This article by Claire Roise looks at how society’s views of cigarettes and seat belts have changed over the years and how it would look if abuse followed suit. It is a very interesting article and I recommend it highly. I remember the changes she discusses quite well. (I was an oddball child who insisted on wearing a seat belt back in a time when they were not used at all. I remember digging them out from under the seat and brushing off all the gunk.) Society’s views of abuse have been changing over the years, but very slowly. Too slowly.
There is SO much being written about the Duggars. In an effort to please everyone, I decided to stop posting everything I saw on this blog’s Facebook Page and start posting it on my Facebook Account’s wall. This way, those who want to see everything I share in real time can friend me and those who rather just see my blog posts can just follow my page.
So, here are the links I have shared since my last blog post.
Crystal Lutton explains What we, the Church, can learn from Josh Duggar.
Brent Detwiler takes an in depth look at the whole catastophe in The “Incredible” Duggar’s – “Happy, Healthy and Well Balanced.”
Susan Cottrell looks at The Dangers of Life in a Male-Dominated System on Pathos.
Allie Jones discovers what I noted when the story first broke: Police Report Reveals the Duggar Discipline Method: “They Have a Rod.”
Jonny Scaramanga reveals that Had Josh Duggar been prosecuted, Duggars would have lost the right to home school.
Joel J. Miller has an article in the Washington Post called, Jesus is quick to forgive, but Josh Duggar’s apology is still disturbing.
Travis Gettys writes about the Duggar mindset, as explained by Vyckie Garrison in Raw Story.
Victimhood is a very personal thing. Many survivors of abuse are finding their voices and are making a valient effort to speak for these victims.
Some are saying that it increases the pain of the victims and that we should stop.
Others are saying that we must speak out in order to give a voice to the victims.
Josh Duggar and Words as Magic by Rebecca Diamond
What Does The Josh Duggar Dialogue Say To Assault Victims? by Stephanie Tait
It’s Not Just The Duggars by Dana of Lemon Lime Adventures
Nice girls don’t talk about stuff like this by Rebecca Diamond *Trigger Warning*
I don’t want to add to the girls’ pain but nor do I want this swept under the rug. Since there are 5 victims, some might feel one way and some might feel the other. Also, since the information is already out, that cannot be fixed. The only thing left to do it to work towards healing.
My main goal in posting is to expose the paradigm behind all of this in hopes of preventing situations like this in the future. My hope is that those who are considering getting into Gothard/ATI/Patriocentric teachings will see the danger and run away. I also hope that those who are friendly with such families will be much more observant.
Here is an in depth explanation of How Fundamentalism’s Teachings on Sexuality Create Predatory Behavior from Diary of an Autodidact.
Barefoot Betsy responds to my first link.
Rebecca has written a very helpful review of the crime thriller 13:24 by M. Dolon Hickmon. This review explains how triggering this novel is for victims of abuse and why it is not appropriate for everyone. I, for one, appreciate the warning.
Please see the conversation which ensued between M Dolon Hickmon, myself and Rebecca Diamond on my Facebook page here. Since Facebook has mixed up the posts, I will reproduce it here:
M Dolon Hickmon: I appreciated this review and understand her confusion. This book was intended to be very different from what people who read child abuse books probably expect.
First, I do appreciate the many readers who have shared their own abuse experiences and are far along enough in their own recovery to read and say, “Yes, this is accurate in describing abusive corporal punishment and what it is like living with PTSD.” Those testimonies are invaluable for establishing the credibility of the book. However, this book was definitely not meant to be read therapeutically by survivors. Nor was it intended for any of the other audiences that Rebecca mentioned!
The goal of this book was to reach crime fiction fans — for instance, the six million people who watch Law and Order Special Victims Unit each week — with a story that combines stylish, horror tinged entertainment with the accuracy of a child abuse memoir and the factual medical information of a semester of abnormal psychology.
One reason for doing this is the vast difference in the size of the crime thriller and child abuse audiences. This was dramatically demonstrated this weekend: I ran a small ad targeting people who’d signed up to get offers of discounted ebook thrillers in their email. Before the emails were even finished being sent, my book was catapulted into the top twenty of all child abuse titles. With an additional push from several activist communities, the title strolled easily to number one. But while maintaining the number one slot in child abuse by a huge margin, the book barely registered in the top 100 for Crime Thrillers. Viewed in the other direction, what this means is that if ANY book about child abuse were to reach the top twenty in crime thrillers, it would be selling more copies per day than ALL of the child abuse books on Amazon combined. That is a tremendous opportunity, and that is the first thing i had in mind when I was writing.
