Thursday, November 25, 2010

Long e-mail list of questions

Thanksgiving was fantastic. As I sit here in the post-turkey glow, I'm reviewing my e-mail and see this "interview" in my inbox. It's strange because the e-mailer is no one I'm familiar with and it seems like someone reading this blog for a while might know most of the answers. However, since it came in under the subject heading of "Here are my questions", I guess I'll answer as many as I can.
Notquivering asked -
1. How old are you and how long have you been living away from your family?

I'm 26. I've been away from my family for about 8 years or so.
2. What were the circumstances of your departure?
As I've shared here in my story, I left because my father was telling me I had to marry a man who I did not want to marry. I also felt that I couldn't be the person I was required to be under the ATI/QF prescription for life.
3. Are you married? Did your parents approve of your marriage?
I am not married. My parents would not approve of my marriage to Harris if we did marry because he is not fundamentalist Christian.
4. Do you have any significant, unresolved conflicts with your parents? Are you on speaking terms?
We are no longer on speaking terms because my father doesn't want to discuss - he wants to talk AT ME, not with me. He is preventing any sort of discussion with my motehr as well. To say we have unresolved conflicts would be an understatement.
5. Do you have any children? If so, what are their ages?
I do not have children.
6. What kind of church did you attend growing up? Was your church part of a denomination? If so, which one?
I attended a home church. It probably most resembles Baptist teachings.
7. Would you say that your father was accountable to the authority of the local church?
My father WAS the authority. Unless you count self-accountability, then I would say not really. He was accountable, in some ways, to Bill Gothard and ATI, but that was more of a peer accountability and they seemed self-serving in purpose.
8. Was your family involved in the community life of your church?
These are strange questions for anyone who's followed my blog to ask. Are you sure these questions are directed to me out of genuine curiosity? I don't think our "church" fits your idea of "church". Can you give me an idea of why you asked this?
9. Would you say your mother or your father was the stronger leader in your home?
It depends on what you mean by leader. My father was the dictator. My mother "led" us children in how to be obedient and submissive.
10. How many children were in your family? What number are you in age order?
I am the oldest daughter. I am the fourth born of eleven, counting my littlest sister who will be one very soon.
11. Were you and your siblings required to help with chores? How do you feel this helped or harmed your work ethic?
Yes. Chores were required. I believe this helped me form a good work ethic and helped me appreciate the value of a dollar more but I have a problem with the age and manner of chores I was expected to do.
12. Would you say that either of your parents was abusive? If so, how?
My father was abusive; spiritually, mentally, and physically. My mother was, in my opinion, abused. Spare the rod spoil the child is a biblical principal that my parents enforced.
13. In what ways did your parents show you affection?
My father didn't. My mother was very affectionate when she was allowed to be.
14. When you were upset, how did you share your feelings with your parents?
Being upset simply wasn't tolerated. If I was upset, I was expected to put forth a strong, content countenance and pray to find a more obedient, accepting spirit.
15. In what ways (if any) do you disagree theologically with your parents? When did this begin?
This is a question I'm not prepared to answer. I'm unsure.
16. In what ways (if any) did you disagree with the lifestyle your parents lived? When did this begin?
From pretty early on, I can remember thinking that there was a general disparity between the way my dad treated my mom and my sisters and the way that we were told we should be treated. My parents lifestyle choices (lots of children, Christian beliefs, and patriarchy) would be fine if there was a partnership and those decisions were mutually agreed upon. If people sincerely enjoy that lifestyle and find peace, then that's their choice. I don't believe it's the only path for everyone and I think it's an easily abused system.
17. Did you have a mentor or friend who helped you find a new place to live?
I had two people who stepped up to help me with the basics.
18. What type of church do you now attend? How is it different from the church you attended with your family?
Is that really any of your business? I am following my own path, spiritually, for the moment.
19. Are you under any sort of official church discipline?
I don't believe so.
20. In your mind, what would it take to reconcile with your parents?
For my parents to accept that I am an individual with different, but not lesser, values. For my parents to love me unconditionally and to see the beauty in all of us as individuals. For my dad to apologize for trying to force me into a marriage I wasn't ready for. It would also take some forgiveness on my part.
21. What are you willing to do to reconcile with your parents?
That's something my therapist and I are discussing and I don't feel like sharing at present. I need to be willing to forgive.
22. Did your family have close friendships outside of the family?
23. Did you parents/church teach you that salvation is in faith in Christ alone?
Yes and no.
24. Did your family laugh and enjoy being together?
On occasion.
25. Have you ever read Quivering Daughters? If so, what did you think of it?
THIS tells me you're not the reader of my blog that you claim to be. What do I think of QD? I think every journey is different. I think QD is a great place for people to see the less shiny-happy sides of the way ATI/QF/Patriarchy is presented by shows like 19 Kids and Counting. I think it's not my position to judge the stories of the individuals on that site, but to take them for what they are - a PERSON'S attempt to make sense of their life.


