Podcast Transcript: The Deleted Confession

Updated 5/6/2019: Below is a commentary I wrote in August 2018 about the events leading up to my family’s first response to my blog posts in 2014, a podcast. My parents claim that they never gave any kind of response until March of 2019. The podcast was re-uploaded to YouTube, which my dad had taken down on a copyright claim, which can be seen here.

COMMENTARY

The day I chose to reveal that my parents weren’t as magnificent as they wanted the world to think they were was October third, 2014. It was exactly a year after I’d been kicked out while being denied my independence – my phone, bank account, and the children I’d raised were still being controlled, and I was expected to continue keeping up with housework even after I’d moved out. While in college full time and working two jobs.

There is a rumor that I “wanted to live at home longer,” but they had undermined my entire ability to survive as an adult in the real world. I had no K-12 education, except that I’d memorized a lot of the Bible and School House Rock songs, and I was given textbooks I was supposed to find time to study on my own, around my busy schedule. Once I started taking classes at a local university, I struggled and ultimately failed to keep a passing GPA. I simply had no idea what I was doing, and I couldn’t seem to find time to study enough, which I blamed myself for – though my friends could easily observe that the reason I couldn’t learn was that I was still running my family’s household whenever I was home from class. I was in the habit of bouncing a baby on my lap while trying to just read my assignment, much less comprehend it enough to test.

In an effort to avoid being shamed by my family, I gave up talking about my poor grades. I had no idea how to ask for help, and didn’t know that when I struggled to approach an instructor for signing permission papers, I was having severe anxiety. My voice and body would freeze before dealing with conflict, asking for help, or even speaking up to get a passing person’s attention in the hallway. In the end, though I very much wanted to learn, I dropped out because losing my parents meant losing my grant applications, and I could barely afford food and shelter, much less the time and expense of being in school. My part-time job became a full-time job, and I tried earnestly to recover. My parents were concerned about my signs of mental illness, and agreed to let me see a therapist, even offering rides when needed. I was 21 and no longer living with them, but somehow I always found myself back in my dad’s luxurious office, the most well-made room in the whole house, crying my heart out to my parents about how I was trying to be a good Christian still, and which boys I was interested in marrying someday, and I was a good virgin – I hadn’t so much as googled “masturbation.”

My first therapist in early 2014 was patient, and over several weeks in which I felt numb and often watched the art on the wall from the top of the room, totally dissociated. I finally started crying sometimes. A friend who worried about me in my depressive spiral dragged me to his astronomy class. Even though I was no longer an enrolled student, the professor was so passionate during his lectures, he didn’t mind who joined in the audience. For the first time in my life, at the age of 21, somebody told me that the stuff my body and the air I breathe and the planet I call home is made of what’s in space. It had never clicked for me before that our table of elements is consistent across the universe. I was questioning what Christianity really had to say about loving people even if they’re gay.

Questions are rebellion to fundamentalists. Their egos are incredibly fragile. It is not enough for white, conservative, cishet gen-X people like my parents to live an unremarkable life. And if all you can do to gain your fifteen minutes of fame is to have sixteen mini-me’s, that’s what you do, if you’re that desperate. Besides, you get Jesus’ justification for your lifestyle and reproductive decisions. When a child in this kind of family asks questions, the parents feel incredibly threatened, and hastily protest any perceived flaw in themselves. They will turn to attacking the child, or victimizing themselves and threatening to commit suicide, or flying into a rage at the child.

At the time that I published my first post, I was wracked with emotional pain. It was my response to my dad telling me that I was no longer welcome in their home. It was apparent to them that I was seeing through the cracks, and in a too-little-too-late effort at the end, I was trying to help my siblings see what I could see, so they could be better prepared to survive. This was of course interpreted as manipulation on my part. Lydia saw it too, but to be ostracized was far worse for her than it was for me. My short five semesters of local university had taught me quite a lot that she didn’t know – foregoing college and remaining a completely dedicated stay-at-home daughter until the day we were kicked out.

I was at work when I posted the blog post. My boss, who knew my parents, called me to say that my workplace would be a safe place for me. Within hours, my dad had prepared his response to my post, “Melting Memory Masks.” Because my dad believes he is innocent, he thought there would be nothing to fear from proving it by leaving the room while my younger siblings recorded a podcast responding to me.

His sites are in complete denial that the podcast ever existed. The podcast was originally on YouTube as episode 7 of his ministry’s new podcast. Apparently he had not even heard the podcast before uploading it. But to his surprise, people who heard the podcast were somehow convinced by it of his and my mother’s guilt. As Susan Gabriella said over on her site, The Little Fighter that Could:

“The reason the podcast was hastily removed was because it comprised of too much evidence in Cynthia’s favor… In fact, if you read her blogpost and then listen to the additional information explained in the podcast, the abuse becomes even more evident. Cynthia’s first post claimed three main things. Physical abuse—abuse her siblings did not deny happened, and instead trivialized by normalizing it or saying it was forgiven; psychological abuse—which her siblings responded to by doubting; and emotional abuse—which her siblings made fun of.”

The video was deleted from YouTube in a matter of hours after it was posted. Then my dad filed copyright claims against anyone else who tried to re-upload it. All that remains is the transcript, which Susan was also kind enough to transcribe. I now present the full transcript in full, as transcribed there: Transcript of Chris Jeub’s Podcast

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

Chris: Welcome to the Training Minds podcast, training minds for action in speech and debate, Episode 7.

[music]

Chris: Welcome, my friends, to the Training Minds podcast. I’m Chris Jeub, president of Training Minds Ministry and author of a, bunch of speech and debate publications, all meant to train the mind for action for academic speech and debate. Uh, this is a break from our planned schedule, uh, we, uh, just last week, uh, ran Luis Garcia’s first part of his presentation on apologetics. Um, you heard him explain the ten commandments of apologetics, and you’ll hear the second part next week when we return to the regular programming.

Instead I’ve decided to use the Training Minds podcast to put out an audio—an audio record of defense concerning an online attack that has penetrated and greatly wounded our family—the Jeub family. Um, it has to do with my daughter, Cynthia, who came out last week with a blog post that was extremely indicting on us, and probably, uh, couldn’t have been more damaging. And—and—and many, many people are believing it. I think everybody’s shocked, and we are shocked, too. Uh—but the—because the blog post has some imagery in it that’s just horrific, uh, it couldn’t be worse. Probably the most horrific of them all, in my opinion, is the vision of my wife, Wendy, and I shutting the curtains and—and—and—beating our children with a belt. Every night, she actually claims this is every night. And later she explains that there’s actually cuts and blood in these events, and that we have never stopped.

My goodness, these—uh—three things here. First, if it’s true, what—what she explained is illegal behavior, and our twelve children should be taken away from us immediately. There’s no excuse for what she is explaining on her blog. But secondly, you’re—you’re about to hear from my children. Uh, this is not true. Belts are not used in our family. Beatings do not take place in our home. And you’re about to hear from the older Jeub children about how out and far out and—and extreme out of reality this really is.

