My name is Debby Kenderdine. I grew up in an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) home. My Dad went to Fairhaven Baptist College in Chesterton, Indiana. After he was finished there, he moved our family to Philadelphia where he served as a pastor for about 8 years. When I was 10 years old, my dad made the decision to go to Cambodia as a missionary and to go under Fairhaven Baptist Church. Two years later we moved to Cambodia. After a year and half there, my mom passed away in a motorcycle accident. We moved back home after she died and we lived at Fairhaven.
Exactly a year later, we moved back to Cambodia. Fairhaven sent an intern over to spend the summer with us. I was very excited, since I grew up with this man and loved him like a brother. However, a month before his internship was over, he molested me. I was 15 and scared out of my mind. I went to my Dad for help. My Dad said he would handle it. He did, but I was told that I had to keep it a secret. I did for 7 years.
My family eventually moved back to Fairhaven where my Dad was interning to be the next lead pastor. I hated it. People were constantly watching and judging everything that I did. More than once I got into major trouble for being dressed “immodest.” Then, the man who had molested me moved back to Fairhaven as well. This really disturbed me greatly to the point that I hardly ever slept and if I saw this person walking towards me I would get anxiety attacks.
In my second year of college, I managed to get myself kicked out for looking at porn. This was none of their business, of course, but in the IFB everything seems to be the pastor’s business. I became a prisoner in my own home after being kicked out. I wasn’t allowed to speak with anyone except my family and the staff. I became severely depressed at this time. I prayed every day and night for God to kill me and when I woke up alive, I would be angry. Once I almost tried to kill myself, however my fear of going to hell took over. (At the time, I thought that if a person killed themself, they automatically went to hell.)
I began to listen to pop music, which actually saved my life. It allowed me to see that I could make my own choices in life, something I hadn’t realized before. It also taught me to love myself just as I was. I didn’t have to change for anyone. For the first time ever I had some hope. When my dad found out that I was listening to the “devil’s music” he was furious. He took everything I owned and threw it away. (Mind you I was now 22.) This, however didn’t stop me any. I restocked my music and went on.
My dad resigned from Fairhaven that year and moved to a small Wisconsin church. Of course, he took me with him. There, he became more relaxed. And this led to my being able to finally escape through the help of a dear friend.
Leaving wasn’t easy. There are many things that came up that I wasn’t prepared for. In my head I had it that once I left the cult, I would leave all the pain it caused behind, but that simply is not true. I didn’t know how to cope in real life. I had no social skills. My first job was hell for me and it was because I didn’t know how to speak up. I had spent a lifetime being told to shut up and it was different in the real world. Also, trying to make friends was very difficult. It wasn’t until I went back to college this past year that I began to develop friendships again. Dating was another difficultly. I didn’t know that I could say no to what the man wanted. Then there were simple things like learning how to text or use a computer and even a TV.
For quite some time I had to cut off ties with my Dad and, my brothers refused to speak with me. I am lucky though, because now they talk with me. Many of my friends who left Fairhaven are not so lucky. I did face a lot of anxiety, depression and loneliness after leaving the cult. I also got into a couple of bad relationships because I didn’t know any better. However, I have begun to heal. I am in college for psychology. I have a supportive second family and boyfriend. What is more important is that now I am no longer afraid to live my life.