  1. Ruth, that's an interview a number of gals like you were sent-if you go over to the Freejinger site and look on the "McDonald's Complaint Against Quivering Daughters" thread you will see that raineymott (on page 2) got that same interview. They are implying, I think that that came from Stacy McDonald (or at the least someone likeminded. I guess you could go over there and ask if you liked.)

    I'm a lurker (and infrequent poster) over there and for some reason I put two and two together when I read your latest post. You may have figured this out already but in case you hadn't there ya go.

  2. Ruth,

    I am so happy that you had a fab thanksgiving with a family who you care about and who cares about you! I'm all about the food, really, but the food fest is meaningless without sharing it with love.

    The email questionnaire sounds like one that's been making the rounds of ex-QDs, purportedly sent originally by Stacy McDonald as research for her Steadfast Daughters blog. I've seen it referenced or quoted on several anti-Patriarchy blogs.

    Whatever its real purpose, it seems designed to provoke certain programmed responses rather than a thoughtful quest for insight from second-generation QF/Ps. If it were a legitimate questionnaire to develop a psychological profile of ex-QDs, it would be written very differently, don't you think?

    Enjoy your thanksgiving evening haze. It is one of my favorite moments of the year!

  3. Happy Thanksgiving, Ruth! I am an infrequent commenter on your blog, but I wanted to commend you for defending your boundaries in this interrogation. Really, there is no other word for it. You don't have to prove yourself to anyone. I'm sure you know that already, but I know that sometimes I need to be reminded. (My upbringing was very similar to yours in many respects--I've been out 13 years and am still "recovering" if you can call it that.) Even though many of these questions may appear benign to someone of a fundamentalist persuasion, only a very nosy, judgmental stranger would lay them on you like this.

    Rejection of any kind hurts--especially when you have been conditioned your whole life to gauge your own worth on the basis of others' perceptions of you. But that pain is swallowed up by the exhilaration of freedom from that bondage, isn't it?!

  4. I heard about this on Commandments of Men, I think. It's pretty clear the answers they're going for. They want to prove that "quivering daughters" (i.e., adult daughters who have left) only come from abusive outlier families who are not part of church discipline, or families who didn't perform the system right. It is axiomatic that "Biblical" Patriarchy cannot be wrong. I guarantee that the answers they gather will be presented on that blog eventually in that manner:
    "See, the SYSTEM is not the problem. All problems are due to bad actors."
    Well, I'm an adult daughter who left, now happily reunited - not on patriarchal terms. Wonder if they would accept my answers to their little quiz which would not prove their point?
    Theoretically, people are free to make up whatever lifestyle they want to, more power to them. But BY DEFINITION there is only ONE person in every family who has a completely free choice whether to join this lifestyle. That is the problem.

  5. Wow. So that's what's up.

    Right on, Chiara! The problem with their system is that it necessarily makes fathers tyrants. But even if 99% of quiverful/patriarchal families are "functional," their system provides no recourse for women and children in the 1% of families that aren't functional. THAT is the problem.

  6. Ah, yes, the post-feast tryptophan haze... It's truly a beautiful thing. ;-) This questionnaire? Not so much.

    I'm both stunned and disgusted. The timing of it (during THANKSGIVING, Ms McDonald? REALLY???), the leading nature of the questions, the expectation of receiving intensely personal information... If, indeed, this individual intends to use what knowledge she's able to gather to defend her belief system, then it's not just pathetic. It means that what she, and her circle, believes has become so very very fragile that she'll grasp any available straw to shore it up.

    Here's hoping all the other interviewee responses are as intelligent and confident as Ruth's.

