I’ve told parts of this story before, but it needs repeating:
In January 1992, I assisted WT Writing Dept. senior staff writer, Eric Beveridge, to put together some cover-series articles which appeared in the July 8, 1992 Awake!. The title on the cover: "Women Deserving of Respect." The reason for the articles was this: While on vacation in 1991, I was told by some JW women of their mistreatment by their husbands and also by men in the congregation. So when I went back to Bethel I told Awake! Editor, Harry Peloyan what I had heard. After he assigned Eric to write the story, Eric conducted interviews with women in Bethel asking about the mistreatment of women in the organization. He was shocked to hear what these women told him. He said he had no idea this went on within the organization and also in Bethel. I still have my letters to Eric regarding my views, which, by the way, he asked for. Perhaps, one of these days, I'll put the letters on my website, www.watchtowerdocuments.com.
An extraordinary thing happened after the publication of the July 8, 1992 Awake! when many letters from JW women were received by Watchtower and the letters contained experience after experience of wife-abuse. And it was sickening to realize that over 75% of the letters had no signatures because the women who wrote them were afraid, and rightly so, that the Service Dept. would send their letters to the congregations they attended and they would be in for more beatings from their abusive husbands.
Here's a unique experience involving a Service Dept. staffer: Around 1991, in California, a story about one young JW made it into her town’s newspapers. She had been married for about a year and regularly beaten by her JW husband. Every time she told the elders, she heard: "Make your husband happier." "Cook foods he enjoys," or "Be a better cook," or "Be a better wife." Finally, one night, she fled her home when she was thrown against a glass coffee table and it split in half. Someone directed her to a woman's shelter. It was there she learned that she was an abused wife! She actually didn't know that's what she was. She thought the beatings were all her fault and she deserved them.
This young woman never went back home again but eventually became a volunteer worker helping abused women. A woman reporter picked up the story and called the Service Department to ask about the organization's viewpoint of wife beating. She spoke to Merton Campbell. She quoted him in the newspaper explaining why a husband beats his wife: "It takes two to tango!" Merton said. In other words, in the case of wife beating, it's the fault of both. This view of wife beating was typical of Merton. (He once told me the child sexual abuse accusations within the organization were part of a fad!) About a month later, a JW visitor to Bethel from California, in my presence, asked Merton why would he say, “It takes two to tango!”? He denied saying it and told us in no uncertain terms the reporter was a liar. He was so ill of ease and it was apparent he was trying to get away from us. Later the visitor called the reporter to tell her that Campbell denied he ever said such a thing, and the reporter said she had him on tape saying it.
I know for a certainty that the only reason the Society's 1980s policy discouraging elders from telling women to go back to their wife-beating husbands is because one Witness wife, who had had her leg bones fractured by her husband, was beaten so badly by him, after the elders told her she had to go back home, she died and the family sued the Society.
I wish I had the time today to write about one of the most egregious tales about mistreatment of women in this organization I've ever heard, but I'll leave that for another time.