Dear Homeschool Kids

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Chlot’s Run.

Editorial note: The following is reprinted with permission from Abi Pearson’s blog, Rambling Writer. It was originally published on January 27, 2016.

Dear Homeschool Kids,

So I’ve seen these videos / blog posts / comments floating around everywhere and I just felt the need to say something. You’ve probably seen it too, a homeschooled alumni or currently homeschooled kids giving answers to questions that seem silly. “Did you actually do school?”  “Were you super sheltered?” “Did you have any friends at all?”   I remember doing this too, I thought these questions were laughable. Then as I grew older, I began to meet or read about other homeschool alumni, and I realized some of these questions are perfectly reasonable.

Here’s the thing fellow homeschoolers. Some of us had it great, some of us got a good education, had friends and generally just had a great time. My mother has spent so many hours researching the best curriculum. Obviously no one’s perfect, but I know that she did and continues to do the best for her children. I know I got a pretty good education, a little lacking in math and science. But the point is my mom really tried.

But some of us didn’t. Some homeschoolers were raised in families that didn’t take education as seriously for females. Some of them were abused, and some didn’t have any friends outside of siblings.  The more I read and the more people I meet through the internet, the more I realize that abuse and education neglect are both misunderstood topics, and that very few people want to talk about the problems.

Abuse and education neglect in homeschooling families happens, and happens more frequently then most people realize.  Stories like the ones shared herehere, and here, are just some of many stories that are being told by homeschool alumni.  My point isn’t to say homeschooling is bad or anything like that. My point is to simply help create more awareness in this area. We’ve all read about the stories of children being taken away from homeschooling and/or homesteading families, and I feel that some people think those cases are just random exceptions picked up by the media. Abuse can happen in any home; the schooling or religion doesn’t make people immune.

So if you’re a homeschooler, next time you’re asked one of these questions, don’t just laugh it off. Instead thank your parents or guardians for giving you the education and opportunities that you had because some people aren’t as lucky as you. Maybe consider donating to organizations like this one. But at the very least let’s all stop pretending like there’s nothing wrong.

The Accidental World-Changers


Photo by Darcy S., used with permission

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog, Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on Oct. 8th, 2014.


They wanted to raise a generation of people who would change the world with our excellence, character, and superior skills, unafraid of doing right and standing alone.

Well, here we are.

All grown up and no longer staying silent about things that matter, no longer children controlled and smiling in a row. We may not be what they expected, but we are exactly what they planned us to be. They just never thought that we’d be standing up, not for their movement, not for their “values” or their mission, but for each other. Hand in hand, reaching down, pulling up, hugging close, fighting demons, speaking out, hearts beating together.

They wanted to create a force to be reckoned with. They accomplished that goal.

What they failed to take into account was that they were raising people not robots. And people are resilient. They are strong. They have minds and thoughts and wills of their own, things that ultimately cannot be controlled forever. Humans are wild cards.

We have found each other, connected, and now stand side-by-side. “Really? Me too!” is the cry of relief and sadness and connection and righteous anger that we hear every day. The letters I get, the comments on my blog, the conversations day in and day out…..they break my heart, they tear at my very soul, they overwhelm, yet they feel strangely familiar and tell me. I’m not a freak and I’m not alone and neither is anyone else like me. This is both terrible and wonderful.

We each bring our own strengths to this struggle. Some are lawyers, some investigators, some the story-tellers, some counselors and healers, all are friends to those who need a friend, a hand to hold onto. I have chosen to bring my passion for soul-healing into the fight, to do all I can to help others have the life and happiness and wholeness that they deserve as human beings, to break the cycle of violence and brokenness. That is my gift and my passion. Others in our midst are the masters of justice. They are the ones that have devoted their time and effort to exposing the abuse and the abusers, of rallying to do what they can for the rights of homeschooled children. And they’re doing a damn good job too.

“Sit down, be quiet, stop talking, how dare you? You’re lying, you’re disrespectful, submit, shut up, be sweet, don’t tell, don’t question, smile, conform, pretend, why can’t you just……”   Ah, but that is not who we were raised to be, who we were supposed to be, who we have chosen now to be.

We are the world-changers, the truth-fighters, the culture-warriors.

Isn’t that what they wanted? What they dreamed of? What they planned for?

This exposure of abusers in the world we were children in is not going to end until the abuse ends. We were raised to be the best of the best, to stand alone, to choose righteousness when everyone else chose evil. That is exactly what we are doing. With every brave story, their power crumbles to dust.

This expose happened today: When Homeschool Leaders Looked Away.

I commend my friends for all the months of work they put into this. I know the backlash they will received from a culture of image-worship, a kingdom that is imploding before our very eyes because of years worth of corruption and power-mongering covered up in the name of religion and God and “educational freedom”.

There will be no more silence about things that matter from my generation of homeschooled adults.

If we do not speak up, who will? Obviously not those who laud themselves as the leaders of the Christian homeschool world. I am heartbroken for the victims, those named and those still wounded and hiding. And even more convinced that the way I have chosen and the fight I have chosen and the people I have chosen to stand with is all exactly where I am supposed to be.

We are who we were meant to be. We are the generation that unexpectedly changes the world…..our world. Which is more than enough for us.

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 series: Part 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.

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Nine

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.

"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."
“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.”

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.

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Eight

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Eight

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 Eight: Teen Years

Teen years

I cannot sleep and I am trying not to freeze.

