The Story of an Ex-Good Girl: Part Ten


HA Note: The following is reprinted with permission from Exgoodgirl’s blog The Travels and Travails of an Ex-Good Girl. It was originally published on August 29, 2014 and has been slightly modified for HA.

<Part Nine

Part Ten: Wives, Children and Dogs

After we had settled into the routine of belonging to “the group”, as we called it, it was relatively easy to know what was expected of us, as children.  I knew I needed to obey anything and everything my parents (or other adults) told me, with no questions.  I knew I wasn’t allowed to complain about things I didn’t want to do or argue with my parents about anything.

As a child, I was inherently inferior to adults.

I was not their equal.  I learned this through watching Mr. LaQuiere, my parents, and the other adults routinely put down children.  We were taught we were all full of “foolishness”.  We “needed our wills broken”.  We needed to be taught our place.  We needed to learn absolute obedience and submission to authority.

I still remember the exact place I was when Mr. LaQuiere told my parents explicitly what “complete submission” meant.

“If I told my 15-year-old daughter to take off all her clothes, and get down on her hands and knees and bark like a dog, she should obey me instantly,” he said. “That is the kind of obedience children must give their parents.

Absolute obedience, without questioning.”  This level of humiliation had never even occurred to me.  To know that it was possible was a very distressing thought.  Would my parents or Mr. LaQuiere ever order me to humiliate myself like this?  I silently decided that if my dad ever told me to strip naked and bark like a dog, I wouldn’t, no matter how much I was punished.

I didn’t mind the idea of obeying, because I was naturally obedient.  But I hated the “without question” part.  I liked to ask questions.  I liked to know the reasons behind things.  I liked to know the ‘why’, not because I wanted to “challenge my parents’ authority”, as Mr. LaQuiere called it, but because I genuinely wanted to know.  I had an active mind, and it was always probing to get to the bottom of things, to know why they worked the way they did.  I was told this was disrespectful to my authorities, and that they should never be questioned.  I didn’t need to know the reasons.  I was only a child.

I had no right to know.

This absolute, unquestioning obedience did not just apply to small children.  It applied to all children (a label determined not by maturity, but by parentage), regardless of age.  Mr. LaQuiere expected his adult sons and daughters to snap to attention and instantly obey with the same cheerful alacrity that he expected from a 5-year-old.

This system was put in place by God himself, and it was God who said that any child who did not obey was rebellious, and should be stoned to death by his parents, his siblings, his friends, and everyone else as a lesson in how seriously He viewed disobedience.

Obedience was a universally-praised virtue, with the exception of men.  Men didn’t need to obey anybody (except God, that is).  But wives, children, and dogs were all expected to obey.

Dogs and children were often trained with similar methods.

We had a small, fluffy, Maltese puppy named Sasha.  She was friendly and happy, and eager to please.  But just as my parents were told they didn’t know how to train us the right way, Mr. LaQuiere told them they were failing in training our puppy as well.  She needed to learn absolute obedience as well.  She needed to instantly come every time she was called.  She needed to be punished severely for every infraction, whether it was not coming right away, or making an accident on the rug during the process of house-training her.  Any time we found a mess she made, Mr. LaQuiere said, we needed to drag her over to it, rub her nose in the excrement, and tell her “BAD DOG!” in stern, disappointed tones.  He demonstrated this for us multiple times.  I felt bad for her…she looked so forlorn and sad, being reprimanded for making a mistake.  But Mr. LaQuiere said it was the only way to train a dog.  If she didn’t come when she was called, he demonstrated the proper punishment technique – sometimes he would drag her by her collar or the scruff of her neck.  Sometimes he would hit her, not with a rolled-up-newspaper, which he said was useless, but with his hand.  One time when he was correcting her for something, and dangling her in the air by the scruff of her neck, she yipped at him.  I imagine it hurt to be hung in the air by her skin like that.  He responded by throwing her against the wall.  Never allow a dog to challenge your authority like that, he told us.  I still remember how she yelped, and what she looked like in a frightened heap on the floor, her sides heaving in and out.  After Mr. LaQuiere “trained” her in obedience, she did learn to come when called…her tail between her legs, often slinking along the floor, looking guilty and anxious, never knowing if she was going to be smacked across the room, or welcomed.  Poor little Sasha.  She wanted so badly to please us.  I honestly think she didn’t know what she was being punished for most of the time.  My parents might have thought his techniques were more cruel, if it weren’t for the fact that there wasn’t a single one that he didn’t also use on children.

