Doug was on the floor, writhing, curled up in a fetal position. He made groaning sounds like one might hear on the battle front from a wounded man safe in a fox hole. The toll of breaking his silence was FEAR, intense fear. His whole body rocked and shook in front of me. I felt his fear in the air. I did not get up and touch or hug him. I was also in shock. [A couple years later that lack of affection was pointed out to me as I attended a counseling session with Doug from his sexual abuse counselor. It was years after the abuse, but he still had a visceral reaction if he talked about the abuse. I sat in a chair a few feet from him as he cried. The counselor asked me why I did not go to him and hug him..comfort him. I had no answer but in my heart I knew his visceral response also affected me as a member of the cult and as his mom who failed to protect him from the IFB abuse.]
I found myself in a state of shock when Doug first told me about his abuse. I didn’t move from my chair. When I was able to talk after his sudden disclosure I asked him, “Why didn’t you tell me this back then?” Doug sobbed, sitting on the floor now and holding his legs against his heart as though to give himself a hug. , “I didn’t know that what had happened was sex abuse! I thought it was the big punishment that happened when you are really bad!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Do you mean that before your brother Scott was abused sexually by his teacher you were sexually abused?” He moaned, “Yeah!” I asked again, “Why didn’t you tell us then?” Doug was calming down some and repeated as though to defend himself. “At the time I did not know that he had done sex abuse to me. I never wanted to tell you later on because you got so sick when that happened to Scott! I wanted to protect you, so I never told anyone until I told Leon today. I thought that if I told Leon maybe I’d get better and not drink so much. Leon was glad that I told him, but he made me promise to tell you.” I took a deep breath, “Doug, I want you to call your dad. He was there that day. He knew that you could not even sit down in the car.” Doug hung his head. “Dad won’t believe me.” I insisted, “Doug, he was there and will remember the spanking.” Doug sobbed, “What if he doesn’t believe me?” Feeling unable to deal with what I was hearing, I said, “He believed Scott. He’ll believe you. You have to tell him. I can’t help you alone!” Doug finally dialed up his dad. He sobbed through the details on the phone to his father. I knew what his dad was feeling since I had just been through it. Once again I listened, numb with shock as he wept the words of what had happened to him. There was no sounds for a while..until I heard Doug answer for his father the same questions I had asked. We felt guilty as parents. How could I have failed to investigate further when the spanking first occurred? How could one small family with just two sons be the target of such egregious abuse and total devastation at the hands of sexual predators in IFB educator’s clothing? Doug cried for a while longer after the call to his father and then he left. I knew he would be reaching out to alcohol to anesthetize the overwhelming feelings of fear.
Later that night I called Doug’s father and asked what we should do. His voice was distant. “This is really big, Nancy. “ Doug’s father Paul said, “The church is way too powerful in the community and in the government for us to even consider doing anything.” I was dumfounded. “Paul! That’s what we did with Scott and look what happened.” I knew he felt angry but helpless. “He is too big Nancy. We need to listen to him and support him. That’s all we can do.” It was almost as if we were re-living Scott’s abuse story. We were going to do the same thing again. The past is the best predictor of the future. History was going to repeat itself on this run away train.
The next day Doug begged me not to talk about the sexual abuse to anyone. He was convinced that horrible things would happen to us and that we would be hurt. “What do you mean, Doug?” I inquired. “Like Mr _________ would shoot us or bomb our house or something?” There was no dissuading Doug. “Yeah, he has lots of power like that.” As a clinically trained therapist myself, I recognized that Doug was captive as a victim of sexual abuse to that fearful, cruel space in his mind where he had hidden the details of the awful day when he was allegedly raped and beaten. I asked myself why I had not interrogated Doug further when he came home from school with a bloody butt? Why I did not take him to the doctor after seeing the blood droplets and welts? Why had I not told Scott to tell his doctor when he was treated for Mono after his sexual abuse? Why? Why had I failed my boys? The guilt was heavy, but I was determined to get though this second son’s sexual abuse and remain well.
