Getting Out – How To Start Controlling Your Own Money

“You think you have it bad now?” My father declared gleefully, “Oh, just you wait! You’re sheltered here, you don’t have to worry. I live in the Real World! Now that’s tough!”

As it turns out, the hardest part of living in the Real World was culture shock.

If you were raised by nuts, chances are, you want out. You might also have no clue how to make this happen, and your parents may be trying to convince you that you can never leave. It may be true that you can’t get out the door the day you turn 18, but there are steps you can take to gain control over your life. If you’re still under 18, take note of this. You might not be able to take these steps now, but you will be able to in a few years. The more you learn in advance, the better.

Depending on your family situation, you may have never done any of these normal things, which you will now need to learn:

  1. Been inside a bank
  2. Handled money in any form
  3. Filled out any type of application
  4. Held a job you found yourself
  5. Been on a job interview (or even know what that is).
  6. Ordered from a restaurant or cafe
  7. Been to school
  8. Been adequately educated (Bible study doesn’t cover many things you should have learned. There’s nothing wrong with Bible study, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you study).
  9. Had a friend your own age of your own choosing
  10. Interacted with anyone of the opposite sex
  11. Had access to information your family didn’t censor.
  12. Shopped for clothing on your own or had any say in what you wore.
  13. Had any exposure to pop culture.

The first step to taking control of your own life is taking control of your finances. I was lucky in that my family taught me financial literacy. They never tried to take my money; they favored other tactics.

Homeschooling parents in particular have been known to confiscate paychecks and identifying information (such as birth certificates and social security cards). They are especially likely to do this to girls, whom they believe shouldn’t be allowed to choose even as adults. They cannot legally keep you prisoner, but they will try to make it hard for you to leave. Money is a powerful way to control someone. You are going to need a bank account that your parents can’t access. That puts you in control of your money, and that makes it much harder for your family to coerce you.

If you don’t already have your social security card and birth certificate, ask your parents for them. No matter what they tell you, it is illegal for them to withhold or destroy your identifying documents. If they resist or demand an explanation, remind them they are legally obligated to hand over your documents, and they could be fined or even arrested if they refuse. That will work on most control freaks. If it doesn’t work, and you have a sympathetic relative, ask for help. That includes the sister your mom doesn’t talk to, even if you never met her. Chances are, the falling out was due to your parents being abnormal. She might be able to provide testimony to prove your identity. The same goes for cousins, uncles, grandparents… Even if there is no one you can call, the courts can issue a subpoena. A simple blood test is enough to prove they are your parents to the courts. So, they can cough up your information or suffer the consequences.

Once you have ID, call the bank to find out what forms of ID you need to open a checking and savings account. Be sure to bring those with you. If you have a trusted friend or relative, bring them along, but don’t bring your parents or anyone who is siding with them. You don’t need anyone trying to trick you into putting their names on your accounts.

When you first walk into the bank, you will see a series of tables and/or offices. There will be a row towards the back where workers (called bank tellers) are working behind the glass. Employees will be dressed professionally and wear a name tag. Sometimes, they will approach you and ask if you need help. All you have to say is “I need to open a checking and savings account.” They will direct you from there. If no one approaches, get in line and tell the teller what you need. They will get the proper person to work with you.

Most bankers are very good at walking you through the process of opening an account. Make sure your name is the only one on the account. They may try to offer you a credit card, but I wouldn’t recommend that right away. It’s true that a credit card can help you build credit, but it can also bankrupt you if you aren’t careful. The bankers want to make money off of the credit card offers, so don’t assume they are acting in your best interest no matter how nice they are. They also don’t know your situation, nor should you divulge it. They can help you make sure only you have access to your money. As far as everything else, you will need to go elsewhere.

You will get a shiny, plastic debit card and a checkbook. It’s easy to lose track and spend more with a card, so be careful. If you spend all of your money, you won’t be moving out. Save as much as you can. Remember that unscrupulous people, family or not, may try to steal this information and drain your accounts. Don’t give out this information unless it’s for a legitimate reason, such as signing up for direct deposit at work.

Securing your money is a significant step to independence. You will need that money for rent, a car, gas clothes, food, utilities, etc., later. When you leave, you will be paying for all of that. It’s not as scary as it sounds; compared to living with your family, it’s not that bad. Freedom comes with responsibilities, but it’s worth it!

Now, keep in mind that financial literacy involves much more than I included here. Do your homework, because this post is about as basic as it gets.