Of equal importance, from an activism standpoint, is that all of the books aimed at the traditional child abuse audience are ultimately read by the same small group of readers. This accomplishes next to nothing as an awareness campaign, because it doesn’t reach anyone who doesn’t already know all about the topic.
This weekend was a huge success for me, not because the book had number one in child abuse, but because it actually made it onto the crime thriller chart, peaking at #75. This is the first time I have managed it, and the difficulty shows just how much bigger the game is on that level. I now realize that the number of books sold per day in the thriller category dwarfs anything I even imagined.
Finally, I hope it’s obvious that this book was not written for Christians or to change the minds of parents who are on the fence about spanking. This is a book about child abuse. Primarily, I wanted people on all sides of the modern spanking debate to consider that conversations they have with other adults can be overheard and misunderstood by children who are being physically abused. It is not enough to frame our conversations in words that a reasonable adult could understand–we all need to consider how every word that we speak and write about corporal punishment will either empower victims to seek out help or convince them that are not deserving of any.
Why Not Train a Child?: Thank you for that clarification. I do hope you understand that I wish you success in your endeavor while also needing to take my intended audience into consideration.
M Dolon Hickmon: I think we need to have a shout out on corporal punishment–from every angle and with every bit of creativity and energy that we can muster. Having said that, the USA didn’t abolish slavery by convincing the slave owners that it was wrong and they should give it up. It was accomplished by making the people who didn’t own slaves appreciate the horrors of slavery so they felt obligated to do something about it.
I don’t think that people who beat their kids are motivated at all to stop. They will stop when the law steps in and says, “Enough”. And the political will to get those protections in place is going to have to come from the broader culture. It goes on for the same reasons that slavery continued: the people responsible LIE about what is being done. When the public understands what their euphemisms actually mean, they will say, “enough”.
Why Not Train a Child?: Yes. That we have different audiences was kind of my point.
M Dolon Hickmon: Rebecca was dead on with all of her observations. But, for example, anger, hostility, aggression and violence are typical male reactions to trauma; it is how men deal with feelings of vulnerability and inadequacy. To point it out as something unusual in survivor writing is exactly right – but the REASON it is strange is that the tenor of survivor discussions has so far been heavily led by female voices. I related to this review. Basically, I read what others were writing and thought that it didn’t really reflect my experience. So I wrote something that did.
Rebecca Diamond: M Dolon Hickmon – I really did – I don’t want to say I enjoyed reading the book, because it was honestly a hard read – but I truly appreciated your voice throughout it.
I tried to convey in my review that it definitely wasn’t for the audiences I listed, so I appreciate your clarification on who the audience is. And I congratulate you on your success! That’s amazing to get into the top #100.
Have you considered doing a James Rollins-esque summary at the end? (Yes, I confess, I read some of his books. Guilty pleasure and all.)
I think that an epilogue or author’s note explaining the real-life connections; that this wasn’t just a thriller, but actually is happening around people more than they think, that the compliant smiling child that everyone compliments on their behaviour could indeed be a victim of horrific abuse, is an important point to make.
And it would be great to see a list of tangible ways that the reader could do something in response, as well.
Your novel is well-written, and I think it will linger in the minds of readers, even those who aren’t survivors. Giving ways to react/change/make a difference would take that lingering energy and help transform things, I really do believe.
M Dolon Hickmon: Thanks for reading and reviewing; Its really interesting to see what people think who have read it cold. I spent more than five years writing, and there are so many little details that some people notice and others don’t. It’s fascinating to see what, in particular, comes to the front for different people.
There is a prologue that steers people to the book’s website, where I have collected some of the stories of real life cases that the book is inspired by. I think that if you read the EBook it starts at chapter one, so you may not have seen it. A lot of reviews on goodreads have mentioned it but it may need to be handled differently. It’s always a challenge between essentially luring people in as a thriller, and making sure that they know that all of the crimes in the book are based in fact.
I would like to do more with that website but I am working full time at a sweaty, calloused hands job and taking care of a three year old, while also doing tons of writing and managing promotions like the one this weekend–which was the culmination of a year of lining up a complex choreography.
Every step is a learning experience as I am trying to do something that has not been done before. Ultimately, my hope is to create a new genre of survivor fiction. I would like to see others taking their stories and presenting them in ways that are marketable beyond the small circles of survivors and professionals.
I sold as many books in April of this year as I did all last year; the main reason is getting away from branding it as a child abuse book and trusting that people will accept it as a straight thriller. So much of that is just confidence from many many readers, and from the support I have gotten from professionals like the editors at Publishers Weekly.
