The bravery shown by SG in sharing her experience is beyond words. It is not easy reading and readers are advised of this in advance. SG thank you for sharing this with us, I know yours and others accounts will only help people understand that this cult is not at all what it outwardly appears to be. Thank you again – Chris.
I was born into the cult in 1975, my Mum used to tell me she was so scared when she found out she was pregnant because she was led to believe that Armageddon would be here in the fall of 1975, she was hoping that I would be born in the ‘new system’, something which she totally denies ever saying now but that is cognitive dissonance for you.
My mum came from an unhappy abusive childhood, she met my Dad a jack the lad cockney, when she was 16 and married him when she was 17 years old to flee from the abuse. It was after she had my sister that a JW came knocking at her door. My parents were living in one bedroom with little money and Dad having to work all hours. The JW left my Mum with the bait, paradise earth, living forever, what vulnerable person would not take that bait? She was hooked and they reeled her in. My Dad was totally against my Mum attending the meetings and studying with them. Eventually he realised that he had lost her to them, I don’t think that he wanted to lose my Mum completely so joined her, though he was never really a devout JW, he liked a drink, still loved betting on the horses, if you put him in a room with non JW’s you would never know he was religious man, but he towed the line in front of my Mum and at the meetings.
Right from birth I was attending meetings weekly, and went door knocking with my parents. I didn’t realise that I was any different to anyone else my age until I started attending school with only having other JW to associate with up till then. I couldn’t sit in assemblies, why did other kids celebrate birthdays and Christmas and I couldn’t? The only answer I could give my school friends was the one that had been implanted in my very young impressionable brain, Jesus never celebrated his birthday and Jesus was not born on Christmas day, Father Christmas is not real. No wonder why I didn’t have many friends at school.
My first experience of sexual abuse was when I had just started school, so I was about five years old. My parents were friends with another family who were JW’s, their father was a ministerial servant and they lived not far from us, often visiting each other’s house. They had three children, two girls and a boy he must have been about 13 years old. When playing around their house son, always took me to hide with him when playing hide and seek either under the bed or in the wardrobe that’s when he used to kiss me on the lips and was touching me inappropriately, saying we were playing ‘Mums and Dads’. I didn’t know any different, I thought it was normal. I was too young to know this was wrong so never said anything to my parents. A year or so later they moved away to London and never saw them again.
During this time, my parents were friends with an older couple both JWs, him a ministerial servant, they had no children. They were from Essex where my Mum was originally from. They would come down on their motorbike as stay with us quite a bit. I used to call them Nanny and Granddad because I hardly ever saw my grandparents. ‘Granddad’ took quite a shine to me; my Mum thought it was because they never had children as to the reason why he would spoil me every time they came down. Little did she know that he was grooming me! There were many occasions that I remember that he sat me on his lap and was rubbing himself against me or asking me to give granddad a big kiss. The most memorable time was when I was a bit older, my Dad was at work and his wife said to my Mum that *** would look after me while they went shopping. *** took me upstairs to my bedroom because he wanted to play my Barbie dolls with me, when we got up there he had a different agenda. Doing things to me that a child of 7 should never experience, it felt like forever before my Mum came back from shopping. Needless to say I was threatened not to say anything, it would be our secret and gave me money to keep quiet and I did. Funny, but that was the last time they came to stay with us. We would only see them at District Conventions and sit with them in the Hard of Hearing section as his wife was deaf, or meet them at lunch times.
It was just before I started senior school that we attended a District Assembly at Southampton, it was the same year that the Young People Ask book was released, god I remember it well. My parents wanted to sit with *** and his wife ****. When I laid eyes on him it all came flooding back what he had done to me; I felt sick, the realisation that what he did was wrong, probably because I was a bit older. After lunch I wanted to get as far away from him as possible and was allowed to sit with a friend. My parents had no idea and just thought I didn’t want to sit with old people as I was growing up.
