Wednesday, October 20, 2010

49 Character Qualities of Ruth - The Decision

As we stood outside the courtroom, it was clear where the lines were drawn. The divide in the room was less physical, as the space was small, but it was a mental and emotional chasm as large as the Grand Canyon. My attorney had told me to be prepared for an emotional outburst from my mother. My attorney warned me that my father might become overly warm and try to entice me to "drop this whole charade". About my father, she was correct. As soon as we crossed the threshold from hallway to courtroom, my father turned on the charm and charisma. He held the door for me and as I passed, the jerk actually smiled. We took seats in the small gallery and by virtue of it's lack of chairs, my father stood behind me. When my attorney went to the counsellor's table behind the gate, my dad put his hand on my shoulder and patted it reassuringly. The judge, hearing another case, looked up just as my father did this and I thought, surely, my case was sunk. Here was this girl trying to run away from such a loving, concerned father, right? No judge would see through his gesture to the controlling message the gesture betrayed. No judge would see his smile for the manipulation it was, right? I had been trained by years of brainwashing to believe that the world would always see my father as a righteous man.

My attorney returned to the gallery area and softly confronted my father. Asking him to take his hands off me and step away. He acted hurt, but obeyed. My mother sat staring straight ahead this entire time. She didn't look at me. My heart ached for her and my resolve started to dip. I knew that by continuing this, I was putting her in harms way. I knew she couldn't look at me because of his orders.

The court officer called my case. For the huge change it was about to have on my life, for what was at stake, it was a short exchange. The judge said he'd read my plea and needed some clarification, but he was concerned about putting me on the stand. My father's attorney kept saying that there was no case because there was no abuse and that I was, simply, an "ungrateful runaway" and "a teenaged girl who dramatized a good situation". Ultimately, the judge asked if it was possible for me to speak with a court appointed mediator that day and we recessed while the attorneys and court officers worked to see if that was possible. It was. An hour later, after the Klein's and my brother's friends gave me pep talks and a snack outside, a frazzled woman arrived at court. We went back into the court room and the judge ordered me to go to chambers and speak with this lady alone- no council present.

She was very kind. Years later, I saw a kids television show called the Magic School Bus and Miss Frizzle reminded me of this mediator. She asked me why I had ran from home that night and made me replay the decision outloud. She asked about Adam and about my religion and the way I had been raised. She asked about my fear of my father and why I didn't want to go home. Then she asked what my plans were. I couldn't answer her. I didn't know what my plan was. Honestly, beyond getting out of that relationship with Adam and getting away from a forced marriage, I didn't have one. I told her I didn't know what I was doing. She told me that that wasn't good enough and I realized she was right. She said she was going to give me a moment and ask me again what my plan was. I didn't know what to say. My mind raced and I thought this was the end- I would be sent home. She asked me what my plan was - I blurted out "I want to go to real school and I want to find out what my plan is without being told what my plan is." She smiled and said, "good girl." With that, we went back to the courtroom. The judge asked her to meet with my parents next. A while later, we went into the room with her together. It was just her, my parents, and I. No lawyers. This was the first time I'd sat across a table from my parents, without the Kleins or a cop, since I left and it was scary. My father was still playing nice but I could tell he was angry under the surface smile. The mediator asked if we could work it out...if there was any way I would go home. I couldn't speak. I felt like my dad would reach across the table the moment I said anything. She asked again. I shook my head no. My mother started crying. I reached for her and my dad slapped my hand down against the table. "You have caused your mother enough harm, Ruth. Won't you be a good girl and come home. Spare her this hurt." I almost bought it. I can't say what it was that made me realize I needed to leave, but something happened that told me it was okay to leave. I had to leave. I told my mom I had to go and I knew she would understand why. The mediator was glaring at my father. In his effort to appear protective of my mother, he had just slapped my hands away from her in front of a court appointed mediator! He had just validated the things I had said- he was controlling and manipulative and, if even on a small level, abusive. She asked my father to keep his hands to himself and quickly asked him what he was willing to do to get me home. My father said, I'm sure thinking that it would make him look like some great authority figure, that I would have to do "what God requires of a child- to obey and respect her parents." The mediator asked him if any harm would come to me by returning home and he said, "Not at my hands.", smugly.

