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tialevingswriter

Tia Levings

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My book, A Well-Trained Wife, coming 2024. Free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET 👇

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Duggars

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Fundie Parenting

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So many feelings have come up with the release of the Shiny Happy People. It’s a bizarre form of time travel to see images of a former life beneath present-day voice overs. It jolted my nervous system to see smiling women and rows of sweet babies in church, coupled with the revelation of the shadows and monsters nurtured in the high control religion of Christian patriarchy—Bill Gothard’s Institute if Basic Life Principles (the IBLP). That system was a gateway into high control, church sanctioned abuse, and silent suffering. But those years also span my young motherhood and every memory of my little babies and youthful hopes and optimism.

Back then, I could cry when it hurt. I could wonder at the silent sky and a painful God. I could kneel and beg in prayer. But I couldn’t name the truth. I couldn’t say what was happening or where they wanted to take us. And that’s what’s different now.

My book comes out in August of 2024. And I participated in the docuseries that pulls back the curtain on the Duggars and the IBLP. Feelings around it do come up. They flow. My fellow survivors reach for one another’s hands, liberated now and not alone. When you watch, I hope you hold us in your hearts because we never thought this honest day would come.

To get more in the realities of Christian fundamentalism, grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#duggars #shinyhappypeople #amazonprimevideo #documentary #19kids #19kidsandcounting #quiverfull #smashthepatriarchy #religioustrauma #exevangelical #deconstruction #freeindeed #traumasurvivor
A lesson I learned in high control patriarchy: those who verbally demand respect by virtue of gender or position often behave disrespectfully, hurting and abusing those they perceive themselves to lord over.

Crowder’s bully behavior here is so similar to his kind that it sounds like a script. Raise your hand if you’ve heard his diatribe before. But to the person inside of a scene like this, fawning and repositioning herself for safety, it doesn’t feel like a script. It feels random. Dangerous. Volatile. Teetering on the edge of explosion. As delicate as a trip wire. Alone.

Let’s decode:

“Wifely things” = serve me

“I’ve never received love from you” = you assert yourself against dominion

“You need to be disciplined about it” = obedient service should be reflexive and constant

“You’re not committed to anything” = you won’t stop doing what you want to do what I want

“This is discipline and respect” = you’re out of line and it’s my job as a man to correct you

“watch it” = calling out abuse is a trigger for the violence he’s done before

Alone is a fallacy. When women compare stories we find commonality and can examine the system churning and nurturing toxic abuse.

Crowder is angry his wife can legally divorce him. And he has company in this view—Christian patriarchy wants to make it hard to get a divorce, if not impossible. Crowder also said his fault in this situation was that he “picked wrong.” Domineering men want women who can’t leave—and marriages that can’t be left.

To see more on how church-sanctioned domestic abuse flies under the radar grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#stevencrowder #domesticabuse #patriarchy #religioustrauma #highcontrol #toxicrelationships #toxicmasculinity #shareyourstory #traumasurvivor
The promise: stay pure, wait as long as it takes, practice being a good wife on your family, and…someday your extra special one and only chosen just for you prince will come.

There’s a ring sometimes, and a little wedding-like ceremony with daddy to signify your promise. Not everyone does it but enough do that you can search promise rings on Amazon.

The restrictions: modesty matters. No shoulder straps or tempting men through whatever is deemed as immodest fashion. No thinking about boys. It’s possible to mentally cheat on your future mate, harming your marriage before you’ve even met him. Probably no dating—use courtship instead. Although this varies in evangelical circles too. No m@stub@t1on. No flirting. If you’re an older adult and getting stale, you may need a Christian dating app to help you find God’s best (apparently God doesn’t always get the delivery address right) but otherwise, chemistry isn’t important. What matters: he’s suited to lead you and get you to cooperate with top-down complementarian leadership and submission. (For example, see my reel where Priscilla accepts David’s “proposal” by “following his leadership.”)

It a lot more….streamlined than dating for chemistry, compatibility, partnership, and equality.

