My Friend Is No Longer Alive To Tell His Story: Daniel’s Story

My Friend Is No Longer Alive To Tell His Story: Daniel’s Story

HA blog partner Lana from Wide Open Ground wrote this story about “Daniel,” her homeschool friend who killed himself. “Daniel” is a pseudonym.

Libby Anne wrote a post on homeschool abuse, and Homeschoolers Anonymous has documented several of these abuse stories. The stories make me sick because at a gut level. They remind me of the children locked in brothels in Southeast Asia. There, the children do not go to school and never have the opportunity to tell their stories or get free. So there they stay in their abuse, night after night, until someone spots them and plots their rescue.

"My friend is no longer alive to tell his story. He killed himself."

“My friend is no longer alive to tell his story. He killed himself.”

I had a friend who was homeschooled and physically abused. Key: I had a friend. My friend is no longer alive to tell his story. He killed himself.

I am not publishing this story on my blog because I’m not sure who from my hometown reads my blog, and this family has convinced most people in the homeschool group that it wasn’t a suicide even though the autopsy says it was and even knowing that Daniel wanted to kill himself. That’s the sickening part of abuse.  Abusers always have a way of covering it up. In this case, I think the parents bury the evidence in order to help cope with the guilt. I am sure, if any of my parent’s friends read this, they will think I’m malicious and lying. The homeschool group is in denial because my friend’s parents have deliberately withheld the truth and deliberately tried to convince themselves and us that my friend accidently killed himself.

I’ll call my friend Daniel.

Daniel was physically, emotionally, and spiritually abused. In addition to the beatings and hitting during childhood, Daniel was often knocked up against the wall by his father, even in his 20s (Daniel knew how to press his dad’s buttons).  Physical violence from his father against his mother had almost claimed his parents’ early marriage, but then they found Institute of Basic Life Principles that taught anger management tricks. So they were sucked in, and the kids never went to school. Daniel continued to get the bulk of his dad’s physical abuse and rage. According to the kids it was better than when they were a child, but Daniel’s dad was never “cured.” My friend and his siblings, in their early adult years, would often drive to my house to escape the fights.

Daniel had also viewed pornography (not much, but according to some, one drop of pornography taints you from ever marrying), and he been spiritually shamed and shunned. He was the hard child of the family, the difficult child, the rejected child.

Daniel’s mother would call my mom to complain about her son even when he was grown. Daniel worked for one of the fundamentalist organizations, and they shamed him just for talking to girls. They made him delete all girls from his Facebook list, including me.

Then a father refused to let him court his daughter because he had once viewed pornography. Honestly, I thought my friend’s heart would break. He was never good enough. Not for his parents, not for God, not for himself.

The last time I talked to Daniel, a couple of days before he died, he said he was going to move out of his parents’ house at the end of the semester. Finally.

But he didn’t make it.

I truly believe Daniel killed himself because he was scared of killing his father first. He had always been so scared that he would kill his dad when his dad started shoving him around.

I don’t wish to blame Daniel’s parents for everything. Daniel didn’t choose to get help. He was in his 20s. He could have left.

But then I don’t wish to point fingers at my friend either. He was physically abused and isolated as a child. He was taught that God wasn’t pleased with him, and neither was his family. He had tried to tell people at church, but no one had believed him. He finally had to get out. Sadly, he could have gotten out a better way.

I don’t know if my friend would be alive or dead without homeschooling. Daniel’s dad would have been abusive regardless. But there is something very dangerous about spiritual abuse on top of the physical, something that keeps children blaming themselves and never getting help in the right sources. When my friend grew up, he just went to more fundamental camps and more fundamental programs. He kept seeking fundamentalism as the answer. That’s all he knew.

The last 6 months or year, he was finally starting to get it. He was starting to wake up, scratch the courtship, and reject legalistic life.

If only he had moved out sooner.

My mom didn’t want me to tell Daniel’s story because she says the past is past.

But is it?

I think if we don’t learn from these stories, history will only repeat itself.

12 comments

  • I “liked” this not because I liked it, but because I stand with you in solidarity and in a collective righteous anger and want to expose this kind of horrific tragedy. I do not think there is any “one” person responsible, but a religious system gone awry.

    Your mom is wrong. This may be Daniel’s past, but it represents the present reality for others and MUST be told. Thank you for telling it. I will spread it around, too.

  • The past isn’t past, not as long as your friend’s story continues to be misreported, not as long as his loss and memory are burning alive in your heart.

    I stumbled across a new website today, hsinvisiblechildren.org, that exists to share the stories of the kids who “fell through the cracks” and were neglected, abused, even killed thanks to the cloak of privacy that homeschooling provides. Daniel’s story deserves to be told there.

  • Heidi Underhill

    This is sad. I am glad that there is a place to tell this story and you can get it out. It is really sad. I am a home school mom and want none of this for my kids.

  • Thanks the past isn’t all the past. It makes it hard because I want to protect the siblings, too. and yes, its just a lot of stuff. We also need more transparency within the church.

  • Watch out, home school mom! Protect your children from these evils; don’t get sucked into the Christian home school machine. It will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you meant to stay and cost you way more than you meant to pay! Sad but true, SS (former home educator)

  • ps I couldn’t find hsinvisiblechildren.org. Can you provide a link?

  • I knew this guy. We were friends and talked through many online homeschool channels. I always wondered how that “accident” could have possibly happened. This makes so much more sense and makes me so much sadder.

  • “…because she says the past is past.

    But is it?

    I think if we don’t learn from these stories, history will only repeat itself.”

    Thank you for telling this story. For Daniel and for the others.

  • This is sad. It made me cry inside. As Dickens said, “Inward crying is the sharpest crying of all.”

  • Pingback: Dear Homeschooling Parents: Let’s Talk About Suicide « HARO

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