A collection of
and Comments from survivors of Herbert W. Armstrong,
Garner Ted Armstrong, The Worldwide Church of God and its
Articles Pertaining To Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong and The Worldwide Church of God
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Raised by Herbert the Pervert
by Jorie K
Recently I was reflecting on Retired Prof's enlightening articles. Not only are they eloquent and beautifully written, but they manage to exemplify things that I experienced as a result of WCG that I just could never put my finger on. In other words, I always knew that things related to WCG stunk; I just could never pinpoint the source of the smell. Retired Prof does an amazing job of opening up those unassuming closet doors, scattered throughout his memories, to reveal evidence of the stinking rotting corpses of formerly intelligent people, whose minds were subtly stolen by WCG.
Reading articles on Retired Prof's personal experience with HWA has also really helped me gain insight into why my father, who never knew HWA but always said he looked up to him as a father figure, was so tyrannical and heartless. One of Retired Prof.'s stories about HWA in particular, in the article Two Campus Encounters, where GTA describes the kind of corrections HWA gave him. HWA berated GTA for quoting too many statistics on the radio program only after he first waited for ratings to go down! He actually laid in wait, ready to strike, rather than mentioning to GTA that he thought maybe too many statistics would be bad for ratings. HWA, instead of risking being wrong about the ratings and saying something ahead of time, waited until he knew he was right and pounced on GTA. Sadly, this is all too familiar to me. It strongly reminds me of the type of correction I constantly received from my father while growing up.
I have rarely been given even basic
guidance by my parents. Their directives were really just to read the
bible and obediently follow all rules given to me by the cult, via Mom
and Dad. Whenever I did ask questions for which they did not have an
answer, the minister would be promptly called so as to avoid any
prospect for thinking on our own. I was then provided a nice neat
answer, and woe to me if I questioned it. Basically,
Once I began to mature, forming my own thoughts and making some of my own choices, it seemed I could never anticipate the things that would set my father off. The rules always changed to suit his mood, and he could turn even the most benevolent or innocent action into something evil, usually sex related, and 'of the world'. I think he learned that this is acceptable, even expected, from doctrines and examples set at WCG.
Like a good shepherd, my father was always ready to pounce on one of his sheep if we did even the smallest thing to displease him, whether we meant to or not. Even as a small child, we were to take verbal beatings like soldiers – straight faced without crying. Whenever I broke down at these will-breaking humiliation sessions, I was deemed too sensitive… too female… too weak. Even my mother, who was usually more compassionate, would count to ten after our spankings, and we had better stop crying by then or suffer another spanking for carrying on too long!
When I was a small child of about six or seven, I remember suffering hyperventilating panic attacks after being punished with that infamous ping-pong paddle. I was deathly afraid that I would not be able to stop crying before the counting game had ended. I remember my parents being confounded by it, even scared sometimes. They never could figure out why this happened. I do not know if the counting thing was standard GTA child rearing philosophy, or merely their adaptation of it, but it fits the WCG mentality to a tee. Take our abuse, and when it's over, stop your whining and get on with it.
Another thing I found interesting about the so-called corrections offered by HWA to GTA is that GTA was actually thankful for it. I wonder how many times GTA talked this way publicly. And how many times did my father listen to such stories, hanging on every word. Whenever we were spanked as children, as we stifled our sobs and swiped away our hated tears, we were made to hug our parents and thank them for our spanking. After all, it hurt them more than it hurt us, and it meant they cared enough to correct us! I think I was all of nine years old when I was brave enough to refuse the post-spanking hug-and-thank-you routine. My father looked so disappointed in me. Even then I remember thinking how ludicrous that was for him to be disappointed that I would not hug and thank him for his violence toward me.
By the time I was about fifteen, I had pretty well learned not to cry. I could take a verbal lashing that would break many a soldier, and I was quite proud of this. I remember once I went with some friends to a high school football game. It was after sunset on a Saturday night, so it was one of the rare times I could actually do something fun on a weekend. I had long since learned my lesson about inviting 'worldly' friends into my home, so I waited for them outside to pick me up. When I returned from the game – the car was packed with kids, many of them boys, still loud and rambunctious from cheering for the game. My father opened the door to the house just as they drove off and I was skipping up the steps to the porch. He gave me a grotesque look and asked me if the football team enjoyed me. Of course, I realized this was a veiled insult to imply that I must be a whore, consorting with 'worldly' boys and coming home so happy about it. It seems my father took notes on how to be extremely sex-obsessed from HWA while learning how to be a powerful authority figure! He had a particular talent for stinging me with his barbs just when I was feeling happy and completely unprepared.
