Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Nine
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 series: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Conclusion
Part Nine: The “Rest” of the Story
I finally graduated and got a job.
I wanted to go to college but I didn’t have a transcript. Mom never made one for me and told me when I told her that I needed one that I would have to make it myself. This was after she and Dad had spent my entire senior year telling me how stupid I was, how I would fail in college, and that there was no point in me even trying to apply for scholarships because I was too lazy and stupid to qualify. This was their backhanded way of trying to enforce the thought process from our homeschool organization that women were supposed to stay home and make babies, nothing more.
After a year of working, I was old enough to enroll at Tech school without having a transcript and I loved it. I loved having real teachers and classes and I didn’t fail. Not only did I not fail, but I had a 3.6 GPA! After a year at Tech, I transferred to Pensacola Christian College and spent 3 semesters there. I dropped out after the third semester because I could not handle the legalism and lack of privacy — and because they treated their students like untrustable children, not like adults. It was way too much like the homeschool organization I had just been able to escape. I came home to try to figure out where I would transfer to when I was hit with the shocking reality that nothing I took at PCC would transfer anywhere because they were not accredited.
I was already almost 22 and the thought of having to pretty much start over to get a degree was overwhelming. At this point, God saw fit to bring an amazing young man across my path. Through 6 months of talking and interacting with this man in church and other functions with our mutual friends and Sunday school class mates, I learned how amazing, Godly, sensitive and wonderful this man really was. So, when he finally asked me out on a date 6 months after we met, I most certainly agreed.
I was still living at home during this time, but was doing my best to never actually be there. After our first date, my parents went nuclear because I had left them out of this. According to the organization that I was raised in, I was never supposed to be alone with a man until my wedding night, and I most certainly was not supposed to be the one that picked the man I was going to marry. From that first date to our wedding date 2 years later, my parents made it clear that they disapproved, didn’t like my boyfriend/fiancé/husband in that order of course. They told me again that I was setting a terrible example for my siblings and told me that I had better behave myself because the “eyes of our church were on me” to make sure I didn’t screw up.
Needless to say, I was very angry and frustrated about this. Between our first and second dates, I pretty much dumped everything into my boyfriend’s lap. I will have to say that I was pretty surprised that he didn’t run for the hills when he saw what he was getting himself into. No, he stayed, he encouraged, he prayed, he pointed to Scripture and God — and he loved. Oh how sweet that love was and is.
Nearly to the day 2 years after our first date, I walked down the isle and became Mrs. Richard Smith.
Never have I and never will I ever regret that step like my parents told me I would.
Growing up they told me all the time that I would end up with a no good husband that would beat me and that he would be in prison and do drugs, all because I was such a “rebellious” child. Oh how happy I am in proving them so very wrong! Two months after our wedding we were joyfully surprised at finding out we were expecting our first child, our sweet son Carl.
Amidst all that joy however, there was deep pain of which I was still unaware of. During the pregnancy I was constantly freaking out because I was sure I would ruin my child. I somewhat believed what my parents had told me many times that I was going to have an evil child because of the laws of reaping and sowing. The hardest time during the pregnancy was when Richard and I partook in the Lord’s supper at church one morning. That seems like a small thing from the viewpoint of a believer, but my parents had always portrayed it to us like God was sitting up there watching us — just waiting for us to partake unworthily so that He could strike us down.
Well almost as soon as the service was over I went into a panic attack and felt like for sure I had failed to confess something and God was going to punish me. Carl moved a lot during the pregnancy but this particular Sunday morning he wasn’t moving much and I freaked out. I was sobbing by the time we got in the car and just kept saying over and over to Richard that God was going to take my baby as punishment. Richard tried to reason with me, but nothing he said could convince me otherwise. For the next hour and a half Carl kept on sleeping and I kept on begging him to turn, move, kick, just do something that would prove to me that he was still alive. I pleaded with God in tears and told Him I was sorry if I had forgotten about anything that I needed to confess. Poor Richard had to just sit there and watch me and hold me through it until finally Carl woke up and started moving. The intense joy that I felt in that moment is beyond description but I will never forget it. Afterwards it was like Jesus came down and was holding me, whispering to me that how my parents and our homeschool organization portrayed Him to me was very, very wrong.
