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What an incredible week — I will never forget it.

After fighting constant legal battles against him for the last three years, today I, along with six fellow victims, finally went up against our former cult leader, Bill Gothard, during a dramatic day-long hearing in Chicago.

The simple and sweet answer is, we won! The judge ruled in favor of all seven women. So many beautiful things happened today and I’m so proud of my incredible fellow warriors who so bravely fought along side me today.

These last three years have been the hardest years of my life, but I don’t regret one minute of it. I feel a bit like Job or Joseph. As terrifying as it was so lose so many things precious and dear to me at the beginning of this journey, God has given me ten fold of what I had before. I have built so many cherished friendships, I have been given a beautiful support system, I have come to an understanding of the Gospel and who Jesus really is, and I now have an unbreakable bond with a few very special women after we all walked through Hell together.

I still can’t believe that out of the thousands of victims that came out of this cult, it came down to me and five other women speaking on that witness stand. We may never know why we were the ones chosen for that, but I am forever grateful for that honor.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal tonight:

Today was a day I fought a very long and difficult war for. In fact, three years ago today was when I officially joined the lawsuit, and today, I was given the best gift I could ask for: validation.

As surreal as it was to listen to a judge validate all us women in an hour long speech and then to finally receive legal victory, there was an even bigger victory for me.

Yes, I finally faced the man who emotionally and spiritually imprisoned me for well over a decade. But I also came face to face with something I found even more terrifying — my past.

I may have been 18 years old the last time I saw Bill — but truly I was still just a scared little girl.

Seven years have passed since I walked out of Bill’s office and today I walked into that court room wearing a not only sharp black suit, but something even more empowering: a new identity.

And you know what? I OWNED IT. I was FEARLESS. I looked my past, my prison, and my chains straight in the eyes and I ROARED!

So perhaps, my “new” identity is not so new after all. Perhaps, beating inside the chest of that scared little girl was the heart of a warrior all along. I just had to believe in myself to see it.

I am fierce.
I am confident.
I am independent.
I am strong.
I am a survivor.
I am redeemed.
I am enough.

I am FREE!

Plaintiffs at the courthouse after our victory

~Em

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About the Author

Emily Elizabeth Anderson is a Christian blogger and rising activist for people who have experienced abuse within a Christian environment.

After growing up in a fundamentalist cult for 23 years and experiencing childhood domestic violence, Emily began her journey to recovery in 2015 and eventually found Jesus to be her ultimate healer. She soon turned her passion for writing into a blog and her story has since been featured on several media outlets including NPR.

She married her best friend, Joshua, in 2020 and together they are passionate about educating on the realities of trauma survival and recovery, as well as supporting survivors they meet through their online community.

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