Justice is No Lady: Chapter 2 ~ First Prison Break

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.

by Defendant Rising

1993 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 that liberals and “secular humanists” would destroy the moral fiber of America. Christian separatists— right-wing religious splinter groups including white supremacists, Y2K survivalists, secessionists, reconstructionists, and so on—believed that the upstanding patriotic Christian Americans needed to separate themselves and create a fortress of Christian homes where the true leaders of tomorrow would be raised.

We were associated with the Quiverfull movement too, which meant that we rejected birth control so that we could physically produce a lot of the leaders of tomorrow: God’s Army. Home birth, home schooling, even home church were big trends. Anything that kept the faithful tucked away in their righteous enclaves and away from the godless masses. Whole communities sprang up where Christian right-wingers could turn on (Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy), tune out (the liberal media establishment—many of us even tossed out our television sets), and drop out of mainstream American life.

We were the counter-counterculture. We were fanatics. We were darned proud of it. Quiverfull, in particular, was a philosophy that any married couple in the Christian Right could buy right into. It was so easy: Exercise Dominion! Please Jesus! Take over America! Using Tools You Probably Have Around the House!

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

By Sierra

Courtship 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 bit contrived.

I was sure, however, that the first man to touch me would take away something of my purity: a commodity I was given at birth and must guard throughout my life. I was spiritually dressed in a sparkling white wedding gown, which I must constantly defend against the oil of someone else’s hands. Kissing was out of the question. Branham taught that there were “sex glands” in the lips of men and women, and that the two sets should never meet except for marital procreation. But it wasn’t just physical contact to be avoided: broken hearts came, too, from loosely guarded emotions. I must never say the words, “I love you,” to anyone until I was engaged. True love could only happen to the pure.

And so it was with dread that I, at age 15, received and read an email from my friend Karl. I’d known him online for a couple of years – we had joined a message board and discussed our shared love of Japanese anime there. He had been left hanging when I purged my life of secular influences – indeed, I had also purged my life of him, along with the anime and my other very close friends. But on a whim I had logged into AIM, we’d talked, and he’d got my email address. He wrote to me about a dream he’d had where everything was right and beautiful, where I’d come back from my strange and sudden disappearance and told him that it was all okay, now I could finally be with him. He said he loved me. I stared at the email in helpless frustration. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t date! Especially not an unbeliever. With my cheeks burning in the shame of hypocrisy, I clattered out a terrified reply. “It’s not me you need,” I wrote through gritted teeth and tears. “It’s Jesus.” I never felt like such a liar.

Feeling sure that God would bless my efforts to fully commit myself to Him, I deliberately cast Karl out of my mind and immersed myself in a mythology of my own making: a story running from the time I entered the Message to the present. I rejected the name I’d used online, telling myself all that was “Sierra” was sinful and rebellious. “I will not be Sierra again,” I wrote in my journal furiously. I would rededicate my life to Christ, and revert to my childhood nickname, Tara. And onto the set of my little drama waltzed Sven.
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Justice is No Lady: Chapter 1 ~ Twisted Communion

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.

by Defendant Rising

On 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 phrased it more poetically than that. Then I walked up to the altar and took the symbolic body and blood of Christ directly from the hand of Nate Willoughby, while my own pastor, and my beloved Granddaddy who was also a pastor, stepped aside. My mother, who later became a pastor herself, told me it was “a little weird.”

She had no idea.

Something was saying “weird” to me on my honeymoon. There were forecasts of bizarre on the horizon, but a 23-year-old virgin wouldn’t know from bizarre, now would she?

It was weird that from day one, Nate would not have sex after dark. Or without immediately showering afterwards. It was weird that I could not initiate sexual contact—it always had to be his idea. I tried seduction, the day after I married him. I had some inkling from TV or the movies that if a new bride on her honeymoon put on a racy little red-and-black number and emerged from a hotel bathroom, her husband would. . . smile? Make passionate love to her? Say, “You look [insert flattering adjective here]”?

Nate looked blank. He looked through me and said, in a voice colder than Christmas in Siberia, “That’s not the kind of lingeré I like.”
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Daughter of the Patriarchy: The Sickness ~ Pt 2

by Sierra

William 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 country, the Bible said, “Many mighty works He could not do, because of their unbelief.” Now, if He was standing here tonight on this platform, just like that you’re looking at us, and you’d come up to Him, and say, “Jesus, will You heal me?”
He’d say, “Child, can’t you believe that I have already done it on Golgotha? I paid for your sickness. If you believe, go and receive.”
For here’s what He said. “As thou has believed, so be it unto you.” He said, “Now, for Myself, I can’t do nothing. I do what the Father shows Me. The Father shows Me a vision, then I do what He tells Me. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Now, you just ask. It’s your faith. … Just go out believing and you get well. Isn’t that simple? It’s God’s love. Now, we will call a few people up here at the platform to pray for them. You know why I do that? Is to get the anointing, Spirit started among the people. It begins to build their faith. And as their faith comes up, He speaks to me, just like He did to the Lord Jesus. The woman that touched His garment and she went out in the crowd, Jesus said, “Someone’s touched Me.”
And everybody said, “Not me.”
And then He looked out; He seen the woman. He said, “Thy faith has saved thee.”
Now, it was her faith, not Jesus. She–she drew the power from–from God through Jesus. Now, watch and see if He doesn’t do the same thing. See? As soon as the Holy Spirit gets anointing the people, the prayer line as good as stops.

Believing was evidently an imperfect process, as I slowly watched the demon of cancer waste away the life of one of my dearest friends. [Read more...]

Justice is No Lady ~ Prologue: Final Break

Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.

by Defendant Rising

July 12, 2001. 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 accident on the day before, July 11, my 33rd birthday. Nate had angrily quoted Scripture and accused me of “spiritual adultery” for half an hour in the van until I cried myself blind. He said we were leaving our church to “home-church” again. Then Nate stopped at his law office, got out of the van, and let me take the wheel.

I didn’t see the Ford Explorer coming at 60 miles per hour. I pulled out right in front of it, still sobbing. My rib cage hit the steering wheel. My six children—Maggie, the baby; Samuel, two; Rachel, four; Moriah, six; Jack, eight; and Daniel, nine—were miraculously unhurt, except for small cuts from flying glass.

The next thing I remember, I was lying in the hospital. Nate was pacing the floor in front of my gurney, a strange light in his eyes. “Baby,” he said, looking at the wallpaper, “this is financially good for our family.” Nate practiced personal injury law.

On the 12th, the next morning, I sat up in bed and put my head between my knees until the dizziness cleared. I am going to die, I thought again. I only have one chance.

I stumbled down to our garage-converted-to-a-home-office. Nate was on the internet.

“I am getting a tubal ligation,” I said.
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