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  • J. Rachel

    I agree that this is a serious problem right now. I assume it’s better than it used to be because people are talking about it, and I can go online and with some persistence find people like you who talk about it. Before I found this site and another online support group, I really didn’t understand at all that I wasn’t some freak who had lived through a freak occurrence. I’m referring specifically to the “intersections between fundamentalist Christianity and conservative politics”, and the world in that supposed bubble that affects a lot of people whether they believe in it or not. Also… to the bizarre, scary responses to my experiences that I received.

    Thank you so much for writing.

  • patricialaughlin

    Samantha: I stumbled upon your blog about two years ago while reading a post on another blog (Feminist Mormon Housewives) and I was instantly hooked! I love your writings and the way you convey to the reader your experiences and thoughts. You and I have a lot in common and that’s perhaps why I identify with a lot of your writings. At the end of your post you give your opinion as a ‘matter of fact’ about homeschooling. I have homeschooled all my children for 18 years. Our homeschool was never about religious reasons. I am happy to report that here in Texas there is a huge secular homeschool community. The need for these communities is growing faster than we ever imagined. We have several FB and Meetup Secular/Humanist/Freethought/Agnostic/Atheist Homeschool Groups and have more requests to join daily than we can handle.
    Four of my five kids have gone to Jr. college at 16 and have continued on to State Universities. Our 12 yo will hopefully start attending Jr College next year. Although secular homeschooling is a minority right now, we hope to be a majority in the near future. We are trying and will continue tirelessly to try to change the bad rap most religious homeschoolers have given to homeschooling.
    Thank you for your posts. Keep up the good work!

  • Sheeple Rage

    You had me up until you said “and Tea Party movements.” In four words, you zeroed out everything that was powerful and good in the things you were pointing out and shining a light on. You obviously know nothing of the Tea Party movement, especially that it was started by a woman. The Tea Party movement is about fiscal responsibility. Full stop. The Westboro Baptist Church members are Democrats. Does that mean Democrats hate “fags?”

    • Check out “Change they Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America” by by Parker and Baretto, which is an analysis based on extensive research of the rhetoric of the politicians and the content of websites, and surveys from 13 states. The positions held by many party leaders and the politicians it’s elected are most definitely anti-woman, and they tend to rely on victim-blaming arguments for much of their rhetoric; not just about women, but also on class and race.

      That a woman was one of the movement’s earliest and most significant leaders doesn’t mean it can’t also be deeply misogynistic. Phylis Schlafly, Stasi Eldridge, Helen Andelin, Nancy Leigh DeMoss … this blog spends every Monday examining the misogynistic views *of women*.

  • Sylvia

    I grew up in one of those fundamentalist “churches” too. We were even more out of touch with reality than the Duggars, with stricter dress code and no TV or radio (except the few Christian stations they had in the 70’s), and now I’ve heard the church I grew up in doesn’t allow the internet in the home.
    One of the ladies I admired greatly was raped by a stranger, EVEN THOUGH she was dressed correctly with the pantyhose and long skirt and modest top. She was told she MUST HAVE done something to encourage the rapist. When I heard that, 10 years after the fact, I was horrified. I was only 19, and still pretty much into the “church,” but even then I knew it was wrong.
    We didn’t have Gothard or the ATI; what we had was some very misogynistic leaders who believed women should be married, at home, pregnant, and witnessing to the neighborhood. NOT inviting the neighbors to know Jesus, but witnessing for the church.
    Thankfully, my Dad didn’t buy into all the BS. My Mom worked, we listened to “worldly” music (mostly classical stuff, since Dad loved that, but also some of the old blues and old country and western, as well as some old show music), and we were encouraged to go to a real college.
    There are things about growing up that way that I am still recovering from, but since I was lucky enough to have the parents I did, it wasn’t as bad for me and my siblings as it was for a lot of the others.

    I am really grateful that I found your blog. I regularly read it and a couple of others from people who are also recovering from that way of life. You make me think, and I appreciate that.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    I remember reading “Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl” where the 15 year old protagonist chooses to become the mistress of an unmarried gentleman in order to escape the sexual abuse of her married owner. The first time I read it, I felt a deep pity for the author in what she describes as this huge moral dilemma. But at the same time I started thinking, “What someone does to you against your will isn’t your fault, but what you choose to do is. So…”

    The second time I read the book, I just thought, “All right. I’ll go to hell.”