It’s sometime in January and Abby and I have been kicked outside for two days. We were wearing just our shirts, jeans and socks when we got kicked out and it is so cold outside that we can see our breath is the air. We didn’t try to ask for our shoes and coats because they never let us have them. We are walking and walking around the house over and over trying so hard to keep warm. This might not be so hard if my stomach would stop screaming.  It’s been 4 days since we have eaten a meal. We tried sneaking out a snack earlier and got caught. That is why we are outside.

Before Mom sent us out, though, she gave us both a spoon full of ipecac to make us throw up. We threw up but nothing came up but stomach juices because we hadn’t actually gotten anything yet when she caught us.

I’m so hungry that I feel dizzy and faint. Abby can hardly walk. We finally get too tired to walk anymore and go huddle together in the corner of the porch and cover ourselves in the cushions from the porch furniture. We usually go huddle in the van to get out of the wind but Dad caught us there the last time and they made sure that it was locked tonight. We finally manage to fall asleep but I wake up so often because of my stomach and being so cold.

Sometime after devotions the next morning, Mom comes to the door to give us our chores for the day that will be outside chores since we have been sent out. We are actually glad to have something to do because it will help us stay warmer. The next night passes just like the first and finally we are allowed back in the next morning in time for devotions.


Right now I am shaking with rage and my head is throbbing.

Mom got angry with me again a few minutes ago and grabbed my hair and started yanking me around. I finally got away from her and ran upstairs but my head hurts so badly. I run my fingers through my hair to try to soothe my head and when I pull my hand away I almost faint with rage.

There is a ball of hair so large in my hand that it looks like I just cleaned out my brush.

I storm downstairs and head for Dad and show him the hair. He accuses me of lying and said that I just cleaned out my brush to get attention. I don’t know if I have ever been angrier and I yell at him that I am not lying and I haven’t even touched my brush! He finally looks like he might somewhat believe me and takes the hair into their room. I follow because I want to hear what happens. Mom is putting her makeup on in the bathroom when he shows it to her and tells her what I said. Then she yells at Dad and says that she doesn’t care and that she will do it again if she wants to.

I am furious but what else should I expect?


My fault

Everything is John’s and Abby’s and my fault. That’s what Mom and Dad keep saying.

All of the younger ones are following our bad examples and we are leading them astray. John moved out years ago but somehow he is still to blame as well. Abby and I are always in trouble because every time one of the younger ones disobeys we get in trouble too because it is our fault.

I don’t want to believe it, but I really don’t know what to believe anymore.


At this point in my story I am going to change how this is being written. If I were to keep writing as I have been, this would probably end up being 50 pages long. I have many, many more examples of how we were abused again and again — day in and day out — but I really don’t know if they all need to be told in this one document. In this story, I focused more on my younger years but the abuse only got worse and worse as we got older so I find it very hard to try to formulate a way to put it all on paper. From here on out I will be writing in more of an overview position.


The “rest” of the story

Until I was about 18 all of the above and other things were all pretty normal in our house. We never knew when our next meal would be, we never knew when we would be kicked outside and for how long. Basically, we never knew anything. Age and gender didn’t matter in public punishments. Abby and I were made to half strip for our beatings in front of all of the other siblings. We would also be made to walk around in our underwear for hours at a time and, because I developed later, Mom saw no reason that I should even be allowed a bra all the way till I was about 17. I have and always have had really bad seasonal allergies as well, to the point of asthma attacks. That didn’t matter either as far as losing house privileges when I got kicked outside. She would never allow me any allergy medicine. Being on my period didn’t matter either because I would lose access to feminine products while outside too. My driver’s license was used as a pawn for years and so, half of the time, I didn’t even have it in my possession.

Somewhere between my 17th and 18th birthdays, my Mom’s Mom found out some of the things that were going on and freaked out. Abby and I actually didn’t understand at first why she freaked out because it was all so normal for us.

I remember her telling me on one occasion that she was going to call CPS on my parents. I freaked out at that point because I knew enough to know that we would all be split up into foster homes and the thought of losing my siblings was too much to bear. In tears, I begged her not to call, assuring her that it wasn’t “that bad” and we were used to it anyway.

Nearly 15 years later, both of us have talked about it and realized that she should not have listened to me and should have called anyway. But we cannot change the past. The fact that she was willing to do so for us makes me love her even more (if that is possible). After my grandmother got involved, the physical abuse slowed to a near stop, while the emotional and mental went through the roof. Mom was furious at me and Abby for “telling on her” and was doing everything she could possibly do to make our lives more miserable and blaming us for everything going on.

To be continued.

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Seven

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Seven

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 Seven: Losing Rita

More Punishments

"I am really scared."
“I am really scared.”

Tonight is bath night.  I am so happy about that because we don’t have to do any mopping. Mom sends Abby and I to take our baths and we hurry to obey. We love taking baths together and we have fun together. I love getting in the warm water because it feels so good on my sore feet and bottom from all the spankings.

We get in and start playing. We brought our Barbies in with us because we love playing with them in the tub.  Abby has a special Barbie that has a bathing suit that changes color when you put it in the water. We are having so much fun that we lose track of time. All of a sudden we hear stomping down the hall way and we know that Mom is coming to get us. I am terrified because I know we are in big trouble. We have still not washed our hair yet. Mom storms into the bathroom with the belt and screams at us why we are not out yet. I do not know what to say so I say I don’t know.

She yells at us to stand up and turn around and she starts spanking us and screaming that “I don’t know” is not an answer and that we are in trouble for wasting time. When she is finally finished spanking she tells us to drain the water. I try not to cry because I know that this means we will be getting an ice cold bath. When the water finishes draining she starts running all cold water then stomps out of the bathroom to go get ice from the kitchen.