Deep down, of course I was hurt, but I had built my armor strong by then. I could quickly transition from normal-happy-teen to soldier-ready-for-battle, there was no "place of safety" for me. I felt courageous and strong because he could not make my cry, he could not break me. So, I often challenged him when he made statements like this. I would call him out, ask him just what exactly was he trying to say. Inevitably, this would turn into a verbal wrestling match, each of us competing for the ultimate humiliation to heap upon the other. Eventually, I always lost, and went to my room reeling from all of the hurt and confusion, vowing to be stronger and more invincible. I would be stoic the next time he said I looked "bow-legged, I must be going at it a whole lot", or that I should "stop wiggling around like some hot little hooker" when I walked. I would remain calm and collected and not fall into another trap where he could just further humiliate me until I ended up a heap of frazzled nerves on the floor by my bed.
After one too many of these types of confrontations, and the recently added suggestions from my father that I let him show me the right way for sex to be done, I tried to find help. Sadly, I found that no one really wants to take a risk in believing an angry teen with no physical proof of abuse. And, on top of that, my father was pitiable – while he could see enough to get around pretty well on his own, he was legally blind, which I found for most people made him irreproachable. What kind of terrible daughter would ask a blind man to take full responsibility for his actions? The poor man! So, I stopped looking for help, but I stopped coming home to the abuse too. I was no longer afraid of my parents because I could no longer feel anything. I came home on nights when I could not find a friend to stay with; that was it. Eventually, even that was too much for me to handle, I slept in my car. This went on for years, until I met a generous woman who convinced her family to take a chance on me, and I finally got some help.
I always wondered where my father learned to be so cruel and perverted. After reading about issues in the adult world at WCG, I can much better understand the reasons behind the insanity. I wonder how many times my father asked the wrong questions, or was reported to have broken some minor rule of God's Law, requiring a good humiliating rant from a minister. Or perhaps merely he heard reports of or witnessed things like these. How long did my father strive toward conforming to the strange and invasive WCG teachings on sex? In any case, I believe he learned all too well how to be a husband and father from HWA and the WCG leadership.
And then there was my mother - so invisible, blindly accepting of my father's cruelty and perversion toward her children, and sometimes even her. When I was still a teen living at home receiving yet another sex talk, he once told me that my mother had a problem with masturbation, but he had cured her of that…another wonderful WCG teaching at work. I do not even want to know what he meant by that. I wonder how many times my mother had horrible sex, probably against her will. Was she discouraged from, even punished for ever trying to be independent and thinking for herself. I wonder if she ever broke her role as a mere servant to the authorities, or the "superior" sex, and was she then harshly put back in her place. I wonder how many times she was given an ultimatum to be obedient or suffer the loss of her very worth as a woman, a person. I will never know, by the time I was born, she too had been a good student of HWA and the WCG leadership.
Many of the experiences with church leadership that ex-COGers have written about on the Painful Truth web site parallel my experiences as a child at home. I used to be so angry with my parents when I was younger. As I have gotten older, the world has become a much bigger place, and I can see my parents as more than just my mother or father – they are people, just like anyone else. I began forgiving them a long time ago for things I now hold them even less responsible for since I found this web site. I forgave them for not being perfect, and I realize that what they did was by direction or example of the hypocrites at WCG. My parents followed the examples of these so-called men of God.
The very men who purported to be apostles and leaders of the true church were in fact practicing far different than what they preached. It was these men of God who ordered the sheep to follow their shepherds, to obey the tyrannical rule of their government from the TOP DOWN. In this way, actively or not, they heartlessly abused not only my parents as members, but innocent children like me as well. I feel a special grief for those children raised by Herbert the Pervert. I feel even sorrier for children still being raised by cults that may never recognize or break free from their abuse. That is why I find the Painful Truth web site so important. I hope that it brings freedom and hope to many, many more people who are trapped in this type of abuse.
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