Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Conclusion

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Conclusion

HA notes: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Mary” is a pseudonym. The following series is an original non-fiction story that spans 33 pages of single-spaced sentences. It will be divided into 10 parts. The story begins during the author’s early childhood and goes up to the present. At each stage the author writes according to the age she is at.

Trigger warnings: various parts of this story contain descriptions of graphic, often sadistic, physical abuse of children, apologisms for religious abuse, deprivation of food, as well as references to rape.


In this seriesPart One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Conclusion


Conclusion: My Parents Were Not The “Fringe”

I am “Mary” and I would like to follow up my story with this.

Reading so many things and other peoples’ stories, I feel that there are some things I should make very clear for any homeschoolers or homeschool supporters as well as any skeptics who would otherwise want to discredit my story or claim that my parents were the “fringe lunatics.”

If you didn’t figure it out reading my story, I am the 2nd oldest of eight children and the oldest girl.  I was 12 and 15 when my two youngest brothers were born and as a result, we have more of a mother/son relationship than a sister/brother relationship. They are the two still with my parents and have yet to be involved with the rest of us in the exposing of and healing from our past. All the rest of my siblings however, have all read my story and confirmed it with their memories and their own stories. That is six of us that all agree on what happened. It makes me angry that I even feel like I have to defend the accuracy of my story and that people would think that I would actually make this stuff up.

As for my parents, I can assure you that they were not the “fringe” in homeschooling. My dad has an amazing job and they are very well off financially. Dad served as the president of the home schooling organization in our state for quite a few years. They have volunteered at church since I was little, helped out in AWANA, taught Sunday school, kept the nursery, volunteered at other church events, helped organize and plan the homeschool conference in our state every year, volunteered in debate, teach Good News Clubs, host homeschool events in their home and generally keep their reputation about as squeaky clean as is possible.

Mom rarely took us out to the store or anywhere other then the random homeschool field trip during school hours, for fear that someone might notice something. If she did end up having too, we were required to stay in the van (which had heavily tinted windows) while she went inside alone. There were many times we were stuck in our brown van (I specify color to say that it soaked up heat like crazy) during the middle of the summer and we lived in a state that got well into the upper 90’s and lower 100’s. We were not allowed to open the windows because she didn’t want anyone in the parking lot to hear us.

At church we were the model family. My siblings and I lived in utter terror of what would happen to us if we dared misbehave or say anything that they deemed inappropriate while at church or anywhere else out. Nearly a weekly lecture that we received on the way to church was that anything that happened in our household was not to be talked about and was not anyone else’s business. On Sundays, when we had been made to stay up the entire night before, they would force us to drink coffee so that no one would notice how tired we were.  Grandparents lived a state away and we only saw them a couple of times a year so they didn’t see us enough to really have to ability to notice anything. Also, we were all so ashamed of our punishments and what happened that it totally mortified us to think about admitting to our grandparents how “bad” we were and how we were punished.

As far as friends go, most of us didn’t have any. My sister “Abby” and I were really the only ones that did and one of them moved away when we were young and any interaction with the other one was very heavily monitored.  She was welcome to come to our house some of the time but anytime we made plans to go to her house, mom would always figure out a way to cancel it without it looking too suspicious.

My parents did a masterful job of covering up and to this day are revered and treated as role models by church members that I grew up around. There have been a few people that have believed me and my siblings, but the vast majority of them are convinced that my siblings and I are making everything up to purposely ruin our parents’ lives and are convinced that all of us older ones are living in rebellion and have rejected God and everything else we have been taught. When I did report my parents to DSS last year, they did a masterful job of dragging my name through the mud and making the general reaction from others to be pitying my parents for having such an evil daughter. When two of my sisters and I met with the social worker about my parents, I gave them my story that you just read and “Abby” gave hers (which is just as horrible, only I think maybe a little worse because she tried to kill herself a few times and has fought two eating disorders).

I will never understand why they did not remove my brothers from the home.

In my opinion the system is very broken.

So here I sit. I have been blamed for our families’ problems, pretty much cut off from contact with my very beloved brothers because they are still with my parents. I am trying desperately to figure out how in the world to be a good mother to my own two precious treasures. I am dealing with major medical and emotional problems that are a direct result of the abuse I endured. And I am financially struggling because my husband has had major difficulty finding work and we have to pay for all the medical issues. And I am struggling with the constant fear that something might happen to my husband — making him unable to provide for our family and knowing that I could never do it as I have no degree (this is not a groundless fear as my husband has already had a ruptured disk in his back and still has major back issues and heart disease runs in his family).

This is why I shared my story with HA.

I want to support them and I want my voice heard.

I am so very tired of being the bad guy in my family’s sphere of influence. I know that may never change but at least others may believe me.

End of series.


    • I am so sorry. And I believe you. I was prostituted and ritually abused as a child, though not by my parents,homeschooled….I believe you and my heart breaks for you.

  • I believe you. And I bet Jesus loves you more than you have ever; or could ever imagine. I hope you and your husband (and bambinos) are doing great…don’t worry…God provides.

  • This is indeed a very sad story of abuse. As a homeschooling mommy though, I would like to point out that this happens in public school homes also – the book “A Child Called It” tells a story of a deranged mother very similar to this and her child was in public school. This is such a terrible injustice to these poor babies and we pray that somehow The Lord uses it for good. Praying for you and your family.

    • This is not about you. Just because you can site another story that fits what you want to believe better, it doesn’t undo what dangers unregulated/poorly regulated homeschooling and extreme conservative Christianity can lead to. And nothing will ever justify what happened to these kids. Please don’t pray for something so vile.

      • Yeah, my story is a LOT like Mary’s. Except that my mom was extremely liberal. And I went to public school.

        No one at any school ever asked why I was so frequently in pain from hunger, terrified of my own shadow, or couldn’t make a friend to save my life. Life at home was hellish, alternating between extremely abusive and neglectful. Yet my mom always had everyone thinking she was awesome and together, with “such well-behaved kids!”

