Welcome to the second part of my ‘escape’ story. This has taken me some time to put together, because it has not been easy to recall elements of it to memory and then to put in to writing. It doesn’t flow chronologically as did part one, but that’s the way it is.
Day to day life
As best I can remember it, I had a pretty ‘normal’ JW upbringing. My Dad was a painter and decorator, but often did other work when the business was quiet. I used to look forward to him coming home every night, unless I had been naughty which meant I got a smacked bum! He never hit us with anything else, unless we were really naughty then the ‘threat’ of a horse whip was enough to get us in to line! This happened mostly when he was trying to study the Watchtower prepared literature, the stuff parents had to use to brainwash their children. We were kids, so we played up, studying was boring! To be honest this never changed for me as I grew older and my schooling suffered because of it. I remember being 19 or 20 and dreading coming home from work once, because I had to study for the Sunday Meeting (on a Friday night).
This used to be a strange thing for Jehovah’s Witness families. You weren’t supposed to have one. We did, albeit a second-hand one. But it was very carefully policed by Mum and Dad – initially at least. We couldn’t watch things like Tom & Jerry (too violent) the Smurfs (too magical), or He-Man (violence and magic) and I recall the shock when ‘The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s” were on TV! So we missed a hell of a lot of good stuff growing up. It’s funny because I inherited that TV much later and on it I saw my first naked woman, having a right good shag! Brilliant.
Anyway when a friend of my Dad who was an Elder (and a gadget freak) got one it was all ok. So we got a bigger better one. Happy days indeed. Though every Saturday we missed all of the good stuff because we had to go door knocking :(. My siblings and I got quite good at making up excuses not to go out, but they rarely worked. Funny times.
Wedding no. 2
My first marriage was a total failure and a complete mess, see part one of my story, so when I met the current Mrs. Welch I was very open and honest with her that I wasn’t ready to settle down. This was good because it set a precedent for our relationship – we talk about anything and everything to each other good stuff and bad stuff, gripes, fantasies, and have absolutely no secrets. So refreshing by comparison to every other guarded relationship I have ever had.
You’ll recall bitch, sorry wife, number one had taken my house so when I left there and moved in to my folks I had nothing other than a sports bag full of clothes. I then met the current Mrs. Welch and ended up moving in to her flat in Bournemouth. Unfortunately it was in an area that had a few less desirable people living in it and I had just been given a brand new £30,000 car from work which meant my own 5 series had to be parked on the road all day (never going to happen). I recall watching an arrest involving the SWAT team, 12 cop cars, and an overhead Helicopter to arrest a rather huge meat-man-mountain of a drug dealer, and then bumping into said drug dealer on the stairs after a shopping trip. Awkward!
We also found out my wife to be was pregnant so it was time to move out and find a house. We found one opposite Boscombe bus station, next door to the Vegetarian Restaurant, and to the other side Islamic terrorist drug dealers. Aside from asking them to turn down the music a few times the terrorists were really OK. The Veggies were absolute cu*ts though.
Let me explain; my 18 month old daughter was ill one night and was crying, we’d both been up to her and she had had Calpol etc. She had fallen asleep finally, but kept waking herself up and crying herself back to sleep. On about the sixth or seventh time, at 3am, our Veggie neighbour decided enough was enough and clearly wanted to assist by attempting to kick our front door down. By the time I had got some shreddies on and run down stairs to assist his entry, he had done a runner. I did call after him as to enquire if he wanted to talk, but alas he must’ve gone back to his bed. Shame because I never saw him again.
So we made a decision to leave. I still miss things like when the house would go so dark you had to switch on a light in the front room every time a bus stopped out front – even at midday in the summer!
By now my eldest boy had been born, and after 8 weeks he had to be rushed Southampton Hospital as he’d had an aneurysm on his brain. It was so big when they operated that the surgeons photographed it for their journals. Apparently they hadn’t seen anything like it in adults let alone a new-born.