To get more in what it’s really like in Christian Fundamentalism grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#duggars #wallers #19kids #quiverfull #courtship #christiandatinghumor #somedaymyprincewillcome #religioustrauma #fundies #exevangelical #timesup #waitongod #sahdaughter #purityculture #purityculturedropout #dogwhistle #godsbest
Did you know indecisiveness is a symptom of ADHD, depression, and PTSD? But it’s also baked into fundie life for girls. So detangling it in recovery is complicated.

My process started unraveling when I was in my thirties. I was stuck in a conundrum: it was very difficult (paralyzing) to make small decisions for myself like choosing a restaurant while dating my second husband. But I’d also become very controlling about little shit that didn’t matter much, like how the spoons were put in the dishwasher. I didn’t know how I could be called controlling when I had such a hard time making up my mind. But therapy teased up the roots:

Because I had so little autonomy or agency over my own life and choices in fundamentalism, and humans need a sense of control (somewhere) to feel secure, I’d gone into a kind of panicked hyperdrive over small things within my acceptable “realm.” This often happens to women, where running a household or parenting is an acceptable outlet for high control, which then masks the underlying cause of why she’s so fired up about why how the towels are folded matter.

Healthy, secure individuals with autonomy and agency don’t obsess about small shit because they’re free to make choices about their beliefs, relationships, pursuits and behaviors. They don’t control others because they respect the autonomy and agencies of others.

Today, I can tell you where I want to eat. I decide who to (and if) I pray. I make decisions about where I live, who with, what color gets painted on the wall. I realize I want to write and clear space in my day to write. As a result, I don’t care how the spoons get loaded—if someone helped load them, I say thank you. I have the quad: ADHD, depression, CPTSD, and religious trauma. Sometimes, what’s complicated, boils down to something simple: girls deserve to be free.

To get more on what it’s really like in Christian patriarchy, grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#duggars #19kids #19kidsandcounting #saved #quiverfull #religioustrauma #exmo #traumarecovery #traumaresponse #adultadhd #adhd #cptsd #indecisive #makedecisions #whatsfordinner #highcontrol #controlling
I recorded this with an edge of therapeutic humor but it shouldn’t be forgotten that Wilson’s impact is grave. He’s shrouded in controversy regarding enslavement, abuse, marital discipline, and harsh theology. He claims to be a “cut glass Calvinist” with a theology that “bites back” and he has a strong following of men and women who aspire to be like him. Survivors know: to have Wilson in your story is to have walked through wrenching spiritual, and sometimes physical, darkness of hell on earth.

He’s been around for decades but he really took to social media. Or maybe he has students do it. He’s not really a doctor, so I don’t call him one, and there’s an group working to expose his abuses called Exposing Moscow on FB and Twitter.

His latest slight is typical Wilson. He shames women (a throughline) for taking selfies and paints it (offers unqualified diagnosis) as narcissism and adds a verbal insult: Needy Buckets. Fellow survivor @margaretrosebronson flipped that script and issued a challenge: a 7 day
#needybucket selfie challenge aimed at reclaiming what Wilson, in his projection and bluster, tried to rob—our worth, freedom and connection.

So yeah, I’m a needy bucket. I want. I hunger. I have ambition and drive. I see through and into and alongside. I crave connection, intelligence, wonder and beauty. I’m greedy for love and life. I’m not a cut glass Calvinist—I’m a milk and cookies mama offering a hug. I believe love wins. My life was saved through online connection and social media and selfies are superpowers. I’m not ashamed of my needs and I finally learned where to find fulfillment. And it was not in the tiny, mean, bitey world of Wilson’s misogyny. He’s simply not as satisfying as he thinks he is to women with bucket-level needs.

But I fear for the women under his spell who will now put down their phones.

For more on how the abuses of Christian Fundamentalism hide in plain sight grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#misogyny #selfiechallenge #narcissisticabuse #religioustrauma #excalvinist #exevangelical #reformedtheology #covertnarcissist #projection #spiritualabuse
I get messages about trad and patriarchy accounts daily, and usually avoid any kind of individual call out. This one served as a great example of the silencing women experience as they become more vocal in the patriarchy: as long as they tote the party line, it’s ok. But even then, the fan base will react more positively to a man saying it than a woman. And then comes this “huh?” If the message is equal, why is there pushback when a woman says it?

