Launderville, Lydia Joy

Lydia Joy Launderville is a writer who was born and raised, second generation, Independent Fundamental Baptist. During her years as an IFB, she experienced years of abuse. Lydia went on to leave at the age of 21, risking eternal damnation and experienced shunning. Later on, she connected with thousands of IFB survivors in survivor networks, and eventually, with the help of her twin sister, researched crimes with IFB connections. That research went on to contribute to both a national investigative piece and the creation of two abuser databases of those from the cult she survived. In 2019, she started blogging about her cult experiences, has done advocacy for cult victims, has written articles highlighting other victims' stories, and currently volunteers for a nonprofit with the first ever hotline for victims of religious abuse as their Blog Editor. Her work has been featured online and in print. Lydia truly believes that survivor voices are the strongest, that it starts with awareness before change occurs. She also puts an emphasis on survivors truly not being alone, proving the cults that once controlled them very wrong. Lydia hopes that by sharing her story other cult survivors can know that healing is possible, and thriving, too. You will find her continuing to heal from cultic abuse as she volunteers, writes, explores nature, reads, and cuddles her rescue cat.

On This Page

Breaking Free: A Survivor's Anthem

Lydia Joy Launderville

They say just to forget,

Pretend, get over it.

Move on, start over again.

But the memory, the pain,

Made to feel ashamed,

Still linger, still fight, a battle in my brain.

I’m not gonna cover up these scars.

I’m breaking away from these prison bars.

I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.

Won’t lock myself in that prison again.

I’m breaking free. I can finally breathe.

I’m trying to forgive, to finally live.

I’ve still got this memory that never will fade.

I’m letting go. I’m walking away.

I’m breaking free.

Sometimes they are scars.

Other times open wounds.

At moments, I question how I made it through.

And when it all comes back and I have to relive,

Somewhere deep in my soul, I beg God to help me forget.

All the scary nights. All the tears I cried.

All those people who said I lied…

I’m letting go.

I’m breaking free. I can finally breathe.

I’m trying to forgive, to finally live.

I’ve still got this memory that never will fade.

I’m letting go. I’m walking away.

I’m breaking free.

Don’t cover up your scars.

Go ahead, break away from those prison bars.

You’re stronger than you’ve ever been.

You’ll never need to lock yourself in that prison again.

You’re breaking free.

I Opened a Book

Lydia Joy Launderville


I opened a book and fell heart first into its pages.

A million lands it took me to and countless other places.


Suddenly, I felt an array of different emotions,

Trying them on and putting them to faces.


I became a citizen, a sojourner, a wanderer and a belonger.

I traveled, defying space, time, and distance.


So, leave me alone with this book, its story, its people, its message.

I'm dreaming awake, lost in magic made of ink and paper.


Finding strength, healing, and pleasure.

This is my time. My passion. My safe place. 


Leave me to figure it out, 

Be silent as I search these sacred pages.


Lydia Joy Launderville


I've been in limbo for so long, 

This place of healing, hurt and moving on.


I've felt darkness ebb and the light flow, 

Watched my perception turn from viewing things as worthless weeds into wildflowers that grow.


I find myself cynical, skeptical, and cautious.

I find myself excited, imaginative, and hopeful. 


I see the me I was ten thousand yesterdays ago compare itself to me of the past twenty-four hours, 

Wondering why time is like this, aware of how fast it goes. 


I still have questions; I continue to want answers.

I still wonder sometimes naively and bounce back from taking chances. 

I'm rearranging, as a human being I'm changing.


Looking for my place in this big, crazy world, 

Taking meager footsteps like my inner little girl. 


That's it, good job, keep believing. 

Have faith, make jumps, keep dreaming.

Your day is nearly here; be patient, stand tall.

These are the moments that help us discover who we really are.

Patience brings positives when you're steady and stern. 

Stay in your own lane, get ready, guess what—it's finally your turn!


Aim for great heights, keep your goal in your sights. 

Spread those wings and fly away. 

Be bold and conquer this today.

Little Girl Out of The Box

Lydia Joy Launderville

Little girl, living in a box of a world,

Question everything. 

Scream when they say to sing.

You deserve so much more than what they say. 

Your existence allows you the option to walk away.

Break the mold; find your way.

Don't blend in, you stand out with the words you say.

Be the night when they're the day.

Be the red when they're nothing but the pale.

Pick up that book, the one with the forbidden pages. 

Read it, breathe it, take it in and wage it.

It may be the answer to that burning question, and if not, still search on. 

Don't give in, don't give up. These days can be put behind you, they can be gone.

They cut you when it was you, they said they loved. 

But, little girl, love don't draw blood.

Words and rules shouldn't hurt, 

Make you doubt who you are or your self-worth. 

Leave it alone, let it go. 

Turn your back on them; put the past down.

Sacred Book it may be, 

But that speaker never cared about you, never thought about me. 

Those rules no longer apply. 

Turn around, wave goodbye. 

Take a step forward, try just a little one. 

Make an effort, doesn't have to amount to much, it can be small. 