She fills up the tub with ice and tells us that we have 10 minutes to get all washed and rinsed and that she will come check to make sure we did it right. We hurry as best as we can to wash and rinse our hair in the freezing water and then wait for Mom. We are so cold. I cannot make my teeth stop chattering. Mom walks back in and starts checking our hair. She starts screaming that we did not rinse it properly and pulls us down under the water by our hair and holds us there while she rinses it correctly. She finally says it’s done and lets us get out of the water.

She says that we have ten minutes to be dried off and dressed, with the bathroom cleaned up and our towels hung in their place, or we are in more trouble. She finally leaves the bathroom but says that we are not allowed to close the door because we took too long. I hold my towel for Abby so she can get dressed without anybody seeing her naked and then she holds her towel for me. We clean the bathroom as fast as we can and get done right before the timer goes off. Mom still gives us more spankings and tells us that we get cold water baths for a week because we took too long in the tub.


It is now after lunch and all of us are doing our school work at the kitchen table.  I am trying to concentrate on my work but Mom is mad again and stomping all over the house. I am worried that she will find something else to make her even more mad. She is stomping down the hallway now and I hear her stop at the hall bathroom. I groan because I know that she has found something.


I know we are in trouble. She stomps to the kitchen and says that we all have a five page paper because she found the bathroom light on again. She says that the bathroom is also a mess and that we have a $3 fine every time she passes the bathroom and it is still a mess. I ask her if we can go clean it up and she says no because we are in the middle of school time. We cannot go clean it up until our lunch break. Before lunch break she passes the bathroom ten times.  She adds $30 more to our debt record.

Nobody got their chores done before the timer went off and we are all lined up outside her door for our turn to get spankings. I go in for my turn and she tells me to pull down my pants. I start counting to try to help keep my mind off the pain. I think she is at sixty right now. I think I may have lost count. She finally stops at one hundred and I can no longer feel my bottom. I get out of her room as fast as I can and go to finish my chores. I am still not done when she is finished spanking but she says that I have to stop because it is school time and that I will have to finish them during the next meal time.



Mom and Dad are in a fight.  They are screaming at each other and I am scared. I run and hide under my bed to try to get as far away as I can. I hear Mom scream that she is leaving and never coming back.  She says this all the time and she never does.

I pray this time that she means it.

I hear her stomp out of the house and I pray that she never comes home. I still don’t get out from under my bed because I like hiding there. I can make up my stories and I know that Dad will not bother me. I pretend that I am a princess and that I am in hiding because someone is trying to kill me. I pretend that Mom is the evil lady that I have to live with and that she doesn’t know I am a princess but that when my father the king comes to get me that she will be punished for the way she treated me.

Mom is still not home and it is dark outside now. Dad still hasn’t called me and I know we are not getting supper so I stay under the bed longer. I think of another story. Now I am Mary again but I have been kidnapped. The man that kidnapped me is evil and he rapes me. I am scared of him but I know that Dad is going to come save me because he has to save his daughter.  When he saves me then I will know that he loves me.



They have taken Rita away from me again.

This time I am really scared.

Mom and Dad said that I am not getting her back this time. I am fourteen and they say I am a baby to still love a baby doll so much. I don’t care if I am because I love Rita so much. She is mine and I sleep with her every night when I have her. She catches almost all of my tears. Today I was able to sneak in Mom’s closet and hold her for a while.

I am really scared.

I hear Mom tell John to go get some wood and make a pile in the backyard garden. After a few minutes Mom yells for us all to go outside in the backyard. Mom and Dad say that they are going to burn some of our things.  Dad has started a bonfire and we have to sit there. Mom brings out John’s BB gun and my art kit, lunch box and Rita. The lunch box my Uncle Tommy gave me and it has my name sewn on it. The art kit Grammy gave me. I watch as Dad puts my art kit and lunch box on the fire. I am angry but I don’t know what to say. Dad all of a sudden changes his mind about putting John’s gun on the fire and tells him that he has just lost it for two years (they gave him the gun for his birthday).

I watch in horror next as Dad takes Rita and walks toward the fire. He puts her on and Mom tells me I have to watch as she burns. It really doesn’t matter anyway. I cannot make myself look away. I am frozen.

I watch as my precious doll starts to melt.

Her arm falls off and burns up. Her face shrivels up and she is unrecognizable.

I cannot think. I cannot move. I cannot cry. Something is stabbing me in the chest.

I cannot breath.

Hope is sobbing on the other side and Mom is screaming at her to shut up. She looks at me waiting for me to cry.

I cannot.

My heart is broken and torn. I hurt deeper than I ever have before. Mom looks very satisfied at what she has done.

Mom yells at us to go back inside and get back to work. I am in a trance. I don’t know what is going on and I don’t know how I get to bed. I lay in the dark and cannot sleep. My mind finally starts to work and I know that I hate them. I hate Mom and Dad and I want to them dead. The tears come and I cannot stop them. I  sob and sob. I do not go sleep for hours but I just keep crying. I finally cry myself to sleep.

The next morning I wake up and I know that I will never let Mom or Dad see me cry about this or anything else in my life.

To be continued.

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Six

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Six

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.

Extra trigger warning: this particular part of the story also involves a description of rape.


