Meredith Shale is fifteen years old and lives in Estertown worth her mother Sharon. They have spent the past three years living without her father, as he has been incarcerated for molesting Meredith and other children. The court system had promised Meredith nine years of safety by sentencing him to a term that would not finish until after Meredith had left home, but he managed to convince them of remorse and was released after only three. Although Sharon, Meredith's mother, could have divorced him in that time she did not, instead supporting him wholeheartedly and visiting him in jail every week. Meredith's opposition to his re-appearance in their lives angers Sharon who expects her to welcome him back into the family and to show a united front to the neighborhood. She also blames Meredith for breaking up the family by giving evidence against her father and demands total compliance with her plan to bring him home.
Seeing her father again terrifies Meredith far more than she had predicted and she realizes immediately that he is going to molest her again. The community agrees with Meredith's perspective about her father's return and shun the family, the local pizzeria refusing to deliver pizza to their home whilst happily delivering to the rest of the complex. Not wanting to eat with her parents Meredith runs to her friend Andy's apartment, keeping him secret from her parents for fear of them forbidding them to see each other. Andy was also molested by Charles Shale and was paralyzed shortly afterward. He and his mother are planning a trip to Iowa to have an audience with an old man said to be able to heal believers, but Meredith is devastated at the timing of their trip and is terrified of being alone in her situation. Andy gives her keys to his home so that she can take refuge there if needed.
Despite being forbidden by the terms of his parole to be alone with Meredith at any time, Charles finds a willing accomplice in his wife when it comes to blatantly disobeying this rule. Sharon's goal is to move him back into the family home as soon as she can and does not see any reason to inconvenience herself by having to supervise their interaction. Finding herself alone with her father at breakfast, Meredith tells him she is going to take a shower, then escapes out of her bedroom window and flees to Andy's home, begging his mother to hide her as her father is after her. Sure enough, he soon bangs on the front door but gives up on getting any answers out of Paula, Andy's mother, when she asks him if he has Jesus in his heart. Unsure about whether she can really trust Mrs. Mues, Meredith goes to her grandmother's house only to find her mother's car parked in the driveway. Her mother is furious and unrepentant about leaving Meredith alone with her father but her grandmother is less forgiving of his crime and genuinely has Meredith's best interests at heart. Longing to live with her grandmother, Meredith realizes that she cannot when her mother admits that they are trying to have another child; she feels a huge responsibility to protect the unborn child and believes that although going to live with Leah Louise would undoubtedly save her from her father, it would not save the children that would inevitably come next. When her grandmother leaves to visit with her attorney, Meredith leaves also and goes back to her family house. She encounters Nigel Balthazar, the retired policeman who had actually arrested her father for molesting her. Aware that this cycle is going to continue, he gives Meredith a smoke alarm and a teddy bear, both of which are hidden cameras that can catch Charles molesting her again. By sacrificing her own safety Meredith and Nigel both realize that she will be able to gather footage that will send him back to prison. No kid in town is safe, and nothing can be done about her father until he actually does something. She installs the cameras in her bedroom before heading over to Andy's home.
Nigel is also at the Mues home and Meredith asks him what really happened the night of her father's arrest. He reveals that when they arrived at the Shale home that night her father had the washing machine running, washing blood out of Meredith's sheets and claiming that her first period had been exceptionally heavy. He has blood all over his shorts and his legs. When they cuff him he is crying that he hates himself. Andy cannot listen to anymore and admits that he can't stay living across the street from his abuser.
Nigel and Mrs. Mues discuss the injustice of a situation that makes it impossible to get Charles out of Meredith's life unless he attacks her again.Meredith resigns herself to the fact that she has to allow this to happen in order to be free of him.Saying goodbye, Andy gives her the large oak Virgin Mother figure that watches over their house for protection.
Back at her family home, Meredith finds that she is required to go out to dinner with her parents. Her mother has bought her an ugly beige outfit to wear, hoping that making her daughter look unattractive will heighten her own beauty. They drive to Steakhouse Sam's but are turned away by Sam, the owner, who asks them to leave. Enraged, Charles tells Sharon and Meredith they all have to move away and start afresh somewhere else, which would remove Meredith from the only people protecting her. It focuses her mind on her task. Dropping Charles off at his apartment, they find the police in attendance because someone has vandalized the place and defecated on the steps. Charles wants to take Meredith home but is thwarted by Nigel who offers to walk her home, and by the attending police officer who needs to take a statement.
The following morning Sharon informs her that Charles will be moving in with them but warns her that this is their secret. With her parents gone for the day, Meredith is able to prepare herself for the dangerous events she knows are to come. Finding herself alone in the house with him the flowing morning, Meredith tells him that the three years of his incarceration were great; He gets too close to her, holding her hand and moving his hand further up her wrist. He tells her that he will never stop loving her till the day that he dies and despite her pleas to leave her alone tells her that whatever she says will not make any difference. She deliberately drops her mug of boiling coffee and uses the diversion to run upstairs to her bedroom but not before he has already pulled her close and started to rub and squeeze her. He follows, pulling her hair and hurting her on purpose after she tells him that she hates him. He seizes her ankles and tries to drag her towards him as she fumbles for her pocket knife. As he bends to pick it up she takes the oak Holy Mother statue in both hands and swings it at him as if it was a baseball bat.
Layer, Meredith's mother is arrested and charged with a number of offenses including leaving her daughter alone with a known pedophile. She is pregnant but undecided whether to keep the child. The oak statue damaged her father's spinal cord resulting in quadriplegia, unexplainable from a medical perspective but explainable with faith.Sharon is still devoted to him. Meredith is legally permitted to live with her grandmother. Talking to Andy on the telephone she learns that they never made it to Iowa as the healer had passed away before they were able to get there. Later, Nigel brings Andy and his mother to Meredith's grandmother's house, and she sees that he is standing up at last, like her, no longer paralyzed in any way by the crimes of her father.