Jinger Duggar Vuolo Details Growing Up in an IBLP Household: “I Was Terrified of the Outside World”

Jinger Duggar Vuolo is ready to talk about her childhood, which was everything but ordinary, in her new memoir titled Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear. It’s the first book she has written by herself, though she co-authored two others – one with her sisters and one with her husband.

In the book, Jinger details the strict and ‘harmful’ teachings of her parents, which instilled a world of fear inside of her – not just fear of the outside world, but of herself. Her parents followed the Institute in Basic Life Principles by Bill Gothard, who stepped down from the IBLP in 2014 due to molestation allegations.

“Fear was a huge part of my childhood. I thought I had to wear only skirts and dresses to please God. Music with drums, places I went or the wrong friendships could all bring harm,” said Vuolo in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE. She often avoided social activities for fear of disappointing or upsetting God.

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Jinger Duggar Vuolo is the sixth of 19 children to parents Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar. The family starred in the shows 19 Kids & Counting and Counting On, both of which aired on TLC. While Jinger still considers herself a Christian, she no longer associates herself with the IBLP movement.

“[Gothard’s] teachings in a nutshell are based on fear and superstition and leave you in a place where you feel like, ‘I don’t know what God expects of me.’ The fear kept me crippled with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world,” she said. While Gothard is no longer President of IBLP, the religion is very much alive.

In her book, Vuolo talks about the Basic Life Principles she was forced to live by – which were taught by Gothard. Some of those principles included obeying modesty guidelines (no shorts, no jeans, only dresses), blindly obeying authority (parents), avoiding music with a worldly beat, and so much more. 

“His teachings were so harmful, and I’m seeing more of the effects of that in the lives of my friends and people who grew up in that community with me. There are a lot of cult-like tendencies,” she told PEOPLE, adding she feared dying in a car accident for choosing to play broomball instead of reading the Bible. 

Jinger Duggar Vuolo Hopes to Inspire Others With Her Story

Jinger Duggar Vuolo is hoping her new memoir – which will be released at the end of January – will inspire others to leave their childhood fears in the rear-view mirror and embrace a new chapter of their life, much like she has in the past five years. She’s excited to share this journey with those that’ll listen.

That journey includes being challenged by her brother-in-law to examine her beliefs – he explained to her that, while they’re both committed to the Bible, he doesn’t believe a lot of the things she grew up believing. As a result, she devoted herself to studying the Bible – and doing it the right way this time. 

“That’s the beauty of this journey. The teaching I grew up under was harmful, it was damaging, and there are lasting effects. But I know other people are struggling and people who are still stuck. I want to share my story, and maybe it will help even just one person to be freed,” she explained in her recent interview. 

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After realizing that most of what her parents taught her growing up didn’t exactly fall in line with what the Bible teaches, she decided to change her perspective – not just on religion, but on life. The book recounts her mission to disentangle her faith while maintaining a healthy relationship with God and Christianity.

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