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


Part Six: Losing Control

We sit there as she walks from room to room of the house, trashing every room as she goes through it. She comes back in the living room and says we have 15 minutes to get the whole house spotless. Abby and I go in our room, but I don’t even try. I know that I’m going to get beat no matter what and I know that it is impossible for us to get it all clean in 15 minutes. Abby is crying again and trying to clean the room. She looks desperate. She says that she knows she should be able to get it cleaned up in time the way Mom wants it. I tell her that it is pointless but she begs me to help. I try for her because she looks so weak. I cry inside for her. I can’t let her see me cry because I need to be strong for her.

I try to make her feel better. I tell her that we are princesses in disguise and that Mom is the evil person that we will be able to punish later when our father comes to save us. She smiles a little and we work hard.

Mom comes to the door and screams that we are not working hard enough. She grabs Abby and yanks her into her room. As I listen to her cries of pain, I yank on a pair of shorts under my pants as fast as I can to try to add more padding. I am next and she tells me to pull my pants down this time. I know I am in more trouble. She sees my shorts and gives me extra spankings with the belt and then tells me I now have a 10 page paper on lying. I try to pull my pants back up and get out of her room as fast as possible.

We only have 2 minutes left to clean the house and we haven’t even finished our room.

We don’t make it before the timer goes off. Back in Mom’s room we go.

I try to keep count of the spankings to keep my mind focused on something besides the pain. I refuse to cry. I know that’s what she wants and I won’t give it to her. Wait, was that 120 or 130? I’ve lost count again.

After that round of spankings, she trashes the house again and we start all over.

I know this is going to go on for the rest of the day. We haven’t even finished our regular chores for the day or started our school work. All of today’s school work is going  on our undone lists. Mine is about 5 note book pages long. She says that we will only get yucky meals till we are completely caught up. I know it is impossible.

As we start to clean the room again I let my mind wander. I am a princess again. My father is away for a long time and my stepmother is forcing me to be her slave. I just keep hoping that my father will come home and rescue me soon.

Oh no!  I just heard the front door slam.  Dad is home. That means another meeting and another round of spankings.  At least this round of spankings will be from Dad. He doesn’t spank as hard.



Why is Dad letting Mom yell at him like that? Mom is treating him like a child. Maybe she will get mad enough and leave the house. Yes she is! I hear the door slam and the car roar out of the driveway.

Abby and I look at each other and sigh a sigh of relief. I pray while we finish cleaning that she gets in a car wreck and dies.  I hate her. I want her out of my life.

After we finish cleaning, Dad asks us if we have eaten today. He tells us to eat a bowl of cereal and then go to bed.  It’s after 9 pm.

We climb into bed and Abby goes right to sleep. I lay there and start thinking.

It starts happening again. I feel myself losing control of my mind again. I start getting chills.

I’m laying on some pavement. I don’t know where I am but I look up and am surrounded by four men looking at me in a way that I don’t understand but it terrifies me. I suddenly realize that I am naked. One at a time they start doing things to me. I don’t understand what, but it hurts. After they are done, they start laughing with an evil laugh. I still can’t figure out why I can’t get up.

They have me tied down somehow. One of the men walks away and comes back with sheets of ice. He starts covering me with ice and laughing. I don’t understand the looks they are giving me. What is funny?

I am freezing. Then they all come over and start peeing on me. Why are they doing this?

I am screaming for them to stop. This goes on forever. Finally they stop. One of them brings over a bucket of freezing water and uses it to wash me off. Then they all start to do things to me again. This time I really don’t care because I am so cold. At least them being on top of me is warming me up.

Suddenly the side door slams and I am jolted back to my room. I realize that my hand is between my legs and I am all slimy and wet and it’s not pee. I don’t know what that stuff is but I think it’s gross.

I sneak to the bathroom to clean up. I try to be quiet because I know that Mom is home again. As soon as I have cleaned up, I rush back to my bed again. Abby has woken back up and is crying. We both know that Mom is about ready to come yank us out of bed again. We know that we didn’t get the house cleaned like she wants it.

We sit and hold each other while listening to Mom and Dad fight and scream. Even if she doesn’t come get us up, we can’t go to sleep with that going on. Sure enough, a few minutes later she storms in our room and screams for us to get out of bed because we didn’t have permission to go to bed. She yells at us to all go into the living room. She screams at Dad to bring our desks in the living room. She says that we are not allowed to go to bed till we each have 20 undone school assignments done and passed.

I look at the clock. It’s 11. It’s going to be a very long night.

She says that if she finds us asleep at all then we will get a ton of spankings. She lays down on the couch and goes to sleep with the belt across her lap. I know we will be here all night. I try to work on the school work but I am so tired I can’t think. I lay my head on my desk for just a minute.

I wake up with a sharp pain across my back. I jolt up and see Mom standing over me with the belt coming down again. This time it hit my head because I arched back to stop her from hitting my back again. She yanks me out of the desk and then the belt lands across my chest. The swings keep coming.

She stops and pulls me off the floor and shoves me back into the desk. She wants to see the math page that she told me to work on. I can’t figure out this problem and I asked her for help, but she says that she isn’t going to help me because I should be able to figure it out on my own. She says that I am stupid because I can’t figure it out. She says I can’t be her daughter because a child of hers can’t be that stupid.


It’s about 4 am now and she finally gets tired enough to want to go to bed. She says that we can finally go to bed but we will resume this in the morning. Abby and I go collapse in our bed.

The next thing I realize is that I am cold and soaked.  Our whole room smells like pee. No! I peed in the bed again! I wake Abby up and try to get the sheets changed on our bed as fast as I can without waking Mom up. It is so hard because her room is right across the hall. I can’t do it and Mom storms in our room. She calls me a baby.  She says that I should still be in diapers and that she is going to tell everybody how I am such a baby.