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What Healing From Abuse Looks Like

Over the past few days, many courageous men and women have shared their stories with the hashtag #metoo. But there is another part of the story rarely mentioned, especially in Hollywood scripts and popular culture. Survivors need more than the understanding that they aren’t alone. They need accurate portrayals of what healing looks like, in its many stages and variations, for it is never the same journey for everyone.

What I saw on movie screens on the rare occasion it was visible were life changing epiphany moments. You know that scene, set to inspiring music as the protagonist suddenly transforms and everything changes in the blink of an eye. What a load of bull.

So yes, healing is possible, even without the Hollywood epiphany moments. I used to be look for that moment, and I thought I wasn’t healing the “right way” because it never happened. Or because it was taking too long or felt like I was going in circles. Epiphany moments are a myth, and while they make for good entertainment, they are rare in real life. Off of the screen, healing is a messy process. It’s not a straight trajectory that goes to some magical place where you transcend your experience completely. It’s a plodding course where you sometimes are going alone at lightning speed when BAM! Something sets you off and it feels like you’ve gone ten steps backward for every one step forward, even though you haven’t. There are days when you find yourself slipping back into old, destructive patterns and then you berate yourself for doing it even though you knew better. Sometimes, you want to lie down and just give up while your life goes to pieces around you, and yet you somehow peel your battered self off the floor and take another step.

There are the doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments, medication that sometimes helps and sometimes doesn’t. There are the battles with insurance companies to get these services covered, while your own family is up your butt trying to put you back in your place. And while you’re trying to find your voice, there is a chorus of family and friends trying to silence you again.

It’s hard. It’s really fucking hard. But then the day comes when you manage to stand up to a male authority figure for the first time since you were raped. Maybe you can’t do this every time, and maybe you aren’t as assertive as you think you should be, but you had that moment. And then you have another. And another, until it’s not so alien to you anymore. You faced the demon, and while he might come around once in a blue moon, you know you can handle him.

And then you have that moment when you let yourself cry in tears instead of in blood shed by your own razor, by your own hand. Then you make real friends who want you to speak your truth, and who will cry with you instead of smothering you for their own benefit. Maybe that’s how you learn the difference between friend and frenemy. Maybe that’s also when you find out that blood may be thicker than water, but it’s no good if it’s poisoned.

I’m not 100% healed yet, and maybe there will always be scars that get inflamed from time to time. But, I’ve come a long way. I have a good life, a good career, the best friends anyone can ask for, and I have no more shame.

Me Too

Yes, it happened to me. It happened at a sleepover when I was seven years old. It happened over and over at the hands of a family member until I was 8. Again, in middle school, at the hands of classmates. The common thread that ran though all of these instances was that I was punished when I tried to tell anyone what had happened to me. Being in an extreme right wing family made matters even worse. This was what I was regularly hearing on the news and talk radio. Imagine being a child, hearing things like this after being assaulted:

“How many of you guys in your own experience with women have learned that no means yes, if you know how to spot it? Let me tell you something, in this modern world, that’s simply…that’s not tolerated. People aren’t even going to try to understand that one. It used to be that it was a cliché. It used to be part of the advice young boys were given.” – Rush Limbaugh

“Don’t report him!” – A Catholic priest shouting at me in the confessional. I’m no longer a Christian.

“If you know that this exists on campus, and it does unfortunately all over the country. All over the world. It is what it is what it is. To put yourself in a vulnerable position and to then be, you know, drinking on top of that and not looking out, you know, it’s the opposite of good sense.” -Faulkner Fox News

“I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, but knowing the facts as we do here … this case is going nowhere … When you look at the finer details, there are telltale signs of this girl actually lying. She is leaving her home at 1 a.m. in the morning and nobody forced her to drink. And what happens? She gets caught by her mom, she’s embarrassed and the easy way out here is, ‘Mom, someone took advantage of me,”” DiBenedetto Fox News

“When you say sexual assault, according to the new liberal interpretation of such a phrase, does that not include, “Hey honey, let’s go for a beer?”” – Michael Savage

This is what passes for intelligent conversation on rape in the Alt Right. When I first came forward on social media, nearly everyone in my family and their friends turned on me. I was crazy, a liar, a bad person, how could I come forward publically and embarrass the family this way? When I came forward behind closed doors, I got mockery and armchair psychological analysis. I didn’t even publically name my attackers. I still haven’t. My family and I aren’t speaking, because I said it happened. After Trump won, I got a text the next day saying “how dare you post about your so-called assault on Facebook?” The rhetoric on Fox News and talk radio doubtless contributed to my family’s reaction.

