I’ve used my blog to share the story of a friend’s sister after she got kicked out of her QF family home for being vegan, and you wonderful people chipped in to raise $10,000 for her to replace her clothes, art supplies, and go toward her college tuition in the fall. 

This time, a 24 year old QF daughter, Sarah, reached out to me to share her story with you–she’s a beautiful person with a knack for words, and she wrote up her story here for you to read. Sarah just started blogging at The Pathway Maker, and will be doing a series of posts on her story in longer form. We set up a PayPal account specifically for donations to her tuition fund, and she made an Amazon wishlist for her school and apartment supplies that you can help her out with, too. 

Sarah: QF survivor, age 24

Sarah: QF survivor, age 24

***

My world spun inside my head, each thought more terrifying than the last. I would lose my soul. The demons would get in if I ate that food. They would get in.

Then my father was there, forcing the spout of the water bottle between my clenched teeth, jamming it into my mouth. I struggled and fell. My father bent over me, forcing the water down my throat as I choked and cried out in panic. Over a decade of my internal tortures had come and gone, but now things were worse than ever.

I hadn’t always been like this. My early childhood had been reasonably happy, despite the anger and the yelling and the spanking. But these had never crushed my spirit, and I had been a carefree child in many respects. But then things changed.

I began struggling with scrupulosity as a young child. My labored confessions were the first signs of the mental illness which would destroy me for years. As if this growing inner torment were not enough, I began to struggle to see the physical world around me and learned, at the age of 8, that I would one day be legally blind because of an incurable retinal disease.

I lost my sight gradually over a period of several years, and at the same time, struggled increasingly with my mental illness, later diagnosed as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.*

When I began exhibiting signs of OCD, it manifested in the form of terrifying, uncontrollable thoughts (obsessions) that prompted ritualistic action responses (compulsions). Because my OCD was religious in nature, it was only exacerbated by my fundamentalist, Christian Patriarchal, Quiverfull, homeschooled upbringing. My fear of hell and demonic possession drove me to pray for hours, forego food and sleep and pace for hours in the middle of the night.

My family treated my OCD like silliness or sin that could be rationalized or prayed away. Worse, while they disregarded my obvious need for mental health assistance, they treated me as though I was already possessed by demons. My father claimed he could hear other voices when he talked to me, and once began pleading with the “demon” to let me speak to him again. I listened to this, both terrified of the idea that I might be possessed, and hurt that my father was trying to speak to a demon instead of to me.

I managed to get out and go to a Christian college, but dropped out a couple of years later because of my mounting mental health issues. I returned home, where I received sporadic treatment for my mental health. But I mostly lived at home, isolated and controlled, and struggling with OCD and depression so strong that I had trouble eating, drinking, and sleeping.

And that’s when my father began to physically abuse me, when I was so physically and mentally weak that I couldn’t even fight back. One night he crawled into bed with me and began hitting my head with the flat of his hand, hard enough to make my head ring. He force-fed me multiple times, threw food on me, hosed me off outside with the icy water from a garden hose, bit me, tied me to a bed, and at one point, attempted to strangle me.

His rationale? He wanted to show me what he said I was doing to myself.

After over a decade of untreated mental illness, I finally found a good counselor and a good psychiatric prescription, and I stabilized within a year and a half. As I recovered and began to show greater independence, my parents became increasingly alarmed at their loss of control. I changed my church, my wardrobe, and started classes at the local community college. I also qualified for Supplemental Security Income — not much, but it was mine, and it helped.

Then this summer, I signed up for an online dating service, and this proved to be the last straw for my parents. They kicked me out of the house and now limit and monitor all my contact with the family.

I have a temporary place to stay, and I’m returning to school full-time this fall to study clinical psychology at a university with a reputable program. After my traumatizing treatment because of my disability and mental illness, I’m very interested in helping other people with disabilities and mental health issues, both with counseling and advocacy.

But a good education is rarely free, and though I’ve got some need-based aid, and am trying to pull together loans, funding is difficult since I was never allowed to get much of a job or establish any credit. I’m looking at almost $50,000 in school loans by the time I finish my undergrad. If you’d like to help me realize my dream of higher education as I try to rebuild my life from the ground up, consider donating to my tuition?

* Many people think of OCD and imagine someone who might be a bit of a neat freak. It’s a quirk, they think, the trait of a humorous side character in your favorite TV show. In reality, OCD is a form of mental illness which can be extremely emotionally distressing and seriously threatening to its sufferers. Mental illness is not an adorable personality quirk.

***





4 Comments

  1. Posted August 5, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Frankly this story made me sick to read. I could barely skim it.

    I’m so so so sorry, Sarah. What was done to you was so wrong and not your fault. I wish you the best and look forward to following your journey of recovery and health! I don’t have much to offer, but I’m happy to support you in any way I can. You are very brave!

    • The Pathway Maker
      Posted August 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much, Emily. I have difficulty reading my own story, as well, so I know the feeling. I am excited to be able to share that journey with you and the other wonderful people who are supporting me:)

  2. roddma
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 2:53 am | Permalink

    It is hard to believe anything after a popular blog Razing Ruth turned out to be fake. Ruth supposedly escaped Quiverfull. The author perpetrated the whole story . The tuition thing makes me crunge because that’s how this person lured people. The lies caught up with them. You should be really careful donating to strangers. This scanner could be scamming again.

    • Hännah
      Posted August 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Hi! I totally understand your concerns, and the coincidental timing is unfortunate. You’ll see on Sarah’s blog that she’s open to corresponding, and can better offer proof than I can. But I’ve met her, I know her sister well, and I can vouch that her story is true. Maybe you should see if she’ll Skype with you, if you need it!

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] sent me personal notes of encouragement. In the less than 24 hours since Hannah posted my story at Wine and Marble, you have purchased over half of my original wish list and donated more than $100! I’m absolutely […]

  2. […] Sarah’s story is one of mental health neglect and frightening abuse, again made possible by homeschooling, and made sensible to parents because of some of the darker beliefs of the quiverfull movement. I’m sure her parents would say they believed their actions pleased God…. and now she’s left on her own, legally blind, without a college education (you can contribute money after reading her story, if you would like to help.) […]