It’s about 6 now and she decides that we have to stay up. I start to let my mind wander again. If I don’t, I won’t survive. This time I have been kidnapped and sold as a slave and I’m praying that my father will find me and save me.  Why does my father never actually save me?


Yay!  Mom is getting a headache! She says that she has to go lay down. I know that she will sleep a long time because she didn’t sleep last night. She goes in her room and shuts the door.

I head to my room and crawl under the bed. I am so tired… my mind drifts….

Am I dreaming or is this real? I honestly don’t know anymore.

To be continued.

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Five

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Five

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.

Extra trigger warning: this particular part of the story involves a description of rape.


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


Part Five: Deeper Shame

I’m feeling it again.

"I don’t know what happens to my brain and I don’t understand."
“I don’t know what happens to my brain and I don’t understand.”

I don’t know what it is but it makes me feel shameful.

I can’t ignore it. It hurts, it’s pulling me to go hide under my bed. I have to figure out some way to sneak away without Mom noticing. Some days I’m better at this than others. I know if I disappear for too long, I will get in trouble, but it doesn’t matter. I am pulled into my room, at least I feel pulled, but I don’t understand how. I feel like something is really, actually pulling me but no one is there. What is going on?

I don’t like it but I can’t help it. I manage to get to my room with nobody seeing and, as fast as I can, I hide under my bed. I have to do this, but I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can’t ignore this pain. I lay on my back and open my pants just enough to fit my 10-year-old hand in. What am I doing?

I don’t even know what this is but I cannot stop myself. I start rubbing and then it happens. I don’t know what happens to my brain and I don’t understand. Mom and the house disappear.

I am no longer under my bed. I don’t know where I am. Who is this scary man that has me? He is dragging me.  My hands are tied and how did this thing get tied around my mouth? He keeps dragging me. I am fighting, this hurts. I am trying to run, but can’t. We are deep in the woods and it’s dark and scary. Is that a really high wall ahead? No!  Please don’t go in there. I am so scared! Is this a dream or is it really happening? He pulls me into the wall.  All I see is a concrete building. He pulls me to a small door on the ground next to the building, opens the door and throws me in. I hear the door locking behind me. It is dark, pitch dark. I can’t see anything. I feel a spider crawling on my leg and I shake my leg as hard as I can. I am too scared to cry, what is happening? I lay there forever before I hear the door unlock again. That man is back. He comes in and pulls me back out and into the building. He unties my hands and takes all my clothes off then ties my hands again. What is he doing? I really don’t understand. I don’t have any breasts yet, why is he touching me everywhere? What is he doing? It hurts. It hurts so bad. I cry and he yells at me to shut up. He finally leaves me alone but doesn’t give me my clothes back.  He just leaves. I am so tired, I don’t want to go to sleep but I can’t stop myself. I don’t know how long I slept, but I wake up later to that man again. He is on top of me again and hurting me again. Please, please leave me alone.  I am hungry and I am terrified.



I suddenly feel jolted.

I hear Mom screaming mad. Wait, that wasn’t real? I’m in a fog. I can’t move my body for a minute. I try to hurry and get my pants back up, but I just can’t make my body do anything fast. Mom is at 8 and I know it is impossible for me to get into the kitchen before she gets to 10.

I stumble into the bathroom and wash my hands quickly.


Why does she have to count so fast? I’m trying so hard to get in there. I finally make it to the kitchen as I hear “25.”  Wait. How many spankings is that? I can’t think to try to figure it out.

I see Mom standing over me with the belt in her hand. I see anger, hate and rage in her eyes. In a quick glance around the room, I see John standing in his underwear in the corner sending seething glances at Mom. Abby is curled up on the floor sobbing. Why does she do that? Mom just wants to see us cry and she is just giving Mom what she wants.

Ouch! I am yanked back to paying attention to Mom because she yanks my hair. She yanks my head around so I have to look her in the face. You know, that’s weird, my head is so numb from her yanking my hair that I really don’t feel it that much.


I don’t know what to tell her. I am still confused. I still feel like I’m in a fog.

I mumble something about being in my room.


She shoves me towards the back door and finally lets go of my hair. All three of us go to the back porch. My heart is sinking. It is pollen season. I am allergic to it and I know that I am going to have an allergy attack. I am embarrassed for John. He is still in his underwear.

I look at the clock in the kitchen from the window.  Wow, it’s only 9:30 in the morning.

This is going to a long day. Well, what’s different than yesterday?

Mine and Abby’s stomachs are growling. I can’t remember the last meal we ate. Abby looks weak and sick. I want to cry for her. I am so hungry but I’m not feeling sick. John and I managed to sneak a few handfuls of dry cereal while Mom was in the bathroom this morning.


Oh no!

Mom is storming towards the door. She yanks it open and nails us with her eyes.


I don’t want Abby to get in trouble for this so I tell her it was me and John. He sends me an evil look. Now John is angry at me too. Mom walks away and I know where she is going. She comes back with the ipecac and two spoons. John and I refuse to take the spoons and she starts screaming at us. She says that if we don’t take the ipecac then we will be outside for a week. That sounds better than throwing up and getting stomach sick, so we say fine. I knew that wouldn’t work. I can see the rage in her eyes.

She grabs my head and throws me up against the side of the porch. She holds me down and forces the spoon in my mouth. I guess she didn’t like our choice. When I throw up later, it is almost all just stomach juice. That smell makes me sicker than throwing up. Hours pass. It is so hot outside. We are so thirsty and hungry. My eyes and throat are itching so bad.