Uh, thirdly, and this is—this is very—this is a very odd story in many ways. Uh, a lot of people are going to be listening to this, you don’t really care about speech and debate, but this is our way of putting together, um, a response because this is—this is extremely harmful to us. Uh, I, Chris Jeub, author, debate coach, I’ve supported questionable websites and other bloggers, who, though they differ from me, and my personal faith or politics, I—I still supported them because they welcomed the discussion and action about abuse victims. Uh, oh, uh, one more thing, and I guess, uh, I didn’t have this in my notes but I’m going to say it anyway. Uh, we, the Jeub family, love Cynthia. We want so desperately for resolution in this problem. We do not—uh, we don’t appreciate—um, actually, we hate these accusations. And we have to come out and say, “These are not true”—we have no choice because they aren’t the truth.

But I don’t want to discredit Cynthia. This is, uh, such a tough position to be in, because we love Cynthia, and—and there is pain in her accusations. I don’t know what that—the pain is. We—before her blog post, we had been really wrestling with her for several months, and one of the, the—really—one of the pleas with her we had was, “Please, come with us to counseling.” You know, not a—not a fluffed-up fake counselor or relative or something—I mean, our relatives have been great, they’ve been very supportive of us. But—but it’s been, uh, an appeal to her to come to counseling and get help for what—I—I believe is—is mental illness. Now that—that’s for a professional to diagnose, but, uh, but I can’t think of anything—any other reason why these accusations would come out, that are so far from reality that, uh, that it’s really, really, really hurting us.

So I hope you can help us, the Jeub family, to pray for Cynthia, to pray for our family, the Jeub family. We’ve been on—I don’t know if you know us very well, but we’ve been on TV, we’ve been very transparent about—about, uh, uh, family issues that we’ve had in the past, estranged children, even. Our oldest daughter has been estranged for years, and there was a short time of reconciliation and love that we articulated in our book, Love in the House, and—and it was, uh, but, but, but—to tell you the truth, uh, we still, uh, we still struggle with our problems. But we are in the camera eye and we are transparent and we are honest and we do not beat our children. That’s [unintelligible], that is—this is bizarre, and, uh, and uh, and—so this is what we’re going to do today.

In the podcast today, uh, what—what I had my kids do—in fact, they volunteered with this way of handling it, because they’re very disturbed by this. So I’ve got, I’ve got older kids in my family, one adult, uh, Isaiah is 18, Micah is 17, Noah is 16, and Tabitha is 14, and we’ve kept everyone else below that out of it, because they really—they really are—a couple of other ones could have been involved in this, but you know, they’re young, they’re young, their heads are spinning, and they love their sister, uh and they—they—this is busting them up big time. But the older ones are more mature, and they’re handling it well. They wanted to get together and walk through Cynthia’s article, piece by piece, there’s—there’s about five or six images that she puts out there, and events that they actually remember, and, uh, and they can—they want to, uh, kinda form a defense, and say, “You know what, we have, we have, um, uh, an answer that’s different than Cynthia’s. And actually much different than Cynthia’s.”

And then that’s what’s going to be the podcast today. That—that’s what it is. And I, and I’d like to just double up, we love Cynthia, we want this to be handled as fast as possible. This is so painful to us, and uh, and, and we really need you—if you—you know what, and before I press play, you probably want me to already shut up and listen to the kids, but hey, I gotta say this. Uh, if you—if you do desire the truth to set us free and the—the—the truth to surface and for good things to come of this, please encourage Cynthia to get the help that she’s denied from us. She has refused to go to counseling with us. I mean that’s, that’s, uh, that’s the only solution I see here. Uh, I believe she believes what she believes, but, uh, she—she needs to sit down on the comfortable couch and explain her pain. And going public with a damaging story that’s not true will only—will only hurt her more. So, uh, please help me encourage her, um, uh, her blog is cynthiajeub.com. Um, as I’m recording this right now, it’s still the first article, or, uh, top article, um, but uh, I’ll have a leak in the show notes.

So, uh, so with that, this is my Jeub family, or, uh, a chunk of ‘em, four of my kids, uh, the oldest ones that are living at home, Isaiah, Micah, Noah, and Tabitha. And, uh, and at the end of the podcast I have, uh, information on how to get Love in the House for free—I’m actually giving it away for free this week, because, uh, because we’re, we want you to see who we are, and be totally open and honest about this situation that we’re in. Uh, more about that at the end here. Uh, but, with that, enjoy my kids.

[8:28]

Male voice 1: OK, careful.

[creaking noise, like a door closing]

Male voice 1: Why did I say careful? Hello! We are the four Jeub older kids that are still living at home, so, uh, yeah, we’re just gonna go oldest to youngest and introduce ourselves.

Male voice 2 (Isaiah): Uh, I’m Isaiah, hi. I’m eighteen, um, do you want me to—

Male voice 1 (Micah): That’s good, um, I’m Micah—

[girl laughs]

Micah: —and I’m seventeen.

Male voice 3 (Noah): I’m Noah, and I’m sixteen.

Female voice (Tabitha): And I’m Tabitha, and I’m fourteen.

Micah: And our sister wrote a blog post about our family, it’s, uh, telling, uh, the world how abusive our parents are to us, and we would like to go through and read the blog post and give the world our take on Cynthia’s blog post. So we’re gonna go through her blog post right now and give you our take.

Male voice: OK. So the first little section basically said—uh, I’ll just read it. “Eight years ago, Mom, Dad, I’ve been hurting myself since I was four, I’ve kept it a secret for ten years, and I don’t think anybody else in the world does it. I want to tell you because we’re going to film on TV and I might lose control in front of the cameras. I don’t want to make our family look bad. Are you still doing it? No, I quit a few years ago. Then your sin is forgiven, we’ll go ahead with the filming, just don’t tell anyone.”

Tabitha: So, our older sister Cynthia was hurting herself, and she’s acting as if we were trying to cover it up, as if we have some deep, dark secret. What’s actually happening here is just a normal conversation. She said, “Hey, Mom, Dad, I’ve kept this a secret, um, I’m hurting myself.” And they’re just like, “Are you still doing it? I don’t think you need to tell the cameras.” It—it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. We’re not hiding anything. If you get to know us, we’re a pretty transparent family, we’re the same at parties that we are at home.

Micah: Yeah it’s true, I mean, you guys know us, or if you don’t know us, we’re very, like, we just are the same at home as we are at parties. Like Isaiah’s shy at home and he’s shy at parties.

[Tabitha laughs]

Micah: I’m outgoing at home, and I’m outgoing at parties.

[Tabitha laughs]

Micah: Noah’s a dork at home, and he’s a dork at parties.

[Tabitha laughs, Noah makes sound of weak protest]

Micah: OK, so we are the same throughout. And this conversation that Cynthia was having with Dad is just a normal conversation, it’s not like, “Oh we have something to hide, you can’t tell the cameras anything.” Cynthia spoke her mind on TV, it was no big deal. So, yeah. Next, uh, section.

Male voice: Second section! “Seven years ago, Mommy, stop hitting him, he’s only eleven. Do something, Cynthia, I’m scared she’s not stopping. A few days later. What happened to him? Did he get in a fight with his brother? No, Mom got made and slapped him, she wouldn’t stop so I pulled her off of him. He’s wearing makeup so you can’t see the whole bruise and where he was bleeding. Everybody thinks that we’re perfect, please don’t let them look through the curtains.”

Micah: This story was, um, about Isaiah, and Cynthia paints this ugly picture of our mother like she beat Isaiah till Isaiah was black and blue, which is not exactly what happened. Um—yes, actually, me—um—him and his brother did get in a fight, I got in a fight with Isaiah, and I hit him in the face, and then Mom was on my side, so Mom hit him in the face. And this happened eight years ago, and it was not—Mom was not beating him.