I was disfellowshipped, which meant everyone that I knew, my entire support network was gone, but a good friend of mine who had JW parents was in contact. When I was speaking to him his father, an Elder, came on the phone and had some very kind words to say, which meant a lot.
Of course I totally thought this was my fault. God was punishing me because I had sinned, was living out-of-wedlock and had been disfellowshipped because of it. But what did my little lad ever do wrong? I prayed god forgive me, to save my boy and send me help. Things were desperate and I knew I was clutching at straws. I even saw a few JW’s I knew from Southampton and chatted – boy were they surprised to see me!
Everything went a bit blurry; my son was successfully operated on, but I lost my job because I had been away from work for an extra 6 weeks after paternity, which meant rent couldn’t be paid. We had to move out so ended up back with my folks in Basingstoke. Living in sin, in a JW house, and back with your parents, with two kiddies one of whom has had a major operation. Fun.
So to the wedding day, my sisters had both been asked to be bridesmaids, but because I was disfellowshipped decided they couldn’t do the job – fair enough, but why take MONTHS to decide this and then let us know? Their loss. But it hurt to see my Wife so hurt by her new family, after all she had done nothing wrong I was the ex-JW blood-eating-heavy-metal-loving-scientifically minded-atheist believer-headfucked-cow killing-satanist (some of that isn’t true by the way).
Anyway the JW side of the family attended the ceremony, some coming all the way from Essex. They stayed for the ceremony, and the photograph’s. Then as we sat down for the meal I noticed my youngest sister and her husband had left, gone back to Essex! Apparently the JW Bible says that if someone is disfellowshipped you should not associate with them, let alone eat with them. I guess Satan blessed the day.
Thank you Satan, we’re still going strong!
We enquired about a council house in Basingstoke, but we had to be Polish, unmarried, unemployed, and scum. So because we didn’t qualify on any of these levels they couldn’t help us. But this didn’t matter because god’s will had other ideas and the place my folks were moving to was huge and could accommodate us.
My parents were clearly under the impression that I would repent of my sins, turn around and come back to being a mindless JW puppet, just like the bible account of the prodigal son [gags at the thought]. After all, god had saved my little boy, I had made things right by marrying my sinful lover (she still is you know, but all for me 😮 ). So we moved to Canvey Island.
We stayed with my folks for just 6 months, then we moved to our own place. It was the best thing really, we were not happy, none of us. For example, Me and the Mrs had to have a Christmas in our room with the kids, not good. Though I do recall Mum and Dad enjoying our Christmas meal! 🙂
Shortly after my sister moved back home and stayed there with her now husband and their daughter for something like 4 years, poor Mum and Dad!
Eventually after living in Basildon for a period of 4 years, where I made a few good friends, we ended up back in beautiful Poole.
I recall me and my ex once went to a party, somewhere in Basildon as it happens, the deal was I drove there from our home in Old Basing, and she drove back. Unfortunately, within 15 minutes she had ‘forgotten’ and was downing a bottle of Merlot. So I’d have to drive back to our home in Old Basing, nice. So I am at a party with people I don’t know, watching my ‘wife’ getting drunk on cheap wine and getting touchy feely with her male ‘friends’. Obviously it’s not the JW thing to punch some fuckers lights out, so I accosted the young chap after he’d had a piss and gave him and his mate some advice. I must’ve been pretty convincing as they stayed away from her, and me, for the rest of the evening. Much to her disgust.
I took her to task once when she was sober, and practically showing her tits to some 16-18 year old JW lads. That went well. Fortunately members of her family were looking on and so she kept her gob shut until we got back home, imagine the pleasant car ride home that evening! Apparently I was nowhere near as spiritual as these young lads and they would be better men than I would be. Pressure again on me to move on in the congregation – something I had absolutely no control over! After all I had been a pioneer and they hadn’t even used me, not even after the Circuit Overseer told them too!