Mom opens the door. She has been crying — her eyes are all puffy. She sounds so sad. I roll my eyes.  ere we go again with the martyr act. It makes me so mad when she does this. I know what’s coming next.

“For the last few hours I have been praying and trying to figure out why God gave me such rebellious children. I have been trying to figure out why you are all ganging up on me and trying to make my life miserable. One day is going to pay you back and give you rebellious children. Do you know what happened in the Old Testament to rebellious children? They were stoned to death. That is what you deserve. We are going to sit here until we get to the root of all your rebellion!”

(Will she ever stop talking?)

You know, everything that is happening to you is your fault. All of you are forcing me to act like this. When I was a little girl, I never did this. I never misbehaved around my parents. I know I am not perfect, though.”

I know she is lying. I know she wasn’t that good. And I know this isn’t all our fault.  She has been talking for 3 hours now. Dad will be getting home soon. I am so tired and hungry.

“For the rest of the day we will be having obedience drills!”

That means we won’t be getting any food for the rest of the day.

To be continued.

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Four

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Four

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 Four: Crackers and Cream Cheese

It is finally 6:15 am and time for family devotions.

“Mom yells at me that I am faking this to get attention and that if she sees me limping anymore I will get fifty more.”

Everyone else gets up and comes in the living room. Mom says that we can’t sit on the sofa because she knows that we will fall asleep so we have to stay in the desks. I am trying not to fall asleep in the wooden desk I am so tired. But I need to focus on what Mom is reading because she will ask us questions at the end. If we cannot answer them then she will start over and make us write papers about it. I am able to pick one verse and mumble something that I learned from it; just enough to satisfy her so we can move on.

She is finally finished discussing what we read and I feel a little hope that maybe we can leave for chore time. I think that if I get my chores done fast enough then maybe I can sneak somewhere and take a little nap. I am not so fortunate!

Mom just announced that we would be having drills all day today because of not getting our chores done yesterday.

I want to scream and cry.

I hate drills and all they ever do is get me into more trouble. Mom seems like she is having fun as she goes through the house ransacking every room in it. She says that we have fifteen minutes to each get our assigned rooms spotless. She says that our character is more important than our school work and that if we never get any school work done that is fine with her. She says that any school on our assignment list that we don’t get to because of doing chores will just have to go on our undone lists.

My rooms of the house this week are the living room, dining room and back porch along with my bedroom.  I try not to panic — there is no possible way I can get all of those clean to Mom’s satisfaction in fifteen minutes! I work as hard and as fast as I can but it is no use. Mom keeps coming in and out of the room yelling at me that I am not working fast enough. I want to yell back at her that I am working as fast as I can on an empty stomach of several days and no sleep for the past 24 hours!

I dare not actually yell at her though or I will be dead meat.

The dreaded sound of the timer going off, cuts into my thoughts. I know that I might as well head towards her bedroom because I am in for a spanking again. Nobody got their rooms done so we all have to line up. Today Mom feels like spanking our feet instead of our bottoms. I have to lay on her floor on my tummy with the bottoms of my feet up. I wasn’t able to put a pair of socks on this morning so she is spanking my bare feet.

I can’t stop screaming because of the pain and I try to pull away. She grabs my legs and yanks me back and then sits on them so that I cannot move. All this time she is yelling at me that, until I stop screaming, none of these are counting. I bite the inside of my lip till I taste blood trying not to scream. I am focusing so hard on not screaming that I lose count sometime after forty.

She is finally done but I cannot feel my feet to stand on them. Mom yells at me that I am faking this to get attention and that if she sees me limping anymore I will get fifty more. I try my best to walk out of her room without limping and as soon as her door is shut for the next person I get down on my hands and knees and crawl to the living room.

Now that round of spankings is done and she has just finished ransacking the house for round two.

Dad just got home and we are still drilling. I have lost count on what round we are on and I feel like a moving robot. The last round that we did, Abby and I finally got our rooms done but John and Henry did not. It doesn’t matter for me and Abby because we are still going to have to do it again. Mom says that our family is a team and if one part of the team fails than we all fail. I am so mad at John and Henry — why couldn’t they have gotten their rooms done?

It is now time for the evening mopping and we are still drilling. Mom finally says that we are done for the day because she is tired and we have to get our mopping done. I am only partially relieved. I have dust mopping this week and that is the worst one to have. I never can seem to get all the dust off the floor and I am always missing spots. Mom says it is because I am lazy and stupid and don’t care. I think she is too picky. She is always telling us that we are lazy but we are the only ones doing the work around the house. All Mom ever does is play solitaire or free cell on the computer or lay on the sofa and watch us work.  I know that she is the lazy one, not me and not Abby.

I am so angry with her all the time and I think I am starting to hate her and I don’t even care. Mopping time is over and mine does not pass her inspection again. That means that I get another $15 fine to add to all the other ones I have gotten. That also means that I will have to redo it tomorrow morning during breakfast time because mopping time is over then it is bed time.


I climb into bed and pray that I will be allowed to sleep all night long.

I am so tired and hungry that I cannot think. Everybody else is asleep now but even though I have not slept in over 24 hours I cannot sleep. I am so hungry that my tummy will not be quiet. I am hungry enough to try to get some food.

My room is right across the hall from Mom and Dad’s so I have to be very quiet. Mom is a very light sleeper and wakes up at anything. I tiptoe out of my room and very carefully down the hall. I know where all the squeaky spots are and am very careful to avoid them.

