A response to Olivia Brodock, the Homeschooler who survived.

My original plan was to finish going through Gothard’s twisting of definitions today, but something has distracted me. Several friends recently shared a blog post, From a Homeschool Victim Who Obviously Survived.

From a victim

The first thing that caught my eye was the image. That is the same image that has been used by Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA) in their reporting on the TOS abuse cover-up scandal. (It’s worth noting that the page now shows a different image, and there’s a note saying they had to take the original image down because they didn’t have permission to use it.) Using that image is extremely telling. For anyone who is aware of the current controversy sweeping the homeschooling community (namely, how to respond to a large number of alumni who are bringing grievances to the table) it places the blog post in the very center of that discussion.

And let’s be honest, that is precisely what the author intended. This author intentionally found the image used by HA and used it to set the tone for her post. This choice tells us a lot; it tells us what context she intended her audience to frame her post in.

So, having set the context in which we are to understand her post, the author goes on to satirize the stories of abuse victims. Let’s look at what she says.

It took me most of the last six years to really understand what was done to me during those years of “home schooling“.

This is making fun of those coming forward with stories of abuse. You see this type of wording time and time again when abuse victims come forward. “I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal.” “That was all I knew, so I just accepted it.” “It took 3 years of counseling to reach a point that I understood this was wrong.”

Notice the passive voice; “what was done to me.” Again, the author is using the language of someone who has been victimized.

Throughout the post, this author continues to use language that is used to describe abuse.

We were forced…homeschooling forced me…it stole from me…I have my mother to thank for every twang of guilt…I survived the mental trauma…

This is purposeful, intentional use of language that fits abuse. This author, by satirizing the stories of abuse survivors in this way, is attempting to make light of their plight.

Sometime in the past day or two, a note has been added to the top of the page.

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to discredit real abuse. Real abuse happens within all walks of life. It does need to be addressed and dealt with – with punishment for the offender and healing for the very real victim.  But this post is a satire about a life that often seems hard and unfair. What child does not think life is unfair at times?  :)

No, this is not “a satire” about when kids think life is hard or unfair. The author is sure to specify in the second paragraph that she is now 6 years past graduation. She claims to be writing with the perspective of an adult, reflecting on her childhood years. You can’t just slap a disclaimer on the front and pretend it’s suddenly satirizing something totally different. This is oddly reminiscent of my previous post; you can’t just up and decide to change the clear meaning of something just because you want to. You can’t use the language of abuse to make light of it, and then claim you didn’t mean to discredit real abuse.

To my friends who are reading this post because I posted a link on your Facebook page: Please understand that I do not mean to point the finger at you and say you are somehow a part of this culture of making fun of abuse. I don’t expect you to follow all the latest developments in my niche of interest. I don’t expect you to recognize that image, or the wording that was used in the post and respond the same way I did.  I do, however, expect a homeschool blogger to be aware of homeschooling issues, and to show love and sensitivity towards people who have experienced real abuse (which you can totally do while maintaining that your own experience was positive). I replied to your sharing of the blog post not because I’m angry with you, but because I feel it is important that people be aware of the context. I trust that you are a reasonable and kind person, and that you understand that abuse has occurred in some homeschooling families, and that it’s not something to make a joke about.