Each time I tried to ask Doug more about the incident, Doug picked up on my anxiety. “See, I never should have told you because you will get sick again. I should have just taken it to my grave.” Each time I said, “Doug, I can get you into counseling” he would always respond with, “Why? So they can report it, take it to court and then hear him say I am lying? Then I will drink myself to death because I would be so scared.” One time I asked, “What if there were other boys that he did this to?” Doug replied, “I know of one, I think. His father came into the school and yelled at Mr._________ so loud the kids heard it out in the halls.” “Doug, let’s find that boy in the school yearbook.” “It’s no use, Mom. The boy left after that. He is not in the book.” I checked anyway. Doug was right. The boy was not in the yearbook. Doug pleaded with me, “Don’t talk about this anymore. I will get sick and vomit.” I did see him vomit after that talk. The pain of not telling was killing him. The pain of telling was killing him. We were once again in the IFB trap. But I knew what the IFB trap looked like now. I would help my sons find a way to peace. I went on to get my masters in counseling at the U. of W. and I would help my sons. I had been called on by my son to keep his secret. As a therapist, I knew sexual abuse survivors had to talk about the abuse or it would act as an infection sealed behind a scab. Who would believe a drunk crying “rape”or his parents who had cried “rape” in regard to another son? What were the odds of this happening to them both in the same IFB school system? I was haunted by the fact that we had kept our boys completely in the dark about sex. No sex education in the IFB schools and my son thought he had received the “Big Spanking” until he learned what sex abuse was.
I finally worked up enough courage to asked my IFB friend Dena—a friend of mine from Calvary whose boys were about the same age as mine—if her boys had been spanked at the Christian school. “I am sure they were,” she said. “They would get spanked again at home for being spanked at school.” I probed further. “Do you know if they had to pull their pants down at school?” She paused a moment. “I think so. In the office there was a wooden paddle with holes drilled in it that was used for spanking. Why do you ask?” “Well, Doug is very angry because of a spanking he got at school and I want him to talk to a counselor.” “Nancy, we parents signed papers giving them permission to spank our kids. You signed a paper too.” “Dena, I never knew they would pull their pants down.” “Well, Nancy, all I know is that we let them. I don’t think they spank anymore…if that helps you.”
When I heard Dena’s defensiveness I knew this was not going to be something about which I could talk openly. There I was, keeping secrets in the IFB church again. Déjà vu! Each church service that I attended, the anger welled up inside me as I looked at the old man who had allegedly raped my child. He was smiling, singing, laughing while my son was dying. The “dunt … Dunt … Dunt… DUNT… DUNT …DUNT” reverberated in my mind. This was just too much!
I began searching online for information about IFB abuses. The first time that I typed the search words “sexual abuse in the IFB church” I was afraid the computer would grow arms, reach out and hurt me. It seems that Doug had passed on his intense childhood fears to me. When nothing happened, I started reading the articles. I was amazed and appalled. The prevalence of sexual abuse in an IFB setting was equivalent to, or greater than the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals. Entire sites were dedicated to revealing IFB abusers. Numerous blogs disclosed horrendous stories of IFB abuse. Some of the stories were even written about IFB Cock Roosters that I knew from my old IFB Island like Lester Roloff and Jack Hyles. I also knew that the statute of limitation was past for Doug and Scott. I felt forced to keep secret the identity of my little boy’s alleged rapist—Mr. He-Whom-We-Cannot-Speak-Of—is very upsetting to me. He has not been charged. He has not been convicted. I knew he never will be.
Eventually I was able to convince Doug we should tell Pastor Luv (not his real name) what had happened to him. The IFB assistant pastor listened as Doug tearfully told him about what happened. The pastor said he would help us and I gave him Scott’s story also. He was devastated..or he seemed to be. In a few weeks it was evident that nothing was being done at the church level. In a last ditch effort to be heard my husband and I scheduled an appointment with the head pastor at the church. He was polite and listen as I told him about what happened to Doug and had given him a copy of Scott’s story a few days earlier Pastor Loggans acted concerned. I named other cases in his church of sexual abuse I was aware of. He listened and was aware of almost all the cases except Doug..Doug’s case was new to him. I thought the pastor would go alone to talk to the police since I knew Scott had reported to the police but since the statute of limitations was up the Watertown police never even took a report. I thought the police might listen to the Pastor of the IFB church who was concerned about a former employee’s criminal behaviors to a child. Doug was expecting he would need to giver a report to the police….HOWEVER weeks went by and nothing happened. Finally I confronted Pastor Luv and he told me that Pastor Loggans did not believe anything had happened to Doug so we should look for another church.