Children, dogs, and wives were taught absolute obedience. In wives, however, it was called “submission”.  Wives were to submit absolutely to their husbands, who were the heads of the family, and their authorities.

This was true not only if the husband was right in what he asked, or if was kind, but also if he was cruel or wrong.

Mr. LaQuiere said God instructed wives to submit, and men to love their wives: and one way to love wives was to teach them to submit.  One Wednesday night, he described how he taught his own wife absolute submission.  He called it “The Story of 11 Mile”.  He and Mrs. LaQuiere were driving somewhere one day, and it was a place they hadn’t been before, so Mrs. LaQuiere was trying to help him find the way there.  They needed to turn on 11 Mile, so as they were driving, she saw it, too late, and said, “Dear, we’ve passed 11 Mile!”  He said she was wrong, he was sure they hadn’t passed it yet.  She disagreed.  He was displeased by her lack of submission.  As they drove on, it quickly became clear to him that they had, in fact, passed 11 Mile.  But this was not important compared to the fact that Mrs. LaQuiere had insisted on contradicting him, showing him disrespect, and refusing to submit to him and agree that he was right.  So to teach her a lesson, he refused to turn around, until she showed submission by saying “You’re right, dear, we didn’t pass 11 Mile.”  Apparently she didn’t want to do this for a while, and he kept right on driving.  Finally she told him, “You’re right, dear.  We haven’t passed 11 Mile.”  Once she submitted to him by accepting that he was right, no matter what, he turned the car around, and they drove on to their destination.

Today I think of this, and I HAVE. NO. WORDS.  What the heck?!  He was wrong, and she merely pointed out that he passed a street, but he couldn’t even allow her to think he might have made a mistake.  His pride, his sense of absolute authority and need for submission was so great that he actually forced his wife to lie to him and tell him he was right, before he would make a simple U-turn.  Poor Mrs. LaQuiere.  I sometimes wonder how she stood it.

Mr. LaQuiere’s worldview was simple: wives, children and dogs were all divinely ordained to be submissive and obedient to him.  He wasn’t being revolutionary – he was just following God’s plan.  It wasn’t his fault that God had made him male, human, and given him offspring.

He knew his place in God’s design, and no one was going to shove him out of his rightful position of superiority.

photo credit: Joel Dinda via photopin cc

Part of “That” World: By Abigail

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 3.50.31 PM

Today I realized (aka found it amusing) how few words would have to be changed in Disney’s The Little Mermaid’s song, “Part of Your World,” to make it into a “homeschool edition” of the song. So I tinkered a few minutes and came up with the following.

Tip: it’s better if you sing/hum the tune as you read. 😉


Part of “That” World


Look at this stuff

Isn’t it neat?

Wouldn’t you think my life’s purpose complete?

Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl

The girl who has everything?


Look at this shelf

Treasures untold

How many Christian books can one bookshelf hold?

Looking around here you think

Sure, she’s got everything


I’ve got Bibles and siblings a plenty

I’ve got homework and housework galore

You want jean skirts? I’ve got twenty!

But who cares?

No big deal

I want more


I wanna be where the people are

I wanna see, wanna see ‘em dancing;

Movin’ around to those – what do you call ‘em?



Stayin’ at home you don’t get too far

Socialization’s required for friendships, dating

Attending a youth – oh – what’s that word again?



Out where they walk, out where they run

Out where friends cut away and have fun

Wanderin’ free – wish I could be

Part of that world


What would I give if I could live out of this hell-house?

What would I pay to spend a day free from control?

Bet’cha the world, it understands

That you don’t subjugate your daughters

Bright young women, sick of submission

Not here to command


And ready to know what the people know

Ask ‘em my questions and get some answers

What’s a condom and how does it – what’s the word?



When’s it my turn?

Wouldn’t I love, love to explore the world they talk of?

Wanderin’ free – Wish I could be

Part of that world

I Was An Abusive Homeschooling Mother: Jane Doe’s Story

Lustrous Wooden Cabinet with Regret File Label in Dramatic LIght.

Trigger warning: this story contains a detailed description of physical abuse.

I was an abusive homeschooling mother.

I can’t change that fact by writing about it.

I’m hoping to raise awareness about the higher potential for abuse in a family that homeschooling makes possible and the dangers of the Pearl child raising methods by speaking out about it, as one who has first hand experience. And partly I’m speaking up because I am still trying to recover a sense of myself in the aftermath, which is still unfolding in our lives like a years-long train wreck from which we can’t escape.

My husband and I were fervent Pearl followers, which is strange considering that he was a non-believer.  However he used other arguments to come to the same conclusions.  After a devoutly religious friend sent us some No Greater Joy newsletters we ended up buying and reading, and re-reading, almost all of Michael Pearl’s books concerning child raising.  We also bought his book To Train Up a Child by the box load and gave it away to people at every opportunity.

I was a young and uncertain college student when I met my husband to be. He was 16 years older and had been living alone for many years.  He was set in his ways and could be described, by a generous description, as eccentric. At first it seemed we both wanted the same kind of life: that of being semi-self-sufficient on a small farm.  He had the land and skills to make that life possible.

Most pertinent to this story, he has the soul of a lawyer.  He loves argument more than anything in the world, and spends much of his time devoted to it’s study and practice.  Esoteric disputation, definitions, shades of meaning, debate techniques, and hard-core allegiance to “principles” over relationships is what made it so easy for him to adopt the Pearl techniques, blowing away any objections I, or my mother, might put forth.

I must accept blame however.  I must make clear that I chose, in the face of conflict with my husband, to submit myself to his will in all things.  I made that choice.  No one else made it for me.  I felt that it was a good choice at the time, for I could not stand up to him in argument, and I could not stand conflict.  I wanted to have a real home for the kids, with a real dad, like I never had as a girl.  As time went on I was baptized and accepted that being a submissive wife was my calling from God, as preached by Debi Pearl.  I was determined to make it work and keep my husband happy at whatever the cost.

It turned out that the cost was very, very high.  Accepting his will in everything meant living without electricity or running water while living in a small decrepit single wide trailer, having a baby every two years, not going to the dentist ever or doctor regularly, wearing dresses, not wearing make up, not cutting my hair, doing all the cooking,gardening, food preservation, never buying anything, not celebrating any holidays or birthdays, not leaving the house without permission, and forbidding my mother to come visit on any occasion whatsoever.  I essentially lost contact with the outside world and became completely consumed with the vast number of everyday chores that were my duty.

For the children it meant that they had no birth certificates, no social security number, no vaccinations, and no friends.  It meant being spanked regularly, without mercy, until their “wills were broken”, as the Pearls’ say.  To do anything less would have been to allow “evil” to flourish in their very souls, and what a bad parent one would be then.  When the children got older, it meant they were “homeschooled”, which also became my job.

I loved my children.  Being a housewife with kids on a farm had been my ambition since I was a little girl.  I was never spanked as a child.  I never thought that was a good idea.  Our family’s exposure to the Pearls’ child raising ideas came along when our first child was two years old.  I was appalled.  But my husband, devouring the Pearl’s books, found many arguments to use on me.  Eventually I simply came to the point I always came to with him.  I gave up and let him have his way.

According to the Pearl philosophy however, I could not choose to be an innocent bystander.  No, it would not do to let dad do all the spanking.  The children would notice.  Mom must also do her part so that the children would know there was in essence, no escape.  I too must hit my children with sticks for the slightest disobedience or even tardiness of obedience.

