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 seriesPart 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.


  • I just want you to know I admire how gracious and still you remain through all of this. I would never stay close to my abusers, let alone allow them access to my children. Yes, I might be bitter, but I don’t know how else to be.
    Best of lucks to you.

  • “Mary” I seriously cannot even wrap my brain around the extent of what you went through. I know that you have extraordinary strength. You would have to to survive an upbringing like that. I believe you, and I wish I could hug you right now. You are an amazing person, and I with you the best. I have been through emotional abuse, just not on a level that extreme. And I can’t even fathom going through physical abuse like that. That is just…sick. And in the name of God, too. God wasn’t anywhere there. I am truly sorry for what you went through, and I hope you do continue to recover, and that God gives you incredible comfort, love, and grace.



  • Hello, Mary I just started reading your story in the H.A. site, and am not at all surprised that there are’ parents’ like yours around, much less admired in “Christian” circles. I finally quit going to church, especially the Ass(emblies of God, and various Pentecostal types. Up in Northern California in Shasta and Trinity counties you will find these churches to be a majority. They never used the term “Quiverfull” though, just fruitful. Why have children, so MANY children, when you hate them so much-that’s what I can never wrap my head around !! And just yesterday, the Los Angeles County DSS had the social workers involved with the Gabriel Fernandez case arrested ! They(social workers) ignored both teachers, relatives neighbors, who tried to save this one boy, who was about 8 or 9 when his mother and her boyfriend finally killed him because the social workers buried the case. Believe it or not, many think abuse is a RIGHT. There are these bureaucrats who are only in social work for the degree, the prestige, and the paycheck-way too many. Yes, the system IS broken. It sounds like the above is the reason you and your siblings didn’t get anywhere because of this, but never blame yourselves, never give up ! You WILL have to go over the heads of those whom you reported the abuses to. This means the police, the city and state attorneys,as in Attorney General, and even the civil rights commission. Your civil rights and Constitutional rights were violated. Maybe you and your siblings can write your stories one day, and get closure. In the meantime there are any kids still trapped at home to consider. You may want to think about and get legal counsel from Legal Aid, about suing for custody of them, and a collective lawsuit against these well off parents for DAMAGES, get all medical facts in order. There is an author who’s an advocate of children, his name is Andrew Vachss(hope I spelled his name right). He may have some referrals for you all. Please keep us readers updated as to how things are going for you and yours, and best of luck to you !

  • In all the posts I’ve read following this article that essentially say “God/Jesus loves you and will wrap his arms around you”, etc., I’ve yet to see even just one asking the obvious (and rhetorical) question of where was God during all the horrific abuse? Why is he only now apparently ready to heal, protect, and love. I’m legitimately asking…I sincerely do NOT understand why he evidently sat back with a bowl of popcorn and watched all this happen without lifting a finger to stop it.

    • Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing up this point ! I always ask, where WAS God when these poor kids I read about in the HA site. That haunts me all the time, because of the various injustices that I witnessed over the years, often perpetrated by devout church-goers. There are certain things I don’t bother to look for from God anymore. Yet we do have the right to demand WHY was nothing ever done. I for one still believe in God, but I’m disappointed in him and I don’t like him.

      • Thank YOU! I was honestly prepared to be slammed for posting that. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one out there asking that question! 🙂

      • So, I am the “Mary” in this story. And I’d like to thank you for your comment as well. I still remain a believer and I love Jesus, but why He didn’t stop it is something I don’t think I’ll ever know this side of heaven. I’ve struggled with that question over and over and I’m not sure I have anymore of an answer then I used to, but I have learned to understand that we were all created with free will and that sometimes means some will suffer from the poor choices of others. What I do know for sure is that I don’t want my childhood to be wasted, I want to use it to help others, I am not sure what that looks like yet. For this moment, to me it means breaking that chain and raising my (now 3) children differently. Thanks for reading and sticking with my story to the end. I know that is not easy to do.

    • Hmm. I posted a comment a couple of days ago in response to this talking a little bit about my story, which is a background of homeschooling, religion, and abuse, and how I found healing and hope in Jesus. Strangely enough, my comment wasn’t posted. Perhaps it was simply a glitch in the system, or the comment accidentally got overlooked. I certainly hope it isn’t because I was censored for expressing an opinion and life experience that doesn’t fit with the narrative of this website. In any case, I’ll say it again: God doesn’t promise to keep bad things from happening to us. He has provided life, healing, and hope in Jesus. I’m living testimony to that, and I’ll keep saying it, in hopes that even one person might find the same life, healing, and hope I have.