        My point? Evil, narcissistic abuser “parents” come in all shapes and forms, and use public, private, and home schools. It’s insulting to insinuate otherwise…especially to those of us who do happen to homeschool and love our kids deeply, respect them as amazing human beings, enjoy spending time with them, and would NEVER abuse them.

    • Firstly, “A Child Called It” has been discredited and is more than likely the work of fiction and is really a moot point anyway.
      Secondly, the problem with homeschooling is that it allows abuse to occur in *such* isolation that the chances of it being found out are next to nil. At least in public schools there is a greater chance of intervention- with homeschooling there is pretty much none.
      As for people taking offence that they homeschool and would never abuse their kids well… congratulations? Good on you for not abusing your children and behaving like a decent human being… I mean, what do you want? It’s not about you or good parents who don’t abuse, this is about the way in which homeschooling can compound abuse through isolation.
      So maybe take a step back and have some empathy rather than making it about yourselves.

  • Mary, at many times reading your story, I wondered if one of my older siblings had written it and I just didn’t remember some of the worst bits. I am 25, also married to a wonderful man, (praise God for our men, right!?) and just now getting ready to tell my story the way it happened. Most of our abuse was emotional, we were spanked more extremely and more often than was appropriate, but still not nearly as bad as what you went through.
    I strongly identified with being given too many chores, too much school, in impossible amounts of time, and being spanked for it all. the. time. I do not know when or if Mom ever actually did chores. Thankfully, we were never thrown outside, and I don’t remember being denied food. Until very recent years, I honestly believed I deserved the punishments I got. It was a revelation of only a few months ago that no one, especially a child, could have ever completed all the chores I had in those small increments of time.
    Anyways, I’m rambling about all of this to say: I believe you. I don’t have the slightest problem believing you. Thank you so much for writing, and for sharing the reaction of your parents and your old community to your truth telling. So grateful you are out and I will add your two little brothers to my prayers when I pray for my two youngest brothers who still live with Mom every other weekend. (My dad finally divorced her, thank God.)
    Because of your bravery, I feel more prepared, confident, and determined that I can tell my story too; not for revenge, not for anger, but because it is true.

  • I belive you. My mom never made me vomit though…or spank my feet but I know exactly what you mean.

  • I believe you, and i am so so sorry you had to go through that. Unbelievably sorry.
    I would have gone into their house and Taken those two little boys. They can’t fight it unless they want the truth of the abuse to come up and ruin them.

  • Recovery is never an easy path. God’s arms are wrapped around you and your family. We will pray for your younger brothers to find a safe place and peace in their hearts.

  • My body is physically aching for you, Mary. I believe every syllable of your story; I am so, so sorry that you had to live through this, that your childhood was robbed from you and your siblings, and that the torture continues with the questions about your young brothers’ wellbeing. Don’t fear the future: your way will be made for you simply because you deserve the peace and security of a happy life. It WILL happen for you.

  • “Mary”. I am so sorry for your abuse and the loss of your childhood. No child should ever have to live as you did. Ever.

    I am also soooooo sad that your homeschool experience was terrible. I homeschool my 3 boys (16, and twins of 8). We have so much fun…..last week we performed period music at our homeschool Fall Festival, and today we were going to head to a Civil War Reenactment at a local plantation…..but the severe weather cancelled that. We read, listen to books on tape, play music, knit, sew, draw and have a rigorous curriculum (I was a teacher in public and private school before).

    This is how homeschool IMO should be. I am so sorry that some very, very mentally ill individuals have made homeschool a living hell for you and others.

    I wish you peace and healing on your journey forward, and strength to face your past so that you can be free from its chains.

    Virtual Hugs.

  • At many points during reading this, I cried. I cried because I felt like you were in my home with me. Some of the things, like outside for days and having a father, were more severe. I am the oldest of four and I remember playing those games with my little sister, to whom I was more of a mother with us being 7 years apart in age. We played two Cinderellas just trying to get our chores done before our evil stepmother woke to beat us. I, however, went to public school.

    I pray that you can find peace from your past, a prayer I am very much reciting for myself, too. You know that question that people ask in fun, if you could pick one thing from your past to change…? I say nothing. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had not gone through what I did. Always remember that.

    God loves you!

    • I would change everything. I would speak up more! I wouldn’t stop speaking until they cut out my tongue. And when they cut out my tongue I would use sign language with my fingers. And when they cut off my fingers I would just run around and scream. In my situation I was told by church pastors that Jesus would fix my family if I was submissive and obedient. That is what I told CPS after my best friend reported my dad for sexual abuse when I was 15 years old. CPS social workers was apart of my Christian church and believed me. 4 years later after the CPS social worker and I agreed that Jesus would fix things my dad attempted to kill me. As you can see, submission, obedience, quietness, faith, prayer, hope did not get me anywhere.

      So if I could change anything; it would be the fact that I learned to scream at a younger age.

      • I’m with you- more screaming. Loud screaming. The problem is, it is tough enough to survive situations like this story, and sometimes screaming just has more people saying you are the crazy one with issues. Those of us that are out must start screaming WITH these children- a loud orchestra of screaming. We still have a culture that does not value the voice of the child.

      • Well, sometimes I do a bit of kicking and biting too. I have a lot of folks call me crazy but I raise hell. I could not save myself as a child but I have been able to help others as an adult.

  • Oh, I am soooo glad you found a good husband, Mary! And yes, I believe you: having suffered abuse (not quite as bad as yours, but bad enough) at my non-homeschooling, non-fundamentalist elders’ hands (mother reared under the Nazis, her mother reared under the Prussian system, my American father a man who was borderline Borderline Personality Disorder, with some Narcissistic traits thrown in to boot), I can only too readily recognize the plausibility of what you describe. (I, too, suffer from a chronic immune system illness which I am convinced came about largely as a delayed reaction—PTSD—to all the garbage I had to put up with the first 15 years of my life.)

