Ruby Franke, the popular “momfluencer” and co-creator of digital series 8 Passengers, appeared in court recently to defend herself against 6 felony charges of child abuse. It was another in a long line of shocking appeareances that left audiences scratching their heads and sounding off in absolute shock.
“What mother could do something like this?”
“She’s a monster.”
“She’s not a mother. A mother wouldn’t do that.”
People were shocked that a mother would do such a thing. How could someone torture their children then turn on those children and further punish and destroy them?
For those of us with narcissistic mothers, with abusive mothers, it came as no shock.
There monsters lurking in the hearts of families that people still don’t want to acknowledge. It’s easy for them to look at the father, at the brothers, at everyone but the mother. It’s the one shadow we still don’t want to acknowledge, but here it is staring us right in the face in the form of Ruby Franke.
The Monster Mom of Youtube.
At this stage, there’s no long-shot in calling Franke the “Monster Mom of Youtube.”
Franke’s channel, 8 Passengers, detailed the lives of Franke, her husband, and their six children who ranged in ages from 20 to 9 years old. Franke, a member of the LDS Church, had a strict and extreme way of parenting that resonated with a lot of other conservative families online (not dissimilar to IBLP content). She made content that showed her punishing the children, regulating them, and teaching them about her religion.
It would be nice to sit here and tell you that there were no signs of what was coming before Franke’s August 30th arrest, but there was. Ruby Franke hid nothing from her fans. The abuse was apparent and shown openly on the internet to millions of people.
There are videos of her hitting her eldest son while he lays face down on the bed and begs her stop. There are videos of her peeping on her children while they use the bathroom (all doorknobs have been removed to limit privacy). Franke even posted videos of her taking away beds, bedding, and food as punishment. (There are several videos with the children begging for food and their mother telling them they don’t need food.)
In a truly shocking video, Franke even hides in her bathroom while her daughter (with blurred vision) begs to be taken to the emergency room. Ruby, her mother, makes a video instead detailing how she avoids taking the child to the hospital.
The entire channel was a horror show, with millions of people tuning in every week to listen to a podcast and watch videos in which Ruby (aided by her business partner Jodi) tortures her own children for entertainment content on Youtube.
Viewers were not the ones who put an end to this madness. Franke and her business partner were not stopped by the family members who reported the abuse, or the innocent bystanders who flagged the videos repeatedly.
It only came to an end in August of this year when one of the children escaped the home, fleeing to a neighbors who quickly called 911. The child had been taped at the wrists and ankles, was emaciated, hungry, and showing clear signs of both forced detainment physical abuse. This brave little boy, running from his mother, finally put an end to the Monster Mom of Youtube.
These mothers are everywhere.
Sadly, mothers like Franke are everywhere. While some sit stunned, the rest of us are nodding our heads along in understanding and horror. We know how these women operate in the shadows, taking out a lifetime of powerlessness on the children who have no means of escaping them. Franke isn’t an outlier. She is the norm in these conservative mother communities, which make it safe for women like Franke to hide.
These communities uplift those who break the spirits of children. They create twisted hierarchies in which children are subjects of caretakers, powerless and totally at their mercy.
Franke wasn’t just safe hiding in this community, either. Franke was applauded. She was celebrated, cheered on by millions of people who watched her on Youtube for years. Other mothers who are raising their children the same way listen to her podcasts, they emulate her, they copy her. These followers validated what Franke did and encouraged her to do more and more of it.
This is the face of the narcissistic mother.
She gains her supply from the validation others give her. It has nothing to do with her children or their wellbeing. They only exist to give her the status of “motherhood”. Women like this desire the power of the title, they want the attention that motherhood brings them. The welfare of the child will never enter the equation for them. In fact, the child will pay the costs. All of them.
There is nothing uncommon about Ruby Franke. She is my mother. She is your mother. She is every mother that strikes their child, that smiles while they watch them suffer in hunger and in grief. Millions of them exist today and millions more will become mothers tomorrow. They aren’t uncommon and the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can do right by the victims they create.
The saga wil continue.
Sadly, it will be a long time yet until mother’s like Franke come to an end. As long as spaces exist where women like this can be exaulted, we will cotninue to find women creating homes where this kind of nightmare abuse thrives. They will put their children on camera and break them down for likes, for money, for access, for privilege, and a new generation of broken people will be born.
For now, we must watch how this plays out and do our part in having the big conversations. Because Franke’s abuse hasn’t stopped against her children…not even in prison.
Franke appeared in court a few days after her arrest to take part in a shelter trial. This trial was meant to ensure that her children were kept together in a safe environment, and Franke’s testimony was needed to do that. How did the Monster Mom respond? By targeting the child who got her arrested.
She singled him out and turned on him in the courtroom, blaming him for the abuse that landed the viral Youtuber in court in the first place. She leveled abuse charges at the escaped child and claimed that she tied up and starved the child because he was comming acts of sexual violence against the others.
Her aim was clear. Punish him. Destroy him in the eyes of the court and isolate him from the rest of his siblings. She wanted him to know she was “god”.
This is the reach of the narcissistic mother. There is no end she will not use. There is no shame in her, no guilt, no remorse. Even from beyond the grave, they reach to enforce the toxic mythologies that keep us trapped.
Perhaps now will be a moment when we can find the power in ourselves, each of us, to make a change. Maybe this is the moment we can push to have Monster Moms like Ruby Franke meet the full power of justice for what they’ve done.
Want to learn more about this case? I recently covered all the holes in Ruby Franke’s growing story. You can watch it on Youtube.
© E.B. Johnson 2023