How Did Ruby Franke And Jodi Hildebrandt: How Extreme Beliefs And Mental Health Care Don't Mix
In a recent episode of the "Hidden Killers" podcast hosted by Tony Brueski, a riveting conversation with Clinical and Forensic Psychologist & Licensed Private Investigator Joni Johnston sheds light on a case that has gripped many - the troubling tale of Ruby Franke and Jody Hildebrandt, known as the Mormon mommy bloggers. These women have found themselves submerged in allegations of child abuse, a narrative that not only places their lives under scrutiny but also poses questions about the role of organized religion in these actions.
To provide some context, Ruby Franke and her husband, Kevin, according to their attorney, have been separated for roughly 13 months, with Ruby living with Jody Hildebrandt. During this period, one of their children allegedly "escaped" their residence and sought refuge in a neighbor's house. Kevin, as per his lawyer, emphasizes his commitment to "doing what's best for his kids" and aims to rebuild familial bridges.
Brueski probed Johnston on Kevin's awareness of the events transpiring in the Franke household, to which she responded, "It's hard to imagine that he didn't know some of what was going on for sure... Based on the information I have, how much of an active participant he was, but I would be very surprised if he did not know some of what was going on." Johnston speculated that things might have escalated after their separation, but some of their older children have indicated that such behavior has been ongoing for years.
One pressing theme emerged from the dialogue: the link between organized religion, in this case, the Mormon faith, and instances of abuse. Several recent cases involving individuals of the Mormon faith exhibited extreme parental tactics, leading to the question of how much organized religion plays a role in such actions. Johnston observed, "It isn't necessarily the religion's fault if people then distort those religious beliefs or twist them for their own benefit."
This raises an intriguing angle about the juxtaposition between organized religion and personal spirituality. Johnston pointed out how some might misuse religion as a shield, hindering them from seeking professional mental health care because it could be perceived as a "weakness of faith."
The conversation took a deeper turn when Brueski highlighted a concern - the Mormon Church's endorsement of Jody Hildebrandt as a counselor. This endorsement, coupled with the ongoing situation, evoked the question: "Is this a reflection of a greater problem within that church?"
Johnston's perspective on the matter brings up another pivotal point – the uneasy relationship between religion and mental health. She stressed the need for a clear boundary between one's religious beliefs and mental health care, especially when dealing with sensitive cases. "One of the most difficult things about this case for me is that Jody Hildebrand is a mental health professional," said Johnston, adding how unsettling it is to think that a mental health professional could endorse abusive tactics.
Another alarming revelation from the discussion was the multiple alerts Child Protective Services received from concerned neighbors about the Franke children's welfare. Still, it took an extreme situation for proper action to be taken. Johnston shared her experience working with abused kids, highlighting the systemic problems within child welfare agencies, from understaffing to the dilemma of prioritizing family unity over child safety. Brueski and Johnston both championed the need for better resources and systems to protect children genuinely.
In an era where we advocate for children's safety and mental well-being, stories like these force society to reckon with its values and beliefs. The case of Ruby Franke and Jody Hildebrandt presents more than just a story of alleged abuse; it unravels complex webs of religion, societal norms, and accountability.
In the face of these revelations, one is left to ponder: Where do personal beliefs end and the need for professional intervention begin?
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