Devil Child

Mark sent this to me on facebook.  I see situations like this daily, it comes with the job.

Then, on my 15th birthday (the day that my mum gave me a purity ring and announced that I had become a “wonderful woman of god”) I told my entire family that I was an atheist. The room grew quiet, my mother cried, my father left the room, and they didn’t speak to me for weeks.

Since then, they don’t speak to me unless they have to, my siblings are kept away from me, and they simply don’t care about anything I do. I’ve had to maintain two jobs and support myself (I pay rent to my parents, buy my own food, and pay for all of my expenses), and they won’t even let me live on my own. From time to time, I hear them muttering about their “devil child” and how one day “Satan will release his grip on me and I will be normal again.” I am stronger than that though. I have my own mind, maintain my own views, and I’m going to be more successful than they will ever be. I’ve applied to college and I’m ready to start living life without any sort of hypocrisy or judgment from my family.

Why should you have a secular club at your high school?  Because these people are out there and they need us.  I guarantee there are a few at your school who, because they cannot accept claims of the impossible, are alone.  They have no family that’s willing to help unless the atheist is willing lie about who they are.

These clubs are a safe haven for young atheists, not only where they can be with like-minded people, but where they can prepare to contribute to a movement that is working to create a world where this type of situation is as absurdly rare as it should be.  When even a non-believer’s family is unwilling to love them, we need to be available to love and care for them.  This is why we build communities.  This is why I wouldn’t trade my job for all the money in the world.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Jeannie in PA

    JT, what legal recourse does this young woman have? Her situation sounds abusive.

  • fastlane

    In most states, she is old enough to get emancipation from her parents.

    I think FtB should start a college fund for this young woman. And maybe some kind of ongoing scholarship. Wonder how hard it would be to get something like that going?

  • Mark

    Thanks for blogging about this. We need to help this girl however we can.

  • Mark

    She should sue for damages before filing for emancipation. She’s probably owed hundreds if not thousands in back rent and food etc.

  • H.D. Lynn

    She’s 15 and paying rent? Yes, she could get money back. That’s grossly unfair for a minor to have to pay rent and buy all her own food. She’s missing out on so much of her youth because she has to support herself with two jobs while going to school. That’s just absurd. I’m proud that she decided not to lie (I certainly did…), but is there something we could do for her? That’s a crap situation, and it’s things like this that keep young atheists quiet until they can get away from home.

  • Michaelyn

    This story makes me tear up. I am so heart broken for this girl. I also have a lot of respect for her. For putting up with this, for overcoming it and staying strong and staying true to herself.

    Stories like this shouldn’t exist. I’m so glad you do what you do, JT.

  • Rob

    Thanks for the work you guys do. I should look into whether or not such kids are around here, and help them huh?

  • Carrie

    Social workers worst night mare. Yes it is abuse. The parents are responisble for her because she is a minor. The parents need to be reported and be charged for abuse and neglect. This disgusts me. If we do set a scholarship for her I will donate. So it seems like a lot of people want to do this. How should it be set up?

  • Greta Christina

    I’m not a lawyer, I’ll say that right off the bat. But if she’s a minor — which I assume is the case, since her parents won’t “let her leave” — I’m pretty sure her parents legally can’t charge her for food and rent. They are legally required to provide for her.

    And yes, if there’s practical support that she wants and that the community can provide — apart from general emotional support and helping support the SSA — let’s do it.

  • B-Lar

    That choked me right up.

  • Kate

    Hey guys, I’m the girl from the story. I was browsing the original website that my story was posted to, and someone left a link that led to this. I’d like to thank you for all of the kind words and support. It really means a lot to me! :)

    • Mark

      Kate, hi. I’m the person who brought your story to the attention of JT. First of all let me commend you on your bravery. You must have metaphorical balls of steel to do what you’re doing and at such a young age. Secondly you should not accept this treatment by your parents a moment longer. Until you are 18 they have a legal obligation to provide a roof over your head, feed you, and clothe you. You should waste no time whatsoever in contacting the relevant authorities to make sure they do this and to make sure you get back all the money you’ve already spent that you shouldn’t have done. Please keep us updated on your situation.

    • Mark

      Also, sorry one more thing. Can you supply a link to Hemant’s blog about this over on the Friendly Atheist? I can’t find it. Thanks.