Nothing was being done at the church level, but I kept going to church, praying something would break loose as Doug was continuing to drink and suffer from PTSD. Then it happened….the last straw when Doug’s abuser was the greeter at church on Mother’s Day and handed me a rose…well I decided to talk to him myself. He denied the abuse and answered through tearful eyes that he loved those boys he spanked and that they loved him. I walked away that Mother’s Day very upset. I was in the same Sunday school class as Dr. Phelps ( Tina Anderson’s story had not come to light yet) and I stopped him in the hall after class and blurted out about my son’s sexual abuse. He said to take him to the police and that he had no power in the church. I then told him that my other son had been abused at Maranatha Baptist Academy by a teacher when he was 16. He walked away from me saying he did know about that. He went into the church service with his Bible and never looked back at me crying in the hallway of the church. I felt hopeless and had to find another way to help my sons.
I started using the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (cult) Survivors sight for support and encouraged Scott and Doug to tell their stories like others were doing and get some support. Immediately we were supported for the first time since the abuse had occurred by other IFB survivors. We had to stop going to the church once the stories came out and we were immediately shunned. We received an anonymous letter accusing Doug of lying and secondary abuse through personal messages on Facebook. It was a dark time and Doug’s drinking escalated and he even overdosed on his medication as the abuse continued. His worst fears of being blamed and saying he was a liar were coming true.
He had another confession to make . He had continued bleeding from the time of the abuse. He admitted hiding his underwear and making sure I was unaware of the physical damage. As is the nature of anal tearing the wounds do not heal well due to the bacteria and the continual pressure. I insisted he tell his medical doctor what had happened to him as a child and he eventually had surgery to repair damage. I talked with the surgeon and she confirmed the tearing and the medical need for a colostomy if the bleeding continued. That surgery coinciding with the blaming and secondary abuse was one of the darkest times in our lives. It was time to feel, deal and heal.
Doug Finds in His Words
Eventually there was a formal interview set up for Scott and Doug to tell their stories. A chance to be heard and not judged. Scott talked about the details of his sexual abuse and the spankings at school. Scott’s voice was loud and clear…and then it was Doug’s turn to speak to the interviewer.
He described how he felt he was not accepted at the IFB school as a child. He saw himself as bad because the teachers had told him through their actions and words that he deserved the Christ-like crushing blows of the Spanking Board. Doug had been labeled as bad and he wore that identity. I was in the next room during the interview that took place in our home. It was during Doug’s interview when I had the vision of the picture I painted on the lead page to this story. Doug thought that Jesus wanted him beat like this. I cried at that point… I listened and learned that Doug was blamed for many things by Mr._________ who found fault with him at every turn. Once during a spanking session by M_________ Doug had been caught with a magazine in his pants put under his underwear to hide the padding of the paper. Some student wore extra underwear and did what ever they needed to do to cut the pain of the board against their bottom. The spanking session seemed somewhat formal as I hear Doug tell the interviewer he had to stand and hang onto a chair in the office and bend over it to keep from falling after the pressure of the swat would force the whole body forward. Doug demonstrated how Mr _______ held the 24 inch x 1 inch thick board in his hand and swing using a whole body twist of force. Once Doug had been caught with the paper in his underwear he had to “Drop his Drawers”. Drop the Drawers was a term used for bare butt spanking. Doug began to cry as he told the interviewer he had determined he was not going to cry because he knew Mr _______ wanted him to cry. Doug went into that visceral response and looked down at the floor as he described the blows. He shared that he counted them, wackkkkkkk…Whack… He was in what I saw as a kind of flashback as he continued to tell the interviewer about the pain and the fear. The Fear that had never left, it was the fear he had that “He just kept hitting me and I thought he was going to kill me. The interviewer sat with Doug and we are all in tears as we relived