The True Story of the Damaged Daughters of Patriarchy – a memoir

Recently a woman from the UK contacted us and said she’d published her story, Fake Someone Happy [Affiliate link], a firsthand account of her relationships with families from an American patriarchy/homeschooling group. She sent me a copy and I finally got to sit down with it this past week. Amazingly enough, right after I finished this shocking book, Julie Anne over at Spiritual Sounding Board posted the announcement that Doug Philips had resigned his position at Vision Forum – a very well-known patriarchal ‘ministry’ that is coughing up refugees at a rapid rate.

Fake Someone Happy: The true story of the damaged daughters of American patriarchy and their emotional abuse

I’ve asked others to read this book, who are more acquainted with American patriarchy and the cultish aspects of it. I was not raised under patriarchy so I have limited understanding of all of the players on this stage. What I do know, however, is abuse.

The author and her family were treated shamefully by the patriarchs of the families they befriended. Throughout all of this ill treatment, she and her family had good intentions and tried to help one of the daughters escape. This speaks volumes about their level of commitment to God, that they were willing to take in a victim for several months. We know how hard it is to find Christians willing to stand with us when we flee domestic abuse and our marriages — this family was willing and they did the incredibly hard work.

The end result is not what anyone expected. There was so much hidden abuse uncovered very late – and even then, the victims’ mentality is difficult to understand for someone new to the arena of abuse. Rather than dwell on this patriarchy group and its smorgasbord of aberrant theology, I want to focus on the abuse in this story (since that’s the focus on this blog). My hope is that other blogs will pick up this book and give it the attention it deserves.

The title of this book mentions emotional abuse — and there is plenty of that. However there is also: verbal, physical, psychological, spiritual, financial, sexual, and social abuse. The child sexual abuse is the hardest. When children are raised in prolonged abuse, their personalities and growth are stunted. The girls in this book remained at an elementary-school age, as far as emotional maturity and ability to make decisions. When pressed on the sexual abuse, one of the victims had big holes in her memories (very common for sexual abuse survivors).

Some of the discoveries include the main patriarch’s pornography addiction, older brothers sexually abusing their younger sisters, one sister exercising abusive sexual control over another, and adult children trapped in their parents’ house due to financial control and lack of job skills. These children did not grow up to be whole adults. They are handicapped, in a sense. The girls seem totally dependent on the people around them to have any thoughts of their own. It is as if  these children had been emptied of their Spirits, and they are left as shells. None of the victims in this story show much evidence of flourishing and having healthy relationships. Instead everyone seems to be wearing the fake happy mask.

We know that Abuse is the murder of a person’s spirit. Sometimes that leads to physical murder as well.  This is the first account I’ve read that clearly describes the murder of a child’s spirit within them, and the results. I recommend this book to anyone associated with patriarchy and / or the Quiverfull homeschooling groups.  This is a very good reason not to financially support certain “ministries” that promote this cultish, man-centered religion.

One last note on the church in America:  within this story is a letter that Mr. Halcombe (the father in the English family) wrote to a pastor in America, to warn him of the wolf that was invading his flock. (pages 201-205) In this letter he lays out all of the abuses and events that have transpired and ends it with:

The Catherick family are desperate to preserve their reputation by spreading lies about Laura, and probably my own family. They will fail. We are a Presbyterian family devoted to our Triune God and committed to the Westminster standards of 1649. Our orthodoxy and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be denied. We stand or fall by our own Master.

Walter Catherick is an unexploded bomb in your midst. Deprived of her sister to dominate, Anne Catherick may well look for other females to control, masking her ungodly desires with a veil of spurious piety.

I trust and pray that you are willing and able to deal with them before further damage is done to your congregation. They cannot all seek sanctuary elsewhere. Yours because His, Thomas Halcombe

As we on this blog are sadly accustomed, the pastor ignored this letter.

The worst part for me personally, was reading all of the desperate attempts to get help from American Christians, and being met with silence, ignorance, and self-righteous indignation. We know that this does not reflect all of us here in the American wing of the body of Christ, but it stings just the same.

12 thoughts on “The True Story of the Damaged Daughters of Patriarchy – a memoir”

  1. I want to add this for reference: all of the abuse that was detailed in this account of American patriarchy was also mirrored within the FLDS cult. The cultish Mormons are strong believers in male domination and control of the family, and their enclaves are also riddled with sexual abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse – you name it.
    “Patriarchy” breeds abuse, period.

