Tag Archives: Abuse

The Elephant on the Teeter-Totter – By Nancy Bicknell

From the Author:

Nancy’s story echoes the truth of what many abuse victims deal with in any denomination where abuse occurs. As people that represent God, it is morally and ethically imperative that we not allow these abusers to get away with their abuses. Nancy’s sons have not received vindication nor restitution for their abuse. The abusers are still walking free – free to molest other children because of the power and positions they hold. If you know of abuse in your church, or, you are a victim of abuse, please find the courage to speak out. Your story is welcome on this blog so that your voice can be heard and you can be an encouragement to the countless thousands who have been silenced by their abusers and the churches they are a part of. There is no longer a need to be silenced while your abusers move on to their next victim. Think about it, and add your weight to the Teeter Totter. Which side will you choose?

Independent Fundamental Baptist Teeter-Totter

Independent Fundamental Baptist Teeter-Totter

Sexual Abuse is not about sex. It is about POWER and CONTROL. The I.F.B. abusers already have more POWER and CONTROL than the Independent Fundamental Baptist victim by grooming their prey. It is our job to sit on the other end of the teeter-totter and equalize and bring balance to the victim. The I.F.B. abusers know full well how to stand up for themselves and invite others to sit on their side of the teeter-totter so they can continue to have the POWER and gain even more POWER ….POWER…POWER. I decided, finally, that I had to sit on one side or the other, but I cannot sit on both while there are still victims in pain.

Making a choice which side you want to add your weight to is an individual choice. When I was drawing the White Elephant on a Teeter-Totter, I wanted to cry because I know what it feels like to have an entire I.F.B. church side with the abusers and blame the victims (my sons) as liars and bad people. I have chosen to find the POWER with GOD. I choose to seek power to heal my family and others who were hurt in the I.F.B. church.

I had a lot of therapy after the I.F.B. abuse and, the comment I remember the Doctor saying every time I would say, “I think I will go back to Calvary Baptist Church” was this:  ” Well Nancy, you know what that soup tastes like.” Each time I went back and sat by the elephants in the pew, I grew sicker. Then, I was put in a position as I entered the I.F..B church on Mother’s Day, of all days, to have to shake my son’s abuser’s hand because he was the I.F.B. church greeter and was giving flowers to the Moms.

I took my little red rose from him and walked away after doing my little plastic smile. It felt like GOD HAD STABBED my heart as I walked to my Sunday School class thinking, “Did you just smile and take a flower from your son’s rapist on MOTHER’S DAY?” I argued with my thoughts saying, “but I told the I.F.B. church leaders and they still put the RAPIST as a GREETER on Mother’s Day.” I knew what God had to say to me and what I had to say to myself. “You know better…so do better.”

With fear in my heart, a rose in my hand, and God at my side, I walked out of the church’s back door and again walked in the front door to be received by the Greeter. He looked at me as if to say, “Didn’t we just do this?” I held my breath…deep breath, as though I was taking in the Power of God, and I told him that my son had told me about a spanking and the terrible thing he had done to him during the spanking. He looked at me and said, “I don’t remember ever spanking Doug.” He continued to inform me how many boys had told him how much they appreciated their “spankings” and he finished his statement saying with tears in his eyes that “He loved those boys.” He had tears in his eyes and so did I as I stood inches from him and our eyes were locked. The tears frozen in time on our cheeks.

As a therapist, I knew his words were that of a pedophile feeling justified saying “I was only loving those boys.”. As an I.F.B., I heard him say “I loved those boys and you must love me.” But as a mother, I heard him say ” Yep, I loved him. I do not believe that he is harmed, and you can not prove I hurt him because I am in a position of authority; and well, you are just a Mom.”

I made a choice that day as a therapist. I understood his tears. As a Christian, I reached out and hugged him among the tears. But as a MOM, my primary responsibility, I walked away knowing I would have to leave the I.F.B. church if they did not support me. They did not support me, and I was walked out of the church as I walked willing out in my heart.

A mother has to choose her child when the church does not. I have tried from that day forward, to sit on the I.F.B. victim’s side. I will never add my weight to the I.F.B. abuser by sitting in the pew by I.F.B. abusers, or with them, and those who cover for the abuser, saying they are protecting the IMAGE of GOD. My sons and the other I.F.B. victims are heroes — beautiful and innocent little boys and girls who deserve our support. SO, sit with the victims! They need you!