Why did my family react this way? Probably because this all happened on their watch. They don’t want to admit that they screwed up and put me in danger. Add to that their extreme sexist attitudes, and you start to see the scope of the problem. My father insisted that Donald Trump calling his own daughter a “piece of ass” was a compliment. He also claims my assault was no big deal, and I have too many hangups about sex. Both of my parents think I’m blowing this way out of proportion. And they wonder why I won’t speak to them.

Why Child Abuse Doesn’t End At 18

Child abuse does not end at the victim’s 18th birthday. It can continue for many more years, especially if economic circumstances prevent the now adult from physically leaving. Given the cost of college, skyrocketing rents, and stagnant wages, this is a predicament that is becoming far too common. Worse, society has as much sympathy for an adult victim of child abuse as they have for a gnat on their windshields. The general consensus is that an adult is free to leave, and the victim is ungrateful if she dares to complain or ask for help. The real problem preventing empathy is that most of society believes that on your 18th birthday, poof! You magically can’t be abused by your parents anymore!

Now, most parents support their grown children out of love. The conflicts that arise between parents and their grown children are usually due to having to adjust to the grown child’s new stage of life. Being involved with your kids life, monitoring who their friends are, and imposing a curfew is good parenting while the child is young. When the child becomes an adult, the same thing becomes intrusive. The new adult yearns for independence, and may see parental rules as infringing upon that. For example, the parents want the adult home by 11 (so they won’t be woken up at 1 AM), and the adult sees this as unreasonable and controlling. A non-abusive parent will be open to discussion as will a reasonable adult. They may agree that rather than having to be home by curfew, the adult can stay with a friend if she’ll be out late, and she’ll let the parents know so they won’t wait up. The best solution may be for the adult to move out as soon as it’s feasible to do so. Sometimes, normal conflicts are nature’s way of kicking an adult out of the nest. Even so, boundaries can be negotiated in most cases.

Abusive parents, on the other hand, will do almost anything to keep their children under control. Financial support is used as blackmail. Obey, or we’ll withdraw support. There is no discussion or negotiation; it’s their way or the highway. Usually, you’re looking at this ultimatum: either tolerate continuing abuse or live on the street. Maybe they’ll stop hitting you (because even states that condone corporal punishment call it an assault once the kid turns 18), but the psychological abuse won’t end. It might even escalate, because the parents want to demonstrate to the adult that she is still powerless. “You think you can just do what you want because you’re 18? I’ll show you!” The adult is unlikely to be able to turn to a domestic violence shelter; they’ll probably think the victim is just a brat who doesn’t want to live by the rules of the house. If the victim is lucky, she might have a friend who is willing and able to help. But, that’s not always an option. She may not have graduated high school by her 18th birthday, and there’s almost no possibility of finding gainful employment without a diploma. Even getting by without a college degree is difficult, and tuition is another way abusive parents can hold the victim hostage. “We’ll pay your tuition, but…” And, of course, she can’t claim to be an independent on the FAFSA unless she’s over 23. So, no gainful employment, no student aide, and if she needs counseling or medical care due to the effects of abuse…forget it. Assuming the parents can provide insurance, what makes you think they won’t use that? “Oh, you need medication to control your seizures, the ones we caused by bashing your head in? Well, no insurance for you unless…”.

Moving out won’t necessarily put a stop to it, either. The situation will certainly improve, especially if you move far enough away, but it’s not necessarily going to make it stop. This is especially true if the parents in question are hovering control freaks. My parents went so far as to attempt to have me declared legally incompetent to prevent me from leaving (that’s a blog entry all by itself). In addition to practical barriers to leaving (such as cost of living), there are also psychological obstacles. Most of people love their parents, and they assume that love is reciprocal. So, most victims go to extraordinary lengths to preserve the relationship. They try to reason with their parents and explain the harm they are doing. Sadly, that almost never works. Abusers usually deny what they’re doing and may even try to convince the victim that she imagined it (gaslighting). If they don’t deny it outright, they’ll minimize what they did, rationalize it, twist it around to make it the victim’s fault, or deflect to another topic that paints them in a better light. Discussing the harm they are doing won’t get the victim anywhere, because whatever is driving the abuser’s behavior is more important to them than the victim. Were it not so, they wouldn’t be abusing her in the first place. But, that’s bitter pill to swallow, and it may take a long time for the victim to get there.