About a month before my due date, Abby, Richard and I sat down with Mom and Dad in a meeting. Abby’s pastor and 3 of her church elders were there just so that we were not facing Mom and Dad alone. The point of that meeting was because Abby and I desperately wanted to actually communicate with our parents but we didn’t feel like it was safe to do it alone. The pastor opened us up in prayer but then he and the other church elders went silent for us to try to start talking. Then, in front of everyone one there, Dad verbally attacked Abby telling her that everything was our fault again. I couldn’t handle listening to him do that so I started to defend myself and Abby. This of course caused Dad to turn and verbally attack me.
At that point, Richard intercepted, respectfully stating that Dad was not allowed to talk to me that way (shout out for my amazing husband for standing up for his wife!). Dad stood up, motioned for Mom to follow, said, “I did not come to be lectured,” and stomped out with Mom following at his heels. To this day, Dad claims that that was a tainted meeting in which everyone was lining up to accuse him and Mom. As far as I know, this was the last time I will ever sit down and talk with them about this again. The only exception will be if I see that they are truly devastated by their behavior and truly repentant before us as their children and before God. I refuse to put myself through that emotional trauma again.
After that meeting, Mom and Dad went back to pretending that nothing was wrong and that everything was fine. I let it go simply because I was afraid that they would cut off my contact with my dearly loved younger siblings of which there were 4 still at home. I didn’t know of any physical abuse still happening, so although I knew they were still being verbally, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually abusive, I knew of no way that they would actually be able to get in trouble. I knew Dad was still dealing with his addiction to pornography (he told us about it, I still have yet to figure out why). But I still let him and Mom see Carl for fear that they wouldn’t let me see my brothers and sisters.
Hope finally graduated and got a job and started at Tech and Grace was getting very close to graduating when it happened again.
Hope came home from work to find Paul and Joshua sleeping outside in the winter cold with no coats on. Through questioning them and Grace I learned that Mom was making the boys, Joshua especially, go without food for days at a time again. I started having conference calls with my grandmother and my aunt and uncle (all who support me). We had still not come to the conclusion of what to do when I had a meeting with my counselor.
After she heard the facts that I knew, she told me that it was my legal obligation to report my parents. The biggest reason that I had been hesitant to do so was because I was really afraid that I would be making that call out of revenge, not necessity. So I called, and was so upset about having to do so that I had a migraine before it was over. Right after I got off the phone with CPS, Hope called me in hysterics saying that she had just walked in on Mom and Dad beating Joshua who was half stripped and is almost 13. They were beating him with a belt and the belt was hitting everywhere. I called CPS right back and they went out the next day.
Hope moved in with us and Grace moved to Seattle to live with John and his wife. I am thankful to be able to say that Grace is finishing her senior year at a high school there and will graduate when she was supposed to.
Paul and Joshua are still with Mom and Dad and I haven’t been aloud to see them since.
Mom and Dad are telling everyone that it is John’s fault and my fault that the boys are being rebellious and have turned their backs on God. They are telling everyone that we have encouraged their disobedience and are actually still being rebellious ourselves.
CPS told me a month after they went to my parent’s house that they had enough information to remove the boys that day. They did not, however, because they said that Mom and Dad had isolated them so well that they didn’t think it was the best idea to throw them into the public school setting in middle and high school. I disagree, but they didn’t live there. Now I am worried about my brothers, concerned for their safety and pleading for their salvation. I know how Mom and Dad are presenting God to them and, right now, they want nothing to do with Him.