  7. Just wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving Ruth. :) I'm in Canada, so we celebrated ours a month ago, but I hope you have a very happy turkey-day.

  8. The presumptuous attitude behind this interrogation is horrifying.

    Steadfast Daughters, you are out of line.

    You ask questions of these woman who have suffered horribly at the hands of your belief system that are none of your damn business. Talk about poor taste. *shakes head in disbelief*

    It is clear, from the nature of your questions, that your intent is not to help but to heap further condemnation on these women.

    If you genuinely care why QF daughters are running to the kindness of Hilary McFarland and QDs,Ill tell you- it is because you and your ilk are cold, heartless, mind numbed robots who sacrifice your children to your gods of perfection and manufactured holiness.

    In turn, Hilary offers the love of Christ with no strings attached.
    She speaks with true, heartfelt kindness. She touches the wounded parts deep in the hearts of these women you idiots suck dry and throw aside.

    If you were capable of feeling shame, I would say shame on you.

    Awful, truly awful.

    Glad you had a good Thanksgiving, Ruth. :D

  9. Kudos, Ruth. You are a classy lady. Especially in the face of seriously inappropriate and invasive questions (including the last set - seriously, your GPA is no one's business but your own, though I'm not surprised it's excellent). I was thinking that I didn't know how people had the nerve to ask such rude and prying questions, but since others have suggested it's Stacy McDonald, I'm not at all surprised.

    Even more shame on you, "Steadfast Daughters," for your duplicitous attempt to extract information without revealing either your identity or purpose. If you were trying to publish your "survey" results, you'd get your butt kicked by the relevant IRBs. You are conducting unethical research. And as Ruth has already duly pointed out, your pathetic attempt to mine for sound bites is not going to tell you anything you couldn't learn by actually listening to our stories.

  10. If the "researcher" was ethical at all, she would introduce herself and explain why she wanted you to answer her questions. It's nice of you to answer as much as you did, but it makes perfect sense to put that breaks on, too, if you can't talk to the person who sent it.

  11. You answered all her questions so well, Ruth, and made it clear that QF isn't entirely to blame, but it did lead to the abuse you suffered. And you DID suffer, and still are. I commend you! And now you've got a great thing to put on your FAQ's page. ;-)

    Yes, I agree that she was unethical. What is she hiding?

    Glad you had a wonderful holiday. I am so happy that you are still working to have a healthy life. :) Go, Ruth!!! You are awesome!!!

  12. Stupid-Fest Daughters, I have no idea why you think you're relevant anywhere else than in your own minds. I can spot a fink, a gopher, a mole a mile away. Disconnect your internet and shove off. Geez, you're so predicable. I guess that's what happens when you checked your brains in at the door. Isn't there someone you're supposed to go gaze lovingly at? That should keep you busy for a while.

  13. You know, I didn't even have an abusive father or have to flee from the religious leaders of my church for the sake of my sanity, and some of those questions give me a chill. "Are you under any sort of official church discipline?" Really?

    If that's just "Are you currently attending a church?" asked Fundie-style, then the writer asks the same question twice. If the question is supposed to refer to some kind of disciplinary measures given by a church authority, then it's both a horrid misunderstanding of the role of the church in a believer's life AND none of the writer's business.

    The phrasing of that and a few other questions makes me think the writer believes it is better to be under ANY earthly religious headship, even an abusive one, than to be walking alone in personal understanding. Which is much more like the Bushido standard of loyalty than anything taught by Christ.

    But the whole thing tells me this is a "form" questionnaire, not someone who's actually interested. Almost all of them are answered somewhere on this blog, and the overwhelming majority are answered just in the "49 Character Qualities of Ruth" posts.

  14. Ruth,

    I would have answered "read my blog" for every question. As an academic, there's nothing worse than a lazy researcher.

    But then, these people aren't really researching anything. They are going to take this information and spin it to show how great ATI/QF is. Lazy, Lazy, Lazy.

    And worse, if these people spent more time reading and researching and less time submitting, then they might not be so ignorant.

    I'm glad you had a great Thanksgiving. I love that you've found a family that truly enjoys sharing their time with you. I hope you get to relax and read for fun, too.