those moments with Doug in that room with the spanker. Doug paused …” I had never heard Doug tell the details of what had happened…but today he had found his voice for those moments with the interviewer. Why? I thought again, had he not told me…and now he was telling the interviewer, but I was glad he was telling what had happened…..the whole truth. Doug found his voice with a man who was listening to him with compassion….feeling Doug’s pain and keeping unnecessary noise from interrupting Doug as we were all shocked and in the room we fought to hold back our own tears. No one could reach into the camera to comfort Doug because we knew he needed to tell his story. The interviewer listened with the eyes and ears of a man who had seen this story before. He had interviewed man/ boy love stories overseas and seemed to know how to allow Doug to express his pain in a safe place and with a safe person. Doug then said he was hit 53 times and repeated “ I thought he was going to kill me”…and then I felt a different kind of pressure..and he had his way with me. The interviewer asked him what that meant and Doug repeated Mr __________ had his way with him. He said the words out loud describing the act of sexual abuse. Doug is shaking now.
He could never tell the whole story before and now he was telling it … . He described the pain…when the interviewer asked him what happened then” Doug replied when he stopped he sent me to the bath room…Why the interviewer said… No one in the rooms moved. We seemed to be honoring this moment in time…the moment when a young man sets himself free of the secrets. A moment to be respected as perhaps life changing.
I had to to get myself together. And not make a sigh or groan that the camera ‘s audio could pick up. The interviewer asked Doug “What did he do then.” Doug answer in a matter of fact way. He told me to go into his office bathroom and clean up.” I realized at that point in the interview that Mr. __________ must have had blood on him so he knew that Doug needed the clean up…what a sick, evil man I thought…..What did he say to you when you came out , the interviewer said. When I came out Mr _________ said…Now let that be a lesson to you. He acted like nothing had just happened and Doug walked back into the class room. Doug said he felt ashamed. Why? Because he had cried and the girls he liked as his friends in his class could see his tears. He was a Broken man the interviewer said. . We were all stunned
I had never heard the whole story before, We were all just in a kind of shock from what we had just heard. I realized the years of using alcohol had somehow preserved Doug’s story in his mind. He was fixated back to the time of the abuse and although a 40 year old man was talking to the interviewer …really a boy was telling what happened to him the day it happened. We had all been transported back in time,through the alcohol time machine and witnessed a boy, then too afraid to speak out,speak out with a mans voice. It was chilling.
Doug went up to his room. I was fearful that telling the story of his abuse may have been emotionally overwhelming, so I asked his friend Shannon to check on him. There was a blood curdling scream and Shannon flew down the steps….The interviewer and I look at each other. My eyes were frozen in time on the interviewer and in my mind I saw Doug hung, shot or bleeding in his room…the silence was broken when Shannon said the cat got a mouse. Wow…what a scare…I was so glad Doug’s story in all its emotional vividness was on tape He sees himself as a broken man today and we all work together to help him heal. It took for Doug to tell all of the story. And it will take many more years to fix the brokenness in us all.
The thing that strikes me today is the fact the MR _______ only had a degree of some kind in Bible…how did he become a IFB leader. When the Bible is the only teacher and the IFB twist and turn the Word to make the shepherds staff into a beating board, then our children suffer. The men writing these books and expounding their wisdom on child development do not have degrees in child development or even teaching…only bible training. So when schools are left to uneducated and unregulated systems, as that school was, stories like Doug’s eventually will be told. The secrets are too hard to hold in yet we hold silent the abusers name at every corner when we want to scream the name from the mountain tops. We can’t go to court. There should be no statute of limitations on sexual abuse so these abusers names can go on record and we don’t have to carry around a gunnysack with the name of an abuser tucked inside. We are muzzled, as is Doug with the name of a man who helped create the muzzle that silences us.
Click here for Doug Bicknell’s Story – Part 1