We returned to the courtroom. I was terrified. While, in hindsight now, I can see that my father wasn't winning at this point,- at the time- I didn't see it. I was sure he would send me home. The Klein's, unbeknownst to me at this point, had friends who were foster parents in the system and they know sat in the courtroom. The mediator was put on the stand and she gave her opinion. She stated that she believed I was mature enough to make the decision to leave and that I couldn't go home. She relayed the words my father had said - "not at my hands" and said she worried about the semantics of the answer. My dad's attorney was pouncing on her, left and right, with objections to statements and interjecting comments - to the point where the judge got annoyed. He shut the attorney down and said he needed to hear from the mediator without interuption.

To make a very long story short, the case was adjourned until the next day. The next day, only my father came to court with his attorney and my father shocked everyone by saying he would drop his argument. He would let me go. The judge said he couldn't let my father abdicate his parental rights so easily but that we could figure something out. The rest of the day was spent figuring it out. I was a minor, but only for a few more months. Emancipating me would take longer than it would for me to turn 18. Putting me in foster care would mean, if I understood it correctly, having my father and mother deemed unfit. My parents wouldn't have gone for that. In the end, guardianship of me was award to the Turners (friends of the Klein's) until my eighteenth birthday, with my parents still retaining legal rights to me as a child. It was a "mutual agreement", in the end.

I like to think that my father finally realized I needed to be set free. The reality is that I know that wasn't it. I don't know why he dropped the case and let me go. In the end, I don't think it matters. I was set free and I was terrified, but I had hope. The next step was "the plan". What was my plan? MY plan for MY life.


  1. I love Ms. Frizzle! What a reassuring presence that must have been for you.

    Thank you for telling your story. I guess I know now why my mom agreed to let me stay with a foster family and my dad pay my child support directly to them for the three months until I turned 18. First of all, it cost her nothing, whereas a change in custody to my dad would have meant she had to pay child support. And second, the other step would probably have been a CPS investigation to determine whether my little sister was "safe".

    Thanks for sharing in such detail. =) Glad you got away.

  2. Your father probably had a moment of clarity in which he realized not only were the authorities not buying what he was selling, but that to pursue custody of you would mean opening his demented little world and belief system to criticism. And possibly legal ramifications. Gotta figure Ol' Billy Gothard wouldn't be all het up about THAT.

    Everytime you post a new installment of your story, my admiration for your courage grows even more. You are amazing.

  3. I think Shadowspring nailed it - if your father had fought harder, they might have started looking deeply into your family to see whether the other children were safe. He may not have wanted that close scrutiny from someone on the outside.

    Bravo to you, Ruth. I'm so, so glad you were able to get out.

  4. That, too, was my gut instict. Your father didn't want to make too much of a stink because he didn't want Child Services coming to poke around. Had the judge ordered you to go home with your parents, she may have ruled that a social worker follow up with you. I'm not 100% sure but I believe in some states a CPS worker must interview all minor children living in the home without their parents included as so the child is not intimidated.

    Very interesting story and I can't wait to read the rest of it!

  5. I don't remember now how I found your blog, but I'm in awe at your strength and determination...and know full well that you will get where you want to! I hope all goes well for you.


  6. "...with my parents still retaining legal rights to me as a child."

    What does this mean?

    Huh. I was pretty seriously abused as a small child/teenager, but I had been taught that no one would believe me, you had to keep matters like these "in the family," I would be sexually assaulted in foster care, etc. Now I wish I'd had your strength, and had reported my mother. Maybe I wouldn't have all the issues I have now, if I'd done that. Maybe she would have gotten the help she needed, too.

    As it was, I lied to doctors, teachers, other school officials, other family members, friends...all because I was terrified of what would happen if I told the truth.

  7. I grew up in a home with some similarities to yours... that day of freedom when you can decide what to do with your own life is amazing. Good for you and you should be very proud of what you've achieved.