  15. Hi Ruth
    I'm a longtime reader but I've never commented before - everyone else always says it so well. :)
    I just wanted to point out, for the benefit of your readers as well as you, that 'spare the rod, spoil the child' is NOT a biblical principle - at least, not if you assume the 'rod' means an implement for inflicting punishment. I used to think it was, but I was wrong. I could go into detail, but there are heaps of great blog posts and articles around. Here's one:

    (consider yourself hugged)

    PS I am as aghast as others at the inquisition you were subjected to. You replied with your usual poise :)

  16. If the "researcher" was ethical at all, she would introduce herself and explain why she wanted you to answer her questions.

    I was going to say the same thing. It's one thing if you're just a curious blog reader, but the fact this list was sent to multiple QF survivors argues this was a (more or less) organized survey. Reputable researchers have a code of ethics to abide, which generally includes such elements as "informed consent", including information regarding the researcher's identities, as well as how the information will be used.

  17. There has never been anything ethical about Stacy McDonald and her marketing of the patriarchal "Christian" lifestyle for her own personal profit $$$, so why would she start concerning herself with ethics now?

    This is her second marriage, her husband's second marriage, and from what I have read on her own website, her step-daughters were spiritually and emotionally abused from the get-go- not accepted as they were and nurtured in love, but immediately Stacy began trying to smush them into her fundamentalist paradigm. Everything about her real life says EPIC FAIL, but she keeps marketing herself as the vision of Christian mother/wife perfection. Blech!

    The "questionairre" was sent our merely to mine for words that can be used to discredit the many young adult woman standing up and calling her marketed paradigm abusive. She is not looking for truth. She believes she already knows the truth, and is cherry-picking "evidence" to shore up her tottering belief system.

    AmbiEgo, you said it so well! And Donna, "don't you have someone to go gaze lovingly at?"- hilarious! =D You made my day!

  18. That is so freaky why they wouldn't just say, "hey I am ___ and I am doing a survey of adults who left the QF lifestyle." Why do they have to try to be so decietful? So weird!

  19. They're getting pretty desperate about how many are leaving if they need to go to these duplicitous lengths to get information. I agree that it is lazy and unethical but I doubt they are educated enough to know how to do research the right way.

    The questions were often of the "when did you stop beating your wife" variety.

    One might hope that they would take this information and make improvements to their belief system that would better the lives of women and children in QF. But I doubt they will be able to see what the problems are because it might shake their whole foundation.

    Sad, really.

    It would be fun to send back your own questions in response. :)

  20. Lodrelhai said...
    The phrasing of that and a few other questions makes me think the writer believes it is better to be under ANY earthly religious headship, even an abusive one, than to be walking alone in personal understanding. Which is much more like the Bushido standard of loyalty than anything taught by Christ.

    Worse. Bushido at least allows for the presence of Ronin - masterless samurai. A European equivalent might be "hedge knights" - who own no master, but still uphold the code. And in both cases, the knight may be (considered) honorless, but might still be the hero as well as the villain. It all depends on the story.

  21. Donna, Donna Donna, Your comment made me laugh. Just tell it like it is....I am still laughing. "Disconnect your internet and shove off"
    No disrespect, at all you just said what we are all thinking.

  22. Oh and the gazing lovingly at.....oh boy, that had me rolling on the floor....I mean is that not what they should be doing? Get off the internet and go make some babies.

  23. Those questions are bizarre.

    And manipulative.

    When someone asks you those kind of leading, manipulative questions, you owe NO answers. If you want to give them, go for it. But as an old lady, I just wanted to support you by reminding you that you owe no answers to any earthly person if you're not so inclined.

    Whoever sent that should be sorrowful for what they did.


  24. I've read most of your posts (usually with lots of distractions), don't think I've commented, and even I knew the basic answers to most of those...they're really wasting their time trying to get "their" answers from you. You handled yourself again with more grace and honesty than they deserved.

    I was able to have some "post turkey glow" myself as well as a Saturday pizza and game night with the family again...that's pretty major if you knew our full story so I was pretty pleased.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. ronic that the Stacy McDonald email survey came in the guise of a person called "not-quivering."

    Hey Stace, whatever happened to "thou shalt not lie?" Being duplicitous on top of it makes you (and/or your minions) look extremely poor, not at all what I would expect from one of God's Children, especially (as those people pose themselves) the Chosen Ones.

    I'd rather be up front about my sins rather than hide behind them and send anonymous emails to young women whom you know have been abused. Their first response will be to reply to your garbage.