Of course, with no responsibilities or experience in the real world or in the JW world, these young kids were bound to be better men than I could ever be!
Her third husband is 12 years her junior, she met him at a JW party. Says a lot about her doesn’t it? Good luck son!
As I have mentioned previously the JW way is to door knock for potential victims, and this starts from the moment you are born. Well at least a month after anyway. Your mother is pressured to get out there and share in the door knocking rather than recovering from giving birth. They say that it is not mandatory, but you don’t get along so well if you don’t. If you are a chap, you will never have any privileges of service within the congregation, something they preach to you all men should have. So it is mandatory really.
The ultimate goal is to give up your job, your home, your life and become a Pioneer. This is a muppet who spends a minimum amount of 60-90 hours per month in ‘gods service’ knocking on people’s doors and irritating them to have a bible study and ultimately become a fellow JW.
You meet all types, most are polite, some not so. I was with a friend one who insisted we went in to the local gypsy camp to speak to a gent he had met in the town. I was scared shit-less – though it was ok – longest 15 minutes of my life, and he was oblivious! A friend also got assaulted, and I have been thrown off of people’s property – i wouldn’t mind but all I said was ‘Hello!’
You are out there all weathers, at your own cost (only the literature is free). You pay for your car maintenance, insurance, tax, petrol, suit cleaning – you have to look immaculate as you’re representing the big J.
But that isn’t enough for the Elders. They constantly check your monthly report. See Fig 1.
So you are instantly under pressure financially and from the Elder arrangement who should be motivating and encouraging but are instead breathing down your neck and firing questions at you when you don’t meet their targets.
- Why are you short on hours?
- Your placements are down, why?
- Your studies are below the national average, why?
- Why are your studies not progressing?
- Why are you not at every field service arrangement?
My decision to pioneer was because of pressure from Elders, the culture I was brought up in and my dear Mum I guess her goals for me were baptism, pioneering, Bethel, marry a sister, bring up JW kids, be an Elder etc. Most parents want that.
I was 18 but was mentally naive, perhaps more like 14. I was far too trusting of people, I still am to some degree, I believe we all have an element of good in us.
And this was to be a major part in the worst day of my life.
Step back slightly by a year.
I was 17 and at work. A good friend introduced me to a new bloke. He was Cambodian and seemed totally lost. He told me stories of torture in his homelands, how he and what remained of his family were desolate and he was starting a new life, for them and him. He was single and was over here with his brother, his younger sister and elderly mother. The council had housed them and he had managed to get a job where I worked. I felt sorry for him and my good nature kicked in, I took him under my wing.
We became friends. Soon we began to talk about deeper things in life (his stories lead me to believe he had been through a lot) so we inevitably started to talk about the bible and my beliefs. He seemed genuinely interested. I was so pleased to have his friendship I didn’t push it.
I took him and his brother along to the cinema and out bowling a few times, my brother came along too. Four lads having a laugh. He didn’t have much but he would bring small gifts, mainly things he had cooked.
He then said he wanted to know more about the JW’s as he had heard negative things, so I began by taking him along to the meetings. His brother came along too. We then began to have an informal study. He requested a bible and the literature in his own language which I was able to source for him, and his mother who loved to read.
One day at work he asked me if I wanted to come over to his for a traditional Cambodian meal and watch some Cambodian films. He was also keen to show me his artwork. I had seen some of it and it was very good, mainly landscapes from his homelands. He also requested a proper bible study.
I was thrilled, it was the first time I had properly studied the bible with anyone, and this guy was really keen, and he was my friend too.
He asked me over the following weekend, so I duly had everything prepared and in my rucksack. He was only around the corner so I cycled over, something I enjoyed doing, and he suggested as he wanted me to sample his home brew.