A few reasons, all related to the patriarchy itself.

🔨 patriarchy centers men. Therefore, if a man says it, he’s respected, and if a woman says it, it’s seen as optional cheerleading

🔨 women oppressing other women is a particular betrayal that denies shared pain. And while taking down the system and leadership may feel impossible, taking out other women is what we’re taught to do

🔨 the patriarchy is full of smart, powerful, competent women doing their best to excel within their padded confines. When they rise, when they exercise their ambition, they threaten the system.

Ultimately, that “ministry” towards women will meet a quiet end. The system that silences, silences everyone but the ones at the top, and that’s how it goes in every patriarchal system. That’s why so much time is spent teaching underlings to embrace silence, to submit to it, to find it part of one’s spirituality. They don’t want your wisdom and strength—they’re using it temporarily.

To the original post that inspired this: countless women have been harmed by the teaching that to deny your husband seggsually is a sin. It’s a teaching and belief that bears bruised and broken fruit. If that’s your message, maybe it’s time to listen to survivors, so you can see who your message is truly benefiting.

If you’ve been harmed by messages such as that one, I recommend following @sheilagregoire because you deserve better.

To learn more about the abuses in Christian Patriarchy grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#marriageadvice #smashthepatriarchy #patriarchy #handmaidstale #dearsister #womensupportingwomen #religioustrauma #tradwife #useyourvoice #silenttreatment #offred #fawning
I have this habit now I call “No Meeting Mondays.” It’s my commitment to myself to allow for a gentle introduction to the week, to get organized, respond to anything still flapping around from Friday, and breathe before the big push of another week. I came up with it when I was looking for ways to protect my fried and frayed nervous system after years of narcissistic abuse and high control systems, of which both capitalism and the previous administration exacerbate.

Patterns. I’ve come trust them. Because while I’m not a clinician who can diagnose anyone, I am a trauma survivor who can recognize a pattern. How something feels in my body. Where there’s pressure and manipulation. Where my resistance is essential.

So it is with the news cycle. Mister Man just served a reminder of how his team works. It’s the similar to how doomy pastors prophesy our persecution but then create an isolating environment of weird estrangement where their words come true. And similar to how an abuser will back his victim into a corner where they’re forced to make a bad choice (as the only choice) and then blame them for making a bad choice. These are puppet masters. Our resistance is essential.

We can look over their heads to the chaos they’re hiding. In Florida, Ronny D has everyone scrambling about trans issues and culture wars so we won’t look at weapon laws, the economy, climate change, etc. It took an army of children to convince Billy Lee in Tennessee to take a break from drag and hear what the people want: safety. I opted out of the indictment circus (we can opt out of their crazy) the same way I refuse to listen to their “news.” Which, in my body’s memory, feels exactly like opting out of apologetics in Calvinism, and fundamentalism when I left the IBLP.

To get more on the realities in Christian Fundamentalism grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter.

*temp: Slides will be in stories for those who can’t hold to read.

#narcissisticabuse #chaos #hypervigilance #highcontrol #religioustrauma #narcissist #eggshells #traumasurvivor #nervoussystemregulation #nervoussystem #nervoussystemhealing
The Duggars (and adjacent families like the Wallers, Bates, Rodrigues) put themselves out there as examples of a superior lifestyle. And the IBLP (Institute of Basic Life Principles) lifestyle has impacted Christian congregations and conservative society to the extent that our government and liberties are changing. So it’s more important that ever that we responsibly examine the fruit of that lifestyle. How they run their homes is how they want to run the country.