And hit them I did.  The change in parenting hit my poor two year old daughter like a brick wall.  The first spanking was at least an hour long.  She, of course, did not ‘submit’ at all, never having experienced anything like it.

I believe the first command I gave her was over something relatively minor.  The second was to stop crying after her first spanking.  Of course she wasn’t going to stop.  According to the Pearls’, to stop crying was a command I was supposed to be able to give and get obedience.  I am here to tell you, it takes a long time to spank a child until they stop crying.  Their bottom gets red, welts start appearing.  You take breaks and waste your breath on endless explanations between the hitting about how you are not going to stop until they obey.  Eventually, they start trying to hold their breath while they sob, making a sort of hiccuping gasp with moans and gurgling in between, while the demanding parent tried to decide what point really constitutes “stopped crying”.

It is a horrendous thing to witness, to perpetrate.  It makes my blood boil to think of it now.  It was completely mentally and physically and emotionally exhausting at the time.  Both myself and my now ex-husband deserve jail time for what we did.  We really do.  But that really would not take the past back.

The beatings (can I now call them what they really were?) continued almost everyday.  The Pearls’ say that you should be able to spank less and less.  That the children will come to joy and peace and trust through this method, over time.  But this much awaited magic never happened.  Our oldest two children as time went on, became angrier and angrier.  According to the books, this was because I was not being diligent enough in my applying of discipline.  So, we spanked more and more as time went on.

More and more beatings.

More and more screaming.

The oldest girl got spanked over school lessons too, the few we had time to fit in.  It was especially bad in areas of math and Spanish.  Dad would butt into our lessons, and ask her if she understood what he was telling her.  If she said yes she did, but then she could not demonstrate understanding, she was spanked for “lying”, for saying she understood when in fact she had not.  Of course, she wanted to stay out of trouble and was trying to say what she thought he wanted to hear but became trapped in a no-win situation. She was also spanked for not being able to correctly pronounce Spanish words, he said she was simply “not trying”.

To this day, our girl cannot learn math or Spanish due to her emotional block to those subjects which were the setting for some of her worst tortures.

Our second child, a boy, was not so much under my attention where school was concerned.  His dad toted him around with him all the time.  This meant that instead of learning to read and write, he was standing around most of the time with nothing to do, no one to talk to, with frequently not enough warm clothes on and nothing to eat or drink.  His only task was to stay quiet and out of the way.  He had night time sleep walking episodes which involved peeing on the floor, for which he was severely whipped with the belt.

I could go on about the abuses that myself and their dad handed out to them, but it becomes tedious.

Occasionally we would go out as a family.  When in public we were always praised for the good behavior of our children. They were very quiet. They did not make scenes. What good children we had. It makes me sick!  My ex-husband points to these praises as evidence of how righteous our treatment of the kids was back then.  Our friends and neighbors never saw the terror our children were experiencing.

Five years ago I left that whole situation.  I moved into a modern house in a town.  I put the kids in school.  I got them birth certificates, social security numbers and vaccinations.  I stopped hitting them.

He fought me on all these things.  However, he too was forced to stop hitting his children.  He was also forced to put in running water and a septic tank.  After significant and extremely drawn out legal machinations, the oldest two children were given the choice to visit him or not.  They never want to see him, or talk to him, and now live with me full time.  He insists that I am the one who alienated them from him by telling them lies about him.  He cannot forgive me for “taking away his authority”.  He makes no effort whatsoever to contact the older two and seems to have completely given up an them.

When they first went to school, the oldest girl was put in seventh grade, according to her age, the boy in fifth.  Our youngest was two at the time, so she did not go to school.  However our other three children also entered school according to their ages: kindergarten, first grade, and third.  It was a stressful time for all concerned.

