She rebelled herself to death

There’s a terrifying piece at No Longer Quivering, by a former believer in the child-rearing methods of Michael Pearl. She followed the plan; it didn’t work; she did what Pearl said to do, and followed it harder. Hit harder, was what you were supposed to do when it didn’t work. Hit harder, and blame the child. She had a hard time with that, but her ex-husband didn’t.

My ex-husband got angry with the kids for thwarting the Pearl method, but he remained coldly self-controlled. He also left bruises. A lot of bruises.

Why didn’t I stop him? I finally did, but early in my marriage I was paralyzed by fear and brainwashed by bad teaching. We both feared raising ungodly kids. We were looking for confirmation that some part of this system worked, and my ex-husband began to get results. The children flinched when he even moved. Cowered when he reached for a spanking implement. Had semi-seizures on the carpet following “biblical correction.” We got compliance with our wishes. Eventually, there was immediate and unquestioning compliance. My ex-husband had quelled the rebellion in three kids. He had created unfocused, freaked-out little robots who obeyed.

That last sentence chills me.

To Train Up a Child is a manual of progressive violence against children. Not only are there no stopgaps to prevent child abuse, the book is a mandate to use implements to inflict increasingly intense pain in the face of continued disobedience. The part about not causing injury is vague and open to interpretation, but the part about never backing down or shirking your parental duty to spank harder and harder is crystal clear. The Pearls’ teachings will lead, inescapably, to extremely strong-willed kids being abused and sometimes murdered by fundamentalist parents who are determined to “break” those children.

Like Hana Williams.

The only way to break the wills of children like this is to kill them. The 911 call that Carri Williams made to the police dispatcher says it all.

“Operator: What’s the emergency?

Carri Williams: Um, I think my daughter just killed herself.

Operator:  Why do you say that?

Carri Williams, Um, she’s really rebellious, and she’s been outside refusing to come in, and she’s been throwing herself all around, and then she collapsed.”

And died of exposure, with her mouth full of mud. Because she was so rebellious.


  1. says

    If I had it my way, the Pearls will get sent to prison for the rest of their lives. I don’t care what they said. Sooner or later the Pearls will find themselves going up the river to serve a miserable life sentence for telling parents to brutally beat their own children only because God says so in the bible.

  2. says

    I’d rather see their books pulped than them in prison (though I’d be quite happy to see them having to live in a trailer park and work at Walmart). Neither one is going to happen though. sigh.

  3. mirax says

    Barbaric and cruel.Setting out to deliberately break the will of your child. My heart breaks for the kids but I find it hard to have any sympathy for the women who went along with the abuse despite knowing that it was wrong. They failed their kids. No amount of remorse can make up for that.

    There seems to be a rather widespread acceptance of childbeating in America. Did you see the ABC report of the judge from Texas beating up his 16 year old daughter who suffers from cerebral palsy? That fucker presides over child abuse cases!

    You watch that video and you know that the mother is an enabler and the man hates his kid and wants to beat her into ‘submission’. He actually says so in the video.

  4. David Leech says

    wow! what scumbags, when does your paternal instincts be overcome by your beliefs. Do they no see the suffering in their own child’s eyes. Religion poisons everything even the love one should have for their own offspring.

  5. Josh Slocum says

    wow! what scumbags, when does your paternal instincts be overcome by your beliefs. Do they no see the suffering in their own child’s eyes

    Oh, my dear, that’s easy. Lots of parents have parental instincts that aren’t nearly as strong as their tempers and their desire to dominate their families. That’s utterly common. It’s not, I think, one’s “beliefs” (if by “beliefs” we mean “religious instruction/dictates”) that lead to this sort of abuse. The abuse will happen anyway if the parent in question is so disposed.

    My stepfather had no compunctions about bashing my head into concrete walls when my mother wasn’t home, and when she was, strangling her while he sat atop her chest as I watched. He didn’t need any religious or other beliefs to act this way. And it’s not as if my family’s experience is rare; it’s utterly par for the course for hundreds of thousands of families (at least) in this country alone.

    What religion does that’s especially dangerous is to give this violence a socially acceptable rationale. It looses the inhibitions just that much more—-after all, if God says it’s your duty you needn’t worry so much. And neither do police, neighbors, or the court system need to worry so much. It’s faith, see, and faith is a very Sacred Private Inviolable Matter. So inviolable that ordinarily compassionate people will silently watch, or suspect, or worry, or hand-wring (all the while doing nothing) while they know someone is beating, starving, or raping someone in their household. Cuz it’s Faith. See. And inquiring into any activity—no matter how obviously depraved—motivated by faith is a mortal American sin.