    May the remainder of your life act as more and more balm on your battered soul and body.



  • Man. This was painful to read. I’m so, so sorry you had to go through this. I believe all of it. I think what you went through was more severe than what I and my siblings did in some ways, but much of it was all too familiar. Horrible. May God’s love, healing, and freedom be the true delight and balm of your soul. May he protect and keep you, your husband and children, and the two precious boys still in your parents’ care. I am sure one day they will be out of there and you will be able to share and to help them as well. Don’t worry.

  • I believe you.

  • Mary,

    Thank you for your story. The bell of truth rings through it from beginning to end, partially because I experienced a very tiny portion of what you went through, and partially because things like this just can’t be made up.

    I’m personally very torn about the situation my youngest brother is in myself. As far as I can tell, the physical abuse (which wasn’t even a shadow to what you have described) stopped several years ago. The emotional side of things seems to be limited to general cluelessness at this point. I am blessed to have parents who have realized that they’ve done wrong, and have stopped what they know how to stop. Their severe lack of emotional intelligence and sensitivity (or what I desperately want to be a lack of emotional intelligence and sensitivity, at least) keep them from really getting to where things should be though. Am I doing right or wrong by not reporting anything? I’m probably doing wrong by my brother. The only thing I can say in my defense is that he knows that he’s a phone call away from a one-way airplane ticket, and we’ll deal with the fallout afterwards. Am I prepared to be a pseudo-father for my 17 year old brother? I really couldn’t say, but I at least know a whole slew of things to avoid doing wrong.

    Again, thank you for telling your story. Maybe some day I’ll be able/ready/willing/brave enough to tell mine. May your life be blessed, your husband healed, your relationship with your siblings restored, and your family joyful.

    Now I’m going to go curl up and cry on your behalf.

  • I believe you.

  • I would like to see these people arrested. If that is not possible, I wish you would publish their names so their community would know. Even if there are only one or two members of the community who would be against this kind of behavior, at least those people would see who they’re dealing with. You have no reason to be ashamed or concerned about people believing you. What you have described here is more than an alternate child-rearing philosophy– it is criminal behavior.

    • I agree with you, and while I no longer hate them I do wish that my parents would be put away if for no other reason then to vindicate my name in all the circles they have drug it through. However at this time it is just not possible. I want to scream my real name to the world and let everyone know but I just can’t. A few of my other siblings are very private and are not ready to attach their names publicly to this and I have to respect that. I also cannot jeopardize any possible future involvement in the lives of my 2 brothers still at home. I love them as much as I love my own children and my parents already temporarily cut me out once. Right now I am just biding time till they are both old enough to get out of there. Thank you for your care and belief, it means the world to me.

  • Oh Mary………my heart is absolutely breaking for you. And, I am SO angry!!!! If I were anywhere near your parents right now, I would be shaking with emotions. I just read all of your story and my heart is simply devastated for you. I am so, so, so sorry, dear one. You must be only a few years younger than I.

    I am a homeschooling mother of three and we love, love being together and growing in this life. No we aren’t perfect, but we love Jesus and each other. Isolation is never good.

    I agree with a previously posted comment, listen to your gut instinct regarding your dad and your baby girl. Never let him alone with her. There is a reason you feel the way you do. His addiction to pornography is another sign. I’m just so beyond sorry for your hurt and pain. I wish I could help you in some way………. ❤

    • Thank you! I’m about to turn 30 and I have an almost 5 year old and a 3 year old. I wish I could think about home schooling them but right now the triggers are too strong and the pain too deep. My husband and I just enrolled our son for kindergarten this coming fall. I’m so happy that you are enjoying it with yours. Thank you, thank you.

      • I believe you. You are COURAGEOUS (sorry, I needed to shout that word!) to be telling your story. My childhood was messed up, but it was not as bad as other stories I’ve heard/read. Also, it was nowhere near as horrible as what you and your siblings went through. I went to a private elementary school and then a public high school, but I was pretty much isolated at home. I wasn’t well socialized, and so I had only a few friends and I was bullied. I do know what it is like to be twelve years old and be better able to relate to adults than with others your own age. Someone told me back then that this was a sign of maturity. I believed that one for years. I had one younger sister. We grew up to be very different people, because we were raised differently though we were in the same household. To this day, though, we both have many issues to still work through. I wish the best blessings for you, your husband, and your children.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. You are so right about things like this not being the “fringe” of the movement. I grew up within the movement and can attest to that.

  • The memories/visions/whatever they were of the sexual assault — have you made any progress in understanding what that was all about?

    I will warn you that you may not want to know. But I was curious if you’d attempted to interrogate those experiences in any way. Given that you weren’t exposed to such imagery, it’s hard to imagine where it came from if not real life, and I know all too well how these experiences can be wholly blocked from our minds for decades. Wishing you peace, honor, strength, and light.

    • No I haven’t. I would love answers but don’t know if I’ll ever get them. Part of me doesn’t want to know if my dad did anything but part of me does. He still totally creeps me out and I will not leave either of my parents alone with either my son or my daughter. I have spent lots of time going through memories and trying to sort them out but at this point, I’m no longer trying. If I eventually remember something then I’ll figure out what I need to do about it at that point. For the time being, I am trying to have a good marriage to my wonderful hubby and trying to be the mother that my pre-schoolers need so rehashing memories isn’t something I’m focusing on unless needed. Thanks!

      • You mentioned that you ranaway more than once as a kiddo. Maybe you crossed paths with a bad guy. I meditate when I get my flashbacks. Because I’m a Christian I meditate on the scriptures that say God is good and I try to remember my blessings. Blessings like butterflies or the smell of jasmine and gardenia. Blessings like a child’s laughter or a little hatched and fluffy chick. Blessings like despite my asthma I am now able and allowed to (because I am no longer living with my folks) take asthma medicine. There is no shame in taking medicine anymore. Anyways, this is what I do when the flashbacks come up. Flashbacks are a lot like throwing up too. It is not something that should be induced. But when I do throw up, I like to think about blessings. But not the blessing of chocolate because I actually do throw up when I get my flashbacks and the thought of food makes it worse.

