High-demand groups that are authoritarian, legalistic, and sanction-oriented create conditions for abuse and violence within families. Children are especially vulnerable to the damages of such an environment.
Leona Furnari, LCSW, has written an excellent article, Born or Raised in High-Demand Groups: Developmental Considerations. One of the complicating factors is they have no “pre-cult identity” to go back to. Every AK and Assembly parent should read this!
Emotional Deprivation Disorder was first identified by a Dutch psychiatrist in the 1950's. Dr. Anna A. Terruwe found that a person could exhibit symptoms characteristic of an anxiety disorder as a result of a lack of unconditional love, authentic affirmation and emotional strengthening in early life. If a child is criticized, ignored, neglected, abused, or emotionally rejected by primary caregivers, the result will be stunted emotional growth. Refer to the Elements of Spiritual Abuse and Recovery from Spiritual Betrayal sections of the site for more information on how children are affected.
Dr. Bruce Perry's article, Treating Children in the Crosshairs of Disaster, about children traumatized by the Waco disaster, describes the symptoms as well as the treatment. A striking fact he brings out is that children in traumatic circumstances have a resting heart rate elevated above the normal 70-90 beats per minute. Lest you assume that there is no comparison between the children of Waco and the children of the Assembly, a Cornerstone science class demonstrated that the children had resting heart rates over 100 bpm. (Cornerstone Academy was the Assembly's private K-8 school.) At Wellspring, AK's and parents watch a video of Dr. Perry's presentation. Here is an overview of Dr. Perry's approach to treating children.
We want to frame the discussion of domestic violence with some brief excerpts from The Domestic Violence Sourcebook by Dawn Bradley Berry, J.D.. She explains why victims of domestic violence do not speak up when apparently given the opportunity, and may even cover up or deny the abuse. The book shows that the real-world foremost concern in domestic violence cases is to provide safety for the woman and children. This may not be so in patriarchal groups, for example Judy's situation in the Geftakys Assembly.
Judy and Rachel Geftakys have both written about the spousal and child abuse in their home. They exposed the fact that domestic violence did indeed exist in the Geftakys Assemblies. Susan M. also tells her story of abuse, and there are other examples as well.
The timeline of the Assembly collapse shows repeated attempts to counsel David and Judy Geftakys about their relationship. A policy statement by a public agency, the Volunteer Counseling Service of Rockland County in New York, clearly explains the adverse effects of couple counseling in cases of domestic violence. Any wife who has experienced even one incident of violence should take heed. Judy G.'s situation could have been very different if the Leading Brothers had been informed and were able to act independently of George Geftakys.
To help you discern whether you are in an abusive relationship, and if so, how far has it escalated, we have developed a screening questionnaire. Here is another extensive checklist to help you evaluate your situation.
Before you use your home computer to get information on domestic violence or abusive narcissistic men, it is important to evaluate whether it is wise or safe. Learn how to clear your web surfing history and clear the cached files in your computer's browser settings. You might consider using a computer at a public library or going to a friend's house. You might also consider getting a private, secure, free email account through HushMail. If your spouse has escalated from verbal to physical abuse, you need outside help. This website is not designed to help you cope with physical violence. Get help immediately.
The K-State University leader's guide for workshops on verbal abuse has been adapted for application to the Assembly issue of verbal abuse. There are three parts:
On Dr. Irene's Verbal Abuse Site has a wealth of helpful information presented in a very readable format. This is a huge site.
Here are excerpts on the losses of leaving an abusive relationship (applicable to the loss of the abusive group, as well), from Dr. Matiatos's article on all the losses involved in an abusive relationship.
Abuser and Victim relates the dynamics between the abuser and the victim. From the Abuser's Point of View describes why an abuser does what he does. Here is a reader's response to this article: "I am finally able to read my ex-husband's mind. It's funny that after 16 years of living apart from him, my eyes are still being opened to the dynamics of the relationship. Unfortunately, these dynamics are continuing on as he continues to influence those around me as they try to sort out the past. These men are true actors."
Not to People Like Us is a website about hidden abuse in upscale marriages. Much of the information is applicable to church situations, like the Assembly, where everything looks normal and apple pie on the outside, even though the income level, education level, etc. may not fit Dr. Weitzman's criteria. Check out the profile of the upscale abuser. An FAQ page identifies narcissism as one of the contributors to family abuse. An excellent resource on narcissism is the website Surviving a Narcissist - the Path Forward.
More information and links on narcissism can be found in the "Elements of Spiritual Abuse" section. The Relationship Checklist is a tool for recognizing malignant narcissists with sociopathic characteristics. Sam Vaknin, a self-avowed narcissist, offers additional insights in his articles, How to Spot an Abuser on Your First Date, and The Abuser's Body Language.
The blog, Sanctuary for the Abused, has resources and links, as well as checklists to help you assess your situation. There is a list of articles about halfway down the page in the sidebar.
The article "A Commentary on Religious Issues in Family Violence" by Dr. Marie Fortune of the Faith Trust Institute covers various religions, but the section on the "Nature of the Marriage Relationship: A Christian Perspective" addresses how Bible teaching such as that given in the Assembly can contribute to domestic abuse of both wives and children. Articles on this site on Christian Marriage argue for a different interpretation of the Biblical passages, that is more consistent with the over-arching truth that God is love.
Parchment and Pen blogger Dan Wallace has a post on I Pet 3.7 about wife abuse. A friend urged him to write on the topic because, according to her, "complementarianism is rich soil in which to grow this kind of wickedness." I suppose Dan must be a "complementarian" (meaning, in case you aren't up on the current jargon, he would believe in male headship, as opposed to egalitarian, which believes in equality in marriage.) Soooo....maybe this message from one complementarian to other complementarians will break through to some former-Assembly husbands. Then there is this version of a study on the verse in Malachi that seems to say that God hates divorce. Controversial points of view, but thought-provoking.
Dee Ann Miller, who specializes in collusion with abuse in the faith communityuses this definition: "Collusion is the conscious or unconscious collaboration of two or more individuals to protect those engaged in unethical practices". Collusion allowed David G.'s domestic violence to go unchecked for 25 years.
Basic Facts about Domestic Violence & Collusion
Collusion - Just a Symptom
Parallels with Family Dynamics of Addicts
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