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Amanda Householder Explains How She Got Her Parents Arrested For Abusing Teen Girls

How I Got My Own Parents Charged With Abusing Teen Girls
Author: Amanda Householder


Amanda Householder’s allegations led to her parents’ arrest for child abuse and neglect last year. Now she’s filed a lawsuit against the couple, who ran a boarding school.

Updated Apr. 18, 2022 2:56AM ET / Published Apr. 16, 2022 10:53PM ET

When the owners of the Circle of Hope boarding school in Humansville, Missouri, were arrested last year on more than 100 combined charges of child abuse and neglect, authorities pointed to an unlikely whistleblower: their 31-year-old daughter, Amanda Householder.

In a new lawsuit filed in Polk County Court, Householder alleges that her parents, Boyd and Stephanie Householder, routinely abused her and her younger brother, beating them with golf clubs and a leather whip and force-feeding them until they vomited. She also alleges the couple abused the teenage girls entrusted to their care at Circle of Hope and forced her to participate in that abuse. After moving out at the age of 17, Amanda started a campaign to get her parents’ boarding school shut down.

Circle of Hope was shuttered in September 2020, and the Householders were arrested in March 2021. In charging documents, they are accused of restraining their teenage students with handcuffs and zipties, making one girl drink dish detergent, and shoving another girl’s face into horse manure. The couple has yet to enter pleas and their attorney did not respond to a request for comment. They previously told The Kansas City Star their daughter was a “Satan worshipper” who was addicted to drugs. She denies those claims.

Amanda Householder filed her lawsuit against her parents, their school, and another boarding school where they worked last month. Here, she tells The Daily Beast what it was like taking on her own family, and the surprising social media strategy she used to help her do it.

My parents kicked me out in January 2009. I was 17. My birthday’s at the end of February, so I was like a month away from being 18… They didn’t know what was going to happen to me at that point, they were just kicking me out. I was going to go and be homeless. But then my mom’s aunt died, and my grandma was coming up to Missouri for the funeral. And so I just went and lived with my grandma after.

I lived with my grandma I think until March. My grandpa had died and that started a lot of issues between my grandma and [me], because my mom always talked shit about her mom… And so that started a lot of issues between me and my grandma. And so I [left and ] moved in with somebody that I met online.

It was horrible for the next year. I was just getting into horrible relationships with guys, trying to find a place to stay and just jumping from a random person I would meet online to the next person, because I knew no one. I had no one.

I met the father of my kids in 2012… I had met a former Agape student and I moved out to California with him. I got a job and was working in apartment management. [Editor’s note: Agape Boarding School is a school where Householder’s parents worked before opening Circle of Hope.] And my friend that I met at Agape… He was like ‘Hey, my friend Bunny is coming down from San Francisco. We should all hang out.’ And so we did and that’s where I met [the father of my children]. Technically, it was supposed to be a one-night stand, but I ended up getting pregnant and decided to keep my son and moved out to San Francisco with my now husband. Well, father of my kids. I call him my husband, but we’re not legally married.

When I had my son, it wasn’t until he was like 1 or 2 that he started acting like a kid. How I was raised, I was taught that if a child hits or bites or screams or anything like that, you spank them, because that’s just them acting out. And for a whole year and a half I had this perfect baby… No issues, no screaming, no crying, no hitting, nothing like that. He was great. But one day, he got mad at me and he hit me… And so I spanked my son.

My husband was in the other room and came and he was like, “What happened?” And I explained to him and he grabbed my son from me. He’s like, “We do not hit kids.” And it started a huge argument… and he convinced me to get into therapy. So it was really the people that I put in my life, that just happened to be in my life, that taught me that I was raised wrong… They were caring and they showed me that I was raised wrong and this is not how we should be treating kids.

In 2015, I had just had my second son. By this time I was already getting back into contact with some of the former Circle of Hope girls, apologizing to them for how I cussed them out for talking about the abuse with my parents. And I got this message from a girl I didn’t know. She was at Circle of Hope at a time that I wasn’t there. And she hit me up and she’s like, “Hey, are you Amanda Householder?”… And I was like, “Why do you need me?” And she’s like, “Well, your parents kicked me out, and I’m homeless.” And I was like, “What do you mean my parents kicked [you] out and you’re homeless?” And she’s like, “Well, I was adopted out of Ukraine and my adopted parents don’t want me anymore and [are] not paying your parents anymore. So they gave me some clothes and a teddy bear and told me to walk.”

This part really angered me. And this is where I was like, no, we’re done, we’re exposing this. They made her walk six miles. Town is six miles away. We were always taught that if you ran away, those people know that you’re a horrible kid. If you go on their property, they’re going to shoot and kill you. That’s what we were fucking taught. My brain went to, first off, they're kicking you out there and making you walk where all these people are going to shoot you… And second off, it’s on a freaking highway that truckers drive all the time. We lost so many animals on that because they’re speeding down it [and] they accidentally hit the animals. My brain went there, and then it went to sex trafficking. And I was like, “My parents don’t give a shit about these girls.”