The I.F.B. abusers have hundreds of supporters in the I.F.B. church as well as its leaders. Are you smiling and taking a red rose from a child’s abusers? Are you taking a rose to your seat in the I.F.B. church of Pastors who support the abusers instead of the I.F.B. victims? Are you sitting in an I.F.B. pew thinking you can hold on to your rose and hold the hand of an I.F.B. victim? Sit up IFBers who are not speaking up against abuse and SMELL THE ROSES.

Kimberly Ann Howard’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

kimberlyhowardFrom the Administrator: This past year, I have had the extreme privilege and honor of helping numerous victims of sexual, emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse to tell their stories. Each one affected my heart in such a way that it ignited a passion in me to help expose this type of institutional abuse. I can think of no greater way to help than to make sure their voices are heard regarding such abuse. Women and children are the most vulnerable sect of human society. To take away their honor and dignity and self-worth and, replace it with shame, guilt and self-deprecation, is the worst possible crime one can commit on any human being. Utilizing religion to incite violence toward a woman or a vulnerable child is the greatest injustice. Using God and the Bible to inflict harm on one of God’s “little ones” deserves the strongest punishment available. There is no excuse for “bullies for God”.  These “bullies for God” stop at nothing to inflict their “will” on others at the cost of “destroying the victim”.

Kimberly’s story is one that I hear often. She was emotionally and psychologically and spiritually abused all in the “name of God”. God will not pardon those that carry his name in vain (See, The Third Commandment, What it Really Means.). Thankfully, this gives the victim a little hope since many perpetrators of abuse “in the name of God” have escaped justice. I am so GLAD that in the end, God will see that justice is served.  Here’s Kimberly’s Story:

Arc-06 – Kimberly Ann Howard

My name is Kimberly Ann Howard. I am a survivor of the New Bethany Home for Girls in Arcadia, La. I attended New Bethany from February, 1982 through April, 1983. I was sent there by my parents as a result of drug abuse and repeated runaway attempts.

Though not sexually abused myself, I was aware of some other girls who were. Teresa Trahan, a female staff member, sexually abused different girls at different periods during my stay there.  This was common knowledge and in some cases spoken of openly among the girls. Another girl, Kim Link, confided in me about sexual advances made by Bro. Jewell. This later was exposed and he, along with his family, left the home. He was never reported to the authorities.

One of my best friends had an ongoing relationship with Craig Clark.  It was very difficult to get her to see the reality of what was taking place. She later became a staff member, and then left. To this day, she still has some contact with him.

As for our living conditions, they were horrible. We were only allowed four sheets of toilet paper for urinating and eight for bowel movements. Doors were sometimes left open in the bathroom to ensure that we weren’t masturbating with a tampon (What teenager even thinks of those kinds of things?). Medicine was distributed by Miss Shipman as she saw fit. On a few occasions when I had a cold, Miss Shipman gave me antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else. Also, though there was a gym, we had no exercise. We were never allowed to run and jump.

For part of my stay there, we were allowed outside for one hour per week within the fenced barriers. At some point this stopped and we only had the three to four minutes it took to get from the house to the school or the house to the church.

Something else that I am confused about to this day is that many of us didn’t have our menstrual cycles for the first few months after we arrived, and some never at all. I myself was in the home 6 months before mine resumed. I can only assume that it was the constant stress that caused this.

I was paddled on numerous occasions with a heavy wooden board, or paddle. The “swats” or “licks” were between three and twenty or thirty, depending on what I had done, or not done. They were extremely painful and left bruises and marks. I very clearly remember Miss Nora paddling Michelle fifteen or twenty times and then the paddle broke. Miss Nora picked up a new paddle and continued to paddle her about twenty more times.

I also saw Doreen Spangler after Mack Ford beat her. She had a black eye and a swollen face. Though I was not there to witness it, staff member, Miss Gala, later told me that she was there trying to restrain Doreen and had witnessed the whole thing. I have witnessed Mack Ford whipping girls across the back, buttocks and legs with kindling wood from the wood pile. I have seen so much more, but it is too exhausting to go into and it would fill a book.

All this, I survived. The emotional and psychological abuse I suffered far outweighed the horrid living conditions.

Not one day passed when we were not told that we were whores, and drug addicts, sinners and devil’s spawn. The preachers would leap from the pulpit, on top of the pews, screaming and spitting in our faces, “Sinners! You are going to Hell!” Over and over! Every night, they degraded us, yelling, telling us the horror of who we were and how we’d suffer in hell. They told us our mother’s would burn in hell for wearing pants, or working outside the home. If our parents were divorced they’d burn in hell. We’d burn in hell for cutting our hair, or wearing eye make-up. If you looked at the boys, or men that were occasionally there at the home, you’d burn in hell –  We were told these types of things over and over, everyday.

