Christian Discipline, A Child’s Perspective: Jessica’s Story

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Also by Jessica on HA: “Copy Kids—The Immorality of Individuality.”


Trigger warning: graphic description of physical abuse.


Awaking from a fitful slumber, I turn over and squint to see the clock.

It’s 2 am, dad is home.

Who will it be tonight? If I hear one of my brother’s screaming, it probably won’t be me. I close my eyes, clasp my hands. “Dear God, I know you’re busy and I know this is selfish, but please just let dad go to bed tonight.”

I hear boots in the hallway and I curl into the fetal position under my blanket, shaking.  Please not me. Please not me.  Please not me and click, my door knob turns.  It’s me.  I pretend to be asleep.

“Get up.” 

No explanation. I do not know what I did. It does not matter. I stand up, shaking. Dad slings me over the side of the bed and I sob, “Please dad, please don’t.”

Swat. 1….2….3…

I make the mistake, I put my hands over my buttocks.

“Daddy please stop”


A heavy leather mechanics belt slices into my hands, instantly excruciating and yet numb. I move them quickly or he will hit them again.  Painfully slowly, biting my cheek until it bleeds. I count in my head. 4…5…6….7……..18….19…20…21….22…. and it ends.

I collapse on the bed.

Dad says “I love you.” Then he turns and walks out shutting my door behind him. 

I listen to the boots walk down the hall and disappear. Silently, I walk into my bathroom, vomit into the toilet, clean it up and then run my hands down my 10 year old lower back, backside and thighs.

I have welts.

Some of them are bleeding.

My hands are already purple. I need a story, how did I get that shape mark on my hands… I’ll think of it in the morning. I go back to bed and finally allow myself to cry and think about how good life would be if my father were dead. Simultaneously, though, sad that he would be gone.

He is my dad after all. 

Tomorrow my classmates will know he hit me.  I won’t tell them, they won’t see the bruises, they’ll just know. They’ll see how awful I must be to make my dad hit me like that.  Why am I so awful?

I know I deserved it God, that’s why you didn’t stop him.

6 thoughts on “Christian Discipline, A Child’s Perspective: Jessica’s Story

  1. lmanningok October 26, 2013 / 10:59 am

    Homeschooled children need to organize and form a PAC to inform our legislators of this horrible situation. Child abuse IS A CRIME that hides behind ignorance and fear. It should not be ignored for religious reasons. This isn’t religion, it’s a horror story.


    • nickducote October 26, 2013 / 1:15 pm

      The largest barrier to having a voice in DC (with a PAC) is inordinate amounts of money!


  2. Ahab October 26, 2013 / 8:44 pm

    Disturbing and heartbreaking. I grieve that you and your brothers had to suffer abuse.


  3. Julia January 6, 2014 / 7:46 pm

    My story…

    I am 6 years old. My brother is 4. I have already learned to manipulate him into getting in trouble, through years of watching my mother manipulate my father.
    I tease him until he throws a toy at me. “Moooommmmmaaaaa!!!” My strident wail echoes down the hall. My mother sighs, and calls us both down to the kitchen, where she’s preparing dinner.
    “He threw a toy at me!” I accuse, angrily. It is the only way I know to get my mother’s unwavering attention to me, rather than to what she is telling me. My mother asks, “Who started it?” We both point at each other, and another battle begins.
    My mother is obsessed with finding out the original offender. No one actually remembers. We are soon all angry and frustrated, so my mother decides that disrespect is what she will punish us both for. She orders my little brother to grab the wooden spoon off the counter and follow her to her room.
    I stand alone in the kitchen, cringing, a creeping fear tingling my spine and buttocks, as I listen to my poor little brother trying bravely not to cry. My mother asks him heavily, “Do you know why I am spanking you?” He says no, because at age four, he has already forgotten the original event. My mother believes he is lying. She bends him over the bed and swats him three times, slowly, as hard as she can. He stays silent, holding back tears out of fear.
    My mother reads a verse from the Bible about lying, and repeats her question. My brother stammers out something about sassing her, which she accepts. She spanks him three more times for that offense. He still stays silent, so she asks, “Do you even feel this??” He stays silent out of fear. She decides that he didn’t feel it, so she pulls down his training pants and brings down the wooden spoon forcefully, three more times on his bare bottom. He screams shrilly, this time, with the pain and outrage. She immediately reads him a verse about anger, and repeats the swats, because screaming must equal anger. This is repeated until he is too exhausted to do more than sob.
    Now she returns to the original issue. “Did you throw a toy at your sister?” He denies doing so, because he is terrified of more punishment. She spanks him for lying. His buttocks are red. I can see this as I peek, frightened for him, guilty, around the doorframe. He manages to convince her that I lied. My heart rate skyrockets, and I begin shaking.
    She orders him to go to the living room. He walks slowly, and his eyes catch mine as he passes me. The betrayal and pain is tremendous. I feel fear… guilt… hatred for my mother for forcing me into this position. Yet, I must be the evil one, because I manipulated my little brother, the one I am supposed to protect, into this situation. I hate myself. I want to die right there in the hall, rather than face my mother.
    She calls me in.
    Three hours later, I don’t know how many times I was spanked. My emotions and buttocks and lower back and upper thighs are red and numb and burning. My hands are shaking. My throat is raw from crying. I hate my mother, and long for her comforting embrace. I wish she would die. I am so confused. I don’t remember what started it anymore. I am convinced God hates me. Did I repent? I don’t remember or understand. I can’t feel anything.
    I go and sit in the middle of the living room floor and pick at the carpet listlessly. My brother plays with Legos and we glance at each other from time to time. After awhile, I say, “I HATE her!!” in a low voice. He gives me a grateful look, and moves closer, and we start building something together. Peace is restored between us, built on a foundation of mutual hatred and fear of our mother.


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