Male voice: Yeah, that was—

Micah: That was a very ugly night in our house, and it’s super painful that Cynthia had to post—post this on the public for the world to see. So yes, this did happen, yeah, it was about eight years ago, and, uh, yes, this did happen, I hit him in the face, then Mom hit him in the face, and he did have a bruise.

Male voice: And that was the end of the fight.

Micah: And that was the end of the fight, and Mom has apologized for it several times, and we have forgiven her. So, I don’t see why it needs to be brought up, but that was our take on the matter. So, our mom does not do that—she’s never done it again, so it, uh, is kind of irrelevant at this point. We don’t get slapped in the face.

Isaiah: Yeah, and the reason Micah responded to that and I didn’t was because I don’t remember this happening, specifically. Um, from what I hear, it sounds a lot like—it sounds a lot like abuse when I hear about it, and—and I think—this, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this. I mean, I remember me sitting around and all the kids were like, “Oh, you remember that one time?” And I’m like, “No, I don’t remember that one time.” But—but when I hear this, it sounds a lot like abuse, but I’ve never seen my mom actually do something like this to any of the other—any of my siblings. So—so to believe this—

Micah?: Or to do it again or anything. She says later on that it did happen again, but it didn’t happen again, it was something else that Mom was doing.

Isaiah: Well yeah, it wasn’t—she wasn’t slapping me over and over again, and we’ll cover it later. And we’ll get to that, but I’ve never seen it happen again in this household. Or beforehand. So.

Micah?: And—have you forgiven Mom for what she did?

Isaiah: I—uh—maybe, I don’t remember forgiving Mom.

Micah: So you don’t remember the conversation that night when she came to apologize like a hundred times.

Isaiah: No.

Micah: OK. Well, I remember the conversation pretty well, and she was very, very upset at herself.

Noah: And—at the end of this section, she says, “You can’t see the whole place where he was bleeding.” That’s so exaggerated, there was a small bruise where—

Micah: It was right under his eye.

Tabitha: I thought it was right under his eye.

Micah: Right under his eye, and he was not bleeding.

Noah: He wasn’t bleeding at all.

Tabitha: No. It’s exaggerated.

Micah: I punch pretty hard. Just kidding. OK, moving on to the third thing.

Tabitha: Third section.

Not Micah: “Six years ago. I’m gonna sit here while the producer interviews you. I’m here to help you remember to say what’s true. OK daddy, I trust you. Don’t let them see what goes down in the kitchen.”

Micah: What in the heck goes down in the kitchen, like, we cook in the kitchen, if you guys wanted to know that—

Tabitha: We dance in the kitchen.

Micah: We dance in the kitchen.

Noah: We wrote cookbooks on that, too. [laughter]

Isaiah: We do [unintelligible] in the kitchen, and do flips off the counters in the kitchen.

Micah: It’s pretty funny. Um, yeah, so this sounds like a manipulating father talking to a daughter, but really, this kind of conversation is like, what’s wrong with this conversation. Cynthia, you could’ve said whatever you wanted on camera, and Dad wasn’t forcing you to say anything on camera. He never forced me to say anything on camera, he never—

Male: Yeah.

Micah: He just said hi, I’m here to be with you, I thought you were nervous in talking to ten million people.

Male: Yeah.

Micah: So he wasn’t forcing you to say anything, so the fact that you think he, uh, was like oh, I’m gonna make sure you say all the right things, you know, I’m gonna let you make your own decisions but I’m gonna make ‘em for you so they’re right—he wasn’t saying anything like that.

Noah: Yeah. And he was just out there helping with the light fixture.

Isaiah: Yeah, he was out there helping with the lights.

Noah: He was helping when I was interviewed, I remember that.

Isaiah: He was helping hold up that light.

Tabitha: Yeah, he wasn’t like he was sitting there, holding her hand, being like, don’t say that, don’t say that, here, let me just answer for you.

Noah or Isaiah: Because, like, it wasn’t like an episode where he was making the puppets say what he wanted them to say—yeah, it’s not like that at all.

[noises of agreement from others in the background]

Micah: Alright, next question, or next, uh, statement.

Tabitha: Here, I’ll read it. Five years ago. Mom, look, I watched the kids—ten kids, and cooked the food and cleaned the house while you were gone. You didn’t do the dishes? You don’t appreciate what I—that I was gone all day shopping. I do so much work around here, I can’t be gone for a few hours without coming home to a mess. I need to work in a clean kitchen and it’s your fault I can’t. I don’t ask for much. Places, places, get in your places.

Micah and Tabitha, in a sing-song tone: Places, places, get in your places.

Micah, in a falsetto: Places, places, get in your places. [laughter]

Noah or Isaiah: That was better.

Micah: Thanks, man.

Tabitha: Uh—

Micah: OK! Go ahead, Tabitha.

Tabitha: I was just going to say that this is a normal conversation, it’s not yelling at you, being like omigosh, you’re a horrible child. It’s just saying, thank you for watching the kids, but look, you didn’t do the dishes, like—

Micah: Like, uh—

Micah and Tabitha: —why didn’t you do the dishes? [laughter]

Tabitha: Well, I need to make supper, I’ve been shopping all day—have you ever been shopping? It’s not that fun.

Noah: Well, some girls think so. They’re weird.

Tabitha: Threatening to call the authorities on this is just kinda funny.

Micah: It’s just like, Mom didn’t thank me for doing the rest of the house when I was supposed to do the dishes. Abuse, it’s abuse. We’re being abused, omigosh. Anyway, uh, just do the dishes next time, Cynthia, you’re an adult. [Tabitha laughs] Alright, next question.

Tabitha: “Three years ago. Is it that cutting thing again? I thought you were over that. I’m scared because I wanna kill myself, Daddy. Are you sure it’s not just trying to fit in with your college friends, pretending you have problems like theirs? No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens.”

Micah (in a sing-song tone): No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens. [spontaneous vocalizing] Alright, go ahead, people.

Tabitha: I would just say that this is a huge conversation—I remember you and Dad talking for hours at a time, you guys talked through this, um, and you’re forging the conversation to make it sound—he probably did ask this, um, is it your college friends. Someone comes to you and says I wanna kill myself, you’re probably gonna ask every possible question, well, where is this even coming from. He probably asked this, but it’s not totally disregarding you.

Noah: Yeah, it was a totally honest question.

Tabitha: It was a totally honest question.

Noah: It was probably one of many, many questions he had, so, you know, what’s driving you to think this—

Micah: Yeah, totally.

Noah: —what’s driving you to—

Micah: I’m here with Noah, he’s just asking a question, one of several questions that he asked, and to turn around and say that Dad’s abusive because he asked you a question like, uh, is this what’s the reason, is this what’s the reason, and then he asks one question—you just told him you wanted to kill yourself, ok? Right then at that moment, they did everything they possibly could, they put you into—they put you into counseling, they were talking to you, they tried to get closer to you, like, everything, like, they did not turn around and be like oh, it’s ok. They did everything, they paid for your counseling, like, they did all these things. For you to disregard them is a) just super mean and they were being super supportive and he was just asking you a, a question, like—are you just trying to blend in with your friends? Like, you know what I mean? So, um, that’s not abuse. How dare him say something like that—he’s not abusing you because he asked you a question. He was pretty shocked that you wanted to kill yourself. Alright, next one.