Two Duggar-adjacent characters and IBLP alumni are David and Priscilla Waller. They create a lot of content and I use their example in my work frequently as a result. Here they’re sharing the proposal that resulted from their courtship, and in so doing exemplify several fundie behaviors:

🔴 Priscilla’s speech is high, trained, and earnestly sweet

🔴 she also exhibits what many viewers pick up on— a cognitive deficit. True to fundie form for both education and healthcare, her condition was inadequately treated

🔴 David coaches her speech and when they broadcast, she is trying hard to perform and express correctly

🔴 Her value in fundamentalism is as a womb and service to her husband

🔴 fundie proposals can be really weird. Here it sounds like a very awkward business arrangement, probably because that’s exactly what it is

To get more on what it’s really like to live in Christian Fundamentalism grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#duggars #fundies #19kids #19kidsandcounting #courtship #quiverfull #iblp #wallers #religioustrauma #highcontrol #highcontrolgroup #patriarchy #patriarchysucksbecause
The lack of privacy in fundie homes is a strange mix of logistics, surveillance, the Bible (hold every thought captive), safety concerns, and extremely high control.

Parents learn that “sinfulness is bound in the heart of a child,” and access to their child’s thought life is essential for damage control, prevention, and protection. If your gut is already twisting with the feeling that it CAN be helpful to know your child’s thoughts, especially if they’re struggling, then you’re wiggling in the same vulnerability that draws a parent to press and violate their child’s autonomy with “good intentions.”

Privacy and autonomy, which are healthy needs we all have, join seggsuality in the braided twist fundamentalism applies to childhood development. It’s a world where babies learn modesty (because men can’t control themselves.) Where skirts are long (but anatomy isn’t taught.) Where doors are open and you’re never to be alone (but quiverfull families whisper about incest.) Parents must know their child’s thoughts—all of them. Crushes, dreams, aspirations, goals, ideas…these are all potential pastures for agency and autonomy, otherwise known as rebellion, critical thought, individualism, and growth. Fundie parents are taught to stop at nothing to gain access and to continually reframe what’s shared towards system perpetuation.

To get more insight into how Christian Fundamentalists really work, grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#duggars #fundies #19kidsandcounting #19kids #quiverfull #iblp #religioustrauma #religiousabuse #cptsd #autonomy #raisingteens #exevangelical #deconstruction #mentalabuse #psychologicalabuse
Please hear this with the intention in which it was created: meeting you where you are. A very real part of me would like skip Bible stories altogether, especially for young children. But another very real part of me values the history, education, and a broad worldview that includes understanding faith traditions and where people are coming from. I share this as a mother who raised 4 children, but also as the young mom who wanted to lay my body over them and shield them from the harm I experienced.

If you’re trying to hold space for it all in a similar manner— I had a good experience with Egermeier’s classic 1955 edition, which is still in print. (🚩I do not recommend or vouch for the modern versions which clearly have updated to the current day evangelical publishing look.)

Violence is stripped out of both text and illustrations. Stories are written in short vingettes and framed as stories and parables to valie (not necessarily hold as literal truth.) As I said in the video, it’s still problematic in my opinion—it’s very Caucasian and at the end of the day, it’s a watered down version of a book that would earn an X or R rating today. I’m honestly conflicted about the long term value of that in a young child’s life. (See the post on rasing kids without religious trauma and the slide on brain development specifically.)

Here in the grey, where so many of us are seeking to avoid extremes, this book helped me soften the stories my children heard until they were mature enough for stronger themes. But then again, when exactly is that? You, as a parent, decide for yourself what your children read.

The best advice came from the IG stories feedback: stay in conversation with your kids. Don’t teach legend and myth as truth. Protect your babies from violence. And go easy on one another—we’re having conversations about religious trauma that have never happened before. We’re all trying figure it out.

To get more on what it’s really like in Fundie culture grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#biblestories #biblestoriesforkids #bookreview #religioustrauma #exevangelical #charlottemason #progressivechristianity
Deconstructing parental regrets often comes to lost years and misguided efforts. Older parents with the gift of hindsight are able to unpack and see how their good intentions twisted into harm. But it’s young parents who love their kids and want good outcomes who serve as the primary market for fundamentalist outreach in “ministries” run by the IBLP, Gary Ezzo’s Growing Kids God’s Way, the Pearls, Ted Tripp, James Dobson, and more.

That’s how a parent desperate to save their child from hell, who very much loved and wanted them, ends up in the stories of religiously-driven abuse. Sometimes, these parents are simply monsters—sure—but more often, the stories I hear are from parents who were trying to implement a process they’d learned from trusted spiritual authors and advisers.