  8. You survived a hellish situation, and I'm so glad you broke free!

    I don't think your dad had a 'moment of clarity' simply because that would mean he had a moment of realizing he was in the wrong. As we've seen from his comments here, he believes he can do no wrong and that others will be persuaded by a few forceful, vicious words. No, I think this was more a 'hedge of thorns' situation. He was letting you go to live the consequences of your rebellion, expecting in a short time you would come crawling back, fully repentant, just like the prodigal son. Though unlike the prodigal, I'm sure you would not have been greeted with fine clothes and a feast.

    It must be driving him insane that God hasn't struck you down yet. The way he harps on your rebellion causing any trouble you have, rather than seeing it as the highs and lows of life that we all go through, proves he's still waiting for you to fail and crawl back to him.

    Keep living well, Ruth. Keep enjoying life, keep experiencing all it has to offer. Bad times are going to happen, but great times are too. You - and everyone - deserve the change to experience them for yourself.

  9. Of everything you've written so far this is the post that made me realize how brave you are. I can't imagine facing your parents in court like that. I'm so glad you got out of that situation.

  10. I love what you said to the mediator about your plan. I also love reading about those moments when the sheer stupidity fostered by Gothardism worked in your favour by exposing Darth Pater for what he was.

  11. I think its hysterical that your father sealed his fate by misunderstanding a question he was asked. He was asked "what will you do to get her home again?" And he focused on the behaviors HE would expect of YOU. Anyone with half a brain would know that that if you are asked this question you need to be a concerned parent and not a dictator... I mean really?? REALLY??? I suppose that I should be surprised that Pater didn't realize that the rest of the world isn't fooled by him and he isn't as smart as he forces the women in his life to act like he is... But I suppose he started to believe his own hype.

  12. Hi Ruth,
    This is an amazing story, and I'm glad you got a decent mediator in this case :)

    Just one thing that's niggling at me, in a comment on a post in October last year you said:
    "Rebekah, the night that happened, I ran to a neighbor's house. I stayed there until his car left and then I snuck back home. My dad found out the next morning when my "beloved" called and I was given a talking to."

    Was this a different night or incident? Or did you return home that night?

  13. Lodrelhai may be right - his "moment of clarity" might have been an expectation that you really couldn't get by without him (or his chosen substitute, Adam). I'm more inclined to go with jennl777's take on the situation, which was that Darth Pater saw his grip on the situation beginning to slip and opted for a strategic withdrawal. Backing off and letting you go was basically another form of manipulation, since he probably expected you to fall on your face without his guidance. (That wasn't even an unrealistic expectation, given that he'd raised you to be dependent on his guidance... or at least he thought so. So really, the two explanations are not mutually exclusive.)

    It would be nice to think that there was a moment of Grace in there somewhere, but given his behavior since then... either there never was, or he's squandered it. (I don't think that's news to you - you said as much in this post - but I wanted to reinforce your conclusion, because I think you're right and because I think it's an important realization.)

    Also... "I blurted out 'I want to go to real school and I want to find out what my plan is without being told what my plan is.'" This. This is important. And here's why:

    This is how "normal" people do it. Most people don't grow up knowing what their plan is. The ones who do... well, they usually end up having to revise their plan to something vastly more flexible once they're out in the world.

    Everybody learns by trial and error.

    Hell, I write stories. I earned a Master's Degree in English... and I work as a web designer for a municipal government, because it pays the bills and because I like the environment. The woman I married - with whom I now have two small children, whom we adore - is someone I never thought I'd see again. If you'd told me, when I was in college, that this was my future, I'd have laughed you out of the room.

    Nobody expects where their life goes. Everyone learns by trial and error. And everyone - everyone - deserves the right to make their own mistakes.

  14. I think the sort of lawyer your parents had made your dad realized that there was going to be a lot more fallout if he didn't let you go. If they were deemed unfit, that would also effect your siblings. They could be taken away too. And your dad decided to cut his losses.

    While the reason he did what he did was selfish, the result for you was a good one.