Tabitha: Two years ago. You’re not telling your therapist you’re having problems with self-harm and depression, are you? No, Mom, I’m there because I’m angry with my two older sisters for turning their backs on God and being rebellious and hurting my parents. Good, I don’t think that’s really something you need to tell your counselor about. [unintelligible] dresses on, doll faces. [sigh] Again, this is a huge conversation that you and Mom had, and you just cut it down to one thing that bothered you.

Noah: I doubt whether this even happened, honestly.

Micah: Yeah, so Cynthia’s cutting it down to one thing that we doubt even happened, but since she said it did, we’re gonna respond to it as [if] it did happen, which we’re not even that sure of. So one thing I noticed about this that is, like, uh, Mom is not using orders, she’s using suggestions. So she’s not saying, you cannot tell your therapist about this, she’s just suggesting, no. Which is like, completely not abusive, she’s just giving her advice. Mom gives me advice all the time. Don’t do a backflip off that car. I do a backflip off that car. I mean, it’s advice, it’s not abusive when you’re giving advice.

Tabitha: Yeah.

Micah: If it’s a direct order, and she’s, like, forcing you to not say it, that’s sort of, I mean, you know what I mean? But I mean—she never did that, she’s just giving you her piece of—opinion.

Tabitha: Mhm. And you’re in counseling because of this. Like, why would she tell you not to say—

Noah: Yeah, yeah.

Tabitha: —don’t, don’t do that. I mean, that’s the whole reason you’re in counseling.

Micah: Yeah, she put you in counseling because you wanted to kill yourself, because you were cutting, so, why would she say that? So basically your blog post—er, Cynthia’s blog post—just kinda, like, contradicted itself. So anyway. Was that number six? Let’s go to number seven statement.

Tabitha: One year ago. I remember when you were spanked with a belt every day even though you didn’t do anything wrong most days. So you remember that too? Weird. I asked Mom why they did that, and she said it never happened. I thought there must be something wrong with me. D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E.

[spontaneous singing]

Noah: No, you skipped on to the next section.

Tabitha: It’s so exaggerated. It’s not even true!

Micah: You can talk to my parents, they’re pretty open about the fact that they thought discipline—er, spanking—was a good thing back—what was it, that would’ve been like ten years ago? About ten years ago, they thought it was ok, and that’s just a fabricated—

Tabitha: Yeah, saying that we shut the curtains at night and our parents beat us is so—

Micah: —stupid, I mean we shut the curtains at night and we goof off—

Tabitha —and we party—

Micah: —and we play music.

Noah: Yeah, we were playing horse in the house last night.

Micah: Yeah, we were playing horse, because we set up this box as a basketball hoop, we were shooting a football.

Tabitha: Is that what you guys were doing?

Micah: Yeah, [unintelligible]

Tabitha: I thought you guys were trying to run—

Micah: You’re like, what is that noise upstairs.

Noah: That’s what happens when you shut the curtains.

Tabitha: We don’t even have curtains.

Micah: Yeah, we have a huge window in the front of our house with no curtains on it. Anyway, um, so this conversation, uh—

Tabitha: —is trying to create the image, uh, that every night, we beat—well, er, not us—but our parents beat us. And I would just like to say, I have never been spanked.

Micah: Yeah!

Tabitha: Guys, this is just not what happens.

Micah: This is not what happens.

Tabitha: That is so far from the truth.

Micah: It’s actually kinda funny.

Tabitha: We’re laughing. It’s just stupid.

Micah: We’re laughing right now. And the little kids—oh my gosh, I just kicked the desk, that’s going to come up bad on the audio. Anyway, uh, so that’s not what happened. We’re going to go on to number eight, which is probably going to be the longest one and the most confusing one, but here we go.

Tabitha: This year. Do you remember that one time when Mom slapped you until you had cuts and bruises and I had to pull her off you? I know it happened because you and our other siblings were there, but I don’t remember it. You blocked it out? I guess so. Anyways, she said sorry, and it would never happen again. Did it happen again? Yeah, but I was asking for it then. I was a disagreeable boy when I was going through puberty. Don’t you think maybe moms shouldn’t hit their kids over and over until they bruise? Our parents aren’t that bad, Cynthia, you need to stop saying they’re abusive. I see things that nobody else sees.

Micah: This conversation was going on between Cynthia and Isaiah, it was a private conversation and Isaiah’s gonna cover the story.

Isaiah: OK well basically, this was a private conversation that me and Cynthia had, um, and, and I really would’ve liked it to stay a private conversation, but since she put it out in the open—I don’t like how she put it out in the open. But since she did put it out in the open, um, the first time it happened, I don’t remember. The second time it happened, it really, um—

Tabitha: It didn’t happen the same way.

Isaiah: It didn’t happen the same way. I mean, Mom—Mom got pretty ticked because Noah didn’t do the dishes—

Noah: You didn’t do the dishes.

Isaiah: No, you didn’t do the dishes. You didn’t do the dishes.

Noah: They were your dishes to do.

Isaiah: No they weren’t.

Tabitha: Oh my gosh, you guys.

Isaiah: They were your dishes.

Noah: Oh my gosh, this happened like ten years ago! Go, just, keep talking.

Isaiah: Anyway, so, what happened was, Noah didn’t do the dishes, and I—I don’t know, I, I was doing something with another sibling and somehow I made him cry. It wasn’t that big of a deal in my mind, but when he started crying, I don’t know, I felt really sorry as soon as it happened. And then Mom came in, and was like, “OK, Isaiah, you’re going to do all the dishes.” So I was really mad that I had to do all of Noah’s dishes. And—after—and then—so I dragged out the dishes the whole day. And when I dragged them out the entire day, in the late afternoon, Mom got—Mom finally blew it and she—she threw silverware at me and—and then—

Micah: Have a fork! Have a spoon! [laughter] Take this butter knife!

Noah: And then she climbed on top of you and started beating you with her hand and slapping you and kicking you, right?

Micah: No.

Noah: And she started punching you in the face.

Isaiah: No, stop, stop. No, what happened was, after that, um, well, after that, I kinda just, we kinda sat in our room, and Mom talked to me, and we just kinda talked through it, and—it wasn’t like immediately after, but it was a little bit after, like I was sitting in my bed and was just there, and I cooled down after a little while, and then Mom came in, she apologized. And so basically—basically, that’s not abuse, that’s just—

Tabitha: What every Mom does, when their kids don’t do the dishes.

Isaiah: Losing her temper.

Micah: She—our Mom, came back—and it’s so funny, that something, like, this small, was like the biggest thing, like she’ll come back, and like, apologize for it.

Tabitha: Mhm.

Noah: Yeah.

Micah: Like, I snapped. She even said—do you guys remember this?—pray for me, because I snapped.

Tabitha: Yeah, she’s like, pray for me.

Micah: Pray for me. And at night we were praying, and Dad was like, why are you talking about Mom getting—and we’re like, oh, Mom told us to pray for her!

Noah: What’s funny here is that a lot of moms would probably have popped way before Mom did. A lot of what’s happening right here was, I dragged out the dishes for—

Isaiah: Two days?

Noah: A day, ok?

Micah: It was probably more like a week.