And so in 2015, I made my first Facebook post… talking about how my parents abused girls, how they abused me growing up, and how I needed help figuring out how to get this girl into a safe place. Someone reached out to me and I got them into contact with the girl, and she ended up getting into a safe place and getting on her feet. And then a couple of weeks later, I found out through my brother that this wasn’t the first girl they did this to… And so I was talking to my brother and was like, “Why are we—the adult children of my parents—fixing their mistakes?” And so myself and another girl got together and put together a survivors group for Circle of Hope girls.

From 2015, we were just in that group trying to get things started. In 2018, Michelle Nickerson’s sister got sent to Circle of Hope. At that point I was giving up, I was like, “No one’s listening to us. What can I do?” And I was like, “OK, last-ditch effort, post a Yelp and a Google review about your parents’ school.” And so I did, and then I got an email from Michelle Nickerson and she’s like, ‘Hey, my sister’s here. What can we do?’… She found a highway patrol officer in 2018 to open an investigation into Circle of Hope. But it wasn’t until 2020 when we got the video footage of what actually happens [there] that we were taken seriously.

[In 2020] a former Agape student went and visited my parents and got video footage of how my dad actually acts and he sent me that. [Editor’s note: The video in question shows Stephanie Householder sitting on the couch, as a man whom Amanda and others have identified as Boyd Householder says, “Knock her out, I mean it,” in regard to one of the students.] At that point, myself and the girls were like, “They can’t take our truth away, no one can deny us at all.” Because now we have video footage showing my dad is verbally abusive, at very least. And so I think that’s what changed. Before they could deny it, because we had no form of evidence. And then once we got that, there was no way of them denying it.

We took [that video] to Facebook. That video only got like 3,000 views. It didn’t get any attention… Then my friend Miranda, who co-hosts the Troubled podcast with me, she's like, Hey, you need to go to TikTok.”… I started talking to her back in March, and then by May is when I finally sucked it up and I’m like, “OK, I guess I’m going to take it to TikTok.” I posted the video of my dad saying, ‘Knock her out.’ That didn’t really get much traction. But the next day I went on and I did [a popular TikTok challenge]. And that’s when I got over a million views and 30,000 followers within a day. And then my followers just kept rising. People would ask me questions and I would just answer whatever questions they would ask. And so that’s how the TikTok blew up.
Screenshot via TikTok

I honestly think it’s because a lot of TikTok is kids. I think a lot of kids were like, “Wait, this can happen? Like if I get sent away, this can happen?” A lot of them were kids saying, “This isn’t right, we have rights.” I think it honestly was a lot of kids realizing this could happen to [them], and they jumped in and started helping. And [when I say] they jumped in and started helping, I mean that they jumped in and started calling the prosecuting attorney and started asking him why he wasn’t doing anything to help Circle of Hope. One of my Circle of Hope girls called and [the prosecutor] was like, “We are so overwhelmed with the amount of phone calls we’re getting, I don’t know what we're going to do with Circle of Hope.” And then hung up. So I know that they were getting thousands of phone calls and that was largely due to TikTok.

[My parents] were arrested a year to the day after us posting [the video] on Facebook… I never thought it was going to happen. It’s really exciting because of all the hard work we did. But then at the same time, it’s kind of depressing. Because I’m like, these are my parents. These are my kids’ grandparents… It’s a roller coaster of emotion… There are really good days, but there are days that I’m like, “I want my mom. I want a mom. I want a dad.”

[The criminal] statute of limitations were up, like, five years ago. I mainly wanted to [file a lawsuit] to set a precedent so other people that are past their statute of limitations feel confident enough in trying to do that. To me, it’s not about the money. I don’t care whether I get money from this or not. It’s about setting a precedent and showing that you can't do this. It doesn't matter how long ago it fucking happened. You can’t continue to do this.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not tearing my family apart. We never had a family anyways. But the part that hurts the most is I always wanted a family. I always wanted my mom and dad to love and care about me, but they obviously couldn’t. So it was overwhelming but it was more—I was proud because we did this, we exposed what was happening and the abuse that was going on behind it. And all the trauma we went through should have torn us girls apart, but it didn’t. It made us stronger and it brought us all together and we did what we had to do. As hard as it was, that right there is the best part and the only thing that got me through.

It’s been a very long fight. And I know it’s not over. If you’re fighting against something similar, it’s OK to take breaks, but don’t fully give up… Even when the times are hard and you feel like giving up, just don’t.


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Posted in: News on June 1, 2023 @ 2:58 PM

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