  15. My own father backed off when I started to out his physical abuse to our church community. He is a Gothardite as well.

    Good on you for sharing this, Ruth.

  16. As always, so impressed with your amazing presence of mind at such a young age. You're destined to do great things, I really really believe :)

  17. I so enjoyed this installment. I loved the way you said you wanted to figure out your plan without being told what your plan was!

    I do wonder, based on what I know of this version of Christianity, if your dad didn't just decide you were apostate and wash his hands of you.

    I wonder if you plan to continue to post your story on No Longer Quivering? Many people there are eager to know what happens next. If you have decided against it, that's ok, too. Would you like me to let anyone over there know that your next installment is up over here?

    - krwordgazer

  18. BOTH of your parents continue to sicken me.

    "I knew she couldn't look at me because of his orders." Anyone who "orders" me not to look at my own daughter is going to get their face torn off with my big mother bear paw.

  19. To the poster above who questioned the legal wording of the the parent/child court ruling, I think Ruth explained it. Her parents were still legally her parents; it would take too much time to emancipate her. I assume that means that Darth Daddy had to pay the family with whom she stayed support for those three months until Ruth was free to flee at her will.

    Ruth, your story is an inspiration to me. I'm glad you found TWOP (and endure my curse-filled posts :D) and posted so eloquently on the ATI lifestyle and shed new light (for me at any rate) regarding the extremity of their "values."

    It's a pity we're at opposite ends of a very big state. I feel like I know you and could sit down and have a latte with you at Starbucks. :D

    Keep hanging in there, baby. For us old fogies, remember the kitten poster? It was on my wall in the 6th grade.

    loveyameanit! xoxo

  20. I assumed that it meant that her parents had legal custody of her (ie, they could make critical medical decisions for her, etc) but just not physical custody of her.

    Ruth, given that you put your family on the judicial radar so to speak, were there any further reprocussions for your family.

  21. My understanding is that Ruth was basically "removed" from the home and in the foster care system for 3 or so months. But, she was not legally free and a true ward of the state.

  22. I used to volunteer at a shelter for children who were waiting for a foster family but had been removed from their bio-parents' custody. In my orientation at this shelter, I learned that if ONE child in a family suffers abuse and is removed from the home, then ALL of the children in the home are removed. This was in Texas, so I don't know how it works in other states.

    This could be a big part of why Ruth's father backed off and let her go. Had the state intervened and removed her and put her in a foster home, then all the kids under 18 could have potentially been removed too. This would have caused some ripples in the IBPL/ATI community way beyond what a "rebelious daughter" could do.

  23. I remember so clearly the day I left home. I was so terrified. I grabbed all my stuff and left. Then after a few hours at a friends the guilt, terror and pain were too much to bear so i went back to wait out my tongue lashing. My mother put on the TEARS...guilt,shame etc.

    I remember she left the room to get Kleenex or something. I was getting sucked in by the second but the minute she left the room CLARITY flooded my being. I ran out that door as fast as I could and never looked back.

    It was like you...having that knowing you just had to get out.

    I am so glad you did too.

  24. If you'd rather not answer this, I completely understand; but, I curious to know... what happened to Adam during all of this?

  25. I hope Ruth..a book is written about all of this. A movie would be greater! What astonishes me is the similarites between Muslim's and the patriarchy movement. They are one and the same.Satan know's how to discredit the true faith in Jesus Christ.I am amazed at the teaching of little girl's at 6 yr's teaching them they have the capability to 'defraud' men/boy's. That in itself is degrading and corrupting their purity as well as degrading them. How dare these ppl. claim a love for Jesus Christ and teach such a thing!!! How dare them! This is indeed a sexual perversion on the part of those who would teach such a squalid idea.A mind that truely has 'put on Christ' would never teach such a thing.Can you imagine Jesus when He gathered the little children to Him telling the little girl's.don't sit on a fence because it will suggest sexual desires to men/boy's?A mind that is pure wouldn't even consider such a thing!Now i understand why gothard stated girls should not ride horse. This man has serious issues that involve impure thought's.I know i am rambling but i am spitting mad!


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