    1. I am fascinated and saddened by the fact that so many women are in a trance in the old Mormon ways. Where in the Bible does it say that women had to be married and have many children to get into heaven? The whole polygamy thing is mind boggling. Young girls being married out that should still be playing with dolls. Do they read the Bible? Is the book of Mormon written to lead them to this false teaching. I know several Mormon’s that don’t practice the old ways who are kind, caring although misguided people. They still believe in works getting them to heaven. Oh that all could see the truth.

  2. I am so glad someone wrote a book about this. This is our story! And the story of so many of my friends who have finally had enough and have chosen to stand up and protect their children from their patriarch, rather than “submit unto death”. This movement has destroyed my children’s faith and someday my ex patriarch WILL bow before my redeemer in Heaven and fall on his face with the sudden realization that he is NOT god.

  3. I ordered this book on Kindle, and got into the second chapter. Then I ordered a print copy so I could have a friend read it. Then I read some more and ordered two more copies to give to others. Why? Because it not only warns of the dangers of these patriarchal groups, it nails it when it comes to explaining to us why numbers of young people we have watched grow up in these systems just cannot think for themselves.

  4. Although this sort of behaviour is more commonly associated with cults, it is not restricted to them. It can crop up in any church system. It is simply another aspect of abuse.

  5. It is as if these children had been emptied of their Spirits, and they are left as shells.

    This reminds me of a dream I had a while ago, which I hope you hope you don’t mind me sharing here.
    A survivor I use to help years ago comes back to visit me. I’m living in a big old double-story mansion which used to be lived in by a wealthy old woman who inherited it from her gentry ancestors. All the grand furniture and curtains fittings are there, but the owner’s been gone a long time ago and it’s not well cared for now. The layout of the house is extraordinary. There are rooms and doors and passages all over the place that you wouldn’t expect. Many of the rooms are enormous.
    The survivor who’s visiting me is going to stay overnight so I put her in in one of the grand upstairs rooms.

    When I’m settling her into the room for the night, I try to turn out all the lights that are in her room. There are many small lights in this room, semi-concealed behind complicated wooden carvings in the walls, and to discover the switches for all these lights is really difficult. In feeling around for the switches I find a warm pipe, obviously a heating pipe, part of the concealed heating system of the house. I’m surprised that it’s warm, as I had thought all the heating was turned off in the rooms that weren’t being used regularly. I find a small panel on the wall here too, and discover that it is actually a door, quite narrow, too narrow for anyone except a thinly built person to pass through.

    I open the door and behind it there’s a tiny room chock full of a four poster bed. The main sleeping part of the bed is crammed full of quilts. But when I look up, I see there is a top layer of the bed, which is like a second bunk or a mezzanine above. I feel up there:– uugh! there is something warm and soft, like flesh. I crane my head up to see. There are people lying up there! Many people. Crammed together like sardines. Men and women. I say something, and a man answers in a very groggy voice.
    I realise they are all drugged to the eyeballs and are probably being kept there secretly, against their will.

    I’m angry and I want to find the person who is responsible for this atrocity. Almost as soon as I start looking, a buxom woman approaches me. She is warmly business-like, competent and sensible, like a teacher librarian or social worker. She look like she would be kind and fair if you were a person of goodwill, but could be stern and strict if you stepped out of line. She presents as a solidly respectable professional who would always act humanely but wouldn’t take any nonsense. She asks me, “Can I help you?” I tell her I’m trying to find the person responsible for all those locked up people…

    Almost before I’ve finished asking her, I know it’s HER. She is the one responsible. That’s why she came up to me so confidently, to put me off track so I wouldn’t suspect her. I just know it is her. No doubt whatsoever.

    Then I’m standing on the top of a wooden fence, seven or eight feet off the ground. Jeff Crippen is standing near me on the fence too. We are both able to balance there. When I occasionally feel that I’m losing my balance, I ask God and He helps me regain my balance. I’m shaking this social worker woman by the top of her head, grasping her by the hair and violent shaking and hitting her body repeatedly against the fence, slamming her as hard as I can against the fence over and over again to punish her and to force her to expose the truth. Then I suddenly know:– SHE’S NOT A WOMAN, SHE’S A MAN. I pull her clothing down and up to expose her genitals and sure enough there it is, a penis and testicles. I am disgusted and furious.

    I can’t say this interpretation is ‘from the Lord’, but it feels right to me:

    The people all drugged up and packed into that hidden room, almost undiscoverable, are the victims of abuse all over the world who are living in the fog that their abusers have laid over them like an invisible net. They are drugged to the eyeballs, but it’s also like they are under an evil spell. And they have been deliberately concealed.