The oldest girl spent her first year in school crying because she did not know what to do.  She also got pneumonia and had to be hospitalized.  She repeated seventh grade the next year.  She will probably never be able to do math.  She displays PTSD like symptoms, with constant anxiety, rage, and feelings of low self-worth.  She threatens to commit suicide and goes to therapy regularly.

Despite not being able to read, write or do math when our oldest son first arrived in fifth grade, he was barely promoted to sixth the next year.  Now he has almost caught up to his grade level in his academic subjects, though his hand writing is still horrible and his reading is still slow.  He has anger issues on occasion and can be a bit of a bully.  He is aware of this and really wants to do better.  He spurns his father, yet suffers from a lack of a father.  He is in boy scouts.

In contrast, the younger four kids are making straight ‘A’s and winning writing, art and science awards.  They excel in everything they try.  They do not suffer from low self esteem.  They have friends.

Yet their father still wants to homeschool them, and has told them that homeschooling is better than public schooling, based on the results of studies.  He has got some of the kids convinced that they want to be homeschooled by him by using his powerful arguments.  He and I are going to go to court soon regarding this issue.

He is a member of HSLDA.  I was interested to read from the site of Homeschoolers Anonymous the transcripts of speeches given by [former HSLDA attorney] Doug Phillips at the 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit.  His vision of having CPS abolished, and homeschooling girls to be housewives instead of considering having a career is truly terrifying, and made me realize that this whole thing is of a scope that goes far beyond my family.  I had previously thought we were strange exceptions.

What happened to me and my children could happen to anyone who becomes isolated and vulnerable, and if homeschooling is allowed to occur with such little oversight.  Unfortunately abusive parents will exploit that opportunity for everything it is worth.

Abusive parents, like me.

Asexuality And Purity Teachings Can Be A Toxic Mix: Christine

HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Christine” is a pseudonym.

I am an asexual. This means that I feel the same amount of sexual attraction for men that a straight man does, and the same amount of sexual attraction to women that a straight woman does. I remember that the conservative community denied the existence of asexuality, but I can’t remember the exact reason. I think it was something along the lines of ‘they’re just celibate’ or ‘they’re just abstinent’. However, many celibate or abstinent people feel sexual attraction, and many asexuals are not celibate or abstinent. To learn more about what asexuality is and is not, this is a great informative video:

I don’t know whether I was born this way or whether it has roots in my upbringing. All I know is that this is the way I am and the doctors say it has nothing to do with my hormones.

You’d think that asexuality would be a good fit for someone raised in a purity culture. However, due to the ignorance some are deliberately kept in about our own bodies, feelings, reproduction, and sexuality, asexuality and purity teachings can be a toxic mix.

Many homeschoolers try to ‘protect’ their children from knowledge about sex, sexuality, and reproduction. My parents fit into this category. As a result, I didn’t learn about human reproduction until I was in college, and didn’t learn that other people experience sexual attraction. Or rather, I misunderstood what sexual attraction was. I thought ‘being attracted’ to someone meant thinking they were smart, or good looking, or fun, because those were the kinds of attraction I experienced. As a teenager, I developed crushes based on those attractions. I did not know that other people experienced the world a different way, so I did not know that my experience was different or that I was asexual.

Due to the way my mother covered the TV screen when a couple would begin to lightly kiss in the 1940s comedies we were allowed to watch – and in the rare other shows and movies we were able to watch – I received the impression that all affectionate touching between a man and a woman was ‘sexual’. After all, sexual lust was supposed to be a desire that we all feel, and the desire I felt was one for affection. I wanted to be hugged, long and firmly. I wanted to lie with my head in my crush’s lap while he stroked my hair. I desired these things so badly it hurt, but I believed that they were obscenely sexual thoughts that I must, and did, repent of in tears. It wasn’t helped at all by the fact that our pastors and community leaders taught that the slightest amount of affectionate touch between a man and a woman was sin, must be avoided at all cost, would sully us for our future spouse, and would lead to procreational intercourse. “Don’t heat up the oven if you’re not going to put something inside” they said – and completely missing the sexual reference of that statement, I thought it meant ‘don’t touch someone if you’re not ready to procreate with them’.

