GCM Stories

Updated June 22, 2014

A comment from the post, The god of Abuse, May 7, 2014, Watching:

“I’m not a former GCM, but have one in my life who also worships the god of abuse. It’s very frustrating to listen to her proclaim all the ways in which other people are “abusive” to her (mainly my husband and I) and pass out computer chair diagnoses for various mental disorders for other people despite having no credentials to make this acceptable, while simultaneously being the only one in our “relationship” who frequently name calls, lies, uses, talks badly about, attempts to control, etc. She contradicts herself on a regular basis, but her GCM/former GCM echo chamber don’t seem to notice and not only condone all of her poor behaviors but encourage.

Everything is justifiable if you’re dealing with a so-called abuser, though. You can treat him/her as badly and it’s accepted in the name of “boundaries” or sometimes just because they deserve it. In addition, who’s going to call out, contradict or otherwise question an “abuse victim”? No one – unless you want to be branded as abusive too. It’s a very attractive narrative and role to play if you’re someone who believes she is never wrong or believes she is entitled to treat people badly if they don’t give her everything she wants when she wants it.

The sickening thing in our case (and probably others) is that this warped version of reality is touted to her children, also. She willfully uses it to drive an unnecessary wedge between those children and their father and that is so reprehensible to me that I can barely put it into words.

Anyway… I just wanted to let you know how validating it was to see this and the comments under it.”

A comment from the post, The god of Abuse, April 2, 2014, Former GCMer:

“I was a member of GCM for about eight years. I left about four years ago because administration had gotten control-hungry to the point where they were attempting to censor what I could say on other platforms like FB. I also saw exactly what you describe here with regard to encouraging women to leave their husbands. One member, in particular, went through a divorce and then began proclaiming herself an expert in recognizing abuse, setting up boundaries (and any form of shutting people out was referred to as a boundary). She saw her own situation in every woman — because she felt her situation was abusive, she saw abuse in every other woman’s marital problems. And because she was one of the “inner circle,” there was no way of calling her out on this.

There was a lot of cult-like behavior, and a lot of encouragement for women to spend more time on GCM than with their families, such as rewards for accumulating inordinate numbers of posts — members with lots of posts got a special icon next to their name, members with lots of posts could use colored fonts, members with lots of posts got access to additional “private” forums . . . and if you think the forum for people with 500+ posts is exclusive, did you know there was one for people with 2,500 posts? (I believe that was the count. It was several years ago that I was there, but I believe the post requirement for that forum was 2,500 posts and 2+ years of being a GCM member. It was called “The Garden,” and I was a member there until I got booted out because of something I said on Facebook.

I will say this, with regard to a previous post wherein you refer to the “solo parenting within marriage” forum as a forum for people who are parenting their kids themselves because their husbands don’t accept their parenting: the poster who corrected you about it was right — the original intent of that forum was to offer support to women who were parenting their kids while their husbands were away, either due to frequent business trips, deployment, etc. The reason I know is because I was the reason the forum was created. I had originally suggested that GCM have a forum for “solo parents,” wherein women who were parenting alone for ANY reason could address our unique issues (i.e. I was tired of people responded to my questions with solutions that required that my husband be there. “Get some rest while your husband bathes the kids.” “If one child needs extra attention, have your husband take care of the other kids while you give that child the extra attention she needs.” and so forth). My original intent was that the forum be for women who were parenting alone either because of frequent travel (which is my case; my hubby’s business requires that he be out of town nearly every weekday and is only home on weekends) or deployment, or divorce, widowhood . . . basically any reason. So the “solo parenting” forum was created. A few months later, the site owner contacted me to let me know that I was no longer welcome in that forum. It seems some of the divorced women felt that the forum should be only for divorced women, and that people who had husbands who did come home at some time or another didn’t understand their unique needs, so I would no longer have access to the forum I requested. When I objected and reminded her that I was the person who suggested the forum in the first place, the “solo parenting within marriage” forum was created. During the time I was there, it was never very active, but it was, indeed, created for women who were married but had absent husbands.

I don’t know what the latest hoo-ha is going on over there right now, though I know people are leaving and that they are complaining about administration. I can say with certainty that, while I was there, my PM’s were read by administration. I say this because I was told about it AFTER THE FACT by the site owner herself. They were apparently on a manhunt concerning a member who was advocating a different parenting style, and were concerned that she had been advocating for this parenting style via the GCM PM system. So they read all the PM’s she sent, including ones she sent to me. I give credit to the site owner for telling me about it; she could have just never mentioned it and I might never have known — but I think the more respectable thing to do would have been to ASK me first, rather than read my PM’s and THEN tell me about it. (And yes, what they read in her PM’s to me got her banned from the site.)