    The abusers are all in league with each other, and have created this secret hidden place where they stash all their victims. They even make sure that the heating pipes to this little room are working, so the victims don’t die of cold. They want to keep their victims alive, alive enough to still be useful targets to wreak their evil ‘pleasures’ on, but not alive enough to wake up and set themselves free.

    Feeling around the carved ornate woodwork of the grand room is what I was doing when I was reading all those theological and interpretative books and articles about the doctrine of divorce, trying to understand how other interpreters had ‘cut the cake’, and trying to figure out what was wrong or missing in each of their interpretations, and what was the true way of cutting the cake of all those disparate scriptures scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments. All I knew was that the former interpretations must have been at least somewhat faulty because none of them gave indubitable permission for divorce for domestic abuse, and our God would, indeed MUST, by his loving and righteous character, permit divorce for victims of domestic abuse. Period. So I was feeling my way round all those other theologians’ arguments, trying to find, by feel, by tentative pressure here and there, where their arguments didn’t stand up. And the carved woodwork gave way to a subtle pressure at one point and a panel moved – and it wasn’t a panel, it was a door! – and behind the door were all those sad, suffering souls!

    The social worker woman who is really a man is an archetype of all those abusers who pass themselves off as nice people who would never harm anybody! She is dressed as a woman to put people off the scent of who she (he) really is. It’s the disguise of the wicked one, purposeful camouflage, deliberate lies, masterful deception. It’s what all abusers do, only this man does it to the nth degree, even passing himself off as the opposite sex. Gender inversion is perhaps the ultimate way of thumbing your nose at God.

    And in another sense, the social worker represents all those women in the church who just don’t get it about our abuse experiences and want to shush victims up with dismissive prayers or ‘counselling’. They preen themselves on what good ministry they are doing, but they have no idea…

    The way that Jeff and I are standing on the fence and not loosing our balance represents what we are trying to do with A Cry for Justice. The fence is precipitous – if we fell off on either side, we would be getting it wrong. What would “falling off the fence” mean? We might get too focused on the suffering victims and the social justice impulse, at the expense of scripture and the primacy of the gospel and the necessity to be born again and be regenerate in Christ. We might get overly focused on the controversy about male/female ‘roles’ in the family and the church. We might get bogged down in ministering to individuals and forget the big picture of fighting the battle at the systemic levels. We might get out of sorts with each other, and fall off the wall because we’ve not dealt with a little personal injury or misunderstanding. I guess we could all think of more things that could cause us to lose our balance and fall off the fence. That’s why prayer is so important, to help us keep our balance.

    And me smashing the hideous ‘woman-man’ against the fence? Certainly I’m furious about what the abusers are doing. But it’s also showing how the abusers need to be severely dealt within order to stop domestic abuse.

    And lastly, the survivor at the beginning of my dream, the one who has not changed? She represents the women in 2 Tim. 3:6-7 – “For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”
    I know there will always be some victims like this. I do this work with that knowledge, knowing that not all are going to be silly, and that many WILL learn, will truly wake up and never turn back. And among them will be those who develop into astute, vigorous survivors who will join the battle all of us who are fighting this cause. May the army ever grow larger and more skilful in exposing the works of the enemy!

    [I hope this comment does not become the main theme of this thread, as Katy’s book review is the main topic here, and we are really glad that Katy has written it. 🙂 ]

    [A few of you may remember that I previously shard this dream at Ida Mae’s blog [Internet Archive link].]

  6. Here is a link that might be useful for those who have been touched by pedophilia within Patriarchal cults: Finding A Healing Place. It is written by a woman who was married to a pedophile for 40 years. She is a Christian and is now trying to raising awareness of this issue.

    Note: TRIGGER WARNING POTENTIAL if you go to this link.

    1. I couldn’t read much about this. The rabbit story brought so much to mind. Pedophiles are not always nice people who live next door. They are cruel, vicious, mean people who live in your home and always act that way. They do horrible things to little girls and try to kill their dog because she had diarrhea. Just when I think the monsters are dead and gone they come back from the grave.

      1. Barbara it’s ok. Warning or not I would have read it. Slow on the uptake or really wanting to prove I am healed. I have gone back and read another one of her stories. The Mother’s Day gift. It reminds me of how much work there is to be done and what is happening in our churches before our very eyes.

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