Abuse happens everywhere. Abuse is in public schools, private schools, on school buses, in the youth pastor’s offices, in Christian homes, atheist homes, etc. We must do better. Homeschoolers, Christians, and HSLDA, we must do better. Kids are being abused.
I consider myself a person of faith and I educate my children from home. I’m not always vocal about being a “Christian”. I don’t like the label, honestly. I like Christ..in fact, I love Christ. I just don’t like what the masses have done to his name and image. It’s not the ‘secular’ world’s fault Christianity has garnered a bad reputation. It’s the self righteous Pharisees who have done that all on their own. It’s several clergy who have covered up for child molestors, pastors who silence women while their husbands beat their kids to death, it’s stories like these that get Christianity a bad name. So please don’t read this article with the idea that only non Christians accuse Christians of foul play. This blog post is not propaganda to destroy homeschool freedom or Christianity, nor to promote an ideology that is contrary to the walk of faith in Christ. This is one person of faith in Christ who is blowing a trumpet.
Sadly, not enough Christians have put their feet down about it either, all in their effort to “protect God” and their churches. But their so called protection of their God and church’s image has actually brought more harm than good. When crimes against humanity, especially women and children, are committed under the Christian label, then it should be the Christians who cry “FOUL!” It should be Christians who strip the rug from the garbage being swept under it and demand proper justice.
Trying to hide abuse in the name of “protecting an image” is furthering the abuse.
We are called to be champions for children. We are to uphold the incredible responsibility to protect children and women. Sadly, many pastors teach that women and children are not equal for protection. They are silenced into submission even when it’s to an abusive husband or father. They are taught to never say a negative word, but to instead remain silent in prayer in hopes that God will change him before the next time they get hit.
Many families don’t get the help they need, because they are taught to “fake it til they make it”.
Women, sisters…I’m going to speak up now about YOU. I know it’s incredibly scary to put your feet down with an abusive husband. I know because I’ve lived it! My husband and I have, thankfully, gotten help for the spiraling troubles we experienced when we first got married. I was just 19 years old when we got married. We had our first child that first year and struggled in many ways. My husband was a meth addict. He struggled between being clean and indulging in drugs when times got rough. Then we had a blow up evening…and *I* called the police. Yes, it was scary. It was one of the scariest and bravest things I’ve ever done. I wasn’t working. I had no money of my own. I had no family in town. I was alone with a small child. Making that phone call was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my life.
It started a very long journey of having the local authorities involved in our lives. Court appearance after court appearance and lots of court fees. We went through a few times of separation and years of being on welfare. Two bankruptcies We never felt well provided for with welfare..in fact..it barely met the cost of rent. I’ve spent MONTHS bending over a bathtub, washing our clothes with dollar store detergent and hanging them to dry from hangers hung throughout our tiny apartment. Using food stamps rarely fed us thoroughly each month. I often rode the city bus with our children to stand in long lines waiting for a box of food.
We struggled for six years.
Those six years went by. Two more children were born. Thankfully, our children were never in physical harm’s way. I am eternally grateful that my husband never harmed them. But I never knew how he would respond when he was in his addiction or while going through withdrawals because he didn’t have the cash to get his drugs. I sheltered our children from his anger, I would take them to the park on the days I knew he was volatile. He attended his court appointed classes for addiction and domestic violence, but he continued to spiral.
I was told by religious leaders to “submit and be a good wife” and that God would “change him” for me. Time and time again, I tried that. He continued in his addiction. I couldn’t stay silent. and I didn’t. I spoke up. I put my foot down.
I am so glad I did!
He finally got into a year long, live-in, program. It was that or go to prison for violating his court appointed classes. During his year in treatment, we had time to heal.
Staying in a home where you walk on egg shells just in hopes of helping your husband not have a blow up is NOT a good way to live and certainly not what God expects of us.
