Daughter of the Patriarchy: The Waiting

by SierraI loved driving. I'd always known I would. As a child, I collected Hot Wheels cars until they numbered in the hundreds. When I was twelve, my mother decided to teach me to drive in case my father's rage spilled over completely and I needed to escape. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. The car felt huge and seemed to move so much faster when my hands were on the wheel. I crowed with pride as I successfully navigated the winding roads of our rural neighborhood, passing a UPS truck with wide eyes and short breath.As I grew older, I periodically stowed away money for a car. At my bakery job, I thought I might finally have a chance when I amassed $1,000 – a year's savings. A … [Read more...]

The Beautiful Girlhood Doll ~ Part 4: Enthusiasm & Industry

by Libby Anne   Proverbs tells us that a virtuous woman "works with her hands with delight," and "does not eat the bread of idleness." The truly beautiful girl is one who sees her life as a mission of service. What others view as a burden, she views as a blessing and opportunity. I was nothing if not hard working. I often completed all of my school work before lunch, so that I could then turn to reading, sewing, or any of a number of other hobbies. School was something I excelled at, and my parents were proud of me. I studied advanced science and math and loved learning languages.Of course, as much as my parents valued academics, I knew there were other areas a young woman must excel in if … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 5 ~ In Pursuit of Biblical Theology

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.by Tess WilloughbyHannah was born at home in spring of 1996.  By this time, Nate had a better job at a personal injury law firm and we were able to get a three-bedroom house.Satan must have followed us, because now there were lesbians having sex in the mailbox and Nate had no idea how the pervert porn peddlers got his name and address again.I was still in a stupor, still worshipping my cult leader. The lights were on in my brain but no one was home. I think, however, that my brain’s doorbell started ringing in 1996, and Tess’s Good Sense began its three years of patiently knocking, waiting to be invited back in. Doubt … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: The Shift

by Sierra           Clear morning light filtered in the empty door of the bakery. I was alone behind the storefront, a wall of bagel baskets hanging like a curtain between me and the rest of the world. My mother busied herself in the front of the store, wiping counters and making coffee as I methodically drew and cut the clear plastic wrap in its long rolls. I wrapped another sponge cake, applied the golden bakery label, and set the finished product on a tray to be stored and sold for the Jewish holidays. It was normally one of the busiest weeks in the store: the owner was Jewish and had many connections with the synagogues in northern New Jersey. We were a hotspot for holiday feasts.The … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 3 ~ Company of the Faithful

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.by Tess WilloughbyAt Regent University, I had lots of role models. Sweet-tempered women were submitting to their husbands, keeping their student apartments immaculate, and having babies right and left. I learned to buy wheat berries from the local co-op and grind them to bake bread. We were Stepford Wives, only hugely, proudly fertile. We grew herbs. We read books on natural childbirth. We prayed for God to make us more meek and submissive. And we prayed for our dear darling hubbies over at the Christian law school who were going to usher in a new American Revolution and turn this country around. “Shh! Quiet! Daddy’s stud … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 2 ~ First Prison Break

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.by Tess Willoughby1993 was a rough year. It was the year that Nate was fired from his engineering job in Tazewell, Virginia, and first started thinking about studying the law. It was the year when we went to a conference and met a pastor who advocated corporal punishment for wives, and Nate took to his teachings like a duck to water. It was the year I had Jack, who was conceived a few months after Daniel’s birth. Most notably, 1993 marked my first attempt at a separation from Nate.Daniel had been born at home. Nate and I were part of the Christian separatist movement of the late ’80s and early ’90s, rooted in the belief … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: “Why do you look that cow in the face?”

By SierraCourtship took my church by storm in the 1990s. While I never read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I was given a number of books about marriage and intimacy and taught explicitly that dating was preparation for divorce. Having never dated, I was not in a position to protest. I listened patiently to the story of the couple in my church who had married without so much as holding hands. They were the happiest couple after Eamon and Pearl, so clearly they'd done something right. I learned that smitten young Message couples would walk around holding each end of a shared stick, in order to express their affection without risking finger-to-finger contact. I thought to myself that it sounded a … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady: Chapter 1 ~ Twisted Communion

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.by Tess WilloughbyOn my wedding day, I embraced a new religion.  I marched up the aisle on my father’s arm, in a white lace gown with monstrous leg-o-mutton sleeves—very fitting for a lamb going to the slaughter.No bride was ever more madly in love, or more giddily romantic, or more enraptured with her white church wedding.  It was my greatest accomplishment; it was my reward from God for being virtuous and pure. Saying vows that I wrote myself, I outdid every right-wing, anti-feminist bride on earth. I promised to obey and submit and never speak a word against my husband until either I was dead or he was—but I think I … [Read more...]

Daughter of the Patriarchy: The Sickness ~ Pt 2

by SierraWilliam Branham never claimed to be a faith healer. That is, he claimed that it was the power of the individual's faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that healed their diseases. Christ had finished the work; there was nothing left to do but believe. In a 1955 sermon entitled Jehovah-Jireh, Branham explained that faith was the force that brought healing to the believer: If I could heal anyone, I'd come down here, and go to each one and heal everyone. I would, if I could. But I can't. And there's no other man can. And--and if Jesus was here, He could not, only if you'd believe. Look. That sounds strange, that Jesus could not heal unless you'd believe. When He went to His Own … [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady ~ Prologue: Final Break

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.by Tess WilloughbyJuly 12, 2000.  I woke up with one thought in my head.  I am going to die.I don’t know where this conviction came from, unless it was the cracked ribs.  It hurt to move; it hurt to breathe.  I was also dizzy.  I had awakened dizzy for five months straight, ever since Maggie was born.  I never went anywhere without a cup of crushed ice to chew on.  This, too, had lasted for five months.  Maggie—exclusively breast-fed—looked puny and pallid.I knew Nate was going to kill me unless I did something to save myself.  I guess I should explain that Nate didn’t crack my ribs.  They had been cracked in the acc … [Read more...]


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