      • No, I can tell you with certainty that nothing happened to me like that when I ran. I never got far enough and was totally aware the whole time. The terrors started way before I ran away the first time anyway. It was a good thought though.

      • “Mary”, if the memories need to come, they will come. They will come only when they need to, and only when you are ready and able to cope with them. I say that because just when I thought I had all of mine, another wave came. I am really starting to put some pieces together now, due to this last wave of remembering. I had more memories about my mom for many, many years- saw my dad as more of the “good guy”. That is until those waves of memories came. They were worse, and I’m kind of glad I didn’t uncover those stones at an earlier date. I wouldn’t have been able to deal. I wish you well on your healing.

        Oh, and it seems we are about the same age. Really made me think about people from my homeschool groups- I always wondered about the safety of their homes. I wondered if anyone ever wondered about mine. Thanks for sharing your story- it opened up more healing for me.

      • May I suggest then you may not need to. I am sure I was sexually abused, but as I tried to go counseling for it I didn’t have peace. In a recent prayer time I had God told me to give it to Him without looking and the memory and not dwelling on it. He made it clear he wants me pour out all my hurts worries and fears and he wants to give me his peace and strength. all my peace. Maybe this isn’t the time?
        He may want to just love you and care for you, like a season of healing and just light…you need to be built up and see that he is kind. You need peace and gentleness. You need his peace and love and to focus on his blessing in your life your wonderful hubby your sweet kids. Oh Mary, you are so precious. You are beloved and adored.

  • I believe you, and I’m so sorry that you were terrorized by your own parents. God entrusted them with eight children — eight tender souls to nurture, and to teach his love, gentleness and mercy. They have betrayed that trust most terribly.

  • I believe you, because although I was not homeschooled, I endured similar abuse as a child (I’m 17 now).
    Listen. You need to keep asking DSS. And if they still don’t do anything for your brothers, you need to call up your local newspaper and news station and see if they want to report on this utter neglect from the state.
    As someone that has been through the system, there is NO excuse for them to not remove your brothers.
    I wish you and them the best of luck, you’ll be in my thoughts.

  • I BELIEVE YOU. A “Sister of my Heart” went through this – and more – although she was not home-schooled. She and one of her bio-sisters suffered at the hands of their sick female parent (I hesitate to use the word MOTHER) and their male parent would do nothing to defend them – or himself!! – from the insanity and violence in which they drowned. I am 57; she is 60 and the other sister is 66; my husband and I will live the rest of our lives loving them and caring for them. It pains us because the mental illness was genetic, and some of it has passed on. Please pray for all of us. Please pray that there is peace. Namaste.

  • Mary: You just wrote out my story pretty much verbatim. I’m glad you told your story because it makes me feel like I’m not alone. I didn’t receive any help until after I “ranaway” from home. By law it wasn’t running away because I was 19. But my pastors said it was running away and called the police lieutenant to find me. All of the police, lawyers, shelter workers at that time on Maui (1996) were part of this one mega Christian church. So women and children who were beaten and raped had a difficult time escaping their abuse.

    Its been hard to find my voice. I was “excommunicated”. I’m not sure what that means since I’m not a catholic; I’m a Christian. Its been 17 years ago that I ranaway. I have been fortunate to have known 2 Hawaiian families that saved my life. They intercepted my crazy father before he could kill me. So I take on their family name because I hate my own family name.

    This is why I strongly believe in separation of church and state. If we don’t separate it then abuse like this just continues and never stops. Its weird how I left 17 years ago and my parents still think they control me with fear. What they don’t realize is that I’m not afraid anymore. I’m actually quite pissed off. I think things need to change but the question is “How?”

  • I believe you. I also believe that your mother is seriously mentally ill and your father is an enabler. I hope things will work out for you. It is so hard to have to struggle so long–my husband and I have struggled financially for our entire marriage (33 years.) You can only do the best you can.

  • Dear ‘Mary’, I believe you, it doesn’t just happen in the US! I’m 65 and it happened to me in 50’s Britain. Because of the inability of my parents to understand what is mean’t by ‘sparing the rod is spoiling the child’. I have 5 (grown up) children and promised myself I would never ‘physically assault’ my children. That means any hitting smacking or scare tactics imposed on precious bodies or minds. Your deranged parents have already lost any of God’s love for their terrible cruelty to you and your siblings. Jesus’ severe words were that parents who damage their offspring should be destroyed. As he said “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). I forgave my parents a long time ago, as they recognized their lack of ‘understanding’/control at what they had imposed on us. (Only a fraction of what you’ve been through.) They were very sorry and asked our forgiveness. I agree with others who say you must keep informing/reminding the state and church authorities of their responsibility to stop this abuse of the perceived ‘freedom’ of parents to treat their precious children in this way! Your prayers for your husband and brothers will be answered, as we are all praying for you too!

    • I listened to a pastor once who said that the actual translation isn’t “rod” it is “staff”, meaning the staff that a shepherd uses to hike long ways while leading the sheep. “Spare the rod” basically means, you are supposed to lead your children in the same way that a shepherd leads sheep (caring for them, feeding them, and bringing them home at night). It has nothing whatsoever to do with parental corporal punishment.

      • Oh, and our translation of “spoil”, was kind of all wrong too. Only I can’t recall what the pastor said about it. I mostly took away from it that parents are supposed to lovingly lead their children like little sheep, not beat the sh** out of them.

      • Thank you! I needed that word. I’ve felt like it was wrong to spank. It doesn’t sit well in my soul.

      • Proverbs 20:30: Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
        beatings make clean the innermost parts. (NSRV)

        Proverbs 23:13: Do not withhold discipline from your children;
        if you beat them with a rod, they will not die. (NSRV)

        With pearls of “wisdom” such as these, do you really accept your pastor’s convenient explanation as a real and comfortable truth?