I make it all the way to the kitchen without turning on any lights. I then go into the laundry room and turn that light on. That light is left on all the time and maybe Mom wouldn’t notice if she came out. I open the cabinets as fast as I can to keep them from squeaking and I find a column of crackers. There are a few in there so I feel safe to take one.

I go in the laundry room and get a clean shirt out of the dryer and wrap the crackers in the shirt so they won’t make any noise and so they will be hidden if Mom comes out while I am walking back down the hallway. I listen and do not hear anyone moving so I get a little braver and pull the block of cream cheese out of the fridge. Mom gets the big Sam’s blocks of cream cheese so I know I can cut off a chunk without any being missed. I wrap the cream cheese in a napkin and then put it in the shirt too then turn off the laundry room light.

I start heading back to my room and am just starting to go down the hallway when I hear Mom’s door opening. In utter terror and panic I rush into the living room and hide behind the chair up against the back corner. I see the hall light come on and I peak out from behind the chair to see Mom heading towards the kitchen. I am terrified that she heard me, but I guess she didn’t because she got something out of the medicine cabinet and went back into her room turning off all the lights.

As soon as I hear her door shut I run back across the living room to listen. I hear another door shut and I know that she has gone into her bathroom. I know this is my chance so I dash down the hallway as fast as I can without making any noise and get back to my room. I climb in bed just as I hear her come back out of her bathroom.

I lay very still with the food hidden under the covers for a very long time just to make sure she has gone back to sleep. I sneak into my closet to eat and I have a flashlight hidden in there so I can see. Abby wakes up when she hears the crinkle of the cracker paper and she comes into the closet with me and we both eat half the crackers and cream cheese. It is not nearly enough to make me not hungry but at least I can go to sleep. I wad the cracker paper and the napkin as tight as I can and then go to the bathroom to flush them down the toilet. I am not scared for Mom to hear me walk to the bathroom because if she comes out all she will see is me going back to bed after using the bathroom. She does not come out though and I know I am safe for now and I am finally able to sleep.


Today makes the fifth day that I have not been allowed any meals. The cracker and cream cheese that I snuck a few nights ago didn’t last very long on my tummy. Every night since then, I have managed to get a little something, but no meals.

It is lunch time right now and John, Abby and I are all standing in the corners in the living room. We have been standing here for 1 hour and we will be here for 9 more. Somehow we all earned 10 hours in the corner and now is when we have to spend it.

Mom left the room for a minute to go check on the little ones eating their lunch. I take this opportunity to sit down for just a minute. My feet already hurt very badly and I don’t know how I will be able to make myself stand here for 9 more hours. I am so weak and tired and hungry that I feel like I am going to faint. Abby and I start trying to make signs for each other to help pass the time. Mom sees us moving and yells that if we don’t stop, she is going to start our time over. I put my elbows on the shelf in front of me and rest my chin in my hands.


I wake to my head hitting the shelf and the wall as I collapse onto the floor. Mom is standing over me in a minute with the belt in her hands yelling that I had better stand back up this instant or she was going to start spanking. I pull myself up as quickly as I can and turn my nose back toward the corner.  I manage to glance at the clock as I turn back around and see that only 25 minutes have passed. It is taking everything in me not to burst into tears right now. I can’t and won’t let Mom see me cry! I refuse to let her know how much this hurts. I don’t want Abby to see me cry either, because I am her big sister and I need to be strong for her. 


We now have three hours left.

There is no feeling in my feet.

I have been switching the foot that I stand on for hours now. But now I can hardly pick up either foot.  I don’t dare let myself fall asleep again but I have to find something to do to help pass the time. I finally work up the courage to ask Mom if I can get some school assignments to work on while standing. I makes me so happy when she says yes. I go to get my work and sit as long as I dare and then head back to the living room. Done!  Our corner time is finally up but it is now past supper.

I know I will be sneaking food again tonight.

To be continued.

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Three

Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Three

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 Three: I’m Not Going Back

…things are about to get worse.

Finally Dad comes and calls us into the living room. He has the belt in his hands and Mom is sitting in the chair looking like a martyr. We all sit and wait to see what punishment Mom has decided that we should have. She always has the final decision even if Dad is the one to tell us what it is. If Dad doesn’t give us a punishment that she thinks is bad enough then she will start yelling at him and we will end up getting what Mom has decided.

Dad has the belt in both hands with the two layers together. Then he separates the layers and then pulls them flat again very fast to make a loud crack. It sounds like he just spanked someone very hard. I shiver but try not to look scared. He’s done this before and now I am terrified because I know what’s coming.

Dad looks like he is enjoying our reactions and has a slight grin on his face. To me it looks like an evil grin and I yell at him that this is not funny. Mom jumps up out of her seat and rushes over to slap my face and yells at me not to ever yell at her husband. She sits back down and Dad gets up and starts walking around the room in circles in front of us over and over. While he is walking he keeps cracking the belt very close to us changing the person who he does it in front of.

He is talking the whole time about our rebelliousness and our bad attitudes and making Mom miserable. He has been around the room at least four times now and now he is starting the fifth. This time he starts swinging out the belt towards us. Abby just screamed. He hit her across the front of her legs. John is next; he got hit on the knees.  I am trying not to show how scared I am but I can tell that Dad knows I’m terrified. He gets closer to me and I hold my breath and then slowly let it escape as he starts to pass me. All of a sudden he turns back around and catches me with the belt across my lower arms and stomach. I can’t control the scream of pain that comes out.