About a month later and just after starting senior school I started to get sick, doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me as all tests came back negative, after 5 weeks at home not being able to get out of bed they admitted me to hospital for observation. I was in hospital for two weeks, and loved it! I was helping the nurses, they even sent me swimming in the hydra pool every other day, and whilst I was in the hospital they slowly reintroduced me back to school. Their prognosis was that I had a very young mind as I was still playing with dolls etc and the change going to big school was too much for me. Of course I had a bloody young mind; I was being sheltered from any normality, not being able to hang out with peers my age. They ended up sending me to a child psychologist. What I now know was that I had a nervous breakdown, because of keeping this dirty secret. I had lost so much schooling they put me in a group below the one I was in.
It wasn’t until after a couple of sessions with the child psychologist that I told my Mum what happened to me. She was distraught, racked with guilt for leaving me with him and angry that he could betray her trust. All this time I felt that I had done something wrong that I was some sort of sick person, it was a huge relief to get it out in the open but also very scary. My parents immediately called Elder T and disclosed to him what I had said, they never phoned the police. He came around and questioned me and that was even scarier than telling my parents, as Elders are the authoritarians; it was like I was the one in the wrong. He came to the conclusion that as it happened a long time ago and there were no witnesses that nothing would be done. – So he was some kind of qualified expert then? – Chris
The following years I was sent some pioneers to study with me as they felt I was spiritually weak (No shit Sherlock!!) I was about 14 when Sister Popular Pioneer and her Elder Fireman husband took me under their wing as I had been caught by Brother Zealous kissing a boy from school, my parents knew before I even got back from school. I was classed as bad association to all the young ones in the congregation so I was loner, rarely got invited out. Whilst I was staying around their house for some reason I had explained to them in tears what had happened to me. The Elder went upstairs to make a phone call, I thought he was calling my parents or the police, but they never told my parents or the police, he was on the phone to the legal department at Bethel which they are instructed to do in the Secret Elders Manual. The following morning I was discouraged from going to the police, I was told that it was being sorted out and what would make Jehovah happy would be for me to put faith in him as *** will never get into the new system. Trusting them I did exactly what my mentors said, not to tell anyone else, pray more, study more and work towards baptism.
I got baptised when I was 15 years old totally through peer pressure, I even really understood their doctrines other than I would die at Armageddon if I was not baptised, also in my mind was this perceieved justice for my abuser, I would live forever and he would die a deserved slow painful death.
When I was just turning 17 I started ‘courting’ a brother. It was not long before we were unchaperoned and our teenage hormones got the better of us, quite a few times! LOL Unfortunately we got found out and had to stand before a judicial committee. I was picked up by the Elders and taken to my now ex (because his family put an immediate stop to our relationship) boyfriends house, I will never forget how scared I was. In his living room there was my ex boyfriend, his Dad (because he was an Elder so that gave him the privilege to sit in and hear the dirty details) and 3 Elders. Me? I was alone with no one to support me; it felt like sitting in the dock of a court giving evidence. They asked me most intimate details like; how did I touch his penis, did he insert his fingers in my vagina and how many before we had sex, fucking perverts! I felt like they were blaming me for instigating it, it was a horrible experience. For fucks sake, we were of legal age, in a relationship doing something that came naturally and was healthy in a growing relationship, which should have been private between us. But I had to tell 3 Elders and his Dad every detail and made to feel like a cheap slut. We ended up being privately reproved but they held a special needs talk at the meeting about sex out of wedlock. It’s kind of a public humiliation, they mention no names, but everyone seemed to know that it was about me.
It wasn’t until I went to Bournemouth assembly that same year that something would just snap inside me and change my life. Whilst walking around at lunch time I came face to face with my abuser, now an Elder. How the fuck does that happen!? I froze, I didn’t know what to do, I ended up running as far away as possible from him. My little bit of faith I had left died that day.