There is a lot of cult-like behavior, and a lot of cloak-and-dagger going on within the “inner circle” at GCM. Disconcerting things happen, and when people question what is going on, they are told that they don’t need to know the details, that they can’t be told the details because of “privacy concerns,” but that they should just trust the administration to do what is right and take care of them. Once I left there, it took several months for me to get to a place where I was no longer relying on GCM’er for advice in nearly every aspect of my life. It was literally like I had to let the brainwashing wear off. During my second child’s toddlerhood I spent nearly all my time on GCM, and a greatly regret the time I spent there that I should have spent with my daughter. Although I know the original intent of the site was to offer support and encouragement for moms to better their parenting, the site has morphed into something different entirely, and, unfortunately, at this point,I really do think that if the site were to shut down permanently, it would actually be a GOOD thing for a lot of women.

–8-year member of GCM”

Comments from the post, The Cult Within, March 22-23, 2014, EGR:

“Oh my. I can’t believe I found your site. I’m no longer a member at GCM, but I was for quite some time. They are EXACTLY as you described! My experience there was almost identical to your sister’s (except for the part about living near other GCMers). Yes, they give horrible marriage advice, for the most part. I had to get out. It was like brainwashing. It was very much like a cult. I thought it was my own fault that they influenced me like they did….until I read your entry! Thank you!”

“I will add, I never lied to anyone or lied about my family to GCM.

Some GCMs had a way of ostracizing people in your life *for* you, in a way (particularly people in your life who aren’t progressive type christians/parents/wives). If you were one to discuss having interpersonal conflict with your loved ones, they often gave relationship advice with the flavor of encouraging enmity rather than reconciliation, if that makes sense. Sometimes very vehemently!
Countless times I witnessed many members categorizing women’s husbands, parents, etc., as abusers when women would share about problems in relationships. This often happened when women would share about their marriage. Often if a husband was struggling (and acting accordingly) they would advise the member to end her marriage, and not because there was abuse! I saw one member advised to do as such over an issue that wasn’t even biblical grounds for divorce.
One former GCMer wrote to you saying:

“Other negative points include the projecting a personal experience on to everyone or everything (for example, “I have a bad relationship with my mother/family, so therefore you all have bad relationships with your mothers/families”) and the subsequent buying into it by some other members, and the constant drama and being perpetually offended coming from some members was draining”

This is so true. I could have said these words exactly.

I realized I needed to leave for several reasons. One that comes to mind is the argumentative nature of the long-time members. There are certain parts of the board and certain topics that these people seem to gravitate towards.

But the main thing that woke me up and helped me see the truth was when they told me to leave my husband. He and I were struggling. He was struggling with some different things, but nothing that crossed the line into abuse or even “abnormal” problems, if you will. We were in marriage counseling, my husband being a willing participant. Then, the women of GCM that I so trusted told me to leave this wonderful man and father of our kids, and completely turn our lives upside down. All because he, at that time in his life, didnt fit their ideal. I’m so so happy I didn’t follow their advice. We continued marriage counseling until we were okay, and today have a marriage that is amazing and God -honoring. The prognosis that some GCMers gave me about my marriage couldn’t have been more wrong.
And I’m just one small example out of many things that I saw there.”

“Wow, I forgot about rule 14! In our marriage, we have an agreement that neither of us will have online activity that the other doesn’t have FULL access to. This is so important as it helps build trust in marriage.

I can see the intent behind the owner writing rule number 14 (to help women feel a sense of security/privacy). But it’s a fine line when you’re explicitly telling women to withhold info from their husbands. I think most women have the decency and common sense not to carelessly allow members of their household set at the computer and read about others’ private lives online.”

A comment from the post, Our Side of the Story, March 19, 2014, A. Gcmer:

“I read the letter the other day from the former GCM member. Yes, there recently has been a huge rift in the community. You may be interested to know that the cause of it, ironically, was abuse by actual members of the admin team. One member in particular, and then several others plus the board owner who have seemingly tried to sweep the issue under the rug. One long standing and well respected member tried to publicly call the abusive admin and was quickly banned and appeared to be shunned (mentions of her name are being deleted from the board). Several other long standing members have since left in disgust.

I can assure you that GCM is not the healthy loving place they try to pass themselves off as. It’s secretive and exclusionary to a degree that few other boards actually are, and that alone makes it an uncomfortable place to be sometimes. It didn’t start that way (I’ve been there for many years, and no, I am not the member who got banned), but it has evolved into that.”

A Former GCMer, March 18, 2014:

“I came across the “Expose GCM” blog after learning about another big split that recently occurred in the GCM community. I left GCM a few years ago, and have never looked back until learning this news.

I first learned about GCM while looking for different parenting advice, because what I was using wasn’t working, and the advice I was receiving wasn’t any better or helpful.

Your blog brings up a number of good points; however, I have never found GCM to be a cult – very addictive, yes; and as commenter Amy brought up, it does suck a lot of time, which I also regret.

GCM is a huge community, and frankly, with way too many forums to manage effectively. (To GCM’s credit, the mods/admins have reported to the authorities cases of abuse which were brought up on the boards.)