There was also the problem that having a crush on someone was called, a la Josh Harris and his book ‘I kissed dating goodbye’, ‘giving away a piece of your heart’. Someone went further than this and said that having a crush on someone you weren’t married to was being an ’emotional whore’. So I had a huge amount of guilt about my crushes, even though they weren’t sexual (which I didn’t know). As a teenager, my best friend told me that ‘girls like us’ don’t have or respond to crushes on boys. My mother told me that homeschooled girls who talked to boys ‘are the ones they like now, but not the kind of girl they’ll marry.’

The long and the short of it is that a lack of information about sex and sexuality combined with the sexual-attraction-blindness of my asexuality led to many, many painful hours and tears over very innocent matters. It also led to ignorance of my orientation, which is not helpful when you hope to meet a compatible spouse, and which caused a lot of complications in my relationships.

There was another toxic teaching that reacted badly with my asexuality. There’s a letter in Paul’s epistles that was taught by our pastors and leaders as follows: A wife must allow her husband to have sex with her whenever he likes. This teaching is obviously toxic by itself. But for an asexual who doesn’t know she’s asexual and for whom this is the entirety of her sex-ed, this is what I thought sex was. Sex was something a man does to a woman. “It’s clear from nature, from very human biology” said Douglass Wilson, author of “Her Hand in Marriage” and the Credenda Agenda, “that men are for initiating and women are for responding.” (my paraphrasing) After leaving my family and starting into the world on my own, I decided that I didn’t think premarital sex was sinful, but that I personally didn’t want to have sex until after marriage (due to my desire for sex being tied very closely with reproduction). When my boyfriend raped me, I felt horrible but thought it was sex. I thought to complain about it to a friend would be to say that sex was wrong. So I stayed with my boyfriend and tried, futily, to convince him to ‘not have sex with me unless I wanted it.’

The above story wasn’t helped by the fact that I had not been taught about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. As a child, I was taught that I must always put my own interests and feelings aside and serve other people, and not argue. My body had never been my own – not when my parents coerced me to hug someone (‘to make them feel loved’) or when they’d told me to pull down my pants so that they could give me more spankings, or walked into the room while I was getting dressed, or had to go to a homeschool class when I had a 104 degree fever. So I was unused to being in touch with what my body told me, which made it even harder to recognize the full extent of what was happening to me. When touch felt bad to to me, I didn’t know to name it ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘undesirable’ or ‘repulsion’ or ‘fear’. I described the feelings to my boyfriend. He told me it was arousal and excitement. I didn’t know enough to know that he was wrong.

So, ironically, the teachings that my parents thought would keep me abstinent and make me a ‘good girl’ actually ended up putting me in unwanted sexual situations.

I sometimes wonder if some of the other things I was taught helped make me asexual. Not having a name for my vulva until college except for “pee pee thing’. Being taught that my vulva’s function was only for ejecting pee and babies (I was taught that pregnancy began when a man and a woman stood too close to each other.) Being taught that my ‘pee pee thing’ was very dirty and must never be touched. The close companionship each of my parents had with me instead of each other, called by some psychologists ’emotional incest’. As a young girl, I saw older girls mocked and derided by my parents, friends, and role models for being interested in boys. When I got my period, its function was not explained to me, but my mother cried and wished I wasn’t growing up. As my body began to develop, I was mocked and shamed. My breasts were a shame to me. My periods were a shame to me. Other maturing features of my body were a shame to me. The more I kept them hidden, the less I would be mocked. I never dared to mention a crush I might have on a boy because I could not bear the mockery and shame I knew was due to come.

Did this crazy upbringing ‘make’ me asexual? I don’t know. I do know that there was never a time when I felt sexual attraction, so if it’s due to my upbringing, that upbringing took affect before the time when sexual attraction would have normally developed. I’m still clueless about some things: As I’m writing this, I’m wondering when that time is for other people.