I look over at Mom and she is looking quite satisfied with what is going on. Dad keeps going around the room, someone gets hit every time he goes around but we never know who or where. Sometimes he hits the sofa beside us just to scare us. By the end of it he had gotten the fronts of my legs, shoulders, arms, chest, knees and stomach. Abby got hit everywhere too. I wasn’t paying attention to John because he was on the other sofa. Dad finally sat down but he cracked the belt one more time just for effect.

I am so angry now I am trembling. I know Mom and Dad think I am trembling because I am afraid but I’m not. I am screaming at them in my head, screaming at Dad asking him how he could do this to his daughters, screaming at Mom for making him do it.

The lecture is finally over. We are going to miss supper tonight and we are so hungry. Mom has a home school meeting tonight which means we get a little break because Dad always falls asleep on the sofa after supper. As soon as he starts snoring I go to my room and pack my duffle bag. I pack some clothes and my favorite blanket and Rita. Then I sneak in the kitchen and get some apples and put them in the duffle and head out the side door.

I sneak around the back of the house to the woods that separate our house from the road. It is the middle of summer so I know that the leaves on the trees will hide me. I have to be careful though, because there woods are full of poison ivy and I don’t want the poison on me.

I start to head for the road. I just got to the road and now I hear Dad calling me. I don’t answer but I start to walk faster. As soon as I get to the road I start running and I run as fast as I can all the way to the stop sign. I am going to run away and I’m not going to let Dad find me. I turn around when I get to the stop sign to make sure he isn’t following. I hear a car coming on the main road and run up the hill into the trees so they won’t see me. When I see the car I almost throw up. It is Mom.

I lay down as low as I can and I know she didn’t see me. As soon as I see the van turn into our driveway I take off down the main road. I know where I am going. There is a lady that goes to our church that does not live very far away. I know I can make it there by morning time.

This is the third time I have tried to run away and Dad always caught me before I got off our road. Now I have made it farther then ever and I’m not going back. Every time I hear a car coming, I get off the road very fast and hide in the trees. I am almost to the end of this road now all I have to do is get onto Broad River Rd and go till I get to the lady’s road. I hear another car coming up behind me and I hide as best as I can. There are not good trees right here so the best option I have is to hide in the ditch.

I get down as low as I can and hold my breath but this time the car doesn’t keep going it slows to a stop. I hope that is because the car is about ready to turn but it isn’t. I hear a car door open and the Dad yell at me to get into the car. I know I am caught again but this time I get up and yell back that I’m not going.  He yells at me again to get in the car and I yell back no!

I start to try to run in the other direction but he is faster and catches me. He drags me back by the arm and shoves me in the car. He gets back in and takes me home.

I know I am in big trouble.

We get back to the house and Dad tells Mom where I was. She grabs my bag away from me and dumps every thing out on the kitchen floor. As soon as she sees Rita she grabs her away from me and tells me I have lost her again. She sees the apples and tells me that because I took them, I am going to miss every meal tomorrow and I have a twenty page paper to write on stealing. I don’t know how long she will keep Rita this time but I refuse to let them see me cry. I pretend like I didn’t care and leave the room.

Abby asks me if I am upset and I tell her no. I will try to run away again one day.


It is finally bedtime and we are all relieved.

Abby is so weak from being hungry that she can hardly walk and all she wants to do is sleep. John somehow always manages to sneak food out without getting caught, but Abby and I are too afraid to try. Abby and I climb into bed and talk for a few minutes trying to ignore the nawing hunger in our stomachs. Abby goes to sleep very quickly but I have a hard time going to sleep while I am that hungry.

I finally start to go to sleep when I hear stomping down the hall. They are Mom’s footsteps and I know that this means she is coming to our room. She bangs open the door and turns on the light screaming for us to get up.

What possessed you to think you had permission to sleep?

She yanks us out of bed and yells at us to get into the living room. She tells all of us to stand on the rug until she gets back and stomps out of the room. Abby looks like she is going to fall over. In my head I plead with her not to sit down because I don’t want Mom any madder. Mom finally comes back in carrying one of the hard wooden desks.  Dad is following with another one and puts his down and goes back for the third one.

Mom then tells us that we have not done a bit of school work today. So now we get to stay up until that day’s school is done along with as many undone assignments that she tells us. We each sit down at a desk and I feel total despair. I am so hungry and so tired that I cannot think. She lays down on the sofa with the belt across her lap and says that if she finds us sleeping, not working fast enough, or doing sloppy work than she will start spanking.

I work for a while and steal a look at Mom and see that she has gone to sleep. I prop my head against my hand with my other hand holding my pencil so it looks like I am writing. I tell myself that I’m only going to sleep for just a minute so that I can get a little more energy.


I wake up to a slashing pain across my back.

Mom is standing over me and strikes again.

I stand up as fast as I can so that she can hit my bottom instead of my back but I all of a sudden feel sick and dizzy and fall to the floor. Mom keeps swinging the belt and hits my sides and my legs and my back again. I curl into a ball to try to protect myself while she keeps swinging. She hits my side so hard that I jerk out straight uncontrollably leaving my front exposed. Before I can curl back up she swings the belt again and this time it catches me on my chest. I scream in agony and she finally stops. She reaches down and grabs a handful of my hair and yanks me off the floor and forces me back into the desk.

Her face is in mine, I see in her eyes that she hates me. She screams that if I dare fall asleep again then I will stand in the corner till devotion time the next morning.

For the rest of the night we all fight sleep and try our hardest to get some school work done. We are never working fast enough when Mom wakes up. So periodicly we are all getting many spankings.

It is finally 6:15 am and time for family devotions.

To be continued.