For the positive points of GCM: it taught me a new way of parenting and interacting with my kids, as well as introducing me to a number of good Christian authors (such as Jeff Van Vonderen, Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller, Clay & Sally Clarkson and Tim Kimmel). The concept of “positive intent” has been invaluable, and it has helped me in many situations — with my family and in other areas of my life. The concept of setting healthy boundaries has been helpful. There were a number of sound, thought-provoking discussions on Bible and theology. For these things I am very grateful.

Now for the negative points of GCM: certain human/cultural ideologies held by a number of the members were allowed to take over portions of the community, despite the Statement of Beliefs (SoB) explicitly being against many of these views. Opposing voices were often shut down in discussions of these topics, and it was that happening one too many times which was when I decided to leave the community entirely.

Other negative points include the projecting a personal experience on to everyone or everything (for example, “I have a bad relationship with my mother/family, so therefore you all have bad relationships with your mothers/families”) and the subsequent buying into it by some other members, and the constant drama and being perpetually offended coming from some members was draining. This is a failing of not only the moderators, but other members of the community to lovingly but firmly call these ladies out and say that your experience, as bad as it was, does not mean everyone else had this experience nor should you project it on to others.

There is also a fine line between exhibiting grace (where you still hold the person accountable for their actions), and permissiveness (where bad behavior is excused away under the guise of grace). When this line gets blurred, it does become frustrating. In retrospect, this also factored into my decision to leave.

You asked in one of your posts how non-Christians can be allowed on a Christian board. They are allowed to join; however, they must abide by the SoB, and it was viewed as an opportunity to witness to them, which is what we are supposed to be doing.

The deeper levels of the boards are appreciated, especially when you are dealing with more sensitive (not abusive) situations or have prayer requests — having these publicly available is not a good thing either, the privacy is needed. As far as the encouragement to lie — in my several years there, I have never seen this (but I also did not participate in every forum, including the marriage forum). Did people lie? Yes, but again, from what I have witnessed, it was their own decision to do so, and some of these lies as well as ‘fake’ people were outed.

As with anything, some of the ideas promoted within GCM can be taken to an extreme — there are toxic people out there, but it doesn’t mean that everyone or anyone who disagrees with me is toxic; there are times when healthy boundaries need to be set, but it doesn’t mean I need to set them every time or with everyone or make a big deal of it in every single situation; yes, AP is a good thing, but when the husband is being shut out in favor of the kids, or if it gets in the way of relationships or it is the starting point of looking for a church (instead of adherence to Scripture and soundness of doctrine), it has become unhealthy and an idol.

What this all comes down to is that we each are responsible for our actions — our need to develop strong discernment skills (which comes from regularly studying the Word), the time that we spend there or on any online community, what we choose to share (GCM does not require or encourage a sharing of one’s entire life or a lot of personal information), taking responsibility for our own feelings and reactions, and ultimately, knowing when it has become unhealthy and that it is time to walk away.”

A comment from the post, Welcome, January 29, 2014, Anonymous gcmer:

“I used to be very active on GCM, but got increasingly disgusted by their hive like mentality, and I rarely visit the board anymore. Although I never thought of that group as a cult, they do display cultish behaviors. I can see where you’re coming from. I have frequently seen members encourage other members to end contact with family and friends over simple arguements. At GCM there is no such thing as an argument, there is only “abuse”.”

I read the letter the other day from the former GCM member. Yes, there recently has been a huge rift in the community. You may be interested to know that the cause of it, ironically, was abuse by actual members of the admin team. One member in particular, and then several others plus the board owner who have seemingly tried to sweep the issue under the rug. One long standing and well respected member tried to publicly call the abusive admin and was quickly banned and appeared to be shunned (mentions of her name are being deleted from the board). Several other long standing members have since left in disgust.

I can assure you that GCM is not the healthy loving place they try to pass themselves off as. It’s secretive and exclusionary to a degree that few other boards actually are, and that alone makes it an uncomfortable place to be sometimes. It didn’t start that way (I’ve been there for many years, and no, I am not the member who got banned), but it has evolved into that.”

A comment from the post, Online Dangers, November 4, 2012, Amy:

“Thanks for this post. I left GCM several years ago and now, looking back, I totally see the cult-like behavior. I spent way too much time online at GCM, and it was encouraged. I’ve peeked at it from time to time and there are always posts congratulating each other for time spent online. Some members have tens if thousands of posts, if not more. Spending time online rather than IRL is encouraged.
I lost so much precious time that could have been spent with my kids. Time I will never get back. :(

A comment from the post, Welcome, April 22, 2012, Anonymous:

“My daughter is involved with GCM. I am aware that these people on GCM take no reponsibility for anything — it is always someone else’s fault – not theirs. It is a shame that they can spread their ideas to other women and put them in the same position and thoughts that they have. I would hope that they would think things through before “counseling” other women.”

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