To My Sister and the Vision Forum Victim No One’s Talking About

Doug Phillips and his family.

Jenny Wells blogs at Jewellspring. She is a teacher and a writer. She educated her own three children full-time and others’ children some of the time for 17 years until 2012, she stopped and placed her three children into public school. The following was originally published on her blog on November 4, 2013 and is reprinted with her permission.

For ten years, I homeschooled my three children full-time.

And during that decade, I came across all kinds of families, systems, philosophies, and curriculum. I went to the conventions, read the books, did my research. And during that decade, I learned who the big-wigs were, the poster families, the ones “we” the homeschooling community most wanted to emulate. I wanted it at certain points, too…the family-centric lifestyle. The clean-cut gender lines. Perfectly behaved and courted children, mainly for my sake. But in my heart of hearts, I knew I could never be like “them”. I just received their shiny catalogs in the mail and wondered how they pulled it off.

I knew we couldn’t be like them; I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be, but the temptation was there. Why? Because a faith and lifestyle that gives answers feels so much safer than a life of mystery and questions and any mother gets afraid, whether they can admit it or not.

Give me a formula to keep my children “safe” and I’ll follow it.

My views and life have changed so much since the days of being handed books like, “Beautiful Girlhood“. So when Doug Phillips (the patriarch pictured above) resigned last week because of an “inappropriate relationship”, my first reaction was, “A-HA! No one is immune, not even you Mr. Father of Many in Shiny Catalogs.”

But here’s the real reason for my post.

This story has stuck with me and I wake up thinking about it. I read his apology found everywhere (just Google it) and spent some time online last night trying to research the story. I am now even more grieved.

No one. No one, not one supporter or stick-it-to-him writer wrote about her.


Who was the girl he was involved with?

I don’t need a name. But I need an identity, an acknowledgement. Because I know her heart is broken.

She hides in obscurity.

Doug Phillips apologizes as I have heard so many apologize before, as virtuously as he can sound, but not to her.

He goes home to restore with his wife and family. But I would guess the chances are more likely that she has none. How will she be restored? How will she recover?

I am so sick and tired of these stories being about Him. The man of power.

If you have never experienced it, you can’t know what is like to be given attention from someone of power in a system that encourages it. Oh, but I do. It’s heady, confusing, and so very scary, to be given the attention of a man in a position of power, especially in a system like Vision Forum and many, many circles I came across in my home-schooling and church-attending days where men have been given the greater authority from God.

Dear Sister, whoever you are, I don’t care if you started it. I don’t care if you were his peer or a young woman. I don’t even care all that much that his family was hurt. They still have each other and families have survived worse. But you have to go away. You can have no contact with a man you felt deeply connected to. You have to stay in obscurity. You don’t get to heal with the man who broke your heart. And no one is talking about you and this pain that I imagine is greater than you can imagine surviving. I’m so sorry.

And I care.

If you know of anyone else writing about the real victim, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks.

25 thoughts on “To My Sister and the Vision Forum Victim No One’s Talking About

  1. Ahab November 6, 2013 / 5:02 am

    I do worry about the unnamed woman — how she is coping with this and how the Vision Forum and Christian Patriarchy community is treating her.


    • Amy April 25, 2014 / 11:15 pm

      This stuff is so typical! It seems to be the benefit of “Christian” men everywhere to get to be “restored” but the women involved is never heard from again. Know one knows what happened to her and if anyone is helping her to be “restored.”

      Within the the church we attended, the choir director had an affair with a woman who was in the choir. Oh, it was a big stink, but not too long after there was a Restoration Committee set up for the man. I knew the woman and wondered why nothing was done for her. No committee, no follow up, no checking up on her to see how she was doing. He was soon back as choir director, but the woman wasnt allowed to ever be in the choir again. I can see how it definitely would have been awkward at best, for both to be back in the choir as if nothing happened, but come on, what about the woman? Why wasn’t she given the same regard and care?

      That is what I wonder about the unamed woman of Doug Phillips. Has she been cared for? Or has she been sent away so as to never be heard from again?


  2. N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ November 6, 2013 / 5:44 am

    This was a really good article. I had similar thoughts when H.A. published another article about Phillips. Having once been a Christian women in the patriarchy, I became acutely aware that women were property of men. Why would he want to apologize to her? She was simply an ‘object’ of his ‘affections’, and the ‘Eve’ (evil one) that led him astray. She’s the scapegoat, as has been the case throughout patriarchal history.

    “Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman.” ~ Clement of Alexandria


    • Nathan November 6, 2013 / 9:15 pm

      Neuronotes, just a comment on your Clement quote. It came from a discussion in Pedaegogus book 2, chapter 2, about table manners when drinking wine.

      The standard translation reads, “For nothing disgraceful is proper for man, who is endowed with reason; much less for woman to whom it brings modesty even to reflect of what nature she is.”