I was 15 years old, and already had self-esteem issues. I became afraid. I was terrified to fall asleep at night in case I woke up in hell. If I had bad thoughts, I believed God could never love me. I felt like a trapped animal. I couldn’t tell my parents anything about what was happening. All mail coming and going, were intercepted and read. Phone calls were on a speaker phone with a staff member in attendance. If you told your parents, you’d get whipped and your parents were told you were lying and homesick. All parental rights were signed over to Mack Ford for you to stay at the home. And, you must remember that 90% of those at the home were “troubled” teens that would not be believed anyway. How could such abuse take place?

After I left, I ended up in a mental hospital for a month. I made bad choices with drugs and alcohol. I have been sober a number of years now, and I take responsibility for my choices.

Some of the long-term effects of New Bethany are still with me till this day. I still have nightmares, at least three or four times a year. When I was pregnant with my last child, I had dreams about Mack and Nora coming and taking my daughter from me. I hate church and have nothing to do with it as a result of what they did to me. I mistrust anyone who is a Christian. There were many times I’d think and get high to drive away the fear of hell in the past. I am still bitter and angry and, still have low self-esteem at times.

Many of my feelings have been pushed down inside of me all these years because I had no one to talk to about it. I cannot imagine the fires this abuse has fueled in my life.

Now, I am an adult and sober. I have a home and a wonderful family. I am going to an international, culinary college to become a chef. Here it is, 13 years later, and I finally feel I have the strength, emotionally, to go and tell someone about this.

My greatest concern is for the children still in Mack Ford’s homes. It is my belief that New Bethany home for Girls should be shut down and Mack Ford and his staff imprisoned for the abuse of hundreds of children, including myself.

I can only hope, after 13 years, someone will be able to help me and listen. What happened to me is past now. It only is alive in my mind and my heart. But, there are so many other children, suffering and scared, that are still trapped in that home. I hope my statements will help those children before it’s too late.

Kimberly Ann Howard – August 9, 1996.

When I wrote this many years ago, I never dreamed that I would be able to find a measure of healing of the many psychological and emotional wounds that I was carrying. Thankfully, about fifteen months ago, I came across a facebook group that literally saved me. It was a group of survivors that had also endured the abuse under Mack Ford and his staff. Amidst this group of survivors were other abuse survivors that came out of the same cult religion that Mack Ford was part of. Finally, I found people who understood my pain; that knew what I had gone through and what I was going through, even now. I also made some special friends in this group that helped me to find this measure of healing – Simone, Jo Anna, Theresa, Kim Tere and Rhonda – I truly believe that you ladies have made all the difference in my life. You have helped me beyond any means I ever thought possible. My life is better today because of you all.

–        Kimberly Ann Howard – March 24, 2013


Other Documents from Survivors of New Bethany Home for Girls

Arc-04 Laura Blake          Arc-05 Lisa Blanchard

Other Survivor Stories from New Bethany Home for Girls

Simone’s Story          Kim Holt’s Story


The New Bethany Survivors have put all there stories into a book that is FREE to everyone. It can be downloaded as a .pdf document. Please feel free to share it with everyone! Just click the link below.

header6The New Bethany book

Healing from Psychosexual Abuse

The following excerpt is from the Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1, 1997, pages  19-20. I nothumantoysgenuinely hope that this information is helpful in the healing process for those who have been abused and exploited emotionally and sexually in the “church” system.

Healing from Psychosexual Abuse

Bearing in mind that cults control their members through deceptive and manipulative techniques that induce dependency, anxiety, and fear, the recovery process for someone who has extricated herself from a cult is indeed a rocky road. Former members typically experience a range of feelings: fear, mistrust, and betrayal, as well as confusion and disorientation. At the same time, they usually feel relieved to be out of the cultic situation. Major areas of work will revolve around the following: reestablishing boundaries; regaining self-esteem and self-confidence; dealing with feelings of betrayal; learning to trust again; resolving identity crises (who am I? how did it happen?); and what I call exorcizing the “hindering” emotions of shame, blame, and guilt.

Given the sophisticated and totalist nature of thought reform in a cultic environment, it is hard to separate the effects of sexual abuse from the overall psychological rape perpetrated by the leader and the group. The sexual exploitation is reinforced by the psychological violation; as a result, the harm to the individual is twofold.