    Ruth, I'm glad you had a great Thanksgiving and am sorry you fell for Stacy McDonald's filth.

  27. Ruth - you're a smart person so you've probably already picked up on the tone of this 'interview email'. Based on the wording of questions 4,7, and 17, I would guess that this is someone who has as strong as ATI upbringing as you and is looking to use your words against you; if not directly, then as an example to other ATI families and children as if to say "See! When you leave the God-given authority he's placed over you this is what happens when you don't follow God's principals for your life." (Did that last part make you squirm with memories from your childhood? It made me uncomfortable even writing it - even after all these years) Anyway...thanks for posting.

  28. Totally and utterly off topic, but I notice that your swagbucks counter is back to three digits. Did you use some? (I hope so! You deserve whatever you used them for!)

  29. Unrelated to this post, but I wanted to wish you well with end-of-the-semester stuff. I hope you do well on finals and can get everything done without too much stress. :)

  30. In light of this:

    Ruth, get well and heal quickly! I hope and pray that this didn't interfere with finals. Strength, dear girl! You can keep moving forward!

  31. Get well soon Ruth! Praying for a quick recovery!

  32. Ruth, I am sorry to hear about your accident! I find myself so relieved on your behalf that you'll have a safe place with Harris' family as you recuperate. I'll be praying for you.

  33. You really are having the roughest year, aren't you? You poor gal. Here's hoping for a VERY speedy recovery, understanding professors who will work with you, and a spectacularly UNeventful holiday season full of rest and relaxation.

  34. Ruth, I'm sorry to hear about your accident. I'm wishing you a quick and complete recovery.

  35. Ruth, I hope you recover quickly and fully. I'm so glad you have a caring boyfriend with a loving family who will be there when you need him. I hope you're released soon!

    (And thank you Harris for letting us know!)

  36. Ruth, I hope you feel better soon! You have a real keeper with Harris. Send our thanks to him for keeping us in the loop. Take all the time you need to recover. You'll be in my thoughts until we hear from you again.

  37. I just read about your accident on NLQ - I'm so sorry! I wish you a speedy recovery.

  38. Oh my goodness, Ruth, I am so sorry to hear about your accident! You are in my prayers as you recover. It was very thoughtful of Harris to pass along the message through NLQ. I'm glad you are able to stay with his family. I hope things get better for you soon.

  39. Ruth, I'm so sorry you were injured. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    - KR Wordgazer

  40. I wish you a "refuah shelaymah" (Hebrew for "speedy recovery").

  41. Hi Ruth,

    Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery, praying for all of your needs to be met and for your heart to be at peace in the midst of the storm. Thanks to Harris for getting the word out.


    Jim K.

  42. (((gentle hugs))) Ditto on the speedy recovery!

  43. Sorry to hear about your accident. Hope you recover quickly!

  44. I'm sorry about the accident, Ruth! ::gentle hug:: Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  45. Good luck dealing with all that during finals. Be sure to contact DSP (again) to get you a golf cart driver when you need to take your exams. Also talk to them about alternative testing, if the rooms aren't accessible (no elevator in older buildings...too many stairs in the room...that sort of thing). Probably not an issue since the CSU's are newer than the UC system, but DO get a golf cart reserved!

    Hopefully, as mine are, yours are next week, giving you some time for the shock, and of course the pain! to wear off. Good luck with the finals and if you don't post during the break, Merry Christmas, :)

  46. I'll keep you in my prayers during my finals/Christmas break, Ruth. I hope you recover quickly and that 2011 is a much gentler year for you.

    Also, Harris: you're a good one. :)

  47. I'm fairly sure that Ruth is already finished with finals, so she should have all break to get back on her foot!

    Hang in there, Ruth. Some day you'll look back at 2010 and laugh nervously.


  48. I'm so sorry to hear about your accident, Ruth! But how wonderful that you have Harris and his terrific family to take you in and let you relax and heal properly. I'll be praying for you to heal and feel better soon!

  49. Ruth, I just read about the accident; that's terrible! Hoping for a fast recovery for you and everyone else - and that there was insurance all around to cover the damage.

    Rest up, take care of yourself! And thank you Harris and family for watching out for Ruth in this time.

  50. I'm sorry about the accident. I'm going to send you an ecard.


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