Women raised within authoritarian homeschooling, Quiverfull, or fundamentalist Christian families know that our parents had good, godly intentions for their choice of lifestyle. Nevertheless, as we often discuss at Quivering Daughters, many of us grew up experiencing depression, thoughts of suicide, fear, shame, and other serious ramifications as a partial result of the abuse of authority and the abuse of control. Obviously this doesn't implicate every homeschooling or Quiverfull family, but if you were raised with such a conservative background and struggle with these issues, you know what this involves. "Abuse" means"mis-use." We know that addressing the effects of the mis-use of authority, the mis-use of our emotions, and the mis-use of our spirituality and personhood doesn't mean that we don't love our families, our pastor or husband or whoever operated outside of their boundaries. In fact, we must invite the light of Christ into these painful places in order to be healed. This means that we must seek truth and expose darkness.
In the quest for healing from over-control, it's important to understand how it happens so we can begin addressing the areas affected. We've discussed why the mind is so important, for as Christians, we are to be transformed by the renewing of it so that we can prove good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. No one else can do this for us. However, many try!
I do not address minors regarding these issues, but our upbringing plays a huge role in why we sometimes feel stuck today. This isn't to cast blame or vilify parents or anyone else but to simply apprehend the truth about what contributes to our dilemma. Understanding the roots of our struggles will clue us in to practical ways of overcoming them.
Please note: I realize that much of my audience has an acquired disdain for modern psychology. I hope, however, that the material I present will be a helpful tool to facilitate your journey. As always, also know that I'm not a mental health professional. Please research these things on your own, ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, search the Scriptures, and pray for God to lead you as you address your past. Again: the purpose of this is not to blame or shame anyone who has, for reasons and convictions of their own, promoted these things. It is to understand what role undue influence, thought patterns, and methods of living have played in our lives ~ with the goal of taking responsibility for ourselves, our beliefs, and recovery.
The BITE Model
A former Moonie, Steven Hassan has spent more than thirty years writing, speaking, and helping others understand and overcome mind control. He is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and holds a Masters degree in counseling psychology from Cambridge College. He has written two books, "Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults" (1988) and "Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves" (2000). He also owns an online resource titled The Freedom of Mind Center.
Hassan graciously gave me permission to reprint his document "Mind Control ~ The BITE Model" in my book, although it didn't make it into the final version. His history and grasp of mind control gives him a unique perspective on the ways psychological coercion affects our lives ~ and readers may be shocked to discover unique similarities between what he has observed from destructive groups and the daily lifestyle of many authoritarian or fundamentalist families.
This doesn't mean all of these things are bad or harmful in and of themselves; I hope to facilitate dialogue over each element so we can determine how much inappropriate control affected us and where we might still have trouble as we seek to be made free. So for the next few weeks I'd like to discuss each element of The BITE Model ~ Behavior Control, Information Control, Thought Control, and Emotional Control.
I. Behavior Control
by Steven Hassan
1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
d. How much sleep the person is able to have
e. Financial dependence
f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations
3. Need to ask permission for major decisions
4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors
5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques - positive and negative).
6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails
7. Rigid rules and regulations
8. Need for obedience and dependency
The floor is open ~ let's discuss!
Is any of this familiar? What similarities can you find between this list and your upbringing? While there must be responsible regulation in the lives of young children, at what point does a maturing young adult need to take responsibility for their own behavior? How does this list make you feel? Even if you agree with a strict childhood, remember that many quivering daughters (and sons!) live at home until marriage which could mean well into adulthood, yet many of the elements remain the same. What about when it's a Quiverfull family, and there are children of all ages under the same roof? How should behavior control be handled then?
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