        In the company of such inarguably violent advice, is Proverbs 13:24 really able to take on a pastoral, shepherding connotation?

        Proverbs 13:24: Those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.

        I fail to distinguish the meaningful difference between these three verses, and remain unsurprised when I continue reading stories of people taking 13:24 at it’s obvious, face value, and the truly tragic consequences.

        I was beaten as a child (though to nowhere near the extent of Mary’s horror), and my parents felt they were doing the correct thing, because it was clearly mandated and praised as wisdom. I completely agree with them: Proverbs is unambiguous about what is expected regarding the parental duty to physically discipline your children. Where I differ, unsurprisingly, is that I am not a Christian.

        I feel flashes of immediate anger any time I hear them saying that they were only doing the best they could; just doing what they thought was right. Reading people attempting to sanitise and exorcise the ugliness out from the text provokes a different (weirdly defensive), anger.

        My parents were not monsters, deliberately misreading a benign text to justify their brutality. They were good people, with a genuine love for their children, but crippled from acting out that real and natural love by their strong faith. That strong faith was given primary importance, and saw them suspend their own natural, “heart-is-deceitful-above-all-things” desire to protect and nurture their children, in favour of a “higher” way. Of course, the “higher” way that they genuinely believed (and I maintain: had excellent justification for believing) was wisdom inspired by God, had the tragic effect of brutalising them, and see them behave abusively – against their better judgement.

      • deadsparrows, I don’t contest the existence of the passages you quoted. I won’t say that spanking your children is wrong. What I will say though, is that there’s a difference between spanking your children and beating your children. One is discipline, the other is abuse.

        According to my understanding, a rod is different from a staff (jumping to Psalm 23 for a moment), and both have their purpose. A staff is used when gentle guidance is possible, which is the majority of the time. When there is an extreme situation, the rod is used; but again, only when necessary.

        As for Proverbs, I don’t know what the proper translation is, but I would still maintain that the staff is to be used when possible, and the rod if all else fails. Also keep in mind that a shepherd uses his/her voice first before either.

      • “What I will say though, is that there’s a difference between spanking your children and beating your children. One is discipline, the other is abuse.”

        Sure, you’ll get no argument from me on that. What happened to Mary was vile abuse. A parent lightly smacking a child’s hand when they reach for something dangerous is poles apart.

        Are “blows that wound” abusive? Sure sounds it to me, yet we’re told, in the same book of Proverbs that sees these people justify their violence, that this type of injury-inflicting beating “cleanse[s] away evil”. That “beatings make clean the innermost parts”.

        When you couple that claim with a common Christian thought that the spirit is to be exalted above the (fallen) flesh, it becomes painfully easy to see why some don’t hold back at all from the abuses of the flesh, and instead believe they are purifying the spirit with their viciousness.

        Many parents literally see their need to physically subdue and control their children’s base instincts as a battle between man’s fallen state, and the higher way of God. They not only feel justified in the beatings they inflict, they feel that they are on the forefront of a cosmic war between the forces of good and evil. If their maternal or paternal instincts kick in, and they start pitying their child, they identify it as weakness: even as the adversary trying to get them to give up “the fight” by manipulating their deceitful hearts.

        Those types of “well meaning” Christian parents are very often the same who homeschool – again, believing they are the last of God’s warriors raising children outside the influence of evil secular education.

      • “Spare the rod and spoil the child” ISN’T a Bible verse. It’s is actually from a 1700s poem about sexual sadism. Please do not confuse this with anything that the Bible teaches.

      • “Spare the rod and spoil the child” ISN’T a Bible verse. It’s is actually from a 1700s poem about sexual sadism. Please do not confuse this with anything that the Bible teaches.”

        Proverbs 13:24: Those who spare the rod hate their children,
        but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.

        Proverbs 20:30: Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
        beatings make clean the innermost parts.

        Proverbs 23:13: Do not withhold discipline from your children;
        if you beat them with a rod, they will not die.

        So why are you asking me to not ‘confuse’ the “spare the rod, spoil the child” idiom with anything in the Bible? It’s all there, that exact principle!

  • I felt physically sick for you as I read. I wanted to stop reading as the pit in my stomach could hardly bear to hear it, but at the same time, wanted to know what happened to you. What became of you. This is your story, and I know there were eight of you. God help you all. I homeschool, too. I have four little girls and there is no way a mother could act that way toward her children unless she was a complete monster, void of empathy and feeling. I wish you would expose those parents of yours. Systematically and without shame. You have NO shame here. They have closets and closets full. There is such a silly responsibility we feel toward family. Even to family who abused us and hurt us and changed us forever. If you can shake off that loyalty to them and that shame they make you feel because they still don’t want you to speak the truth, please do. Keep exposing. For you. For your siblings. For other children who are in that church and still under this kind of hellish life. I’m so sorry, hon. I went to PCC too and wonder if we had ever rubbed shoulders. I wish I could give you a big hug.

  • I believe you. I am horrified that any parent would subject children to this torture. To do so in the name of God makes it even more twisted. As for the sexual images, you mentioned that your father has a porn addiction. Do you think you might have seen some of your father’s pornography? I’m deeply, deeply sorry for the hell you have gone through. Have you considered expanding this into a memoir?

    • I wouldn’t know how to even start to turn it into a memoir although my husband has mentioned it too.

      • I was also thinking the same thing. You mentioned financial woes and I am aware of several women who have left abusive, religious, fringe homes (polygamy and cults) who have written successful books. With the availability of internet publishing, it might not be as hard to make it a reality as you may think.

        I believe you fully. I am from an abusive home, though it was simply abuse (not in the name of a diety). Awareness is huge. The right people need to make noise in order for it to be heard buy the right ears. I thank you for bringing your story to the world so that maybe another child or family does not have to suffer the same. The system IS broken. I ran away numerous times, but I never made it or never really had anywhere to go. The abuse I suffered as a child set me up for numerous abusive relationships as an adult. I am finally free: from abuse, from myself, my history, everything. I am no long a victim of my past, but it took nearly 20 years for me to recover from the 15 years I endured as a child.