These advisers don’t lead with pain. They aren’t open about the tears and pleas for help. The bruises. The necessity of long skirts to hide marks. They coercive prayers and conditional love. They lead with character, positivity, and good outcomes. They lead with salvation.

It takes a brave parent to stand up against it, lay the switch down, and declare “no more.” A braver parent to say “I’m sorry.” Braver still to offer “I’ll pay for your therapy.” But even in the face of all that bravery, there are still years lost to the system. No contact decisions. Struggles to admit complicity. Repeated cycles. Heartbreak.

What’s always missing? Admissions of guilt from these advisers. Accountability. Repentance. When you share your stories you build awareness. And always, there are invisible survivors who thank you.

For more on the realities of Christian Fundamentalism grab my free pdf the FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#discipline #duggars #michelleduggar #trainupachild #pearls #iblp #religioustrauma #shepherdingachildsheart #dobson #exevangelical #complicity #toxicpositivity #highcontrolgroup #ezzo #gkgw #growingkids #dontspank
What I hope to convey is that women in high control religion train themselves (and are trained) to be pleasing to men and to God. The message is that we are unacceptable as we are, especially as unique individuals. Therefore everything must be brought under control—our hair, dress, voice, behavior, gaze, attitude, habits, time, interests, size—every part of who we are is to be brought under submission.

When I escaped Christian patriarchy it took years of deprogramming just to remember and reconnect with who I am. To know what I want for dinner, what I like to wear, who I want to be. But it’s taken years more to unlearn that trained behavior. To sit comfortably. Walk tall. Make eye contact. Allow my voice to regain my deeper register—the alto I sing, the husk of my laughter.

The stutter and stammer trauma gave me required therapy. I’m still working on vocal delivery for public speaking, keynotes, panels. And that’s ok. It’s okay to work on myself. To reclaim my voice and power. A mean comment on social media isn’t the insult a troll may think it is. I’m not ashamed of what I came from—I’m committed to revealing it. I lived their secret shame long enough and I don’t do that anymore.

I’ve grown so much this year. I love that I can see it reflected in my work. I hope that for you too.

Get my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, to see how fundamentalist abuse hides in plain sight. Link in bio @tialevingswriter

#vocal #voicetraining #duggars #michelleduggar #traumarecovery #religioustrauma #fascinatingwomanhood #thevoice #exevangelical #exmo #exmormon #highcontrolgroup #culty #cultish #cultsurvivor #behavior
First time obedience is attractive to tired parents under pressure. It means the end of judgy stares or side glances when their kids make noise in church. An end to being “that mom” with the kid throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. It means children walking in a well-scrubbed row and receiving smiling adoration from others. It’s a pleasing image of success.

That’s how it’s sold, anyway. The reality is not so shiny.

Fundamentalism offers solutions to life’s pain and problems. Dominance feels like the first taste of control after a struggle in chaos. And the fundies offer their own success as proof it can work. This is why the Duggars and Bates families have TV shows…so we can all see how well their way of life works—and make the obvious next choice to make it ours.

Listening to survivors of the methods needed to achieve first time obedience may change your mind. These are some of the most harrowing stories in the religious trauma world: the Pearls’ cruel baby switching, long spanking sessions, deprivation, isolation—first time obedience is why children have been bound to their beds and even died.

Even when the stories aren’t as criminal, first time obedience doesn’t deliver what it promises. The total suppression, robotic responses, emotional paralysis, secret deviation, and shame haunts survivors through years of therapy and long into adulthood.

Maybe you come from a background that taught first time obedience “with an iron first” but that wasn’t religious. Rest assured the fundies took that and ran with it, as they do in nearly every area, with a scripture to back up their cruel dominion.

For more on what it’s really like in Christian Fundamentalism grab my free FUNDIE CHEATSHEET, link in bio @tialevingswriter

#childtraining #obedience #michelleduggar #duggars #19kids #19kidsandcounting #trainupachild #michaelpearl #billgothard #iblp #fundies #religioustrauma #exevangelical #domesticabuse #shame #traumahealing #controllingrelationships #controllingparents
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