Warning this post discusses extreme child abuse. 

On Sunday a 17 year old girl escaped her prison home in the early hours of the morning with a disconnected cell phone and photos. She used the phone to call 911, and the photos to show police officers evidence that her brothers and sisters were kept chained to their beds. She is a hero of incomprehensible bravery. Her daring escape led to a home welfare check, the first in her family’s well kept secret history. Law enforcement found her twelve siblings inside the “hell house”, three of them shackled and padlocked to their beds. The biological parents of all thirteen were arrested on multiple counts of torture and child abuse. 

I am upset by this story. Saddened, angry, grieving. I am not shocked. I wish I could be. But the Turpin family is familiar to me. They are like the families my grandmother recruited as followers to her cult. Every news story I read about this horrific abuse simply reminds me of another family we knew growing up. 

I remember the first time I met a family I was absolutely certain used their adopted children as slave labor. I was between seven and nine. The family had eighteen children – nine biological white children, and nine adopted children of color. Each time the mother got pregnant, they took in a new slave to raise it. In 1990s United States of America. 

I was fourteen when my grandma considered selling me into marriage for a land trade, but I went to public school and I had so much freedom compared to these kids that I was able to fight for myself. I fucked my boyfriend and destroyed my own bride price. I wasn’t sold. 

There’s an awful world for Christian children going on right under all our noses, and most have no clue.  The Turpin family hell home is just one example. There are hundreds or thousands of families like theirs all across America. 

I wish I could be more shocked. Instead I’m crying because this is too damn familiar. And I’m terrified the rest of the country still thinks this is an aberration. 

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