Tag Archives: Cult Survivor Story

HollyJane (Stewart) Belle’s Story of Child Rape and Incest

My name is HollyJane (Stewart) Belle. I am tired of being silent, so here is my story..

Holly —  Daddy’s Little “Bawl Baby”.

My Dad is the Wood County Surveyor in West Virginia. His name is Scott Franklin Stewart. He is very well known in his community as being a very upright man of God, who is very active in his Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. When I was growing up, he was the leader of the junior church, my Sunday School teacher, and always walked with his head held high above everyone elses. Yes, he is a very prideful man. Above all else, he strived to be better, and have a better family than everyone else. He gave Mom and us 3 girls such strict rules to live by every day, that even the preacher’s kids seemed ‘worldly’ by comparison. He was the greatest man of God at church and no one can deny that! But at home, it was a far different story. Dad was a tyrant, who I nicknamed ‘Hitler’, and us 4 girls were the Jews in the ‘concentration camp.’  That was our home. One of my best friends from our church school told me that she thought we had the perfect family. I thought, ‘that’s what Dad wants everyone to believe, so I guess he’s got his wish.’ I didn’t say it though.

I was so afraid of everybody and everything…. so many thoughts going through my head every day, all day long.. just wanting it to stop, but they wouldn’t! Every day at our church school, then again when we started to homeschool, if I got stuck on a problem, all those thoughts would tumble forward! Those horrible, nightmarish thoughts, the ones I was trying so hard to forget! I was just sitting there, in 3rd grade, at my desk, trying so hard to finish my math, and solve the problems correctly, but, those thoughts.. The rememberance of the night before!! When my Daddy came in my room in the middle of the night!! Yes, he touched me, and made me touch him. He made me put his penis inside me. Inside my 9 year old body. “Rose, I’m going to go read my bible and pray. I’ll be back after awhile,” I would hear him tell Mama in the middle of the night. Every Saturday night, Wednesday night, and the night before Easter, Christmas Eve, and every Thursday night, (he went door to door selling Jesus to people on Thursday nights). Just like clockwork, I knew that in a few moments, daddy would show up at my door, with a washcloth in one hand, and his KJV Bible in the other hand, then whisper in Kelly and Julie’s room at them, to see if they were awake, and then he’d saunter into my room, asking if he could ‘pray’ with me for a while.

This is Dad’s version of praying with me, there, in the middle of the night, knowing I needed sleep, but never caring.. HIS needs must be met! So, he would sit and read his bible aloud to me for what seemed like an eternity. This is what Dad told me God was like – “He is a jealous God, Holly, just like your daddy is over you girls”. God wants what is best for you, Holly, just like I want what is best for you. Our heavenly Father loves the world, and the things of the world, do you believe that, Holly?” “Yes, daddy”. “Our Heavenly Father wants and craves his children for himself, Holly. Just like I do for you. “How come you never kiss me on the mouth anymore, Holly? I always loved it when you kissed me on my mouth.” How could this happen to a little girl… No wonder I hate the night… Everything bad happens at night. While he would read his Bible out loud to me, I’d fall asleep, then awake with my hand around his penis… I awoke all the time doing bad things to my dad. He raped me in my own bed, while he was praying to “Almighty God” and spanking me with his penis, telling me it was because I was such a bawl baby. In the middle of the night, my dad would come into my pink decorated bedroom, take all my stuffed animals out of my bed, wake me up, and rape me. He’d beat me with his penis, yelling to his god, “Ohhh God!!! OOOOHHH God!!!! Holly, quit bawling like a bawl baby!!!! I’ll give you something to bawl about! Ohhhh God!!!!” He just kept raping me, putting his penis inside my ‘little kitty’ as he called it. He’d use the washcloth to clean himself up afterwards, but left me to lay in the filth for the rest of the night. So many nights I slept with wetness covering my nightgown. He told me that when I hit puberty, I’d have to start shaving my ‘little kitty’. When I shaved it for the first time at age 17, my dad was the first man to notice. It wasn’t my husband, or a boyfriend, it was my dad. I felt so ashamed.