        I am so glad that you are safe and loved. Feeling safe, loved, and well takes a long time. Let go of what everyone thinks, including those that attempt to invalidate you. You are a valuable person, and have been so brave confronting your abuse and abusers.

  • Thank you to everyone who has commented and supported me with your belief in the truth of my story! I really can’t respond to each and every comment and honestly I don’t check very often for comments, but I always check for new ones anytime I am here.

    • I read this over a month ago and already commented once. But I want you to know that I think of and pray for you often. For your siblings too. Exposure is a justice. If anything it serves as a reminder that we reap what we sow. I understand your hesitations now. They are certainly valid and probably wise. But, you’re in my prayers, whatever your real name is…God knows your precious name. I’m so glad you found love and now are free from the physical torture. Poor sweet girl.

  • Mary, I believe you.

    I have never endured what you described, but I BELIEVE you. I cannot comprehend how any parent could treat any child the way you and your brothers and sisters were treated. I am physically sickened by your account (but I thank you for the courage it must have taken to share it).

    I ache for you and your siblings. Your mother is obviously psychotic and your dad is not any better, and it makes me sick that she and your dad have somehow managed to put a good face on themselves. I can only hope that I have never been deceived in such a horrible way by somebody.

    I praise God that you have a wonderful husband and sweet babies. I know you will be a good mother (you certainly know what NOT to ever, ever, ever do to ANYBODY ever!).

    I pray for you, your siblings, and anyone else who has suffered as you have (God knows each and every one – I hold ALL of you up in prayer, for His healing and comfort).

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I just discovered this site. I always thought our family was a weird exception. Some parts of your story were chillingly familiar, although your experiences were much worse. Ours was physical but much more heavily emotional abuse and I struggle to make sense of and even remember it. I hope you get to reconnect with your brothers soon. I have one sibling left at home and can’t wait until they get out.

  • I am so, so sorry, from the bottom of my heart, for everything that was done to you, and for the pain and anger those people, who blame and/or disbelieve victims, must have caused you. They are enablers and not better than the abusers themselves. You are a wonderful person and you and your family and siblings deserve all the happiness in the world.

  • Kelly Hernandez

    I believe you! I am so saddened by your story and for your siblings. I pray that God would make me “present” to see if there are any children in my own church that are being abused and we just refuse to see. May God watch over your family and heal your husbands back. I want you to know that I always felt that I could not take care of my family if something happened to my husband because I did not have a degree. I am 54 years old and am graduating from school in May because I feel I need to be able to take care of myself if something happens. It is never to late to get a degree, you are smart, you are lovely, and you are special!

    • It’s true- I’m 33, and am finally getting my degree. Online is really the way to go. It is much cheaper and you can do your work when you need to throughout the week.

  • Oh my heart breaks for you. I am so sorry. I’m not homeschooled but my relative who abused me was a teacher…and I understand the pain of not being believed. I’m so sorry but Jesus spoke truth to you. That was not right.

  • I’m devastated to read this. I tried to homeschool, more from the lack of resources after the Great Recession and the sadistic move by my husband’s aunts to poison my inlaws against both of us. And I was too overwhelmed! I lost a number of family members in a short time, had resulting lies & cheating going on with estates and naturally, in a Christian family, someone decided it was a great idea to try to take my children away as punishment for reporting a breakin by one of my siblings, one he bragged about. We were scared but the official saw the report was BS once she found out someone had died and there were estate issues. It’s not illegal to turn in a false report. And I was scared to discipline my kids AT ALL for nearly a year, let them run wild like bohemians.

    I was fried, never tested so hard in my life, so lost, so alone. Did I mention I’m an older mother? Yeah, follow the corporate rule book, then get thrown out at 40 and lose everything you ever worked for. And now I’m ashamed because I read Charles Colson’s book that preached spanking and remember the shock on my eldest’s face the first time I spanked him at the age of 3 because he was getting too unruly. Or started to yell. I only have 2 children, couldn’t carry another pregnancy due to stress. But by the grace of God and all my husband’s excuses as to why I should homeschool I threw down the gauntlet this year and put my oldest in PreK, full-time. Then a few weeks later I put my daughter in, full-time. I was going to pick them up early, then started leaving them until 6:30 because I was BEYOND exhausted and tired and could barely deal with them. But they’re responded so well to having friends and being stimulated I’ll move heaven and earth to get the money to keep sending them to school.

    [HA note: comment modified due to Comment Policy #3.]

    God will heal you, I promise, give Him space to work. He will reveal Himself. He will answer. Reading a lot of Joyce Meyer’s early books about her abuse helped, as well as books on (gasp!) Buddhism because they helped me see how I perpetuate the abuse I suffered. (((hugs)))

  • I believe you. Not only do I believe you but I wish more people would realize how common this really is. For the first several parts, I thought it might be one of my older siblings writing this. I cried for hours when I finished reading this, remembering what I can of my own homeschooling childhood. Especially the daydreaming of being someone else, somewhere else.