      • Editorial Note: SC, your previous comment was not approved due to language that was victim-blaming, claiming victims who do not follow Jesus are “in darkness” and have not found healing. Your story is always welcome here, but such language directed toward others violates our comment policy. For more information on that, see here: https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/forum/

        ~Darcy, HA Editorial Team

    • I know this is 6 months after your comment but I wanted to say that I very much agree. After my babies were born I used to say “god loves them more than I ever could”, I believed in gods protection and love. But then I started seeing stories including and on top of Mary’s story here and couldn’t wrap my head around how god could allow this to happen “in his name” to babies. And not just in quiverful, every group that worships “god” attracts people like this. (I’m obviously not saying that every religious person is like this, but religions provide the framework that attracts sick people who like the power dynamics) I see it in jehovah witnesses, mormons, the catholic church, islam, and yes, many protestant denominations. I soon realized that god wouldn’t protect my babies, and the influence he has on our life is equivalent to him not being there at all. Eventually I had no reason to believe in such a thing as a god at all.
      I wish I could hug every person who goes thru these abuses and help them, there are many people so much kinder than the god they were told to believe in, and I hope they find freedom in their life.

  • I know this is years after this was first published, but I just want you to know that I read this Mary. I read it with a heavy heart having experienced traumatic homeschool situations myself. I believe you completely. You are so brave – even if you don’t feel like it! – and I know how hard it is to keep on being strong each day while living with the aftermath of such a childhood. I’m thinking of you and sending hugs.

    • Thank you! I still read all the comments! It means so much.

      • I am not easily swayed or upset by the stories I read. Your story was the exception: Mary I was so ready to find your parents and tell them how awful they were/are! Of course, it wouldn’t mean anything to them. They are in denial and don’t realize what an amazing daughter they have who survived their awful parenting. I don’t know what I believe anymore but I can say “God bless you” you should be incredibly proud of yourself. Things are going to get better because of what you are doing now. I can’t see anymore because I do not want to insult or insight. Take care, you deserve nothing but the best.

  • Mary your story is one of many that I have heard of. A student that I worked with years ago was in a similar situation with her mother but the biggest difference was if her mother felt she needed to beat her daughter with welts showing, her daughter at that time was five or six years old at the time or not feed her daughter, and the daughter would take food and stuff her face because she was hungry. This mom wanted drugs instead of feeding her daughter. Luckily this little girl got taken from her mom and put into a house with a caring and loving mom and dad. I saw this little girl at a different school briefly and she is in honors and doing much better. I hope you and your siblings can get relief and hopefully live with each other (meaning the children at your parents house). Please keep getting help

  • Mary, Thank you for your bravery and for sharing your story. You did not deserve anything you went through. The fact that you’re nervous and trying to figure out how to be a mother is such a healthy and good thing… that means you love them and want to do the best for them. It means you reject your parents’ evil and somehow the light in you is stronger than the darkness you went through. Sending you a million hugs. For anyone else who may be reading who needs to get out, I have ideas for you. 1. Make friends (non ATI and non AWANA type if you can. The liberals at church). 2. Use grandparents and make them report to cps, or you can report. 3. Save evidence so cps has something to work with. 4. If that fails, just lay low until you’re 18 and disappear in the middle of the night. (I did option 4) Have a plan and bag ready, secretly. I’ve been there. It’s tough. You will survive. Then once you’re out, you’ll need to learn how to care for yourself like your parents wouldn’t. That’s possibly the hardest part. Forgive yourself. Be patient. Love yourself. Heal. If you have kids one day, make great friends who are good healthy loving parents. Copy them. Think what your parents would do, then do the opposite. Sending love to all who are in this or who went through this.

  • I finished reading after much crying and my arms are shaking so badly. Mary, I am so sorry you went through that horrible horrible childhood. I was so encouraged to read part 9 that you know Jesus (how He really is, and met an amazing husband). I will be praying for you for finances, health, and healing. I will pray for your younger brothers too (for all your siblings). I was a teacher for 9 years in the inner city and every year had to help severely abused children. I finally quit for various reasons and am a stay at home mom of three precious little ones. I just started homeschooling our daughter for kindergarten and have been so excited about the home school adventure, but this has really opened my eyes! I have never heard or realized about any abuse or neglect like this within the homeschool or church groups. It makes me sick that your parents were/are able to hide it so well. I pray they will be exposed! Blessings to you and thank you for sharing!

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