There are also social consequences for trying to put up boundaries. Abusers will often go to great lengths to isolate their victims from anyone who might help them. In extreme circumstances, that leaves the victim with few or no friends outside of the parent’s social group. The parents are unlikely to tell the truth to their social circle (some won’t say anything unless they have to explain their child’s absence. Others tell everyone their version of the story to get others to pressure their victims on their behalf). If the victim says she’s leaving a visit early because her parents called her an idiot, they’ll tell everyone she stormed out because they told her the truth. If she says she won’t visit unless they agree to get counseling, they’ll say they don’t know why she’s mad (or they’ll make something up). Unless the parent is visibly pathological, most people won’t believe the victim about what was going on behind closed doors. Most abusers are very image conscious and make Herculean efforts to appear normal. They didn’t avoid Child Protective Services for all those years accidentally; they are usually very good at putting on a show. It’s also common for abusers to preemptively make their victim look crazy so no one will believe her if she tries to talk. Add to that societal assumptions about how all parents love their children, and you can see why most people believe the abusers. The abuser is telling you what you want to hear and believe, and it fits into the world view you already hold. They are also asking you to do nothing more than turn a blind eye, while the victim is asking for help (which may involve a place to live, food, etc., until she can find employment). This gives abusive parents a massive social advantage. Chances are that any friends or family the victim has in common will decide the victim is the monster. The better the parents are at putting on a normal and caring façade, the more likely it is this will be the end result.

I have done many google searches, and this is almost never talked about. I think its because of shame. No one wants to admit to still being a victim of child abuse well into their adult years. And without awareness, people will continue to be left in the dangerous situations they were born into. Society won’t help you if they can’t even see you, or if they believe it never happens. That’s why we have to do the one thing our abusers don’t want us to do: talk. It happened to me, it’s happened to others, and it has to stop.

The Second Amendment Isn’t An Excuse

The first time someone pointed a gun at me, I was 12-Years old. I had just jumped off my bike and said hello to my friend when she said “I have something to show you, but promise me you won’t scream.”
“Is it a dead animal?” I asked suspiciously, remembering the dead cat she had tried to rescue recently.
“It’s not,” she said.
As we approached the garage, she asked “Are you sure you won’t scream?”
“Are you sure it’s not a dead animal?” I replied.
“I’m sure,” she said.
“Okay,” I said as we walked to the fridge.

Yes, there was a long dead fridge in the garage, among other things. That’s why her yard was such a great place for clubhouse supplies. You could find anything there. She opened the fridge door, and piled high were weapons. Fisticuffs, knives, chains…and several guns. I didn’t scream. I just stared. “Don’t think these are mine,” she said.

I didn’t think they were. Katy didn’t have a criminal bone in her body. “Where did they come from?” I asked.
“I think they’re my dad’s.”
“But why would he have them here?” I asked. Katy’s parents were divorced. They hadn’t lived together in years.
“He might have hidden them here,” she said, “if he’s not supposed to have them. I’m going to tell mom when she gets home from work. I hid them here for now so Molly won’t find them”. Molly is Katy’s sister.
“Just close the door,” I said.

I should have gone home then and there, but I was young and inexperienced. No one had ever talked to me about guns or gun safety. In my mind, Katy would tell her mom later, and everything would be fine. So, we went to the side of her house for bricks and roof tarp, because we were building the roof of the clubhouse and didn’t want the rain to wreck it. The next thing we knew, Molly’s voice was shouting “Freeze, you’re under arrest!” She was pointing a gun at us, fully loaded, safety off.

The color drained from Katy’s face, but I was calm. I didn’t know the gun was loaded, though I wasn’t stupid enough to play with one. Molly tried to persuade us to play cops and robbers, but we refused. She shrugged her shoulders and walked away. That’s when Katy told me it was loaded. I felt the color drain from my face, and I knew we had to leave. Katy and I immediately got on our bikes and rode to my house. My mother called Katy’s mom, who then rushed home and confiscated the gun. I didn’t even try to argue when mom forbade me to go to Katy’s until her mother confirmed the guns were gone. I knew she was right, and more importantly, I didn’t want to get shot. My parents gave me the Gun Safety Lecture too.

My father, perhaps, should have attended a few gun safety lectures himself. After moving to a state with lax gun control, he began buying guns and stockpiling ammo. During my last year of college, he started complaining that I was waking him up at night. It’s true that I occasionally got up to use the bathroom or get a glass of water, but I wasn’t making a ton of noise. I tried not to, because I didn’t want to listen to him whine about it later. We later found out his blood pressure medicine was the real culprit when it came to his insomnia.
One night, I tip toed to the kitchen to get a glass of water. My father, unbeknownst to me, was creeping up the hallway with his gun. Suddenly, he hissed “what the hell is wrong with you?” I glanced down and saw his gun pointed at me. “I could have shot you! I thought you were an intruder!”
Seriously? The kitchen had a night light, and he was right behind me. How could he possibly have mistaken me for an intruder? “No more getting up in the middle of the night!” He ordered, “go back to bed!”
After that, if I was thirsty at night, I waited, no matter how dry my throat was. More than once, I came close to wetting myself, because I had to wait for dad to wake up before leaving my room. I was about 21 or 22 at the time.

At this point, dad was getting heavily into the Men’s Right movement. He had been hell to live with before that, but he became much worse with the MRA crap. Just before I moved out, he started cleaning his guns on a regular basis, going out of his way to point them at any woman living under his roof. “I’m not pointing it at you,” he’d insist with a smirk while pointing the gun, “ You walked in front of it. What, are you libtards and feminazis? You have a problem with guns? I have second amendment rights!”

Yes, I have a problem with guns when they’re pointing at me or anyone else for no good reason. I have a problem with people having guns if they are mentally ill, child abusers, or have a history of violence. And the second amendment allows guns for self defense; it doesn’t excuse bad and irresponsible begavior. Looking back, this could have been prevented. Someone reported my parents to CPS while I was in school. They didn’t really investigate. They took their sweet time showing up after my father hit me in the face 3 times. The third blow snapped my head back and knocked me to a ground. I told the social worker what happened, but they didn’t see any marks. They would have found swelling had they bothered to show up sooner, but they didn’t. My father waved the unfounded paper in front of my face the day he got it; he saw it as government permission to do as he pleased. There was a scandal on the news several years later about CPS not investigating cases or properly investigating them. Many were closed just like mine were, and some of the kids were later murdered by their abusers. Thousands of cases were in backlog.

If they had shown up in time, maybe I would have been removed from the home. Or maybe his guns would have been confiscated (or maybe not; we lived in a red state at the time). Either way, I certainly wouldn’t have found myself looking down the barrel of his gun if they had done their jobs. There was a big scandal a few years ago with CPS. They ignored thousands of cases, and several children died. I’m alive, and I’m grateful for that.

Am I in favor of taking everyone’s guns? No. People should be allowed to have guns for self defense and hunting. But, they should have to pass a criminal background check, be evaluated to rule out serious mental illness, and be required to take gun safety classes. The guns should be registered every time, no exceptions, and they should be confiscated if the carrier does something like repeatedly point them at his kids.

I’m safe now. I am not on speaking terms with my family anymore. It was the only way I could guarantee my own safety.

This Is What Rebellion Tastes Like

Several months after moving out, I had settled into a routine. In the morning, I would have my bowl of cereal or oatmeal and leave the dish in the sink. I would get ready for work, drive to view office, and goof around with my coworkers until my shift started. My coworkers were not part of the same, limited, alt right group I had been raised with. On my team were native Americans, African-Americans, etc. Walking around the office, there were people of every race and religion imaginable. We didn’t discuss religion or politics, other than to say if we had gone to church that weekend. But, we had a lot in common. My parents always told me the black men were always sleeping around with women, getting them pregnant all over the place, and not providing for their kids. But, the black man on my team was working two jobs to support his family. My native American coworker was one of the sweetest people I have ever met, not some drunk squandering her government benefits. She wasn’t even receiving benefits. More and more, I was finding that every stereotype I had been taught was a flat out lie. I had experiences like in college as well, So I already was leaning towards not believing the racist comments. I had secretly cringed for years when hearing my parents and their friends calling black people the N-word, but now, I was finding it to be more and more intolerable.

In the meantime, I was grocery shopping by myself for the first time. Budgeting was not difficult. What was difficult was keeping up with all the companies I was being told to boycott by my family. My mother would call me on a regular basis with companies to add to the list. At first, I went along with it to keep the peace. But, she started adding more and more little rules she expected me to follow while living on my own. For example, she wanted me to call and check in with her at various times throughout the day so she would “know I was OK”. She wanted to meet any new friends I made to make sure they were appropriate for me (I never let her). Then, she started trying to hand me lists to take into the voting booth, because she didn’t want me making any mistakes. At this point, I was getting furious. I told her to back off, that I was a grown woman pay my own bills, and I could make my own rules.

One day, after a particularly trying visit with my family, I was driving home on the freeway screaming and ranting like a lunatic. There was no one to hear me, but that didn’t stop me. I had just spent several hours being lectured by my parents about my weight, which admittedly was piling on. They claimed they were concerned about my health, but that was just an excuse. If I asked to go for a walk after dinner with them, they would say no. If they offered me a slice of cake, and I refused to eat it, they would act hurt. Then, if I did eat the cake to appease them, they would start reciting the calorie counts and fat content. When I finally arrived home, I found a weight watchers book had been stuffed into my purse. Enraged, I threw the damned book across the room and screamed “I need ice cream!”.