  6. Francisco Bacopa says

    These child beating fuck-ups need to die.

    According to this mornings Houston Chronicle, Judge Adams may yet face charges, even though so far the Aransas DA has noted that the statute of limitations for the battery charges he was considering have expired. There are still other state laws under which he could be charged.

    Whatever happens I hope the doxers make Adams’ life a living hell. I have already sent Adams a few postcards. I’ll send him a few more. Wherever he lives, the doxers will find him. and I will send him mail. He lives less than three hours away. So far, I have resisted the urge.

    Hey Aquaria, you are probably closer to Adams. Wanna meet in Rockport? Nah, let’s not ruin our lives.

    Has anyone Dox’d the Pearls? Stamps are cheap and I can send them mail too.

  7. says

    I don’t even have words…

    I’m upset, I’m angry, I’m sad, I don’t understand the idea of doing violence to a child to make the child behave.

  8. Meg says

    A girl I went to HS with was abused through starvation. Her parents would tell the school she was “sick,” but really she was locked in her room. The worst was when they found out she was dating a boy (she was supposed to go through her father for courting). She had hiding spots in her room for hoarding food, and if it was an extended punishment (meaning she had to go to school) we would bring extra food for her. It was horrible, but her parents were pretty powerful ‘pillars’ of the community so no one suspected anything, plus they basically spread rumors about her being an uncontrollable teenager. Now she lives in a different state, and has very little contact with her family.

  9. Hypatia's Daughter says

    This is “Patriarchy Poison”. I suspect many men become”godly” in order to lay claim to the god-given right to control, abuse and even kill their family members who must submit to their psychopathic behavior. They would never get a free pass if they treated non-family this way, but religion gives them both the rational and the right in our society to do it to their families.

    I think it was Vyckie Garrison (who runs the “No Longer Quivering” website) who said her once easy going husband, after years of being treated like the family despot, turned into a spoiled, selfish, petulant child, constantly whining because everything wasn’t perfect in is life and blaming all his unhappiness on his wife and family.

    I see “Patriarchy Poison” in Fred Phelps, John Dobson and many other male xtian leaders. Not all are violent but ALL are extreme control freaks over their families.

  10. sailor1031 says

    It is perfectly acceptable to kill a rebellious, disobedient child. In fact the bible recommends it (Deuteronomy 21:18 – 21). And since, as everyone knows (or should know), the laws here in the good ol’ USA are based on the bible and christian religion there’s no problem.

  11. grumpyoldfart says

    In the article, ExPearlSwine says

    Why didn’t I stop him? I finally did, but early in my marriage I was paralyzed by fear and brainwashed by bad teaching

    Yeah, nothing to with her. Just stands by, watches the kids being abused, and then blames her teachers and complains that her life is ruined!

    all the right-wing fundamentalist teachings that had ruined my life

    I notice also, that despite the ratbaggery of her religion, she is still a god-botherer:

    Thank God I escaped from thinking like you, Carri Williams. Thank God some of my babies were mothered without pain

    Come on lady, none of your children should have suffered. You should have walked away from your abusive husband and his abusive god when the first assault occurred.

  12. says

    What religion does that’s especially dangerous is to give this violence a socially acceptable rationale. It looses the inhibitions just that much more—-after all, if God says it’s your duty you needn’t worry so much.

    Exactly. This was (and is) the central claim of Does God Hate Women? Religion dresses up plain old brutality as something holy and mandated by “God.” It’s hard to exaggerate how dangerous that is.

  13. julian says

    You should have walked away from your abusive husband and his abusive god when the first assault occurred.

    Been staring at this comment for a while. Can’t think of anything to say but fuck you.

  14. mmmkay says


    Why ‘fuck you’? I guess I’m baffled how a mom can watch her child be abused. I think enablers need to be in jail as well.I just.don’t. get. it.

  15. Pteryxx says

    @mmmkay: once you’ve been brainwashed into accepting and enabling your own abuse, it’s not that simple to intervene for someone else. For instance, if a woman thinks about her husband beating her “he isn’t an abuser, he’s just doing God’s work and I deserved it”, it’s a very small step to thinking “he isn’t an abuser, he’s just doing God’s work and my child deserved it”. Another factor is that a spouse, unlike say a schoolteacher, is in for some terrible punishment if they alert anyone to the child abuse.

  16. madderthanhatters says

    @ #18: Likely because women in abusive situations either literally cannot simply “walk out” of the situation, or are psychologically incapable (at the time) of knowing they can. However, I would like to comment that usually it’s both, and particularly for women in movements like “Quiverfull”.