You keep fighting, pushing back, refusing to fall into line, standing tall. 

Little girl, with the questions written in your eyes, 

Ask them. 

Don't stop, until the answers you find. 


Lydia Joy Launderville


Silver linings and golden sunsets,

Cast a single silhouette. 


Hidden rainbows. Rehearsed smiles.

Disguising the intensity of unfamiliar trials.


Borrowed dreams. Unfulfilled faith.

Methods of speaking. Unforgettable mistakes.


Shaken foundations. Burned bridges.

Pathways of uncertainty. Unraveling provisions.


Imprisoned chances. Broken promises.

A life lived, full of misinformatives.




Torn apart. 



Peer through high clouds, high expectations.

Stay quiet, avoiding confrontations.


Banter and chatter. 

Loud and uncalm voices.


Vice gripped. 


Barely breathing. 

Finally awoken.



Take hold. 


Cleared smoke.



Stand strong. 

Take flight. 



Fall down. 

Picked up. 

Lift high. 


The Boy with The Vacant Stare

Lydia Joy Launderville

I watched him every day.

Stride slow, determined, avoidant down the hall.

Face so pale, smile abased, hair so dull.

Echoes of muffled laughter, conversations with topics unknown filled with speculations. Eyes cast downward with only brief lifted motion.

Words spoken without being spoken saying, “empty,” “desperate,” and alone.

I watched from afar, unaware of what to do. I was oblivious to this world.

Walking, stepping, occasionally leaping from one uneasiness to another.

My own universe crumbling with its foundation apart.

Still the boy lingered.

Day after day, month after month, our gazes catch.

But still no words.

Silent…not a single phrase spoken.

Over time, I notice. Pay attention. Observe. 

Wrists always hidden. Shirts high, obscuring neck, and clothes so baggy, allowing no questions. People talk. They always do. Murmurings of unkindness, intolerance, and oddity.

“Why not talk?” one will say.

“Something to hide?” another speculates.

But maybe he can’t talk. Maybe he doesn’t know how? I offer.

I feel torn.

Oddity is obvious, but so is avoidance.

It’s protective in nature. Protection for oneself.

A habit I always practice…how can I fault a person for that?

I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.

So, I stay quiet, unaware my own bruises are showing.

That my own innocence has been stolen…that I’m about to be labeled "damaged goods." In the meantime, I catch the boy with the vacant stare.

Strongly, briefly and burning.

All those observations stay with me for years.

Simply time gone by when I finally take a moment to remember those eyes that once searched my own.

A grownup child, that's what I am. Still wandering the playground of immaturity. They say trauma does this... that my inner child is calling out to be hugged, finally protected.

And I agree.

I suppose I have to embrace the both of us now.

Each somehow colliding against the hands of time that separate us, meeting only briefly like our glances once met from afar.

For *Quinton ♥

To The Walkaways

Lydia Joy Launderville


The damage I see everywhere, all around me, the stuff I left behind. 


It's in the call for help, that young person wading through the darkness on their own, because Mom and Dad preach love, but refuse to love the real them.


I see it in the broken pieces of the hallowed-eyed wife, married for a decade to a "godly" man who she gave babies to and works herself broken, tiptoeing to avoid his temper and who can't get his words degrading her self-worth to zero out of her head.


I see it in young girls and boys who, in order to find some safety, leave their past communities with no education, no practice and no idea what it takes to survive in the real world or how to go after it. 


I see the girl who is self-conscious and nervous, never having been able to speak up and disagree with a man or anyone in an authority position. Her hands tremble, heart pounds, but she forces out that timid disagreement to a crowd of silent cheers.


I recognize that suspicious stare, the one that never quite meets your eyes because theirs are downcast, struggling to trust anyone and everything since someone and something helped create that sceptic in them. The only person they trust is themselves, and that's only 50% of the time, with the other half secretly hoping the next person will prove their insecurities wrong. 


I see it in the wanderers, the dreamers, the searchers, and the ones that are between-current-and-former-believers. 


Somewhere between the memories, triggers, dog whistles, and present, I see these faces… 


The weary and downtrodden, the chin lifters, square shoulders, the pushing forward feet. The keep-on goers and the water waders, the darkness survivors, the spark lighters at the end of their own tunnels. 


It's the perseveres with anxious thoughts, the smiles and the tears, the laughing sadness and the glue to a thousand broken hearts in their own circles even though they don't have a clue. 


It's the ones who walk a straight line, but it's also the rule breakers that create their own, and the daredevils that take an eraser to it and kick up that sand with a laugh, being done with self-imposed guidelines. 


These are the faces I see, the brave actions I witness day after day, status updaters and the silent lurkers. I see you, you're not alone. We're in this crazy world together. I hope it gets better for you. And if these are your best days, I hope it lasts. 


To the walk-aways: let's push our dreams forward. Let's help each other get free and hold the door open for the ones behind—that girl, that boy, that loved one and friend. Let's live now and hope they join us on this journey. 


In the meantime, celebrate each breath away.