I roamed through the frozen food section, trying to decide which flavor I wanted. Then, I saw “chocolate therapy”. It occurred to me that’s exactly what I needed. Then I noticed the brand: Ben & Jerry’s. My parents had been boycotting Ben and Jerry for as long as I could remember. I was forbidden to eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as a child, and even in college, because they were left wing. My parents had a particular hatred for them due to their political activism. Yet, I was always hearing about how good the ice cream was, and I longed to try it. That day, I decided I was finally going to have my first bite of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. If nothing else, I knew it would piss my mother off big time,and that alone would make me feel better.

I got home to find a message on my voicemail. “You didn’t call, so your father and I are on the freeway on the way to your apartment!“ My mother’s voice screamed into the phone, “you had better have a good reason for not calling, like being in an accident! Because you have us worried sick!” I didn’t want them letting themselves in (I was stupid enough to give them the spare key),so I called back. “I’m fine,” I said, “I just stopped for ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!“

“You did what!?!” She yelled.

“I’m taking my first bite,” I announced teasingly, knowing she couldn’t be stop me. “Mmm!” I said, “this is really good!“

There was silence on the other end of the line. I slurped loudly , and said “ I’m not checking in anymore. I’m not taking any more lists into the voting booth, and I’m not boycotting anybody. I eat what I want! I do what I want! I’m a grown woman, and you’re not telling me what to do anymore! And don’t you dare show up here!”

I hung up on her, had a few more spoons, and put the rest into the freezer for later. Chocolate therapy was exactly what I had needed. Ah, the sweet taste of rebellion! It was my first, but it would not be my last!

Strange New World

In a sea of boxes piled in clusters throughout my apartment, I listened. There were the sounds of a gentle breeze and the hum of traffic in the distance. I sighed with relief. No blasting Fox News, or Alex Jones, or Rush Limbaugh could be heard, let alone the discordant cacophony of two programs at once. My parents would often increase the volumes of their programs at a rapid pace, each trying to drown out the other. It began as soon as they woke up and continued until Fox News lulled them to sleep at night, so there was no break from the constant intrusion of propaganda. Even when I tried to ignore it, I found it worming its way into my mind like a parasite. I could scarcely hear myself think.

Now, I stood in the middle of my first apartment at 25 years old, relishing in the relative silence of my surroundings. For the first time in years, I simply lay on my bed and breathed. Suddenly, I started running around my apartment like a lunatic. I frantically ran from one room to another, touching each wall, each piece of furniture, to make sure it was solid and real.

The next morning, I woke up and felt a wave of terror. What if this had all been a dream? But when I opened my eyes, relief flooded through me, and hysterical laughter bubbles up from deep inside of me. Once again, I ran from room to room touching everything in sight. “It’s real!” I shouted, “I’m free! I’m free! I can cook whatever I want for dinner! Or I can go out! Or leave a dish in the sink and no one will scream at me all night!” I promptly placed a perfectly clean dish in the sink, just because I could, and I laughed some more.

Other than the sound of my own voice, my apartment was silent. A few weeks later, without thinking, I turned the radio to my parents favorite right wing station. Michael Savage’s voice made my stomach contract into a knot, but I didn’t turn him off. It didn’t occur to me that I could. At first, I simply found my mind drifting into a sort of horrified trance. The country was being destroyed by feminazis and liberals! We had to do something! Save the country! Buy guns! Stockpile that ammunition before those evil liberals get gun control and kill us all…

A car horn beeped and I came crashing back to reality. “My God!” I shouted, and quickly changed the station. Classical music filled the air, and I asked myself “Why did I do that? I didn’t have to!” Horrible thoughts flooded my mind. Maybe I was crazy. I had certainly been acting crazy!

What I would later learn is that leaving is only the first step. For one thing, I still believed a-lot of the crazy rhetoric, even if part of me felt something was terribly wrong with it. The rest of the world seemed so strange, and there was a conflict going on in my mind. On one hand, part of me knew the Alt Right rhetoric was insane. On the other, part of me was terrified of FEMA camps while simultaneously knowing they didn’t exist. The manipulation of my mind had taken place primarily on an emotional level; I wouldn’t understand this until later. Nor would I fully leave the Alt Right group I had been raised in for another 4 and a half years, even though I wanted out much sooner.

When it came to recovering, I still had a long road ahead of me.

The White Veil

In The Handmaid’s Tale, most of the story is about adult women. Mentioned, in passing, are the daughters in their white veils and dresses. They were dressed in what was very much a bridal dress and veil until they were married, because that’s all they were meant to do: marry and bear children for the state. It’s not so different in the Alt Right. So many people think The Handmaid’s Tale is far fetched in the modern USA. What a luxury it must be, to honestly believe none of our lives are like that. But they are.