This weekend it really hit me that what I have been guessing at, about the relative sizes of audiences, is not only true, but is obvious to professionals at PW and Kirkus. All along, people inside the book business have immediately understood that the potential of the concept to influence the world is phenomenal. The trick is getting the blend exactly right and figuring out how to market it.
Your comments about the audience are right on. This is a book that does not have a ready made shelf. But that’s not a flaw; it’s how I designed it from the beginning. In police procedurals, the victim is given one monologue to describe being abused and how it affects them–it’s not enough to do justice to the experience. Child abusers memoirs do justice, but people don’t want to read them. So I created something new. It puts me in a bind because I need survivors to endorse the book as accurate–but it’s not a book that was written for them. It’s written for everybody else.
Publishers are in business to make money, not to change the world, and they would rather print something that fits a known genre with a predictable number of sales. So it’s basically been up to me to believe in it, to develop the product and the funding for it and to do all the publicity. It’s a lot – lots of time and energy and money.
Appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
I am also working on a second novel, by the way. I am learning at every step. When the next one is done I will have so many advantages. Have to remember that a year ago I was a guy with a stack of papers, zero Facebook friends and a dream of changing the world. The things that have actually happened since then I can hardly believe.
Markiece Palmer has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the beating death of Roderick “RJ” Arrington. This was another case of parents abusing their child in the name of religion. The part I found intersting about this case was that the judge condemned him for his attempt to break the child’s will. Here is the quote from the story in The Las Vegas Review Journal. (Warning, upsetting story; not for the faint of heart)
“You used your faith as a basis to justify that,” District Judge David Barker said at Palmer’s sentencing hearing. “It sounds to me like you were trying to break him, this little boy, to break his spirit, to break his will.”
ETA: There was some question about the report to CPS on my Facebook wall, which led me to share this (very disturbing) news story.
I just found out about a new abuse trial, that of Army Maj. John E. Jackson and his wife, Carolyn. The North Jersey Record writes about the case here. It involves 3 adopted children, one of whom died some time ago (which they are now investigating due to the findings of abuse of the other 2.) I normally would not post about a case when religion has not been mentioned, but according to this story, when the oldest biological son confronted his father about the abuse, he was told that children were being trained. This article is giving me flashbacks of the Williams case.
Maureen shares an update of the Barbour case, in which Kristen Barbour was sentenced to 6-12 months for pleading no contest to the felony charge of endangering her 2 adopted Ethiopian children. What I find most surprising is that she will be allowed to go home and take care of her children for 40 hours per week. This is all explained in this article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
Update: More about the Barbour case in this article: Franklin Park child abuse case draws protest, counter-protest.
She then goes on to tell us about Carri Williams and the 59 page appeal brief she has filed, which she has on her site for us to read. This is a lot to read, but I’ll try to summarize what I can understand. They argue that it was not proven that Hana was under 16 nor that Immanuel’s scars were caused by Carri, that the terms “torture” and “extreme indifference to human life” were unconstitutionally vague and that she was deprived of a necessary witness. They bring up the witness who claimed to be Hana’s uncle and testified to her age being 13 and then fled instead of returning to Ethiopia. It later came out that the State had paid him for his testimony. His testimony was stricken from the case, but the jury had heard it. They also show where the prosecuting atty gave opinions and was instructed by the judge to stop more than once. For these reasons, they believe that it should have been ruled a mistrial.
For more on the Williams case, please see my Hana Alemu “Williams” tag.
M. Dolon Hickman shares his testimony and background of how he came to write his book, “13:24“ as well as how his father repented of his abuse in, My Father Repented of “Christian Spanking” Too Late.
Victoria Strong blames her abusive childhood on the teachings of Dr. James Dobson and is now reviewing his book, The Strong-Willed Child. She explains why in this heartbreaking quote:
So that is why I’m reviewing this book. I need to know what it says. I need some answers as to why my parents seemed to hate me so much. Why they were constantly angry with me. Why I was beaten with belts, punched in the stomach, slammed into walls, slapped across the face, and berated constantly, all in the name of tough love, the Bible, and most often, “Dr. Dobson says…”. Why I was never permitted to tell my side of the story or explain myself. Why they always, always, always assumed the worst about me. I need to know. I need to heal. So without further adieu, let’s dig in, shall we?
She starts here with the Dedication, and already has 7 posts up and is only on page 19 of the book at this writing.
It is very sad that her parents tried to raise her under Biblical teachings and yet failed to raise her to believe the Bible as an authority in her life. This is just another example of how these kinds of harsh teachings fail both children and their parents.