      This says nothing about the status of women, and everything about expectations of good manners. In other words, women ought to be polite, because modesty (a dignified, reserved attitude) is thought to be an inherent part of their gender.

      Just wanted to bring some context to the quote, and show that the early church writers weren’t as sexist as you might have thought.


  3. kbrightbill November 6, 2013 / 4:13 pm

    Other than a line about feeling for the woman because in that world the woman gets the brunt of the judgment and blame, I deliberately avoided saying more. I think that odds are probably good that she’s a victim to at least some extent and so my feeling is that the less that’s said about her the better chance she has to fade away. The last thing that she needs is to have, “the woman who had an affair with Doug Phillips,” following her for the rest of her life.

    Anyway, that’s my logic for focusing on Phillips. I do think the woman, whoever she is, deserves our thoughts and concern.


  4. Heidi Underhill November 6, 2013 / 4:28 pm

    I am glad her name is not published. She would get so much public blame. I grieve for her heart, but truly she would be like the woman caught in the act of adultery, people ready to stone her. I know Jesus is kneeling with her. She needs no Pharisees to surround her with rocks.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy November 21, 2013 / 9:29 am

      I’ve proposed referring to her by a pseudonym. Given the situation, I’ve suggested the pseudonym “Ofdoug” (as in Handmaid’s Tale) or “OfdougESQUIRE”. (I also learned that Doug ESQUIRE cosplays as 18th Century aristocrats or WW2 war heroes and posts the selfies to his blog. Has he ever cosplayed a Commander of Holy Gilead?)


  5. Rebecca November 7, 2013 / 10:18 am

    I too, have felt the appeal of Vision Forum’s appearance of wholesome, harmonious families. I abhor their patriarchal ideology, but let’s not assume (as patriarchal ideology does) that this woman is some weak soul, unable to resist Phillips’ advances. She may not even be from the patriarchal community. She too must be accountable (to her family and church, not the general public) for her actions. This is not to say that she is absolutely not a victim, but rather that her status as a victim is speculative at best.


  6. Anna November 7, 2013 / 11:37 am

    I am hoping that her name will not come out for similar reasons. The poor girl. Doug Phillips is such a creep.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy November 21, 2013 / 9:30 am

      That’s Doug Phillps ESQUIRE. He always stresses the title on his press releases, so let’s make it part of his name.


  7. K November 11, 2013 / 7:42 am

    I do feel sorry for her also. She was trapped in a world that was more about rules and “principles” than a relationship grateful and dependent on the Grace of God for His love for us as sinners. But, I do happen to know she is an adult. One who knows right from wrong, as well as he did. And while I don’t say she should be called out on the web, for all to slice and dice her, she will be held accountable to God for her sin, the same way the he is.
    I did not notice, until now, that he did not apologize to her in his resignation letter. It does show his true heart may, in fact, be lacking in repentance. Perhaps God will use this to reach her heart in a whole new way. When I began reading this article, I thought the “true victim” would be Beall. Here she is, as loving and supportive as a wife can be, and now she bears the shame of a woman whose husband cheated on her. I’m sure some are saying she must have given him reason. Fair or not, she’s a victim, as well as all of his children. But the real “victim” above all is Jesus, whose name has been shamed because of another so called “Christian” who failed to live up to what they preached. We all should pray that God would keep that from happening in our own lives.


  8. paula jones November 11, 2013 / 10:12 am

    Thank you.


  9. littleowlcrunchymomma November 11, 2013 / 8:10 pm

    Well said. My heart breaks for so many hearts in this situation. But, yes, hers goes completely unacknowledged. She is the “jezebel”, though, right? Who ever apologizes to the Jezebel? Just sick.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy November 21, 2013 / 9:32 am

      In another Godly Patriarchal Society (whose Scripture(TM) was also dictated word-for-word by God), that’s what Honor Killings are for.


  10. Gracie November 12, 2013 / 6:16 am

    Seriously people……?? If he was in such power, the likelihood of her knowing he had a family was pretty high. So, if she’s in pain, she deserves it. I’m not justifying what he did. You know about him because of his “power” if that’s what you want to call it. He should be chastised in public.


    • Michelle November 14, 2013 / 11:58 am

      Gracie, I imagine she probably did know that he had a family. Everyone knows that he does.
      To say any human deserves pain is not called for. It’s unkind and not loving.
      Blaming a female in any long term sexual abuse situation (because that is exactly what we are talking about here) and saying that she deserves pain is in itself sexually abusing women, placing them under the rule of men, giving them no options, no opinions and no right to say ‘no’.


  11. Lois Ann Manning November 25, 2013 / 4:15 pm

    Boy am I glad I was brought up in a secular home! I have no shame for my sexuality and instead CELEBRATE IT. (After all, lust is the most pro-life emotion of all). All of you can overcome your religious indoctrination by simply pointing out that all these old myths have been proven false by science and announcing to the world that from now on you will demand empirical evidence for any beliefs presented to you.

