Jinger Duggar speaks publicly about her ‘cult-like’ upbringing for the first time

Anyone who watched Duggar family on TLC has probably wondered if/when any of the 19 children would grow up and write a tell-all book about what it was like growing up in their fundamentalist Christian home. And Jinger Duggar‘s new book is just that—an honest reflection about her past and how it affects her present.

In an interview with PEOPLE ahead of her book, “Becoming Free Indeed,” Duggar examines her strict upbringing. (She now goes by Jinger Vuolo after marrying Jeremy Vuolo in 2016. The couple has two daughters, Felicity and Evangeline.)

Related: Jill Duggar on using birth control: ‘You need to do what’s healthiest and best for your family’

“Fear was a huge part of my childhood,” she says. “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.”

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She describes feeling “terrified” during an outing where her family went to play a sport called broomball because she thought even doing something like that was against God’s will.

“I thought I could be killed in a car accident on the way, because I didn’t know if God wanted me to stay home and read my Bible instead.”

Her goal in releasing this memoir isn’t to write salacious things about her family, she says, but to help other people who feel stuck in the Institute in Basic Life Principles, an organization established by disgraced minister Bill Gothard in 1961. The Duggar family notoriously followed the IBLP teachings of Gothard, who left the church in 2014 after dozens of accusations of harassment and molestation came forward about him.

In addition to adherence to the Bible and Christian ideals, the IBLP considers males, especially the patriarch of a family, to be superior whereas females are expected to obey men in every way. This includes in the home, school, workplace and marriage.

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Duggar’s oldest brother, Josh, an avid follower of the IBLP, is currently in prison after being convicted on child pornography charges.

“[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,'” Duggar says. “The fear kept me crippled with anxiety. I was terrified of the outside world.”

Related: Jessa Duggar shares the story of her accidental home birth

Though she still self-describes as a strong Christian, Duggar says her perspective on her beliefs about Gothard and the IBLP began to drastically shift after she got married. She now no longer practices the IBLP way of life.

“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,” she says. “There are a lot of cult-like tendencies.”

Because she was able to see the harm in how she grew up and has spent the last few years unearthing and processing the trauma of IBLP practices, she wants her book to be a source of hope for those who want to leave that way of life.

“That’s the beauty of this journey,” she says. “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.”