My family wasn’t always this extreme. Right wing, yes, but the quiverfull inspired insanity started later. That began when I was in college. That’s when they started buying into the idea that Muslims were trying to outpopulate everyone in a bid to take over the country. The “solution” was for women to have as many babies as possible, beginning as early as possible. I wanted no part of it.

I had the misfortune to graduate during the Great Recession. That meant there were few full-time jobs, even for people with much more experience than I had. I was forced to take part time, and thus, I was still unable to move out. While I did pay rent, my parents would often threaten to cut me off if I didn’t follow their rules. Reasonable? Uh, no. My mother was furious that our country has laws against parents arranging marriages. I told her there was no way I would allow her to do so, and she ranted about how the government wouldn’t allow parents to choose the spouses that were “best” for their daughters. When I pointed out I was perfectly capable of deciding who to marry, she said “Then why aren’t you married yet? Obviously you are not doing a very good job.” My father felt the same way my mother did, especially given my “duty” to begin bearing children to save the white race from the liberal “white genocide”. I was still adamant that I was not going to cooperate, so my parents started hinting that cutting me off was an option. After all, they couldn’t continue supporting me forever; a husband might be just what we needed. Though I was paying rent to cover my portion of the food, utilities, my car insurance, etc., I couldn’t afford to move anywhere else. I was becoming more and more unnerved. I tried to tell myself they were just messing with me for kicks. They wouldn’t really try to arrange for me to marry against my will, would they? Arranged marriage is really glorified rape; if you force someone to marry, you are forcing her to have sex with the chosen spouse against her will. My family might be crazy, but surely, they wouldn’t go that far.

One day, my father greeted me at breakfast saying “An opportunity just dropped in your lap,” he said. I thought he was referring to a full-time job, but… it wasn’t a job. He had found me a husband. He didn’t even know the man. My father met him at a bar, and he was supposedly a Christian dairy farmer who didn’t have time for dating and wooing. He, of course, believed all the conspiracy theories that my parents believed in. He wanted to begin having children, and many of them, as early as possible. Dad thought he was a perfect match for me. My mother was also enthusiastic about this “opportunity”.

An opportunity…an opportunity for what? How could I know this guy really was who he said he was? For all I knew, he could be some crazy serial killer who would whisk me away and chop off my head.

I didn’t want to be dressed up like a doll, in a white veil to be given away as property. Of course, I wasn’t sure how far my family would go if this man wanted to go through with it. Would they cut me off, turn me out onto the streets if I refused? With all of my health problems, would I survive that?

It was now a race against the clock. Whether this guy worked out or not, I had to get full-time before I found myself blackmailed into a bad marriage. So, I did something I don’t ordinarily do. I took a big risk at the office. I sat down with my manager, and explained to him that I needed to move to a full-time position. If one could not be found within my department, I would make an internal transfer to a different department within the company. To my surprise, he was able to get me full-time, and we set the groundwork to move some of my coworkers to full time as well (I made a good case that doing so would reduce turnover, which it did). I signed the lease to an apartment immediately, and I was out of my parents house within a couple of weeks.

Maybe I will get married someday, and maybe I won’t. Either way, it will be on my terms.

Extreme Right Wing Parenting – An Introductione

I must preface this by saying not all conservatives approach child rearing in the way described here. Nor does this describe the more mainstream conservatives. There are so many factors that go into how a parent raises his/her children. For instance, there are social and cultural factors, how that parent was raised, whether the parent is under stress, whether there’s a support system available… It goes on and on. Nevertheless, when you start getting into the extreme right wing ideology (such as white supremacy) political ideology does begin to have an influence on parenting styles. At least, this was my experience. There is also an extreme right wing Christian movement which is not identical to extreme right wing ideology, but certainly has connections to it. One of the more well-known movements is Quiverfull. Many survivors of the Quiverfull movement have posted blogs about their experiences and have written books. One of the more prominent blogs can be found here:

Home Schoolers Anonymous

This movement believes that birth-control is inherently sinful, and that parents should seek to give birth to as many children as possible. They view their children as “quivers” in a man’s bag of arrows, and the children are raised to be “weapons” to be used against liberals in the culture wars. The children are often homeschooled to “protect” them from secular influences and liberal ideas they may encounter in public schools. College, especially for girls, is generally discouraged.