  • As for any memories of possible sexual abuse that have not surfaced, may I just say that I endured a similarly disgusting, disturbing, horrific upbringing/abuse that includes well-remembered sexual abuses and yet there are huge chunks of my life that I simply cannot remember at all. I refuse to be overly concerned with it, I look at it like this: If what I CAN remember is so horrific, what is God protecting me from by blanking it out? I simply do not want to know what can be worse than what I do remember. Bless you. I hope you have found some semblance of peace and happiness and it continues to grow…some are deserving of an extra serving of blessings, moreso than others require. I am so terribly sorry for what you (we) went through as children, or should I say the lack of being able to be children. Some scars heal, some never do. Find peace, be happy, be thankful for your (as he comes across from your writings) amazing husband and most of all enjoy your children and be a better parent than your own. I was so concerned about having children because I had always heard “those that are abused grow up to be abusers, it’s a circle” bullshit…but I refused to be anything like my mother (so much so that my children never got a spanking – when at times they probably truly could have used one!) Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Thank you so much for being so brave and sharing so much. I want to be very honest with you. In the first few parts of this I related with your mother ths most. I saw myself in her, seeing myself letting how I feel affect how I parent, losing control. I have seen fear in my children’s eyes, and the need they have to just please me to keep me from getting mad. (Although I have never deprived them of food or used a belt on them or even made them do chorus) But it was not until reading your story that I was able to truly see what I was doing and what life I was setting them up for. I have cried and run upstairs to hold them, dropping to me knees and praying for help. Thank you for your insight and for helping me have insight. We homeschooled our oldest this year and thanks to a supportive yet honest husband we have decided to put our children into school. I will pray for you and for your brothers, constantly. Thank you

  • I’m late to reading this, but I definitely believe you. My husband’s uncle raised his children very much like this. They were so isolated the rest of the family had no idea until it was too late. Sadly there was not any lasting intervention by CPS until the oldest boy died from starvation and exposure (he was also forced to stay outside in the very bitter cold). I’m glad you are okay and I’m amazed you lived through all of that and can still be so strong. It’s grotesque to me how terrible CPS can be. My husband’s surviving cousins are deeply hurt and it has taken a lot of work to get them stable enough to go to school. They should never have had to go through what they did for as long as they did – but their daddy was a judge. He had the money and the influence to get away with almost-murder. Now he and his wife are locked up for life. I hope and pray your parents join them without such a tragedy. I am so so sorry that this happened and I’m so pissed for you I can barely type. You are a miracle. An angel from demons. I hope you can see how special you and your siblings really are.

  • Candis Castorani

    The fact that you have a Love for The Lord is beyond comprehension, this is a story of ” Beauty for Ashes” I don’t know how you endured so many years of this, you lost your childhood, and adolescent years to two Monsters Aka:
    Mom & Dad. They will be judged, not by you, or by any who know the story, but
    God who alone knows every detail, each hair of your head, and how many
    Tears you shed. May His Glory Be over your Life, As he Blesses you, and your family. Candis CASTORANI

  • From the bottom of my heart, I’m so sorry for the torture you and all your siblings endured. Using God and faith as a reason to abuse you in all ways is the lowest form of a human being and worshiper.

    I CAN’T understand why theses other commenters say “I know exactly how you felt, Mary. I was spanked too…except I was never starved, didn’t take cold baths, didn’t have to strip naked, etc.” THIS IS MARY’S STORY, NOT yours!! Tell you own story somewhere! There are horrid stories everywhere (public school kids, boarding school kids, foster kids, step parent families, etc), and this is Mary’s blog to share her incredible story of strength and survival. Let her tell her story without comparing! This is her time for the spotlight.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry you had to endure years of abuse, for any reason. I am grateful that you can see that God loves you so deep and so wide, that the things your parents did to you had nothing to do with Him or His ways. You are so brave to call social services about your brothers; love protects. Do not ever worry about defending yourself or your story again; God is your defense, he will take care of that for you. You may want to consider writing a book; it could help supplement your income and could help someone else at the same time. 😉

  • Mary I want to reassure you that you can be a different mother than your mother was to you. She was a subhuman monster. Often these people hide behind a cloak of religiosity and good works. It is outrageous that many people believe them over you. I too was abused and when I tried to tell people about it they didn’t believe me and defended my mother and labeled me an ingrate. I’m just starting to tell my own story as well. I hope you check out my blog. I can’t believe how backwards our so called modern world is when it comes to abuse. I was tuened away by many religious leaders when I tried to go to them for help. Jesus has shown me that He has no part in most human made religious institutions and that they are almost entirely apostate by now. There may be doctrine, rituals etc but little to no love especially for the weak and vulnerable. I also have autistic spectrum disorder.

  • Here is where I’m telling my story. https://voicewilderness1.wordpress.com

  • Jacqueline Johns

    Do write a memoir, Mary, and make public the names of the people who gave you and your siblings this hellish childhood, as soon as you are able to. If nothing else, it will expose your vile parents for their wicked deeds done to their own defenceless children. Even if they go unpunished, they should not go unknown and unnoticed. What they did to you is inexcusable. Throw the same bible verses at them that they used to judge you, at everyone who advocates ‘breaking the wills’ of innocent children. Your story comes across as very vivid and powerful to me. I read it once, horrified,and I cannot bring myself to read it again. It makes me sick to read it,to think that such things are still happening, even now, in many homes,being perpetrated by people who never deserved to have a child call them mommy and daddy. Expose them! The world should know your story, because it is one of precious few that come out in all it’s true ugliness, when, I am sure, countless others go untold. Your story will go a long way in helping people realize just how much rottenness hides under the facade of fundamentalism, under the guise of religion.
    And to think these people dare demand the deregulation of homeschool.
    Many more innocent,helpless children are trapped in that rotted system, unable to do anything about it,unable to speak out for themselves; and the most helpful thing anyone can do is to expose just what goes on in many of these fundamentalist,homeschooling families.
    Expose them. Do it for those children, as soon as your younger siblings are safe from your parents. Letting such as these go unexposed,unnoticed by the public eye, only further encourages them, and others to repeat the same pattern of abuse.Their abuses and oppression of those under their power have been covered up, explained away by cherry-picked bible verses, enough. Expose as much as you can of them. It’s time that
    the voice against these graceless, legalistic communities grew stronger.
    I did not mean to write so much.It made me so, soo.. angry to read your story. How helpless is an abused child under such parents!

    • I would just quickly mention that we don’t know the specific circumstances that Mary is in, and thus whether writing a memoir would be in her or her siblings’ best interest. Also, it may just not be something she’s interested in doing, especially since it would likely mean a lot of public attention for her.

      I totally understand your reaction, but please be careful not to cross the line into pushing people to do things they are not ready to do, or are not in their best interests. Thank you.

