Monday, November 07, 2005
More real-life stories from readers. ATI cannot be blamed for all of this family's suffering, but notice the Institute's holier-than-thou response.
I grew up with ATI, I even went to the first CI they held in Knoxville, whenever that was. My mom followed all the rules for raising a good, upright family. My dad appeared to be a moral father, doing things right down to a wisdom search at the crack of dawn. They had 7 kids, I'm the firstborn. We were with the program til about two and a half years ago, when my mom discovered that he was looking at porn. She took her first step away from the submissive wife deal by kicking him out of the house, saying he couldn't return til he had seen a counselor and confessed to everything. She got more of a confession than she was expecting. Turns out my dad was hiding his pedophilia behind the whole "good ATI father" facade. Needless to say, our lives were turned upside down immediately. The government started investigating the situation, sending DCF (Department of Children and Families) agents over to our house unexpectedly every once in a while. My parents wound up getting a divorce, which was necessary because my father did not seem to be actually sorry for what he did, making excuses and justifying it to no end. If my mother had stayed with him, she would have lost the kids. So she divorced him. She wanted to stay in ATI at first, appealing to the higher powers in the system, explaining our situation, but they insisted that she had done something morally wrong by divorcing my dad, regardless of his HUGE issue. She the moderator for an online ATI mom's group, but they kicked her out of that too, and the other moms in the group gave her the same opinion that she should have stayed submissive to her husband.
Anyway, the next year or so was a blur of various legal struggles. My mom was struggling hand and foot trying to make ends meet, trying to keep her kids, going to school so she could get a real job, and trying to find a job in the meantime. Listen, I loved my mom before this whole thing started, but I never admired her as much as I do now. For a while, the court system was trying to blame my mom for the whole thing, saying that if she had been married to him for 16 years, how could she not have known? Eventually, and after a whole lot of stress, painful reality checks, and rude awakenings, they decided she was a good enough mother to keep her kids and let the case go. They never did convict my dad, but they left the case open so they can convict him later if the evidence arises.
During those two years, I was so angry at everyone it was unbelievable. I hated ATI, I hated my dad, I was even mad at my mom. I wasn't allowed to know for a while why he wasn't there anymore, I only knew that my dad had suddenly dissappeared, so I didn't know who to blame. I buried myself in "bad" music. I screamed with Linkin Park, Evanescence, and P.O.D., among others. My brothers and sisters and I huddled together in one of the bedrooms sometimes just crying and talking, trying to figure out among ourselves what the hell was going on with our family. We didn't understand, our family had been such a role model to everyone around us. On a side note, have you ever noticed the way a lot of ATI members take pride in not being proud? We did that. Anyway, we got through that period with the help of a lot of people, mostly NOT ATI. We had been going to a large contemporary church in our area, occasionally thinking we should probably find a different one because it was so not ATI. But they helped us so much. We needed food, clothes, yard work, help with housework, a whole lot of stuff. Everybody helped. We had people coming over to help watch the kids, people cooking for us, people cleaning for us, it was beautiful.
All in all, our rude awakening did us a lot of good, I think. Granted, none of us have completely gotten over it, we still have plenty of problems, but ultimately we're better off. Now I'm 18, in college, supporting myself and renting an apartment with 4 other college kids (guys too, horrors!), and still learning to function normally in society. My family is doing fine, the house is usually clean now, my sister knows how to tile a floor, and my mom is working in a pediatrician's office. My mom and 16 year old sister are in college, my brother is in junior ROTC or some such kid military thing coping with his anger. We're all still kinda screwed up, but we're still moving along. Keep this site going, please!