He raped me every Sunday night. I think he thought he’d been so spiritual all day Sunday, and had felt the very hand of God in his own voice while preaching to the teens, that he felt he should be rewarded. I was in 6th grade when he taught my class. He didn’t even read his bible as he was preaching. He wanted to show off to the class that he could recite the whole book of something or other, (I remember which books, but if he someday reads this, he’ll want the whole world to know what books he could recite, and have pride in it). He told me he could recite them without missing a single word. He actually humbled himself when he spoke like this to me, and said, if he missed one word, he really felt bad. But he was committed. He acted so humble, and yet still so arrogant at the same time somehow, always thinking he was the best thing God had ever made. If God would make such a creature as my dad….. and then I think I’M a mistake?? He must have felt so good about himself after not missing any of the scriptures he quoted, and when he didn’t miss a chord in the song he played for the offeratory with his guitar, and when he thought his voice was the greatest as he led the choir and the congregationals, if all this came together without a hitch, that night, he would come into my room…. We attended church regularly on Wednesday evenings as well, so he’d ‘visit’ me that night also. On Thursdays, he’d go ‘soul-winning’, selling Jesus to blocks and blocks of people, always taking me with him, then coming to my room that night. Saturday nights he’d come in again, and I wondered if he thought I was his good luck charm. I sure didn’t feel like it. All those nights with my dad, I thought he was praying, so I kept my eyes shut. But I cried the whole time. He’d ask me, “Are you going to bawl this time, Holly?” I tried to sound sure of myself, and told him no. So then he would start smacking me with that horrible, long, uncircumsised thing of his. When I was 7, we carpooled with with some 16 year old boys, and I remember wanting to sit on their laps and touch them like my dad made me touch him. I wanted to play with them like my daddy made me play with him. I hated it, doing that to my dad, but I remember thinking these boys were different. While my mom would be busy in the kitchen, and dad would be in the living room, sitting in his rocking chair, and have me get on his lap, made me unzip his fly, and I would willingly put my hand inside. I’m so sorry!!! I wish I had known better, but, when you’re a little girl, you want to hide in all the little compartments of your parent’s clothing… at least I did. I didn’t know what I was doing.

Until I came out about this, and Mom told me it wasn’t my fault, that it was that man’s fault, I thought I had done this horrible deed, this awful sin, that even GOD couldn’t forgive me. If I had just told someone sooner, maybe I wouldn’t hate myself so much for sinning so badly. All my life, this is what came with my days… every day when I would wake up, the whole day long, I would just be trying ever so hard to forget what happened the night before. I cried a lot… because I couldn’t communicate very well. I didn’t get my way a lot, or I didn’t know what I really wanted, and my mind was always racing, and rhyming. Horrible rhymes. I think in my little girl mind, I thought rhyming would make the memories go away, but it just got worse. The reason behind all of this, is because I was constantly trying to forget what had happened to me, and just always trying so hard to find something to be happy about, and thought if I could just find something that could make me so happy that I could forget what happened to me the night before, everything would be okay! I always found something to be happy about, until Dad came home. Mom has told me recently that I didn’t cry all the time. If I didn’t cry all the time, then why do I remember crying all the time? I had such fun with Mom, Kelly and Julie every single day! But, I always knew that one day they would all be grownups and leave me. I didn’t want Mom to ever have to be alone with that horrible man, so I decided I would never get married! I told myself that all men are like my dad anyway, so who wants that? I tried to get Julie to let me be her maid, so I could always be with her, she told me I could, but I always knew in the back of my mind she’d get married and leave me. Kelly was a no brainer. She wanted to get married, I tried to get her to let me be her maid, she thought I was kidding. I still wish we were all together, but I love my nieces and nephews and Kelly and her husband, so it’s all worked out… and Julie is living with us now! And even though life was hard when we didn’t have our family living around us, it wasn’t all that bad. Mom and I were together, and we had each other. If it hadn’t been for Julie and Kelly moving away, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the help I needed.. I may have just killed myself, not thinking anyone needed me… So, it’s probably worked out for the good. I was diagnosed in August of 2002 with Schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depression, Paranoia, and a big, long list of other psychological problems. None of my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or immediate family have been diagnosed with these disorders. My therapist, who knows me well and has been working with me for 11 years now, has told me that I’m not a typical schizophrenic, that there is hope that I will get better one day. As a side note, one of the last times I spoke with my dad, (after I’d been diagnosed) he told me that if I lived with him, and went soul-winning with him every day, it would heal me of these problems. When I was smaller, he would tell me that I was his best friend, and that I was the only person he could really talk to. I didn’t feel like I could tell Mom, Kelly, or Julie, because he told me over and over that if I told them about him and me, Mom would divorce him, and that divorce is a sin of the devil, and it would be my fault.

I’m not proud of what was done to me, but I tell this because I’m tired of keeping quiet about something that was not my fault. I’m tired of ‘covering’ for a man who did unspeakable things to his own daughter, all while advertising himself as a godly, holy, Christlike man in all the churches he’s attended over the last 30 years.

