By “A Survivor”
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by a former Jehovah’s Witness who is now a married mother in her late thirties. Many of the stories she has shared with me about her years growing up in a Jehovah’s Witness family are quite graphic and very upsetting. They are stories of verbal, physical and even extreme sexual abuse by her father, an active Jehovah’s Witness and elder for much of his life. For obvious reasons, her name and those of her family members are disguised along with the two boys mentioned in her story. I think her story has value to Jehovah’s Witnesses – and ex-JWs as well – as she uncovers some of the stress placed upon children who are forced to live different lifestyles and under very restrictive rules in some Jehovah’s Witness families.
I think being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness is a different experience than for someone who “studied” and became a JW later in their life. You are taught from a young age to look at the world and other people from a distance. You are also taught that you are superior to them because you know “The Truth.” Pretty soon they won’t be here. They won’t make it through “Armageddon” because they are all “sinners” and “worldly.”
I remember a time when I was a young child when I actually believed what I was being taught. Now that I think about it, I realize that it was really the stories of the Biblical and historical figures that fascinated me. As I got older, more and more of the doctrines, principles and rules made less and less sense to me.
I think if there had been more Witnesses my age, school would have been a lot different for me. There were very few kids in the local congregation, and they were either quite a bit younger or older and went to different schools than I did. I remember being the only Witness at my school for many years.
In elementary school I was set apart. First because of my “accent” (my first grade teacher told me that it was not “I went to the store”, but rather it was “I went to thee store”). I wouldn’t salute the flag each morning and I would also have to leave my class and sit out in the hall during all the birthday and holiday parties (talk about embarrassing!)
Later when I attended middle and high school I was not able to have any social contact with anyone outside of school. When you add in my love of reading, always raising my hand with the answer, and my agility impairment – all together they equalled my being considered as one giant oddball.