Child rearing techniques in this movement are typically brutal, with an emphasis on child obedience and corporal punishment. For example, The Pearl Technique encourages parents to have their 9-month old child sit on a blanket. A tempting toy or treat is placed outside of the blanket, and if the child goes for the item, the parent whips the child. “First time obedience” is also emphasized; a child who does not cheerfully obey the first time is whipped. That’s right, if the kid doesn’t obey with a big smile the first time, hit ’em. Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, “To Train Up A Child” has been found in the homes of many parents who have killed their kids in the name of godly discipline. More information on this can be found below:

Extremists Discipline Teachings Connected Child Abuse and Deaths

Of course, extreme right wing ideology does not always mean religious extremist. While most right wingers will identify as Christian or religious, they may tend to emphasize racial and economic issues more than the religious ones. Often, they subscribe to conspiracy theories that posit that they will be rounded up into FEMA camps by the Liberal government for extermination. Schools are said to be a tool for “brainwashing” their children into becoming Liberal, and this is part of the plot. Parents are told to fear their children learning to promote government actions that will lead to their extermination. Oh, and the Muslims are in on it. They are increasingly advocating for homeschooling children in this part of the movement as well.

FEMA Camps Conspiracy Theory
If You Want a Conservative Child
Take Your Children Out Of School

Now we move onto child discipline in the extreme right wing. I’m not referring to the religious extremists (which we already discussed), but remember, they are very similar and overlap. I grew up listening to right wing radio, and the radio hosts would often talk about the good old days when parents were allowed to beat their kids. Child Protective Services was on a witchhunt to persecute conservative and religious parents. Now, they say they’re against child abuse, but they’re not. Michael savage famously advocated verbally abusing autistic children in order to cure them of their autism. Hell, he advocated verbal abuse for all kids. “Autism — everybody has an illness. If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, “Don’t behave like a fool.” The worst thing he said — “Don’t behave like a fool. Don’t be anybody’s dummy. Don’t sound like an idiot. Don’t act like a girl. Don’t cry.” That’s what I was raised with. That’s what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You’re turning your son into a girl, and you’re turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That’s why we have the politicians we have.” The link is below:

Autism A Fraud

In addition, many conservative think pieces scare parents and try to convince them that spanking their kids is the only way to save society. The article below is a think piece about why children should be spanked, with some time dedicated to blaming lack of spankings on people protesting Trump, of course.

Parents No Longer Teaching Respect

What this leads to is paranoid parents terrified of their children thinking differently from them. Because they often believe that any alternative viewpoints are life threatening (remember FEMA camps), they will often resort to brutality in order to control their children completely. Their justification is that they sincerely believe they are saving their children and their country. When you add the “God told me to do this” with bible quotes, you get a very toxic mix. The liberal indoctrination they fear so much becomes conservative indoctrination and abuse in the home.

Raised Right Wing

I didn’t want to say such an awful word. It made me cringe, hearing it shouted so casually by my family and their friends. “Why won’t you say it?” Demanded my father, “What’s wrong with you, with all this politically correct bullshit?”
Despite being 29 years old, I stammered, once again feeling like a child about to be severely punished. “I don’t want to get into the habit,” I said, “if I slip and say that at work, I could be fired”.
“Just say it!” He commanded, but I refused.

I was lying, you know. I couldn’t tell them I hated the n-word, or how much it offended me to hear it. At the slightest sign something made me uncomfortable, they would up the ante, to teach me a lesson. I found myself making more and more excuses to leave these get togethers early, because I was feeling more and more out of place. And I had never really belonged. I would monitor my speech, trying not to give it away that I didn’t agree, but I was afraid. My father had once pointed a gun at me for getting up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. What would he do if he found out I were a liberal? This group of people were all I had for so long, though I had started making friends outside the group since moving out. And my new friends were different, of different races and countries, but most importantly, they didn’t try to make me squirm. Or collect guns and talk with relish about the second American Civil War when they could finally shoot all of those Liberal scum. Instead, we build each other up, and we were kind to each other and to others outside our circle. Everyone was welcome.

I wanted to leave the Alt Right, but I was afraid of violence and of being shunned. It would be one or the other.

Later that night, my friend and I sat on the porch with our dogs. “Every time you come back from seeing them,” she said “you’re distraught.”
I wiped my eyes, and my dog jumped in my lap and licked my cheek. “I don’t know what they’ll do if I leave,” I said, but Trump taking over the country scares me even more than they do these days. And if I leave, I will probably be disowned. By everyone.”

I kept an eye on the news and prayed he wouldn’t win the nomination. Quietly, I warned my friends, because people needed to understand who his base was and who would be empowered by a Trump presidency.

But the decision to speak out publicly would take awhile longer.