Another significant factor is that typically cultic sexual exploitation and abuse is not a one-time occurrence. Integral as it is to the cult philosophy and worldview, ongoing and persistent abuse is likely to be part of daily life; for some women, a decades-long reality. Therefore, the abused female cult member – similar to certain battered women who are also victims of mind manipulation – needs to unravel the psychological trappings that were imposed on her by the perpetrator to ensure submission without challenge to his authority.

In some cases, the feelings related to sexual abuse may be the deepest and last layer of cult-related trauma to explore. Acknowledging that one was sexually exploited in the name of a greater goal is often a painful process. Consequently, some cult members deny, rationalize, minimize, and distort the meaning of the experience, while others may dissociate, separate from, split off, and even “forget” what happened in order to tolerate continued membership in or loyalty toward the group. Part of the healing process will entail the recovery of such unpleasant or unwanted experiences as part of one’s own past. Without such reclamation, the negative experiences tend to come back later and disrupt healthy functioning and the opportunity for satisfying personal relationships based on equality and mutual trust.

Various forms of self-expression (art, music, poetry, dance, journal keeping, drama), support groups, individual therapy, public speaking, and legal action are all means by which women have rid themselves of residual cult thinking and the unnerving aftereffects of cult abuse. Each woman’s healing journey is different. But often with the help of friends, family, educators, counselors, clergy, or therapists, she will find her preferred means of working through the pain, guilt, and shame that is the inevitable legacy of cult membership.

Frank Voegtlin’s Story – The Day I Almost Died


Submitted Sept. 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm. Updated Jan. 3, 2013

From the Author:
The following video was aired on 20/20 back in April of 2010 as part of a documentary on child abuse that was taking place in the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. The person interviewed in this video is none other than Frank’s Dad.

Frank’s Story of Abuse:

I was at the end of my ropes. I had been kicked out of school for being rebellious. My primary offense was going to the movies and watching rated PG-13 and rated R movies. But it was more than that. My thoughts did not align with my adoptive father, the IFB pastor. I was on my way out. I just needed to find that way out. I had been beaten black and blue to the point that I didn’t care anymore. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone. My life sucked and so did my dad. F- him.

Then it happened one Saturday, Mr. B. dropped my brother and I off from working all day at the cabinet shop. Dad met us at the front door. The first thing he said was for me to go straight to the basement. I saw him take Mr. B. into the living room to talk.

While I was in the basement my mind ran crazy. What do I do? Should sneak upstairs and run out the back door? Should I sneak out through the garage? No, they’re watching me. I’ll get caught and make this worse. I’ll just wait here and see what happens. And wait and wait. It seemed as if I waited forever.

Then the upstairs door finally opened and he came down. He just looked at me for a minute.

(Paraphrased conversation)

“So where do you plan on going?”

“I don’t know.”

“Liar! Your friend Frank _ ratted you out. Going to the Caribbean huh?”

“If I could get there.”

“Do you think that I’m going to let you ruin MY Ministry like that?”

Ramble, ramble, and ramble this went on for hours with no remorse on my part. I was done. I was not backing down.

“Send me to a public school and let me live my life and I’ll stay.”

“You have no power to tell me what to do, this is not a negotiation.”

Then it happened….Nickel plated, German edition, Walther 38 to my temple.

“Do you know what I am going to do?”


“I am going to kill you. You do not deserve to live. You are destroying my ministry and God is not happy with you.”

A good while of this went on. He kept pushing me around the basement with the gun to my temple only to be interrupted by an occasional phone call.

Then it happened. I really didn’t care anymore. I was done. Just kill me. Then I did it. I turned my head so that the gun was to my forehead and I was looking him in the eyes. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Go ahead and kill me. It would be better than you.” (Dying was better than living with him.)

Stun. He looked at me with glazed eyes, welling with fury and yet did not know what to say. He was shocked. He pulled the gun down and said stand there I’ll be back. And there I stood.

He eventually came back down stairs and told me that he was not going to kill me because he could not explain my body. I was then taken to the church and put in one of the offices and put under lock and key and armed guards until the next morning when ”dad” (Roger Voegtlin) and Pastor H. drove me to my natural mother’s home in Louisville, Kentucky and “ dumped” me there. He then began a campaign with his attorneys to find someone to adopt me and for me to change my name. He wanted nothing to do with me. He completely abandoned me.

Part of me did die that day.