Earlier this week, reports that Austin Forsyth had behaved abusively toward his wife, Joy-Anna Duggar, made their way across the social media landscape.

The allegations were based primarily on what Counting On fans had witnessed both on the show and in web exclusives posted by TLC.

To be clear, Austin has not been accused of physically abusing Joy-Anna, but viewers who claim they’re able to recognize the signs from firsthand experience say that Austin has repeatedly demonstrated behavior that’s typical of men who perpetrate emotional and verbal abuse.

A former employee of the Duggars who spoke exclusively with The Hollywood Gossip tells us that many who know the Forsyth family best would not be the least bit surprised to learn that Austin is sometimes overly-harsh in his interactions with his young wife.

Our source claims that like Joy, Austin was raised in an extremely strict household.

And it seems the harsh lessons he learned from his overbearing father may have irreparably damaged the young man’s views on relationships:

“His father governs everything that he does, from cutting cows to doing whatever,” the source tells THG, adding that Terry Forsyth offered his son a bizarre ultimatum when Austin requested permission to begin courting Joy:

“He couldn’t date Joy-Anna until he flipped five houses,” the insider says. “Austin had to flip and sell five houses before he’d be allowed to date.

“He went to his dad, and he said, ‘What do I need to do?’ and his dad said, ‘You need to flip five houses before you can court.'”

Though Austin was already a grown man at the time, such parental demands are not entirely uncommon in the Duggars’ world, a place where there’s no such thing as casual dating, and courting is viewed as a prelude to marriage.

However, like the man himself, Terry’s request of his son was viewed as unnecessarily harsh.

But even before he set such a difficult challenge before Austin, Terry was something of a controversial figure around the Springdale, Arkansas community:

“Terry, he’s on his second marriage, and I still haven’t figured this one out yet, he’s an officer in Paul [Caldwell]’s church, and you can’t be an officer in the church if you’ve been divorced,” the source tells us.

“Austin is a prime candidate for mental abuse, because I’m sure he’s been totally mentally browbeat.”

The insider elaborates:

“I guarantee [Joy] is at his beck and call. To me, she really has no life with Austin. She’s just gonna be a baby factory.”

Fortunately, the source says, Joy is so highly-regarded in her hometown, that if Austin ever crosses the line into physical abuse, he’ll pay dearly.

“If he does abuse her in any way, there won’t be nowhere he can hide,” the informant tells us.

As for the question of whether or not Joy got pregnant before marriage, our source says those who know the couple best believe there’s a distinct possibility those rumors are true.

“She’d been alone with him several times. They got caught several times,” says the tipster.

“I caught them kissing outside the garage door one night. They were standing in this little area where the cameras weren’t, and she went up and kissed him.

“I yelled out, ‘What’s going on over there?’ I mean to tell you, they ran like scared rabbits,” our source says.

The insider continued:

“About an hour later I was in the garage, and Austin came up to me and said, ‘We’re only human, you know.’

“I said, ‘I know you’re human. But when you make rules, you need to follow them.'”

On the question of whether or not Joy and Austin broke the rules of courtship in more serious fashion, the insider says:

“She may have had sex before they were married.

“She ain’t no sexpot, don’t get me wrong, but she was ready to be married.”

Asked for a final impression of Austin, our source said simply:

“He doesn’t have a backbone. He doesn’t have a whole lot of common sense.”

It sounds like Austin should have no trouble getting along with some of Jim Bob’s other sons-in-law.

Watch Counting On online for more on reality TV’s most controversial family.