I was often told that I was a rebellious wife, by church folks. Some women were appalled that I would be so vocal with my husband, but they didn’t know about everything we’ve been through.
After treatment, my husband gave his life over to helping other men get help. He furthered his education in addiction/recovery counseling, completed his 2 year biblical studies course, served faithfully in church and in the rehab mission he graduated from. God had truly changed his life, but GOD used me and our local courts to get him the help he desperately needed. Help, our whole family desperately needed.
When you stay silent and suffer alone, you are enabling the abuse to continue. I know it’s scary. I know the fears you face. You CAN get help and you MUST get help.
Now I need to bring this even closer to home.. the homeschool community.
Tragically, many homeschool families live in fear of their government, CPS, and on top of that they fear their husbands. Even worse when their pastors advise them to “submit and obey in hopes that God will change him through your obedience”. You might feel like you have nowhere to go for real help. Perhaps a neighbor makes a phone call and CPS shows up at your door. So you call the HSLDA and they go to bat for your “right to homeschool” in order to get CPS out of your home, but now your abusive husband is protected and you are stuck in a dangerous situation that is festering (<<read Anne’s childhood story).
I know CPS doesn’t have the best reputation, but not all CPS offices and staff are zealous child thieves. Not all government authorities are anti-god looking to destroy Christianity. Not all pastors will assist abusive husbands by silencing the wives and children. And not all homeschools are suspect for abuse. There are good people in the world who want to help you and your children. There are compassionate people in your community that want to help your husband. There are people you can trust to help your family heal and not be torn apart. But if you don’t get help, abuse will tear your lives apart even worse.
I’ll be honest though, the road is long and arduous. It’s not easy. There is suffering during the healing process. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it!
As a person of faith in Christ and as a homeschooler, I plead with you all…we need to do better in the Christian community and in the homeschool community. We don’t need another Lydia Schatz to lose her life. We don’t need special needs children being abused. We don’t need little girls being violated at home by her father or by a youth pastor at church. We MUST do better.
There are women and children who need to be able to trust that we’ll be there for them when they are transparent about their needs. We need the local authorities and clergy to cooperate TOGETHER to help families. Allowing a pastor to be the only one in the home to help IS NOT going to be enough. If you’re living in fear of being hit or that your children are being hit, you need help. If you know someone who is suffering abuse, YOU need to help them get help. Walk them through the process. BE THERE for them through the WHOLE journey!
The HSLDA is under fire again and I know many are claiming the accusations against them are false. However, if we are going to support the freedom to homeschool, we ALSO MUST defend the freedom of children to have SAFE homeschool. Oh it’s easy to cry “FOUL!” when public school kids are abused, kidnapped by a bus driver, raped, molested, or beat up by their class bully. But when it happens IN OUR COMMUNITY, we CAN NOT cover that up. When former homeschool children grow up and testify of the abuse they endured, we need to listen up.
I have been a financial supporter of HSLDA for many years now and I am asking that they become more transparent with how they practice law, how they defend homeschooling, AND how they protect children in a homeschool that is abusive.
I know children are abused in a variety of types of homes. From poor to wealthy, from Christian to atheist, from public school to homeschools. Abuse happens. It’s tragic! We can’t only speak up about abuse when it happens in a public school. We have to speak up no matter where it happens. And we have to learn how NOT to respond to abuse allegations in the homeschool community.
Defending our freedom to choose our child’s education should NEVER trump their freedom to live in a healthy and safe environment.
To the HSLDA,
As a supporter of yours, I am asking for you to clarify your mission to defend homeschool freedom. I am asking that you inform us and SHOW US how you are defending this freedom WHILE defending children in an abusive homeschool environment. HOW do you separate the defense to protect homeschool freedom WHILE NOT enabling abusive parents to further their abuse under your “protection”? HOW are YOU holding abusive parents accountable? HOW are YOU cooperating with local authorities to HELP victims?
We must do better. We must speak up.