Disclaimer: this blog contains mild profanity.
There are so many tragic cases of abuse, I don’t usually mention them unless the abuse was clearly tied to Christian teachings. In the case of the Barbours the ties are not indisputable, but there are some pretty good hints. Thankfully, this case did not end in death.
Maureen compares the Barbours with the Williams and finds quite a few eerie similarities.
There is a lot of information the 2 articles she links to from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
This story from Oct 2012 tells about how the adoption ended in tragedy.
This story from June 2014 is the follow up and tells us that the couple pleaded No Contest.
I have warned people about the Old Schoolhouse before, telling them that its founders, Paul and Gena Suarez, promoted the Pearls’ teachings and defended them. When I visit their Facebook page, I am always surprised to see that some of my friends like that page. Maybe the fact that they support and defend the Pearls (while old news) is not well known.
I have discovered that not only do they promote the Pearls, but they are now being accused of horrible abuse. A family member had written about that, but has since removed the posts.
Update: Homeschoolers Anonymous has an investigative report on this story here.
Doug Phillips stepped down last October after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a woman.
On March 27, the Christian Post reported that he was threatening his closest friends of conspiring to destroy him.
On April 14, WND reported that Lourdes Torres, Doug Phillips former nanny, was suing him.
Vision Forum denied the allegations on their Facebook wall.
Valerie Tarico looks at the problem of Christian discipline leading to abuse in “Bible-based” discipline has led to child abuse in Salon Magazine. I am seeing non-believers getting more and more concerned with this issue and rightly so. It breaks my heart that abusive Christians are giving Christianity a bad name. Of course, it is only natural that they are trying to find a way to stop the abuse. My only concern with that is that their definition of abuse often includes teaching children that they are sinners in need of salvation, which is the heart of the Gospel.
Because of that article, Pastor Doug Bursch (who was raised in a grace-filled, loving home) discussed the problem with M. Dolon Hickmon on his Christian Talk Radio show, Live from Seattle 820AM. This conversation is extremely interesting as well as important. Dolon explains how important it is for Christians to recognize abuse. Not only do churches fail to notice abuse, they often inadvertently encourage it. He explains how each person listening to a sermon about spanking has a different definition for the words being used. Both abused children and their parents assume that the word, “spanking” means exactly what they are currently doing and are being validated that they should continue, even if the pastor preaching means nothing of the sort. Raising awareness is very important and he has a lot of hope that the book he wrote will go a long way towards that. You can get information about his book here. ****Warning! Book very triggering for survivors of abuse****
I was asked in the comments to my post, The Beast Look At Homeschooling, why I believe that regulation of homeschooling is a slippery slope and what would be appropriate oversight to prevent abuse.
My opinion is that parents are responsible for their children, the state is not. I do not believe that the state should take charge of children unless there is a dire circumstance such as obvious abuse. I do not believe that the state should be checking on children in order to make sure that they are not being abused. In order to simplify my thoughts, let’s consider the following. [Read more…]
The Daily Beast looks at the problem of certain parents who use homeschooling as a way to hide their abuse in The Sinister Side of Homeschooling. This article does make it clear that homeschooling is usually not done as an excuse to abuse and that most homeschooling parents are not abusive. However, the author of the piece also appears to be advocating for more oversight of homeschooling. I am not sure I agree with that. More children who attend public schools are abused than homeschoolers and even so, many die. How much oversight would be necessary of homeschoolers in order to make sure that they are not abused? I do feel that it would be a slippery slope.
Today, Wednesday, Sept 4, 2013 the Prosecutor and Defense for Larry Williams gave their closing arguments. As always, anything to do with this trial has a serious *trigger warning* and the closing arguments are no exception. In fact, I can’t stress enough how disturbing this whole thing is. I am having a hard time figuring out how to summarize without triggers. All I can say is that the jury was told how the charges work and given instructions on their options of what they can determine. By factoring in different degrees of the charges, they have over a dozen options. The closing arguments are a summary of what was shown and what each attorney wants the jury to decide. One of the Prosecutor’s remarks was that they wanted to kill Hana’s spirit and her pride. Very, very true.
Here is an article about the Prosecutor’s closing arguments in the Skagit Valley Herald.
And here is a more in depth article in the Skagit Valley Herald which covers the whole day.
Here is the story on Komo News.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Here is Maurine’s report on the instructions to the jury and closing remarks by the Prosecutor. Here is a quote from it:
Mr. Weyrich discussed the various experts who have commented on Hana’s age, noting that most put her at 15 years old, via teeth and bone analysis. (The jury needs to believe she was under 16 for the more serious charge of homicide by abuse to stand.)