Doug’s Bicknell’s Story – Part 1

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Over twenty years has passed since my son, Scott, was sexually abused. I have a grandchild now and, a new husband, as Scott’s abuse caused so much stress that the family ended in divorce.

I had not joined a church. Since my negative experience as an Independent Fundamental Baptist, I was leery of any formal religion. My husband and I used AA and Al-Anon extensively for support. I knew there was more to God than what could be gleaned from those two programs, so I studied my Bible to fill in the gaps. “Dr. Professor” believed that I should try to go back to the IFB Island (church). After all these years, many of the people who had been at the church were gone.

“Dr. Professor” taught a small Sunday School class there, so we started to attend. We went to some services as well. I reconnected with a few old friends who had remained in the brood all those years. A new leader had taken over for the old “Cock Rooster” as Pastor of the church. I had actually gone to Maranatha with the new pastor. He seemed meek and loving. I respected his dramatic and musical abilities. “Dr. Professor” assured me that I would never find a better pastor or church; and since he had literally saved my life once, I felt that he would not lead me into harm’s way. I was still angry that the abuse had happened to Scott and, that no one had stood up to help my husband to save his job back then; but, sitting in the their pews again, was easier because I had no financial ties to the IFB and, I knew I could leave at the first sign of abuse or manipulation.

I was extremely cautious but was pleasantly surprised that the same brood mentality did not seem to be present in this congregation. When my anger over past wrongs surfaced, “Dr. Professor” encouraged me to let it go and to forgive. I was willing to try. I only wanted to move forward. As my husband and I sat in the back pews singing the hymns, I ignored the soundtrack from Jaws playing ever so softly in the back of my mind. Even though the warning built to a crescendo in my head —“dunt…Dunt…Dunt…DUNT…DUNT…DUNT”—I continued to wade back into the IFB waters.

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Drawing by Nancy Bicknell

My other son, Doug, had a drinking problem that was a constant drain on all of our energy. He ended up in detox several times. His blood alcohol levels were lethal for alcohol poisoning and death. Despite our attempts to get him into AA and counseling, I needed to be prepared to lose him. Years earlier, Doug had briefly been in a treatment center followed by a few months of sobriety while he stayed with his Dad. As we had learned to do in Al-Anon, I put Doug into God’s hands. The plan was to help Doug live one day at a time and to enjoy his daughter. “Take the good times while you have them” was our motto.

I enjoyed writing and illustrating childrens books about my life on the farm. My artwork was displayed in local shops. Despite my fear of losing Doug, life was fine. About three years ago though, the sharks returned to the IFB waters with a vengeance. I remember it well. I was sitting in my chair by the kitchen pillars painting a landscape when Doug entered the room. I thought he had gone out for the evening, so I was not expecting him to be home.

“Mom.” he said. I looked up. He sounded different—like a little boy and I could see he was crying. “What’s wrong, Doug?” He whimpered, “I was talking to my friend Leon and he said I needed to tell you something.” Determined to help him, I asked, “What happened?” Doug said, “Leon said it is a big thing and I should tell you.” Not knowing what to expect, I said “So, tell me.” With downcast eyes he whispered, “I am afraid!” I felt like his mom from years ago—sitting in the same chair painting and trying to get Doug to tell me what was wrong. Grimacing, he sobbed out these words in breathless sprints: “Do you remember when I got spanked really bad that time?” He didn’t look at me. “Yes,” I said, “Your Dad said you couldn’t sit down all the way home from school. Scott was very upset and he wanted to hit that man.” Defensively, I added, “And I told your Dad to never let them do that again.”

Doug was still looking away from me when he asked again, “No, Mom, do you remember the spanking?” Confused, I stated firmly, “Yes, I looked at your butt because you said you were bleeding. There were several striped marks and little beads of blood.” Now Doug was weeping loudly. “Mom!” he cried, “He had me bend over and hold a chair so that he could hit me really hard. He hit me so many times that my butt was almost numb. He was trying to make me cry, but I wouldn’t, so he kept hitting me. Then I felt a different pressure over and over again. It hurt really bad. I felt the pressure and I saw …….

I went into a flashback, as though Doug were in the IFB school again, and I was hearing these horrible words for the first time: “My butt is bleeding!” he had said. Those words echoed in my head! What kind of a mother had I been? I felt so ashamed. “What are you saying, Doug?” I looked at him in shock, “Are you saying that the blood I saw that day was not the blood you meant for me to see?” Doug moaned, “Yeah, but he put his …….. I bled.” I had been blindsided, so I asked again, “Doug are you saying Mr. $&%@#$ violated you?” Doug got really upset when I said the name of his alleged rapist. Doug yelled, “Yes, but don’t say his name. He will hurt us if you tell. Don’t say his name, please Mom!”

