Dear Jane Doe,

(Trigger warning: I have been made aware that if one has experienced abuse or mal-treatment from IBLP or its agents, this post will trigger very strong emotions of hurt as those memories flood back, even if one finds it healing.)

Dear Jane Doe¹,

I don’t know if you know me or remember me.  I actually don’t know if I know you or not. I’m terrified that I’ll find out I do.  The thought that you are someone I’ve met – or one of my friends, even – haunts me.  It scares the hell out of me because it would mean that … God forgive me…

I struggle to know what to say to you, really, because I know that whatever regret or sorrow, whatever I’m feeling right now is NOTHING compared to what you’ve been through. With the lawsuit approaching, and the pain of having to relive the experiences of your past, you’ve got a lot to process right now.  You’re courageous, more so than I am. More than I was.  You’re fighting back. You’re reclaiming what was taken from you.  I just want you to know that I’m behind you, whether I know you or not.

Because if I know you… Wow, if I know you… I only recently realized that I might actually know you… and that was a very, very dark realization.

If I know you, I want you to see the rage in my eyes as I realize what was going on around me years ago.  I feel such mindless and blind fury when I consider what might have been happening to my friend right under my nose.  The anger… the shock… the heartbreak.

I keep thinking… Maybe I should have recognized the clues you dropped.  How could I have missed them? I should have done something. Said something.  What if I stood up? What if I intervened?  On the other hand, what could I have done about it? I don’t know.  Would I have known how to help? And what would have been the result? I would have been sent home with rumors and aspersions cast at my back.

No, no… No! No excuses!  I should have done something.  I should have stopped it.  I should have said something.  I should have been there for my friend.  I stood there and did nothing while this was going on!  I should have… I… How could I… Why wasn’t I… Oh God, please forgive me…

The remorse.  So much regret. So much grief…

As outrage turns to misgiving, so misgiving gives way to disbelief.  In creeps the realization that we were all set up for this, and incredulity takes hold.  How is it possible for so many details to be manipulated into place…  You were brought in from a broken home, or maybe you came from the court system.  It’s possible you were reeling from abuse that had already happened.  I was in my 20s, which we both know for an ATI student means I was working through a severely delayed adolescence.  I, who had received so much training on how to condescend and judge those around me, was completely unprepared for evil like this.  We were both placed in a building and told to work for God – in an environment where most everyone around us seemed to have forgotten where our boss ended and God began.  And then that man… did that to you…

You had nowhere to turn.  I was no help.  Most likely it would have been a disaster to count on your family for help.  You were trapped.  The intricacy of this arrangement both amazes and disgusts me.  I don’t believe it.

I… I have to believe it.  I believe it.

I’ve learned enough – and healed enough – in the years since that I have no choice but to believe it.

And now there is only sorrow.

Sorrow over what was taken from you by those we were told to trust…

Sorrow that I wasn’t the friend you needed…

Sorrow that I sat and joked that you were one of the favorites.  The Favorites! I spit that phrase from my mouth. How twisted was our thinking.

I’m sorry.  So, so sorry.

And this time, I stand with you.

Sincerely,

One of Those ATI Guys

¹Note: This post has significance to someone with connections to IBLP and Bill Gothard.  If you don’t know anything about those, you may not get anything out of reading it.  My previous post outlines my involvement with the Institute in Basic Life Principles, and speaks somewhat to my departure from it.  It lays out my opinion on the pending lawsuit against the organization and its former president.  Again, if none of this rings any bells for you, feel free to ignore this post.
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One thought on “Dear Jane Doe,

  1. I guess first I should say that I have no connection with ATI, IBLP, or Bill Gothard’s ministry, but I have been following the discussion on it from The Wartburg Watch ever since they introduced us to the site recoveringgrace.org where former members share their experiences and help them understand where it went wrong, how to heal, and how to see toxic theology for what it is and prevent falling for it again. I’ve read many testimonies and I think that it’s important to learn from the failures of leadership and missapplication of scripture to prevent it from happening again to some other ministry fifteen, thirty, fourty-five years from now.
    I find some comfort from watching Stargate SG-1’s Teal’c and Tomin as they come to terms with how destructive their faith was and learning how to move forward (in their case they had murdered countless unbelievers in the name of their gods, the Goa’uld and the Ori, respectively, so some of it might not apply) about letting that which is right, just, and true prevail by fighting for it for others who cannot fight:

    Liked by 1 person

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