From another sibling I have learned that they are angry with me for reporting our parents. I just pray that 15 years from now, they will be able to look back and realize that I did it out of my love for them and that I was trying to rescue them, not harm them. I don’t want them to have the same regret that I have — that I once convinced my grandmother that she didn’t need to call.
To be continued.
This story sounds so blasted familiar. I managed to get out of my mother’s house at 16, was cut off completely from my siblings, and now, 6 years later, am trying to re-build a relationship with some of them. After I moved out, I had several other homeschooled girls approach me and ask me how I got out, and if I’d help them get out too. At the time, I didn’t have the means to offer them a place to live, but am now trying to reach out to and help my younger siblings.
My younger brother was very angry with me when I left home at 18 and left him and my older brother. My older brother is austistic and very brainwashed, but my younger brother gets it now and we’re starting to have a relationship. They will come around and one day they will understand that you did what you did because you love them.
I cant believe, that the two younger brothers are still with your parents, when CPS knows they are abused. Can they not move to one of the older siblings?
Even if going to a public school might be a shock, everything sounds better then staying with these parents.
I’d readily believe CPS is making excuses because of a lack of resources and hostility from a Republican-controlled State’s Attorney’s office. The worst part about their justification is that when CPS comes in and then leaves the kids with the abusive parents, the parents feel they have ‘won’ and can now psychologically terrorize the children even more since now their hope of escape has been crushed.
Your story broke my heart. I admire the courage you needed to keep standing and to survive. I admire the courage you needed to report your parents. My parents and I reported my sister (this is another story, my sister and her husband struggle with severe psychiatric conditions and are hoarders. We did it before my niece was born because we knew their home was unsafe for a baby). It was a heartbreaking decision for us. My sister and her husband wewe allowed to keep their daughter at home but this happens under Child protection control and they have to work with educators and send their daughter to daycare. We are not allowed by my sister and brother in law to see her and know her, as she is not allowed to know us. But we know we saved her life, as you did for your sieblings.
With kind regards from France, Marie
Hello Mary, this has been so stressful to read – I simply cannot fathom all that you have endured. Not that I do not believe you, it is just so overwhelming to contemplate. My heart breaks for you, your sibblings and others that have gone through similar and are going through similar circumstances. From many comments from people having gone through another version of this life, I see that it happens more than one would think. I have a question for you and anyone else – how can I, as a homeschool mom, recognize the symptoms in a family that may be experiencing abuse like this? I would think there would be lots of bruising, but apparently, it was disguised enough that no one noticed. Are there other behaviors that would be an outward sign?
I am so so sorry for you and your sibblings (and for your parents – they must be tortured people to be able to do this to their own children). I pray for you, your husband, your children and your siblings that God would completely heal you in His overflowing love.
In God’s grace,
I read your comment a few days ago but have been struggling with how to answer your question. I’ve been thinking on it about how to recognize it and I’m not really sure I have the answers. I know now that bedwetting is a sign (which I did till at least 12). I think what causes me to question something the most right now is the family that seems too perfect to be real. My parents claimed that we were rebellious but no one in our lives ever saw it because anytime we were out we were living under a deathly fear of what would happen if we did misbehave. Another big thing would be to make yourself known as one who will listen and believe. Even if we had known that what was going on was abuse, we would have never felt free to tell anyone because we all knew how much everyone worshiped our parents. I even had one lady tell me later after she did find out, that she actually heard someone call my mom Saint S******(her name). We knew we would never be believed. By the time I was around middle school, I desperately wanted to tell someone but could not even trust my Sunday school teachers. No one seemed to see us kids as individuals but only as the (last name) kids, so almost all interactions involved things like “you must really love your parents” or “aren’t your parents so wonderful?” etc. I don’t know if this helps at all and if you have anymore questions, I’ll do my best to answer them. If you want some examples of the kind of manipulation I grew up in the website http://www.recoveringgrace.org/ details things about the cult we were in. My parents’ tactics were much like Bill Gothards (cult leader). Thanks for your belief and concern!