Noah: Ok, shut up, I was dragging out the dishes for, let’s say, two days, ok? So there were dishes from two full days all over the counters, right? And then Isaiah gets really mad, and you know, Mom’s probably fed up with me at this point, and then, she’s so fed up with me that I’m not doing it that at Isaiah’s one little thing, she’s like, ok, here’s my chance to make it actually get done, because Noah’s not getting done, so Isaiah, you do it. And then Isaiah got really mad and dragged it out for a whole ‘nother day. Now one thing that was going down in the background of all this that I’m telling you so far, is that Mom was actually having a miscarriage at the time.

Tabitha, Micah, and Isaiah: That’s right.

Noah: So, she was really under a lot of stress, and she went for three and a half days of pure, like, having to wash every single dish she was using before she used it. And then she finally got actually upset and actually showed that she was mad.

Micah: Right. And you can imagine how many dishes stack up after three days in our house, because, I mean—

Tabitha: There was fourteen kids at the time.

Micah: Yeah, fourteen kids at home, and two parents, um, the dishes really stack up quick. You leave it for three days—

Tabitha: And when your mom can, like, barely do anything because she’s miscarrying.

Micah: Right, when she was miscarrying.

Noah: It’s incredible that she blew then.

Tabitha: I know.

Noah: I would have—anyone else would have blown halfway through the first day.

Micah: But you know, the important thing that you have to understand about our mother is that she would never let something go like that. So even something like that, she took Isaiah aside and apologized to him, and apologized to me, and I wasn’t, like, even, and apologized to Noah and apologized to our whole family. She was so sorry, because I mean, like, she threw silverware. She was so sorry about that. So to wrap this up, to respond to Cynthia’s blog post, that’s what the kids who still live at home and aren’t super mad at our parents think.

Tabitha: We are not being abused in any way.

Micah: We are not being abused, we have an amazing life, we are, like, super [unintelligible], if I do say so myself. I mean, look at my hair, I got a haircut. Um, so anyway, we’re really cool, and we’re at home, and we aren’t letting Dad listen to this before we post it, so, like, there you go.

Tabitha: Yeah, we’re not being made to say this.

Micah: Yeah, we’re not being made to say any of this. So yeah, this is kind of—we’re doing this for our parents—well, not for our parents—we’re doing this because the world should know.

Tabitha: We want you guys to know the truth. This is so wrong. It’s so exaggerated and so forged.

Micah: So anyway, any parents that are out there, and are now, like, super scared to have kids, or are like, well, I’m never going to have kids, because look at this blog post, it always turns out bad—just remember that, as long as you keep love in the house, and as long as you keep all these things, you know, and just put God first before your family, but your family should definitely come up, you should love them as much. Just remember there’s no way to be a perfect parent, but there are a million ways to be a good one.

[clapping]

[27:43]

Chris: Alright, guys, that’s where we’re at. Uh, I remind you, this was my kids’ idea, actually, they wanted to do a Youtube thingy, and it just took too long, and we felt the need to really get this up online as soon as possible. But I’d like to say, I’d like to say this: I am truly sorry for all this. I mean, I hope that, in your minds, that we are exonerated for what we’ve been accused of. But I’m going to go into information about how you can get our book, but, but let me first make it crystal clear why my kids wanted to do this…or maybe why they didn’t wanna do this. They, they don’t want to say, neither do I, want to say, that Cynthia is fabricating. OK, we’re into speech and debate, so we get into uh, debate, uh, debate—debate’s a big deal, especially team policy, in fact, maybe I’ll do an episode soon about evidence integrity and stuff. We don’t fabricate evidence, we don’t make the evidence say something that it’s not, and, and you get in big trouble, you get kicked out of tournaments for things like that, and your reputations on the line when you, when you say things that aren’t true to the evidence, so, and it…what we’re trying to say is that our impression of our family is much, much different from what she posted on her blog, and if she has those, and obviously she does have those impression of our family, we need to pull that into the family, we are not unreasonable people, we, we love her, we will pay for the counseling.

And this is a very important understanding of counseling in family dynamics. Uh, if you’re estranged from a loved one, a sibling, a child, uh, maybe, maybe your parents or a best friend; whatever it is, there’s—there’s separation all around us, none of us are exempt of this. Please attempt to hear what they are saying without strong accusation or hatred. Keep love in the middle of all you do, in handling unloving situations; that is how we ought to respond. And I was gonna say as Christians, but you know what, as human beings, we need to respond this way to one-another. And that’s what we’re trying to do here. We, we love Cynthia, and we wanna connect with her, in counseling…she needs professional help and we, we do, actually; we need professional help. To work through the struggles that were aired on her blog and obviously you can hear from the kids uh, that, that, that you just heard. Uh, airing her frustrations online…is not helping her at all, and my kids would never have done this, unless she posted the blog post that offended them so much. It’s, everybody’s hurting here, and, and, and really, uh, how counseling works, really, you have a professional, in the room, who’s a mediator, really, to hear everybody’s frustrations and hurts, and that’s how it goes. No one’s really wrong in a counseling session—everyone’s in pain, though.

So, um, with that, you know okay, we’re gonna wrap up this blog post, but you know, I mentioned when I started this, um, I hadn’t heard the kids’ episode yet, and uh I, so what I was doing was figuring out, uh, Amazon Kindle Direct and all that…I don’t really know as much about it as you might think I would. Um, unfortunately I can’t give the book for free (laughing), I did that a whole long time ago when I started the program, and um, I can’t do that. Uh, I did though…the book, the book, our book Love in the House, it was written in response to our television show, uh, you can see the television show from 2007, uh, I, I’ll have a leak in the show notes for you, uh, but the book is really very good. And, and it talks about our big family, and how we fold laundry and how we travel, and stuff like that; kind of the fun stuff of a big, uh, of a big family. But uh, but towards the end of the book, we talk specifically about our oldest child, who, who was estranged with the family, during the episode on TV. And uh, and, and how we worked a, a reconciliation that lasted for a few years, and it was really, it was really beautiful. And there, it’s a good book, and I hope you, and I hope it touches on who we are. That is an accurate representation of who we are. My wife and I wrote it, uh, I, I’ve read it aloud to some of my kids; I should probably read it again. Uh, but it’s uh, it’s a good book, and it’s touched a lot of people’s lives about how to put love into their home. Uh, but, it’s $9.95 online, but for five days I have knocked the price down to the bare minimum that I can, that is two dollars and ninty-nine cents. I uh, like I said, I apologize that I, I said zero at the intro, and I was going to get, I wanted to, but, but I’m just gonna have to do $2.99 because I’m not allowed to. Uh, Amazon doesn’t let me. So um, so anyway, $2.99 is a slam-dunk deal; read it on your Kindle or your iPhone or, or whatever you, uh, use the Kindle App, and you can um, you can read our book.

Well, with that, that is the end of this daunting and exhausting, uhhh, uh, web-extra, or something, whatever, of the Training Minds Podcast, Uh, I’m Chris Jeub, and uh, and you know what—train you mind for action, but much, much more importantly, put love in the center of your home.

[Music]

Cheaper by the Proxy: Why the Majority of Abuse Victims Don’t Escape

“A dancing puppet doll made of wood
I bet he’d run away one day if he could choose to leave or stay
He’s got a string attached to every bone
She’s got him round her little finger so she’ll never feel alone…” –Aurora, Puppet

I was originally going to write today about nutritional abuse and the development of my eating disorder, and the recovery foods and diet that have helped me. But for the past hour, I’ve been glued to a story with even more complexities than my own, but seems familiar in so many ways. And this is going to be very difficult to talk about, because food, sustenance, survival, health, medical care, and bodily autonomy are so universally interconnected to our identities and to politics that it’s an emotional maze to get an essay outline to lay flat.