    Remember, PAUL created Christianity by writing most of the bible after Jesus died and long before the gospels were written by “anonymous.” Jesus was never a Christian…he was born, lived and died a Jew, and clearly stated that he was acting only for the Jews. Paul never knew Jesus but only claimed to hear his voice. (Today that’s recognized as a psychosis.) Paul forever afterwards presumptuously claimed to speak for the man.

    It’s up to all of us to decide for ourselves what is moral. I start with the Golden Rule. It’s universal, and even the pagan Wiccans have their version: If it does no harm, do what you will. (Still a difficult task.) Most of all, keep on blogging; it’s the best way to expose your abusers. The Catholic Church lost its credibility when grown-up abused children spoke out. BTW, check out the article “The Rise of the Homeschool Rebels” in the November issue of “The American Prospect.” You can be proud of yourselves for speaking out.


    • Heidi Underhill November 25, 2013 / 5:02 pm

      Wow you have a twisted view of Chrsitianily! Paul did not invent Christianity. Christians were Known as people of the way and were considered a Jewish sect until people in some town were making fun of them and called them Christians – the name just stuck. And Jesus said “Go and make disciples of all nations. Not Paul. If you are going to cut down something perhaps you should get your facts straight.

      I am not condoning what goes on in all Christian homes. But I celebrate sex too. I don’t like what I hear on 90% (maybe more) of this site – it was abuse under the guise of Christianity. And these people need a forum to express that abuse. I am so happy they do.


    • Lori Baldwin December 4, 2013 / 12:05 am

      Lois Anne Manning: “It’s up to all of us to decide for ourselves what is moral.” Hmm. Looks like that’s what Doug Phillips decided to do. So did Herr Hitler and his henchmen. Survival of the fittest. He who has the power makes the rules. Nice.


  12. Seth December 30, 2013 / 2:08 pm

    I am glad she is not named or mentioned in any way!! I’m quite surprised and shocked that you want to know more about her. Yes, she will be hurting and we must pray for her and support her in any way possible, but like others mentioned in reply to this post, the last thing she needs is the entire internet knowing who she is. Doug Phillips stated in his public apology that he was working on personally apologizing to people he had hurt; I can only pray she is included in that list. That’s not for me to judge though. What is for me to judge is the fact that any defining details about her has been withheld from the web, and I completely agree with that decision.


  13. Julie January 2, 2014 / 8:54 am

    Although I am sure that the woman knew Doug Philips had a wife and children, I think she might not be as blameworthy as a lot of you are making out.

    In patriarchy, women are trained to believe what men tell them and not question. Nobody knows what Philips told this woman to get her to “sin” with him (and I do not believe for a moment that he did not have sex with her). He might have told her that their relationship had been directed by God–after all, “His ways are not our ways” and if she was raised in patriarchy, she might not have been capable of telling the difference between Doug Philips’ lies and God’s truth.

    He might have told her the time-honored male sob story about how his wife did not understand him and did not want to have sex with him. One thing the Quiverfull lifestyle does not countenance is the age-old reluctance of a woman to have sex if she is worried that it will result in a pregnancy she is not physically or mentally ready to handle. And yes, I know that those women are supposed to joyfully welcome all the “blessings” they are given but please. No matter how much you love your husband, or how complete your training, there comes a time when the prospect of another pregnancy makes you want to lock yourself in a closet and never have sex again.

    He might have simply commanded her to do his bidding. That is not as far-fetched as one might think. A woman raised in a culture that values obedience to (male) authority and daily “death to self” might struggle with the cognitive dissonance between what she, personally, feels is right (and has been taught is right) about marital fidelity…and what she has been taught about obedience to authority. Was the woman married? Did her husband work at Vision Forum? Did Doug Philips threaten her with the loss of her husband’s livelihood? That’s not an inconsiderable thing in a culture where men make all the money and women have nothing, really, of their own.

    It is always possible that she was calculating, or that she was thinking about blackmail, or that she was swept off her feet by Doug Philips manly charm, or that she was angry at Doug’s wife and wanted to hurt her. But I think a more likely explanation is that the culture nurtured by Vision Forum and the patriarchy movement creates men like Doug Philips, who get way too full of themselves and think the rules do not apply to them—and women who don’t know what to do when they are confronted with the desires of a man they have been taught to revere, expressed in a way that they have been taught to abhor.

    I feel much worse for her than I do for him, is what I am trying to say.


  14. The History Boy July 16, 2014 / 6:42 pm

    You should update this post: the young woman whom Doug Phillips victimized has courageously come forward not only to tell her story but to sue Phillips and VF for her harassment and abuse.

    Hopefully this lawsuit results in her getting something more concrete than just an apology!


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