  • Jacqueline Johns

    ”My parents did a masterful job of covering up and to this day are revered and treated as role models.”

    This, this is the very worst of it. This is atrociousness. This makes my stomach churn more than the rest. I wonder you and your siblings still refer to them as ‘Mom and Dad’.How..,HOW these people could torture a person, and their own child, with such hard-heartedness, and no trace of regret and remorse, I cannot
    imagine. And they DARE suggest to you the analogy of reaping and sowing. I hope the memories of everything they’ve perpetrated comes back to haunt them on their death-beds.
    That’s the kindest thing I can say. THEY are the ones who shall reap exactly what they sowed. And to think they still maintain their false front of respectability and social standing in the homeschool community is just..sick.

    I sincerely hope your parents will someday realize the magnitude of their deeds and show some sort of remorse.
    I am reading this a long time after you posted this, and I hope that things have changed for you and your siblings and your parents since then.
    Take care.

  • I also believe this and I had a similar experience, but went to Christian schools. From getting locked out in cold, not allowed to have friends, to my family being elders and role models in front in church and Awana. I’m also the oldest. I was told I could never go to college and my parents out me in unaccredited schools, so my transcripts weren’t accepter. I was kicked out of house at 17. I ran away from my family. I am now a secular homeschooling mom with two masters degrees. I’m actually doing this to give the best education! We are super social and go on daily field trips, 7 days a week.

  • Jacqueline Johns

    I’m glad you pointed that out to me, Shaneyirene. I certainly do not mean to push Mary, or anyone else, into something they do not want to do. Of course, Mary would have many things to carefully consider and weigh before she makes names public. It’s just that when they is so much hidden abuse going on, I thought it’d do some good if such parents (underline) started getting some REAL attention. I realize that that comes with implications of its own for the victims, that they would rather NOT have to face.

  • Mary, I believe you! And I can’t tell you how sorry I am that you and your siblings had to go through this nightmare… Your testimony made me cry!

    Also, there’s no doubt in my mind that you did the right thing in contacting Child Services!!! Maybe your younger siblings will realize it one day, maybe not, but either way you followed your conscience and that’s what matters most in life.

    I hope you build up the self-confidence to expose your parents using your real name e.g. by writing your memoirs (based on what you’ve written, I have NO DOUBT that you have the ability to write and convey a lot of emotions for your readers).

    I know how scary it may seem, but I’m certain that – in the end – the truth will prevail if you overcome the fear, and that exposing your parents would help you heal. Also, it would give courage and encouragements to kids or younger people who might be abused today to realize that they’re not alone, and that there’s a life ahead of them!

    Finally, your past doesn’t define you as a parent: you clearly show compassion (as opposed to your mom), and that’s a very good indicator that you can be a wonderful mom!!!

    I wish you and your husband and child(ren ?) all the happiness in the world, and the same to all your siblings, esp to your sister “Abby”, who’s struggling with depression and eating disorder: I hope she finds competent doctors who can help her out.

  • I believe you.
    I have suffered similar physical, mental, emotional abuse from my mother and siblings; as well as sexual abuse and rape from my older brothers. This was a very hard read from me. It has taken almost 3 days for me to completely read your story. I am glad to hear that you have attempted to speak to your abusers. I tried to do that some years ago, and some said of my siblings said “sorry”, while my mother and others (I am the youngest of 13 children) said it was my fault everything happened. I no longer stay in touch with my the majority of my close or distant family. I do so to protect my children from their abusive tendencies. Out of my 12 siblings that are still alive I only speak with 1 brother (who has always supported me; even saved my life when I attempted suicide several times as a teenager.), and a sister who I have an estranged relationship with, but communicate via telephone with my children.
    I know how hard it is to speak about a childhood like this. Thank you for letting others know that they are not alone. You are not alone!

  • I am a 16 yr old Christian homeschooler who participates in competitive speech and debate with STOA. I never experienced anything like this and parents are unbelievable wonderful, but I can’t help but wonder if some of the children I see face pain and torture like this…

    This is so intensely horrifying!! I knew abuse existed, I knew there were terrible parents out there, I thought I knew and could imagine….. but no. I’m just mortified, anguished, and in tears with grief for what you and your siblings went through. I’ve never before heard that level of detail of the relentless torture. I’m not surprised your parents kept it hidden and so well because the enemy is the Lord of Lies and will teach them to be deceitful. I can’t help but wonder what childhood trauma your parents experienced that instigated some of this abusiveness. Your father shared his struggles with porn because he feels guilty. This shows he clearly has pain and he needs emotional healing for his guilt and for whatever else he has endured. Your mother, I can’t say for sure, seems to have a mental illness. If she doesn’t, she has an intense anger and hatred that could only be explained by someone possessed by a demon. Pure evil and hatred. That’s all it is.

    I’m also horrified that there are still children under your parents’ roof who have not been saved from this torture!!! Have you done everything in your power to rescue them?

    I know your parents do not know Jesus personally. Anyone who loves Jesus and actually has a relationship with him wants to please God, loves others because they’re filled with Jesus’ love. And these actions are fighting against everything ever taught by Jesus. He taught GRACE, LOVE, and KINDNESS… not this extreme injustice and terror.

    And I see you’ve been traumatized. Anyone who’s faced that level of trauma NEEDS to seek council and find healing. God can heal you!!! But you need professional help. I recommend Téo J. van der Weele, who’s worked with thousands of girls and women who experienced sexual, emotional, and physical abuse and traumas. He is so gentle and understanding and clearly has the love of God in him. I hope that helps.

    What can I do to help others in overly sheltered homes? What are the signs of these types of abuses? And most of all, how can I help?
    I doubt you’ll actually see this long comment, but if you do, I’d really, really love to email back and forth and be a part of a movement to bring healing to the broken homeschool community and rescue other children. My email is: angeleyes725@sbcglobal.net (I know it’s odd… I made it when I was little)
    Thank you and I pray you find healing,

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