Donna Trout’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia LA

Donna Lynn Trout – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia, La.

My time in New Bethany Home for Girls in Arcadia, La., was from November 1985 to October, 1986. I was put in New Bethany by my Mother. I just wanted to be left alone with my boyfriend, but my Mother did not “approve” of him. So, there I was in Arcadia, La. looking at a compound behind a 12 foot fence topped with barb wire and electric wire. There was a line of girls all dressed the same – blue skirt, white shirt and red vest.. They were all walking in a line over the road which was also fenced in to another building. My first thought as we pulled up was, “What the hell!” Little did I know that this was where I was being brought.

We entered the building and were greeted by Miss Nora. She was a scary looking woman. I was led off by another girl to change my clothes. She told me that once I learned the rules and how to fit in, everything would be fine. I told her it didn’t matter because I wasn’t staying. I left the bathroom to find my Mom and tell her I wasn’t staying there; but she was gone. She left me there alone. So, I decided to rebel. We went for supper, but I refused to eat. I never ate that kind of food before — okra and beans. I was from Michigan. We didn’t eat that. The next day, I didn’t eat, didn’t talk. Nothing. I would get out one way or another. I did this for days until they decided to tie me up and force the food down my throat. That’s when I met Mack Ford. He told me the devil was in me and he was there to bless him out of me. After this, my plan was to run. They shut the outside world away from us. Nothing was familiar to us or what we had ever known. We weren’t allowed to cut our hair, but God forbid we let it get in our eyes.  Many of us just wore pony tails. Church services often entailed standing in front of the church during the service while Mack Ford degraded us. They read any and all letters going in and going out of the home. They monitored everything. They took so much of our stuff and threw it away. Our parents provided what snacks we received, but, they stayed locked in a room. We did not have free access to what our parents would send us. If we were good, we would get them like once a month and a few minutes outside. No television. No radios. One five minute phone call a month to our parents. The calls were always on speakerphone and they listened to everything to make sure we did not tell our parents anything about how they were treating us.

I tried to tell my parents once what was happening, but the phone was taken from me and then I received licks from Miss Nora. That woman could hit, but not as hard as Mack Ford and David Garris. I don’t remember any good times from there. I do remember talking about running with Stacy Liner and Kelly Riley and a Lisa Chic from California, but Nora had the room bugged and confronted us during devotions that very night.

I was put on strict watch then, and was not allowed to speak with anyone. I couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself and received “licks” once again. I left for three days in January for an ear surgery and stayed in a hotel with my parents. I tried to convince them of what was happening at the home, but they thought I just wanted out. I did, but with reason. So, I went back to hell at New Bethany and decided to fake it. I played along and acted like them and acted like I got “saved”. That was hard. I really had no choice. I played the role for a few months but, seeing all the beatings taking place and the constant degrading of us girls daily took its toll on me. The bullshit that happened every single day caused me to decide to run. Others tried to run, why not me? A couple of the girls made it, I think, because they never were brought back and were never found. They never checked the hidden wells on the property either. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they found someone there.

So, one night, I decided to do it. I was doing my watch and had put paper in the doors when I closed them to get back out. I made it outside, threw a shirt over the fence and almost made it over when I was grabbed and pulled back down. It was two boys and behind them stood Mack Ford and Mr. Garris.  They pulled me down and I began to fight. I gave them a hell of a fight, but they over-powered me. Mack grabbed me by the arm and led me back into the house. Once inside, Nora and three girls took me. I was so tired and sore and didn’t know what was going to happen. They took me to the back and there stood Mack Ford with his wooden paddle. I swear it was a 2 X 4 with a carved handle. He told me to grab my ankles and began hitting me. I wanted to die. How could someone hit a child so much! After 13 hits, he stopped. I was hurting so badly that I was almost numb. Then he handed the paddle to Mr. Garris and he began beating me. He stopped at 10. I could hardly move the next day. I was put on pots, scrubbing pots for hours with a steal pad, standing while the Bible was read to me. I didn’t lay or sit on my back side for over a week. I showered only the front of my fingers. My fingers were so tore up that you could see the bones. I wrapped them with toilet paper. After that, I shut down. I didn’t take any phone calls. After 3 months, my Mom knew something was wrong and she got me out over night. She had to FIGHT to get me out of there. I was lucky not to have dealt with the sexual abuse that some of the other girls were dealing with. My heart goes out to the ones that had to put up with that.