We had a meal, and watched some kung fu film in Cambodian, I had no idea what was going on but it was kind of cool. Then he switched the TV on to his Mum’s favourite program and suggested we go upstairs to study. I offered to wash up but his brother was taking care of that.
We went upstairs.
The room, his room, smelt weird, sort of musky flowery smoky. I thought it was the jos-sticks. I felt light-headed and asked if we could open the sash curtains and a window. Instead he gave me his home-brew; something he said was a traditional ‘Cambodian drink’, not wanting to offend my host I had a sip. It tasted sweet like a liqueur, it was alright. I felt fuzzier.
Then the sexual abuse began. I was shocked, frightened, embarrassed and frozen to the spot. I remember that there was a knock at the door and I tried to get away, he pushed me back down and began talking to his brother in his native tongue. His brother joined in.
I finally got free.
I recall grabbing my coat and rucksack and jumping on my bike. His mother said something (she never spoke English) and then shouted upstairs. I heard him laughing, but she had a look of confusion on her face. I ran out and cycled away for home.
I felt sick, I cried all the way, but couldn’t go home. How had this happened? How could I have let this happen? My head was pounding and I threw up, probably the incense or whatever it was and the drugged drink he gave me.
Eventually I managed to pull myself together and made it home. I said that the food had made me ill to my Mum and showered and went to bed. I feigned illness for the next week then left my job.
Why did god let this happen? HOW could a ‘god of love’ let this happen?
Was it because I would swear when angry or frustrated?
Was it because I had a hidden porn stash and masturbated?
I can’t be doing enough in his service.
It was because I was not good enough.
God was testing me.
I decided I should pioneer and finished the baptismal questions, and began in earnest to please my god and forget the whole thing. I couldn’t tell anyone. How could I?
I had nightmares, so I feigned illness the next day. I became a loner. I kept mute.
I honestly believe if I had not been brought up as a JW I would never have been in that position.
Needless to say my pioneering later ended after years of going through the motions.
I was unsure of who I was any more. Was this normal? No I knew it was wrong. But was I gay? No. But to make sure I had an affair with a married woman who I worked with who was a good friend and was having a rough time at home – she had married very young after becoming pregnant so we were both in a bad place. I realised I was a victim and not abnormal.
Years later whilst popping in to a shop, I saw the perverted bastard. I had my step son with me who was about 7, I felt so scared and stick, yet he carried on like nothing had ever happened. I got us the hell out of there.
I was shaking and finally told my ex that evening about my secret. It made us closer for a while. I think that was her excuse for an out in the relationship. But still I told no one else.
Eventually, though, after another unrelated incident involving a Witness child I felt I should say something. So I approached a friend who was an Elder. He stopped me midway and called another Elder in, I presume only to hear the sordid details.
There response was “Well he is not a JW, and it did happen years ago, so there’s nothing we can do”
Not once was I advised to involve the Police, there was no compassion – they didn’t have a clue.
I died that day all over again.
If you are reading this now and have had a similar experience click to read this; Who_can_a_man_tell and then get some professional help. There is NO shame in speaking to a therapist.
If you are reading this and don’t know what to make of it, it may be an idea to read the above document too, or these;
I moved on with my life and am happily married to my soul mate and love of my life. I have five gorgeous children. I drink when I want, I say ‘fuck’ alot, I smoke cigars when I want and I am proud of my achievements since leaving the cult. I am catching up on a lot of wasted time.
Currently I may be signed off from work, through mental and physical illness. But I am learning a lot about myself.
If you are reading this and are an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and it has helped, then I implore you to at least consider putting your experiences, however difficult, on to paper. If you feel you would like to share these with others then please email me at email@example.com and I will post your story to help others. Your anonymity is guaranteed. Share this blog, tell others. It may help them too.
Thank you for reading. Now you know me a hell of a lot better than most.
Please leave your comments below, they help – Chris
This entry posted 7th November 2012 – whilst listening to Atreyu, drinking Jack Daniels, and smoking B&H silver.