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Escaping a Toxic IFB Home

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A Guest Post by V

I was born and raised into an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) family. My Mum went to Bible college in Missouri and Dad was converted by Mum at some point before they married. Shortly after I was born, we moved to Australia from Indonesia in 2000. Once we settled there, we promptly joined a young IFB church. I was their very first creche baby and their first Sunday school kid.

At home, I always remembered being taught with the rod of correction. My parents beat me because they loved me, they said. As a result, I would be beaten with belts and thick wooden rods as punishment for my sins. My peers at school would often question my bruising and I would always lie and say I fell over.

I was coerced into being “saved” at the age of five and baptised at the age of nine. I later doubted my salvation, as I realised how young I was when I was first baptised, so I rededicated my life to Christ as a teen.

I went to a secular primary and high school as my parents couldn’t afford a private Christian school. This was my only window and escape to the real world. As I grew through school, I slowly started to realise just how sheltered I was. No Harry Potter, no boyfriends, no worldly music, no revealing clothes. These were all things my peers were into at my age but I was forbidden to partake. The simple thought of the temptation would send me spiraling in an anxious prayer of forgiveness. I did not know it yet, but I was already mentally broken.

When I reached out for help through my church brothers and sisters, I was often dismissed and was told to just pray more. Read the Bible more. It means you’re not right with God. It is demonic spiritual warfare, etc. They truly forsook me when I had nowhere else to go.

It was not until year eleven (the year before graduation in Australia), when I met a kind Catholic boy and fell in love, that my life really changed. He was the one who showed me the true meaning of love and life. I was honest with my parents, which resulted in me being kicked out of home on the first day of my HSC (SAT equivalent in Australia). My mother told me to never come home again. She had found the birth control I was taking, as I had given my virginity to the Catholic boy. She told me God cannot use a corrupt vessel and that she prays that he will deliver me from my sin.

I never set foot in a church ever again. What did not occur to me was just how much psychological damage was done. I became scared to leave the house; scared to get a job; scared to be in the world because of this intense sense of despair that I had wronged my mother and wronged God.

Long story short, I am still on my road to recovery at age 24. The man I lost my virginity to — I owe him my life. If it were not for him, taking me out of that toxic environment, I probably would not be here today. We have been together for seven years and we are still stronger than ever.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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16 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Karuna Gal.

    V, what your parents did to you was cruel, unforgivable, horrible. I am glad you escaped their clutches, and I hope you’re getting counseling and looking forward to the future. Best of luck to you!

  2. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    V thank you for sharing your story, that was courageous. I am so glad that you were able to get out of that toxic environment. Recovery takes time and effort and can be painful sometimes – it’s so worth it though. Good luck on your journey!

  3. Avatar
    Astreja

    V, I think it’s wonderful that you found a kind and supportive partner – may your relationship continue to bring you both happiness.

    • Avatar
      Dave

      I appreciate your courage in sharing your story and hope you will prosper in the years ahead. I was much older than you when I finally escaped religion and I wish could have those wasted years back again. As a mental health professional it pains me to read about the emotional trauma that you endured and I am happy that you are in a loving and supportive relationship. If you find the scars of your upbringing are starting to open don’t hesitate to seek counseling. I know personally how valuable this can be. I wish you the best.

  4. Avatar
    amimental

    I am so very sorry for what you went through as a child and young adult. So many religious people seem unable to adequately nurture and raise their young humans.

    I’ve often wondered why Christians preach unconditional love but aren’t able to practice it.

    Glad you’ve escaped from the abuse. I hope your life continues to be lived free and that you’re being supported through the recovery that’s going to be ongoing.

  5. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    V—Your partner sounds like a brave, strong person—like you. Together, you are a “power couple.” Thank you for sharing your story.

    For two years, I co-facilitated an LGBT youth group. Some of those young people were kicked out of their homes. How any parent—especially one who believes that their God loves unconditionally—can do that is beyond me.

  6. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Good morning, V. I want to congratulate you for leaving your toxic and abusive parents,the mother especially. They sound like they both have NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Lots of Fundies are in that class. You may have PTSD from the traumatic upbringing imposed on you,which is where all the fear and anxiety comes from. And please remember, none of this was or is your fault !! It’s nearly impossible to be able to reach the narcissist emotionally or mentally. I wish you and your partner a great life and safety. Friday the 7th the is Russian Christmas ( Orthodox Church) by the way. This was on my mind as I watch with sadness and outrage what is going on in the dispute between Ukraine and Russia these days,as now poor Kazakhstan !! Take care of yourselves.

  7. Avatar
    Ben Berwick

    V, you are a survivor and warrior who can live the best of lives because you had the courage to escape. I don’t know if you plan to have children, but I am certain you will give them the best of lives, without the prejudice you experienced.

  8. Avatar
    Darcy Walker

    Bruce, thank you for giving V and so many people a place to “witness” and “tell it like it is.” V, thank you for trusting us with your testimony.

  9. Avatar
    John mccomb

    Sadly this person is lost as a blind goose in a foggy forest! 😢.

    Also what is Obstaclechick’s story? better name would be AGAGBABY KILLER”.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Deacon Bob is a member of the I FB cult, so this comment is not surprising. He also has erotic dreams about punishing atheists/abortionists in Hell.

      Deacon Bob is banned and blocked, but he is finding ways to get around the block. This means he has graduated to third grade.

  10. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    V, How very brave you are! Well done, being open enough to allow some sense of real love in your life after the mind-rape of evangelical faith. It is not easy to stand by yourself and honor what you feel in your own heart when all your life you have been taught to hate yourself. Good for you! I am encouraged to read your words of recovery and strength. i am sorry that your family taught you that falling in love and deciding to make love with your lover is some kind of loss and not truly the victory it was for you. They wanted you to remain ignorant of love and full of self-loathing but you have found true life. I wish you all the best. I wonder how it is that you found the inner vision to love yourself enough to leave the IFB gulag. What a wonderful gift!

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Bruce Gerencser