And here is Maurine’s report on the closing arguments from the defense team of Larry Williams. I will summarize it with this one quote:
Larry just didn’t know all that was going on, Ms. Forde said several times. “The evidence is overwhelming,” she said, that “Carri Williams designed, planned, and implemented” all that happened in their home.
And here is a quote which I find very interesting:
Why did this happen? Because Larry and Carri were unprepared, said Ms. Forde. They were both naive. They thought Hana and Immanuel would respond to the same disciplinary tactics that their other children had, and they didn’t foresee the mental health problems of older, internationally adopted children.
This ties in with what I suspected from the moment I found out that they were following Pearl’s teachings. My only quibble is that the adopted children did not have mental health problems. Quite the contrary. It was the biological children who were raised to accept the abuse and had been mentally broken down with Stockholm Syndrome. The adopted children were sane enough to recognize abuse and resist it.
Cindy Kunsman, from Under Much Grace, looks at the Williams Trial and compares the Williams family with the Schatz family in
Awaiting the Verdicts in the Williams Trial: Another Michael Pearl/To Train Up A Child Associated Death. She also gives a brief outline of Pearl and his teachings and a lamentation for the devastation they have caused both to Christian families as well as to the lost who observe and turn away in disgust.
Maureen looks at the homeschoolings aspect of the Williams in Homeschooling, Christians, Identity, and Isolation. (Speaking of Maureen, I just added a (very triggering) link to the 2nd half of Carri’s testimony to last friday’s post.)
In case anyone has noticed the change in my numbering, I thought I should explain. I started off numbering the first day of Jury Selection as Day 1 but since noticed that all the media was referring to the day of Opening Statements as Day 1. This causes confusion and I decided to change to reflect the common numeration. My URLs will continue to reflect my old numbering system to avoid a bunch of redirects.
Monday, August 26, 2013. The morning started with the last witness for the Prosecution, a pediatrician who specializes on child abuse. He testified that Hana was not just malnourished, but was starved and explained the cycle of abuse which typically leads to such a condition. Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald (which is not for the easily triggered.)
After that witness, the jury was dismissed and motions were heard. The lawyers for Larry tried to dismiss the charges for various reasons. One of the reasons was problems with Hana’s biological cousin. The problems and concerns had enough merit that the judge decided to strike his testimony which basically means that it has been deleted. The Skagit Valley Herald explains. You can also find the story on KiroTV.
Maureen is back in the courtroom and provides us with much insight from Monday’s court session. Of course, the faint of heart will read at their own risk. I applaud Maureen for her dedication, her fortitude and her excellent writing.
Also, check out this piece in the Seattle Times which brings up the teachings of Michael Pearl in “To Train Up A Child.”
Wed, August 21,2013 saw Immanuel’s foster mother on the stand. KiroTV has that story (not for the sensitive.) Interestingly, Defense brought up that Imanuel had been abusive towards the foster mother’s daughter. I guess they are trying to prove that he is just a bad child, but what they really proved is that he was abused. (How that works is graphically illustrated by this powerful and triggering Ad Campaign from Mexico. )
Here is the story from the Skagit Valley Herald which discusses foster mother’s testimony as well as the issues which were brought up in regards to Immanuel’s first interviews after Hana’s Death. The defense asserts that interviews planted ideas in the “highly suggestible” boy’s head. She seems to forget that the testimony of the biological children backed up pretty much everything that Immanuel said.
Here is a large, comprehensive story in the British Newspaper, The Daily Mail.
The 2 eldest Williams boys will not face charges and will therefore be able to testify, according to an article in today’s Skagit Valley Herald.
In another article, the Skagit Valley Herald reports that Immanuel testified today that Carri and the biological children seemed to be laughing at Hana as she stumbled around outside. This piece of information certainly adds insult to injury. In this article we also learn that one of the defense lawyers was having some issues with the word choices being made by Immanuel’s translators and has subpoenaed one of them along with the victim’s advocate to testify some time in the future.
More about Immanuel’s testimony from KiroTV. I am shocked and horrified at how the defense attorneys are treating that poor child!
I also know from Gina Cole’s tweets that the family doctor testified today that he saw nothing amiss. He also did not see the adopted children after July 2010.
Edited to add: Here is a new article from the Skagit Valley Herald with more information about today (Thurs, Aug 8, 2013.)
Rally Ethics For Orphans & at-Risk Minors (REFORM) has been keeping track of every detail of this tragic case and has it all neatly laid out in chronological order in 2 parts:
Maureen has a poignant post about Hana’s hair.