The story I’ve been reading isn’t particularly new, and there was a documentary about it released last summer called “Mommy Dead and Dearest.” In 2015, DeeDee Blanchard was murdered because her daughter had asked someone to kill her. Gypsy Rose had been forced to feign multiple illnesses, under threat of a violently abusive and controlling mother. Experts differ on whether Munchausen by Proxy is a real mental illness, and many victims have little to prove their claims. But this case is so extreme that there is little room for doubt: DeeDee had been lying to everyone, using her daughter’s “illness” to get attention and praise for her seemingly loving self-sacrificing duties as a mother of a disabled child.

The abuse is shocking. Gypsy was confined to a wheelchair shortly after her parents split. She was removed from school, “homeschooled to take care of her.” Her birth certificate was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, so her mother had the opportunity to lie about her age, making people think she was younger than she really was. Her mother shaved her head to convince people she had cancer. Her teeth rotted out, and it’s unclear how exactly that happened, but it was an excuse to give her an unnecessary feeding tube. She then used this tube to torture her daughter, depriving her of normal food, and refusing to feed her for days at a time when she was angry. She was beaten and threatened, and when she had tried to escape, her mother smashed all her electronics with a hammer and threatened to the same to her fingers if she tried to leave again. Their house was constantly a hoarder-level mess, except for her carefully labeled walk-in pantry of medicines. Today, Gypsy is serving a ten-year sentence for the second-degree murder of her mother, but she is thriving and healthy, there is color in her face, and her once-bald head has grown long dark locks. Prison has been better for her than her own mother ever was.

This story is shocking because it has so many different types of abuse involved. But it does not surprise me. This mother was able to torture her child for more than twenty years because our society overlooks every red flag. These cases are not unheard of. This January, the Turpin family was discovered hiding 13 children, ages 2 to 29, in their home, also using violence, starvation, torture, and chains as means of control. In May, the Allen-Rogers family was discovered torturing their ten children. And in a heartbreaking case that reveals LGBTAIQ+ people are not immune, a homeschool mother drove her wife and their adopted children off of a cliff, killing them all, in March.

Abuse comes in as many different types as there are people who are hurting and are looking for a proxy to take it out on, instead of dealing with their own pain. It happens in many kinds of relationships, not just parents and children. Munchausen by Proxy is hard to identify, because the caregiver (parent or guardian, in most cases it is the mother), comes across as doting, loving, charming, tender, and likable. They make people believe in what a wonderful person they are, for taking care of their sick child, or making unnecessary sacrifices for them, like quitting their jobs to spend more time with them.

Illness and disability is easy to exploit because medical professionals genuinely care, and will listen to the mother, especially if the mother lies and says her child can’t talk, like DeeDee did. It is also easy to hide abuse in plain sight – taking both support and sympathy for something others cannot question without looking like a heartless person who can’t see clearly how very very sick their poor child is.

Children will look right into a camera and smile brightly when they are in a terrifyingly violent or controlling situation. Gypsy is 26 years old – my age. She asked someone to murder her mother in 2015, just a little after I was ostracized from my own family. I never considered murdering my parents, but I definitely felt the need to escape. Lurking beneath these similarities, there is more: my mother has many cupboards filled with meticulously organized medicines. The one in the kitchen is overflowing with countless vitamins, prescriptions, drugs, alcohol, ointments, band-aids, and many bottles of liquid homeopathic remedies, essential oils, and sugar pills.

In the case of my parents, my father is the narcissist, but my mother uses illness to keep control. I’ve been informed that they are still acting as if I am nothing more than a wayward child who wanted to live at home longer, even though they generously provided me with a place to live until the age of 21. Nobody needs the small details that they drained our bank accounts and refused to sign paperwork to help us get an apartment, then started yelling at us about not moving out already. We had to seek shelter from friends at a moment’s notice, with no way to pay them, nor did we have rides to our part-time jobs and my college classes. It had never occurred to me to leave, I was too busy trying to work four jobs including childcare and keeping laundry and dishes done and somehow have time for my homework that nobody had ever taught me how to do. Besides, I had never had sex, and was still waiting for my prince charming to come along, who would want to marry me. 

My parents have always wanted to be in front of the camera, so they’ve made their own little brand around it. Their shared need for attention is what keeps my dad blogging, my mom mothering, and both of them united on breeding by the dozen. My siblings are not vaccinated, we’ve been prayed over to heal injuries and illnesses, and homeopathic remedies are praised right next to teachings about being a submissive wife. Have as many babies as possible, make them sick, and keep them dependent. That was how my parents thought the concept of love should be expressed, and it’s why so many of my adult siblings still haven’t left. It hasn’t occurred to them to leave.

Demonizing me, and seeing how much my life sucks without the family, makes the threat of losing their family enough to keep control. That’s just how scapegoating works, it’s nothing new. But for people who have not known what it means to be trapped well into adulthood, being worn down and unable to say, “Can we stop with the having so many babies thing?” 

As if I would say it. Ha! The thought would never even form itself in my mind – I firmly believed that having as many children as possible, because I didn’t know how birth control worked, was God’s way, and I would have to endure the pain of childbirth over a dozen times, as my mother had. I would smile, chuckle, and say to my friends, “I’m not afraid of childbirth!” But the truth was that I was well acquainted with enduring pain quietly, so a life of raising a brood of my own was something I tried not to think about. Besides, I had never met my future husband, and it was sinful to think about sex or reproduction, so I did my best to distract myself from sinful thoughts by keeping myself busy. The devil makes work for idle hands, and I had practically memorized the rulebook for womanhood, Proverbs 31. Many of the people I know actually got married with these expectations. I am so very lucky that I escaped before I could follow through with trusting my parents to choose a spouse for me, and pressure me into having children, on my own to figure out how to communicate sexually with a new person.

This is the norm! We have also come a long way since just a century or two ago, arranged marriages were quite common. But we know about consent now. It should come as no surprise that it’s an all-or-nothing thing in the public eye: most victims don’t escape. We’ll never hear about the ones who didn’t make it, or know how many of the people close to us are keeping their child sick at home, or controlling those bright smiles with some horrible form of control behind the scenes. In the Christian world, the Duggars are highly respected because they have never had a child rebel. To lose a child to the ways of the world is an incredible shame for parents, and my own parents have often described it to me as the worst pain ever, when it was my sisters in the cold seat instead of me. But the fact that the Duggars have not lost any children – Josh is still considered a Christian, so he’s forgiven for whatever happened between their kids when they were younger.

But not a single Duggar has decried Christianity, ATI, or even bothered to cut their hair. They are trapped in front of cameras, still being milked for entertainment. To my parents, that’s a point for them. To me, it’s a point against – those parental puppet-strings must be lodged pretty deep into those kids to ensure that not a single one questions the faith.

That is why victims don’t escape – adults and children alike can be victimized, you would never know who is being threatened, beaten, screamed at, sickened, or raped in their own homes. It’s nearly impossible to think your own thoughts when you are constantly on edge, constantly being questioned, constantly being watched. The exhaustion of constantly being worn down with physical abuse, combined often with a distribution of power that resembles master and servant. The victim serves the abuser, does a majority of the work, and has no right to complain about it, or they’ll suffer dire consequences. The parent-child relationship is just one of perhaps billions of types of relationships.

I refuse to have a proxy for processing the trauma of my own childhood. That is why I am childless right now. I am choosing not to have children because I know I am not mentally stable enough to model emotionally intelligent behavior. I want to learn how to relate to my own childhood, seeking professional help as I go, so I know I will not lash out at my children, letting them endure the brunt of my unprocessed anger, grief, and need to inflict pain on the nearest person in my vicinity. I don’t want to have to apologize to my child for not being able to control myself, though I know it would be ridiculous to expect perfection from myself. And when I am ready to have a little human, maybe I’ll adopt. I don’t know. But I’m not trying to outpopulate any demographic, like conservatives do.

I don’t really know how to end this post, except to maybe link to my favorite TED talk about it.

Want to support my ad-free writing to raise awareness about abuse? I have a Patreon for that!

Purity Culture and My Sexuality

Re-upload note July 2018: I originally pissed my family off by coming out as a Christian ally to gays and lesbians, notwithstanding the education I had yet to receive on the fully inclusive LGBTAIQP community. Within a year, I realized that I was bisexual, and had suppressed and minimized any feelings I had toward femme and nonbinary people, in addition to the attraction to masculine expression I was expected to have. This is my coming out post, finally online again after 2 years thanks to the archive restoration project, originally uploaded on April 17, 2015.  

I know that it’s a secret,
And that I gotta keep it,
But I want the lights on
Yeah, I want the lights on
And I don’t want to run away anymore
Leave the lights on, leave the lights on, leave the lights on
What would they say, what would they do?
Would it be trouble if they knew?” –Meiko

I had my heart broken twice before I realized I’d been in love. That might sound like an exaggeration or melodrama, but it’s actually possible thanks to the wonders of purity culture.

When I was a teenager, I read and re-read books like Sarah Mally’s Before You Meet Prince Charming, Eric and Leslie Ludy’s When God Writes Your Love Story, and Debi Pearl’s Preparing to be a Help Meet.

They kept me strong in my dedication to never think about sex, or to think about members of the opposite sex. I had my obsessions and celebrity crushes, but if the image of seeing someone naked ever entered my mind, I’d fight it out with quoting the Bible.

I knew I would only ever give my heart to one person – the man I would marry. He must show interest in me; women don’t initiate. The concept of mutual consent, mutual interest, was never introduced. If he didn’t reciprocate my feelings, it was a meaningless feeling, and feelings were worthless. I needed to control my very thoughts, so I could give my whole heart to my husband, along with my first kiss. Just toeing the line of saving sex for marriage was too low a standard for me.

Blame doesn’t fall on any one person for how I controlled my thoughts. It was a personal choice, something that was very important to me. The people around me reinforced the notion that I was doing the right thing. Some people were better at the game of self-thought-policing than I was, and they made me feel like I could never be good enough. Some people saw me as unapproachable because I was so sincere. Every failure looked like rebellion and felt like despair.

Surely I didn’t love my best friend when I started college. He didn’t love me, so I told myself to “guard my heart” and push away all emotions of attachment. At the same time, our late-night conversations kept me going through my darkest depression and most intense stress. I finally told him that I needed space to figure out why the sight of his name gave me such indecipherable pain.

It would take me months to unlearn what purity culture had taught me to do: conceal all desire, even from yourself.

So it was that I fell in love with a man, and didn’t realize what had happened until afterward. I just assumed I was straight because I was attracted to men. It never occurred to me that I might make the same mistake twice, equally blinded to my desires toward a girl.

It was similar – I had a crush on her, but didn’t know it. She once kissed another girl in front of me, and I desperately wanted to kiss her. Even that feeling was not enough to make me think I wasn’t totally straight. I figured I was just curious, having never been kissed. Giving gifts is something I rarely do and often feels like an obligatory chore, but I gave her thoughtful things that I knew she’d like.

When we had a fight that ended our friendship, I was devastated. Another friend asked if I’d been in love with her. I said no, of course I wasn’t.

A few months later I got an email, and was instantly interested – this person, who hadn’t revealed their gender or identity, matched me intellectually. I assumed the sender was male, and entertained thoughts of meeting, and we exchanged lengthy emails.

The person who wrote these intelligent, complex, and beautiful emails revealed that she was a girl, and I realized it made no difference to me.

I started asking my friends questions – you don’t see both the male and female body as equally attractive? I’d assumed that everyone appreciated the aesthetic differences between the genders.

In the world I grew up in, there were two kinds of people: straight, and broken. Nobody was born gay, the church and chapel services insisted. The idea of other identities on a spectrum was far outside our reality. The idea of romantic and sexual relationships other than marriage was blanketly labeled as “sin.”

Of course I’d think I was straight. If I could close off my feelings for men, I could certainly close off my feelings for women. It was only after I started to learn what attraction felt like, that I knew I liked girls. I always had liked girls. I just didn’t know that my experience was any different from anyone else’s, because we never talked about our feelings. We never defined our terms.

Humans are beautiful to me – whether they’re male, female, or non-binary.

You could call me sapiosexual, in that I love people for their intelligence, and my level of attraction depends on how smart and interesting the other person is. Many sapiosexuals, though, don’t find the human body sexually attractive, and I do. It’s also accurate to call me pansexual, because I’m open to dating non-binary or trans people, in addition to the binary genders. For me, the title I’ve chosen is bisexual.

I’m bisexual. There, I’ve come out, now you know.

February 21 – A Letter to Anastasia Steele

“Emotions aren’t that hard to borrow
When love’s a word you never learned…” –Avril Lavigne, Give You What You Like, 50 Shades of Grey Soundtrack

Dear Ana,

I won’t say that I know how you feel. I won’t say that I’ve been where you’ve been. I haven’t. I just want someone to say some things to you, because I can’t find anyone else who’s said them.

You didn’t do anything to deserve this.

I have the dialogue running over in my head – he said something vague, and you took that as a challenge. You were curious, you wanted more information. Sure, you could look it up for yourself, but there was allure in the way he took interest in you, the way he kept you guessing.

It felt real. It felt good to be pursued. He was baiting you, and taking advantage of your naivety. It wasn’t your fault that you fell for it. It wasn’t your choice. You didn’t see the whole picture. I’m sorry he did that to you. You didn’t do anything wrong.

People are saying you were stupid, you were immature, that you made a mistake. The smartest of us make mistakes when treading unfamiliar waters, Ana. He was in the wrong. Not you.

You have a right to be curious. You have a right to your naivety and your curiosity. You had a right to decide to leave and to say no. You had a right to have him respect you when you did that. When he didn’t, it wasn’t your fault.

Now, in book time, you’re married to the man who stalked you, tortured you, ignored what you wanted, and trained your body to like pain – a body that didn’t like pain at first. We’re wired with our pain and pleasure receptors very close together in our brains, and it’s possible to rewire you into a masochist. That’s what he did to you, and you didn’t know that from the beginning.

Sadism and masochism is about understanding the terms and conditions. He didn’t give direct answers to your questions. He did things without asking you, without being concerned about your safety and comfort, without allowing you to process and heal and learn and grow – all the beautiful things that such relationships bring. You asked, you asserted, you were curious. He didn’t listen, he kept baiting. You didn’t do anything wrong.

They’re saying you asked for it, that you ignored the red flags. They’re not saying he was wrong to manipulate you. I think maybe that’s because you’re telling the story before you’ve realized it for yourself. They are, after all, reading the story from your perspective.

Ana, I want to hold you, be gentle to you, and tell you that getting special attention doesn’t have to mean suffering. Some of us like pain, but we’d never force it on someone who isn’t sure, especially not on someone who doesn’t like pain. You were forced – pushed, controlled, trapped, lured. This is not your fault.

When I say it’s not your fault, I’m also saying it’s not your doing. You didn’t choose this. Since you didn’t choose it, you don’t get to take credit for it. Your attempt to brag as you tell your story sounds disjointed. There’s pain and confusion, because you’re trying to take credit for what felt like a choice, when you were just surviving in a situation you didn’t control.

I’m not saying I get it, or that I’ve been there. I haven’t. See, I’ve heard many victims who didn’t realize they were coerced. Some carry shame – they tell their daughters, “don’t make the same mistake I did.” Others carry pride – they say, “I was the queen, the dirty-minded one, I had no limits.”

They don’t realize that the mistake wasn’t theirs. The limits they set were disregarded, so they decided it was their own choice. Sometimes we don’t know our own limits, because we’re never given a chance to reconsider, and for our conclusion to be respected.

You didn’t do anything wrong. He did.

I’m writing to you, Ana, because nobody is saying this about you – your naivety was a vulnerability, and it was not your fault that you were vulnerable. It was his fault that he exploited that vulnerability.

You deserved to learn and to grow at your own pace. Not with enduring what you didn’t want. Not with being harassed and manipulated, until you believed you loved him back, when you had no other choice. Not with drawing you into a mysterious world where you weren’t informed, and withholding information to control you. Not with confusing your emotions and memories and physical feelings until you mistook it for love.

Ana, you have a right to be curious and naïve. You have a right to live in a world where it’s safe to be vulnerable, a world where abusers know better than to take advantage of you.

I’m sorry that world doesn’t exist yet.

 

~ Links ~

National Sexual Assault Online Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave

I Dated Christian Grey: How Women Are Groomed For Abuse

Planned Parenthood Resources on How to Identify Abusive Relationships

Born to Breed

CW: I describe unsanitary conditions for childbirth in this post…not sure if that’s a specific trigger for people, but thought it still deserved a warning.

“Pull back the curtains
Took a look into your eyes
My tongue has now become
A platform for your lies.” -Cage the Elephant

My dad was playing his guitar, and the rest of us were sitting around, following him for clues on what to sing next. He looked up at the new Bible selection, printed with a calligraphic font, framed and hanging above the piano.

He picked a chord, tried singing along with it: “Lo, children are a heritage…”

It didn’t fit. He adjusted his left hand to find another chord, and this sounded better. He tried singing a few notes, then broke into song, following the words:

“Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord,
And the fruit of the womb is his reward,
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man that has his quiver full,
They shall not be ashamed (not ever)
For they will speak with the enemies in the gate
Psalm one-twenty-seven, yeah, psalm one-twenty seve-en.”

My dad always said he wanted a boy. He expected for me to be a boy, and he expected Lydia to be a boy. By the time Isaiah was born, there were four girls, and my parents were done.

Apparently that’s when God got involved, and convicted their hearts to keep having kids. Mom miscarried between Isaiah and Micah, and they were still just sixteen months apart. Then she was pregnant almost every year until there were sixteen kids.

We were quiverfull, and we were proud of it. In later years, my dad loved quoting the books “America Alone” and “The Empty Cradle,” and he often talked about how Christians weren’t having enough children. If we ever wanted to keep Muslims from taking over the earth, Christians needed to keep having loads of children. This was a competition, and the Quiverfull movement was fighting to win dominion over the planet.

That’s why it was a little weird to see my dad blogging recently that “patriarchy has got to go,” and that he’s ” becoming more and more repulsed at the use of the patriarchal idea of ‘dominion.’”

In 2009, we filmed our second show, this one with CBS. This was for the WE-TV channel, exclusive to certain cable services (Or is it cable networks? Dish connections? I don’t know how to talk about television subscriptions – we only had TV for one month when I was a teenager; we got a free trial so we could watch ourselves on TLC and then cancelled the subscription). It was, we found out after the producers had already gotten their footage, a show called “The Secret Lives of Women.”

Our episode for season 4 of the show was titled “Born to Breed,” and it featured four women who talked about the Quiverfull lifestyle. The first was Vyckie Garrison, founder of the site “No Longer Qivering.” She’d removed the letter “u” for her slogan, “There is no ‘you’ in Quivering.” She talked about how she’d lived the Quiverfull lifestyle and escaped from it. Then there was my mom, Wendy Jeub – in 2009, she had fifteen kids and she’d recently lost her pregnancy weight, so she looked healthy and happy. Another Quiverfull mom, Rachel Scott, was filmed with her large family, but it wasn’t as big as ours. The fourth woman was Kathryn Joyce, who’d just published a book about the Quiverfull lifestyle.

At home, my dad had derogatory things to say about Vyckie and Kathryn. He never swore or called them names, he just told us negative things about them that were partially true. He said Kathryn, being a woman who’d never experienced the Quiverfull lifestyle for herself, was just a journalist who didn’t know what she was talking about. He said Vyckie’s kids were rebellious and misbehaved all the time, and they looked less happy than they had been in the Christian Quiverfull lifestyle.

I loved having a big family. I thought I’d save my virginity for marriage, and that I’d save my first kiss for my wedding day. I wanted to have a large number of children, too. When friends asked if I was scared of the pain of childbirth, I thought I could handle it. After all, I’d watched my mother give birth to nine kids, eight of them in the small Jacuzzi tub at home. She endured each labor patiently, never screaming, always breathing through each contraction.

The forest-green carpeting in my parents’ master bathroom had white mold collected in the corners, and the panels around the shower had black mold climbing up them. I don’t know if it was Black Mold because you need such things to get professionally checked, but the mold was black. Sometimes we couldn’t turn on the jets while bathing the children, so the water wouldn’t get filled with flakes of the stuff.

I’d seen my mother give birth several times before I learned that most women can’t stand the pain. It also didn’t occur to me until this summer that since the bathtub was covered in mold, it probably wasn’t an ideal place for giving birth. I watched childbirth nearly a decade before I learned what exactly sex was, but I wore a purity ring in my late teens anyway.

All this, and I still thought I’d choose the same lifestyle my parents had chosen. I thought I was born to breed, that I’d court and marry a man who had my parents’ approval.

I practiced contentment. After all, I told myself, if I couldn’t be happy with my life as an older sister in a large family, how would I ever be happy as a wife and mother of my own large number of children? I knew I wanted this, so on hard days, when I got frustrated and overwhelmed with housework, I thought about how I’d someday have a husband of my own. I refused to even let myself fantasize about intimate moments with a man – that was impure, and I couldn’t expect married life to be all about that. I knew most of the time after we were married, he’d leave me home to cook and clean and watch the children. I must accept this fact of life and learn to be happy with it.

That’s what my life was: making promises I didn’t understand, being totally committed to things for which I had no alternative, and wanting a future life that would be just as happy as the one I was living.