I started rebelling, and smoking, which my parents then told the elders. I came home from work and 3 Elders came around for a judicial committee meeting, something I had not known about. I hid in the bathroom refusing to come out. It took nearly an hour before I was convinced to open the door, one Elder came in and told me that they knew I had been smoking and gave me an ultimatum. Did I want to serve Jehovah and keep a relationship with my parents or did I want to serve Satan for the short time left and die at Armageddon. I was crying and didn’t want to give them an answer (though the thought of being in Satan’s world was more appealing), I didn’t want to lose my family. The following meeting it was announced that I was disfellowshipped. So there you have it, I was sexually abused by one of their appointed men, and nothing happens, it fucks me up in the head and I start rebelling because they did fuck all, then I get disfellowshipped for SMOKING! What a joke!
With no real social skills I ended up jumping from the frying pan into the fire with my controlling soon to be husband, we had 2 beautiful children but he was abusive, controlling and an alcoholic. I couldn’t bear the abuse anymore and tried to leave, he ended up violently raping me. I was moved into a Woman’s Refuge by the Police having to give up a job that I loved and that actually gave me self worth. My case went to Crown Court where he was acquitted as it was my word against his despite evidence of bruising all over my arms where he pinned me down!! While in the refuge I started to self destruct, you name it I did it, drugs, drinking, sleeping with strangers, I was at rock bottom. I had been abused by 2 men and both of them had got away with it, I had absolutely no self worth, I was just empty.
I met someone who helped pull me back into reality, he showed belief in me and I fell in love with him, it was short lived though as he went into the army and we split up. I went back down hill, had a breakdown, and got addicted to pain killers and self harming. I then met my now fiancé, during the past 7 years he showed me love and belief in me; I quit the painkillers and got my act together. For the first time in years I had confidence in myself and got a job, which I’m still at and love. We used to sit and talk for hours on subjects including religion and I still held the JW beliefs but disagreed with the Elder arrangement after all they let me down. But over time my fiancé would drop little seeds that made me think , eventually he said you have a pc with internet babe, why do you do some research . I Googled Jehovah’s Witnesses and when the search results came up with other victims of child abuse; I must have been on that pc every day reading experiences the same as mine. I couldn’t believe how much the organisation had covered so many cases of child abuse. I further researched their doctrines and probably now know more in the last few years than I ever did in the 17 years I was trapped in the cult.
Finding out that I had been lied to took its toll, along with the hurt, anger, and betrayal. My fiancé suggested that I went to a therapist to discuss everything I had been through, it was the best decision of my life and really helped me accept myself and to move forward. Unfortunately during this time my Dad was dying of cancer, I was with him when he passed away. The following morning Elder T (first Elder told abuse to) came around to see my Mum, when I saw him to the door, he turned to me and said “SG come back, your far too good to be left in this world”, I told him “there was no way, that religion tried to destroy me, I was let down so bad”, I couldn’t believe it when he responded “Well it was only one person wasn’t it?” Oh my fucking god, did he really just say that? I looked him in the eye and told him “No, there were many that let me down”. From that moment on I knew I was mentally free from the chains of that cult, I was able to see that he still viewed me as that vulnerable little girl that was brain washed. I was not scared to stand up to the Elder and tell him no! I felt so proud of myself and realised how far I had moved on. My Dad’s funeral was mainly attended by Jehovah’s Witnesses, not one of those JW’s would look at me or give me kind words of condolence, because of being disfellowshipped. I could only feel sorry them, any normal natural feeling of compassion for their fellow human being had been zapped from them by the cult. I wondered what they would say if they truly knew my experience, would they still ignore me?
Today, I have two beautiful children…well teenagers now! I am very proud of them and the young adults that they are becoming and a loving fiancé. My past has been a rollercoaster of emotion, deception and painful memories, my future well it can only get better because I am now in control of my life, I am able to make decisions based on my values, I am a strong person and no one is going to bring this girl down again!
Again thank you SG for sharing your experience with everyone, I am sure it will help someone who has gone through a similar experience to understand that there is hope. – Chris