    For example, presumably all her friends and neighbors were also Quiverfull, as well as family; to “walk-out” implies that she not only walk out from her husband,but also everyone else. Furthermore, there are likely to be economic realities from leaving such a patriarchal movement, where she likely was not the breadwinner and did not have access to either education, job experience, or even just cash, to take with her when she left.

    Financial reality and a lack of social support (perceived or otherwise) is generally why many women stay with abusers who abuse both their wive(s) and children.

    For you to put the blame on the women is grossly unfair and to state that they could have “simply walked out” is not merely mistaken, it is damaging.

  17. Pteryxx says

    @madderthanhatters: Good points. Those are also reasons why abused women often can’t walk out and take children with them. Even if they try, the abuser may use friends, relatives and custody proceedings to get them back or at least to force the woman to reveal her location. So, the woman may have to decide between making her own escape (and leaving the child behind) or staying in the abusive situation and trying to protect the child.

  18. says

    RE: walking away. I completely understand when folks’ first reaction to stories like Vyckie Garrison’s is to wonder why she didn’t walk away. I worked very briefly for a felony prosecutor of domestic crimes, and often wondered the same myself. But then, I ended up in an abusive relationship, and ended up with a baby in that abusive relationship, and I stopped wondering. I am an intelligent woman who was raised to be independent and to rely on myself. It wasn’t until the very last minute of my relationship, when I finally called the cops and then watched him being led away in handcuffs that I was able to admit that I had been a victim. I still struggled with telling people about it though. It’s humiliating to be confronted with the fact that there really are some situations that you cannot control. There is more to it than that, obviously, but that’s the bit that springs to mind immediately.

  19. Beauzeaux says

    Please everyone. Please read up on the psycholgy of abusers and victims. Being abused damages people. And the damage includes not being able to “walk away.”

  20. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    I think it’s also worth questioning the fact that people all-too-often tend to slip into blaming the mother for failing to escape and get the children away with her, as if the father’s part in the child-beating were somehow a given. If it’s her responsibility to protect her children, it’s sure as hell the father’s responsibility not to abuse them in the first place. If a mother who condones or shares in abuse is an “unnatural mother”, she is equally to blame – not more so than the unnatural father.

  21. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    … oh, and not forgetting that there are cases where it makes more sense to see the mother as another of the victims.

    IANAL, but I can’t understand how it’s possible that people vile excrescences like the Pearls aren’t prosecuted. Even if it’s not possible for anyone to bring a criminal case, if they haven’t personally abused or killed a particular child, is there no scope for anyone to bring a civil case against them? Surely this “advice” they publish is reckless endangerment?

  22. says

    The novel The Way of all Flesh by Samuel Butler tells of a Victorian upbringing by a Church of England priest. “Breaking the spirit of a child” and “spare the rod, spoil the child” were thought to be the appropriate way of bringing up children. It was really a way of terrorising children – not lashing out with a slap because the parents are angry or frustrated, but systemic beatings for the good of the children’s souls.

    The novel was autobiographical, and it’s pleasant to record that Samuel Butler became a swingeing atheist.

  23. says

    @opposablethumbs — IKR? But you just know the second the Pearls got wind of a lawsuit, they (and their followers) will start in on how they’re being “persecuted”, and that it’s “not child abuse”, but “part of their religion”, and all that other happy horseshit those types like to spew.

    Incidentally, I find it ironic that these… wastes of space… are named “Pearl”, ‘cuz they ain’t no treasure, hidden or otherwise.

  24. Hassie Betz says

    Every person that practices Christianity isn’t an abuser. I am getting tired of people labeling every crackpot, perverted nutcase a “typical Christian”. The Bible is a holy book; that said, it is open to twisted and sick interpretation by any greed motivated psychopath that reads it. A lot of people use religion to exploit their own personal motives of greed, perversion or control.

  25. says

    Hassie, that’s interesting, but nobody here said anything about a “typical Christian.” And as for the bible – how do you know it’s a holy book? How do you know it’s not just a book like other books (i.e. written by humans) that people call “holy”?

    Of course you’re right that the bible is open to sick interpretation by bad people, but the very fact that many people think it’s a “holy” book makes that fact hugely dangerous. Michael Pearl wouldn’t get nearly so many people obeying his every word if he didn’t claim to be biblical.

  26. Ing says

    A lot of people use religion to exploit their own personal motives of greed, perversion or control.

    I can see you have the two dots there but they’re not connected

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *