What was it like growing up in a Jehovah’s Witness Household? Read this !

by Hairyhegoat 10 Replies latest jw friends

  • Hairyhegoat

    I found this on another ex-jw site and it's well worth a read . .. It's a bit long though..

    Growing up in a Jehovah’s Witness household was very confusing. I learned very early on what hypocrisy meant. My mom did her best to instill christian values in me. I was a kid who craved attention and aimed to please so I did as I was told and truly had the fear of Jehovah in my heart. Everything I was told I took to heart and believed.

    My first taste of hypocrisy was when I was seven. I had learned we were to love everyone and Jehovah forgave those who were repentant. So I was very confused when I was punished for talking to a disfellowshipped sister who sat at the back of the hall. I hugged her because she looked sad and I even drew her a picture. She told me I wasn’t supposed to talk to her and I didn’t understand. I told her that would not be loving. My father dragged me out back to the coat room and whipped me with his belt and told me I couldn’t talk to her. When I told him through tears that wouldn’t be loving, I got a second round with the belt.

    I lived in a very strict house. I was expected to sit still through the 5 meetings a week and I was a pretty hyperactive child. I often got dragged out back of the Kingdom hall for being fidgety and was spanked or whipped. I screamed for Jehovah to save me one time, right in the middle of a public talk as I was being dragged out. My father was an ex marine and had a bad temper. He didn’t find that amusing. He was mentally, physically and sexually abusive.

    We were the role model family in the congregation. The “spiritually strong” family. If you can believe that. I also learned very early on not to express my true feelings. They often got me into trouble. I was fearful of anything outside the organization. Almost like I would catch some horrible disease if I did anything “worldly”.

    The pressure was always on to be perfect. We had a reputation to keep up. I joined the ministry school early. I was 8 or 9 years old. I was expected to have straight A’s in school as well and I was constantly being told by my father that I was fat and worthless and would never accomplish anything. Growing up I didn’t have a lot of friends because I was so perfect. They were afraid I would tattle on them for doing something they weren’t supposed to so they just left me out of everything.

    It wasn’t all bad. I do have some good memories. We always had people over on the weekends. We were kinda of the “go to” house when people had nothing to do. (That all ended when my parents got divorced.) And I did have one very close friend from age 6 who always stuck by me even through my adult years.

    School was rough. I never liked going. To make up for lack of being able to have friends, because they weren’t in my religion, I strived to be the teacher’s pet. Which only got me more teasing. Most of my teachers were more than accommodating, but I always had the occasional one who strived to make me miserable. My Elementary Art teacher would never give me side projects when holidays came around. She would just make me sit there and not do anything.

    I also wanted to do after school programs but those were not allowed. My only outside activities was dance. Which I loved and I only got to do that because my mom was the instructor. It was the only place I felt I could express myself. It was an outlet for all the frustration of everyday life. A place I could get lost a few hours a week and not think about how miserable I was.

    Do you think the Jehovah’s Witness Organization covers up child abuse?

    YES!!! My family is prime example. Once it was brought to the congregation elders it turned into a nightmare. My sisters came forward. I didn’t because I had no idea at first what was going on. I was 12 and my mother didn’t want me to know. She didn’t know I had been abused since I was 8. The elders proceeded to call my sisters liars because they were friends with my father and we were the role model family after all. When my sisters wouldn’t back down they didn’t know what to do. They told my mom she had no grounds for divorce and told her that by talking about it or going to the authorities, she would bring reproach upon Jehovah’s name. She went over their heads to the Circuit Overseer, who said she did have grounds. but still nothing was being done about my father. We also found out he had abused a few of my friends and sisters friends over the years. They all were kept silent as well.

    My father ended up with a publicly reproved. (basically a slap on the wrist) and told everyone it was for something he did before he married my mother and she was lying to get him in trouble. He remarried and moved to Chicago and was made an elder even though my sister wrote letter after letter to the society about him.

    I finally went to an elder when I was 15 and said I couldn’t forgive my father. He told me there would be no place in Jehovah’s kingdom for me if I couldn’t forgive. This devastated me. So I made my best effort. I flew out to see him. He had not changed and he was not sorry and therefore I could not forgive him. This sunk me into a deep depression which very nearly caused me to commit suicide. I really thought my family was a unique case. Right up until this year. But I’ve spoken to so many people who have had similar experiences. And when I found out the real statistics of covered up cases it made me physically sick. There are over 20,000 unreported child abuse cases and most of those never even received judicial reprimand from the organization.

    Growing up what was a common day for you as a Jehovah’s Witness child?

    Wake up, have breakfast with the family. Listen to my dad pray before the meal. Go to school. Come home and do homework, bible study for the meetings and if there was time a little television. Dinner with the family followed by the weekly bible reading and or study for the Watchtower on sunday. Constant reminders of always behaving and Jehovah was always watching. Try to avoid getting my father angry and then go to bed.

    How Often did you go to Church as a child?

    We went to Five meetings per week. Sunday was the 45 minute public talk followed by the Hour long Watchtower “discussion”. That counted as two meetings. Then we met in smaller homes on Tuesday for the book study and then Thursday evenings were the Theocratic Ministry School and Bible reading among other things. Then we always went door to door saturday mornings from 9-12 and then sometimes sunday afternoon after the Watchtower from 12-4pm.

    Why do they call it The Kingdom Hall instead of church?

    Jehovah’s Witnesses call their place of worship a Kingdom Hall because they want to keep separate from other religions. “False” religion meets in churches so Jehovah’s Witnesses meet in Kingdom Halls.

    What was it like on Holidays for you as a child? Why do JW’s not celebrate them?

    Holidays were awful when I was little. Halloween I did fine with because that was the “Devils” holiday. I did however feel very left out the next day at school when all the kids would come in with their candy. If there were any parties thrown at school I was sent to the library or the principles office till it was over. Same thing at Christmas.

    Ah, Christmas. What pleasant memories. We would travel to my Grandparents house every Christmas because that was the only time my father’s family got together. His brother and his two sisters and all the cousins. My Grandmother hated us. I still think she was the antichrist. My dad would put on his pompous airs. She was alway drunk and chain-smoking and blowing the smoke in my face and her nickname for me was “little shit”. So we would sit (my siblings and I) and watch all of our cousins open their presents. While we had none. She even went so far as to buy us presents one year and then proceed to say “Oh, yeah. You can’t have these.” And we watched her hand them to our cousins. So yeah, holidays were great. The evening would always end in a fight about religion and all of us storming out and heading home.

    I always had kids give me valentines. I refused them one time and made someone cry. So from then on out I just said thank you and put them in my bag. I would throw them out before either one of my parents would find them.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate holidays because most have pagan origins and were adopted into christianity to draw more people into the church. The only one they never could explain to my satisfaction and still don’t, is birthdays. There is one incident in the bible where John the Baptist gets his head cut off at a birthday party, so this must mean birthdays are bad. That was the reasoning. Oh, and they promote selfishness. I always looked at it as a celebration of life. Like anniversaries are a celebration of marriage. Marriage is honorable in God’s eyes, why isn’t birth.

    What are your current views on God and or spirituality? Do you believe in God or a Deity?

    I struggled with this for a very long time. I believe in God even after I left my religion. I guess I needed something to rage at. And boy did I rage long and hard. I felt I could not worship such an uncaring, hateful, jealous, revengeful, bigoted God who abandoned me at my most vulnerable point. He got an earful. I never did get struck down by lightning or have my tongue rot out of my mouth. I worked through this in my writing and I’ve concluded there is no God. An Almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing God anyway. I call myself an Atheist after a long and hard debate. I don’t know if there is anything out there other than us but like I said, not Almighty.

    I’m even fine if I’m proven wrong. I always say that if I’m wrong and I stand before him in judgment, he’s going to get another earful.

    I am a much happier, enlightened, tolerant, loving, caring individual after letting God go and I can’t even tell you the weight lifted off me after I gave him his walking papers. Everything makes so much more sense. I’ve learned to be happy and make the best of THIS life. THIS is my life and I’m not going to let the rest of it waste away on a pipe dream. I’m living here and now and don’t need a carrot dangled in front of me to be a good person.

    Spirituality is very different from God.

    New Oxford American Dictionary

    spiritual |'spiri ch oo?l|

    1 of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things : I’m responsible for his spiritual welfare | the spiritual values of life.

    • (of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.

    I think you can be spiritual without being religious.

    Growing up in The Jehovah Witnesses and being a Victim of Sexual Abuse by your father and being abandoned by the church Tell us how you endured and how you keep a positive attitude.

    I view myself as a strong person now. For a long time I never felt I was. I couldn’t stand up for myself and I always backed down from a fight. I always let people walk all over me. I think I had the lowest self-esteem on the planet. I guess this first started to turn around at age 18 when I stood my father down for the first time. That was a milestone and scary as hell, but very satisfying.

    My mother also was very controlling. Though she doesn’t see it that way. It was a big deal when I finally moved out at age 22.

    I have to attribute the person I am now to my husband. He really helped me work through the self-confidence issues. He’s been my backbone and life support through the last 16 years. I’m really not sure where I would be now without him. He got me into some therapy for a while which really helped. (I was never allowed that when I was younger.) My therapist got me into writing, which was so difficult at first but really beneficial. I always wanted to write a book but have never had the confidence to do anything with it. I’ve written several at this point and hope to pursue publishing as a goal.

    I started fading away from my religion in my mid twenties. I had just seen too much hypocrisy and too much hurt from so many people and I knew God was not listening to my prayers. That had been very clear to me since age 15. I was suffering panic attacks and couldn’t speak when going door to door. Sometimes I would skip service all together because I would either be panicking or vomiting. I was counseled for this. It was my duty, as a baptized witness of Jehovah, to go preach the word of God or be looked upon as unfavorable. (this blew my mind)

    My brother was the last straw. I went through a harrowing experience with him (a so-called christian). Then my mother telling me to leave my husband because Jehovah would find me a new one that was spiritual and getting no support from my local “Elders” in the congregation. That was all I could take. I never went back. I was 26. The first 6 months were very hard. I had such feelings of guilt because it had been drilled into me that this was the only true religion. I’m so fortunate to have had my husband. I also had developed quite a few phobias over the years that were not helping me. I probably would have had a nervous breakdown without him.

    One day I woke up and it was like a lightbulb went off. I said to myself “Why are you torturing yourself? You’ve never been happy and everyone has walked all over you all your life and wiped their shoes on you like a door mat. You are much better now. Get on with it.”

    So I did. I literally felt like my eyes were open. I laughed when I thought about the scripture with Eve after she ate of the tree and her eyes were open. That’s what it felt like and it was good. I so needed to stop letting my past control every aspect of my life. This was my life and I had to make the best of it.

    I started to make a list of things that I wanted to do but was too scared to do them. I set a goal to do just one a year. Nothing crazy, just things like:

    1. Ride an elevator without having a panic attack.
    2. Start my own Dance School.
    3. Speak to an audience without having my throat close up.
    4. Finish writing a book
    5. conquer my fear of heights


    Soon the one thing turned into several. I met a wonderful girl on-line during Nanowrimo (it’s novel writing month) you have to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. We kept in touch after the month was over and she told me about the diceman principle. You write down a list of 6 things to accomplish with in 24 hours. You roll the dice and which ever number comes up you do the corresponding activity. It was like and extreme version of what I was already doing. I pondered it and said we should do it weekly instead of daily. I wasn’t that brave. I must say. It was great. I recommend that activity to everyone.

    One of my recent goals was to start blogging and set up my own website. At the same time I started painting. This was extremely scary to me. I wasn’t one to bear my soul or personal information of any kind. I launched my website January 2009 and started painting the same time. I wish I had tried it sooner. It’s been the final touch on building self-confidence. It’s the one thing I don’t criticize about myself and I really don’t care who likes it and who doesn’t.

    Fun Facts

    Favorite Color: Purple

    Favorite Quote: “What good does it do to dwell on the past. My future is to move forward.”J. E. Hammar

    Favorite Food: My husbands mushroom risotto.

    Favorite Season: Summer

    How can reader’s best contact you?Via email[email protected]

    What did you think of this ? I hope it will give a true insight to just what goes on if you become a JW. All visitors to this site consider this before you take the plunge and become one of the cult members, It's like the words from that song Hotel California you can check in but you can never leave!


  • Mickey mouse
    Mickey mouse

    Some excellent insights, this one in particular resonated with me:

    I also learned very early on not to express my true feelings. They often got me into trouble.

    Parents are told to 'draw up' their children's deep thoughts. On the rare occasion I shared them, I quickly learned it wasn't wise.

    For example:

    "Did you enjoy the meeting?"

    "You don't feel that you miss out by not celebrating birthdays do you?" (on the householder's doorstep with one arm up my back...etc.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    This person has extraordinary writing ability. I always thought I was the only one, that I was born bad (as my mom once shook the living daylights out of me and exclaimed). She demanded to know why I was so bad. I tried so hard to think of any acceptable reason so she would stop shaking me It was far worse than any beating. I said I was just born bad. Jehovah did it. Mark of the beast. She loved me. Sometimes our family system drove her over the deep end.

    I wonder how many of us here thought we were fundamentally flawed b/c we could not act as mature adults at age four or five. My sister was slightly brushing the chair in front of here at a convention. A Bethelite being too familiar with a girlfriend took off his belt and handed it to my mother. A little toddler, brushing her feet, not banging them, deserved a beating. I can just imagine Jesus doing that.

    I had a rape monitoring system in place by a social welfare org. While he was preaching antiCatholic Witness dribble, his real reputation was for being a pervert. When they could not find family willing to take me far enough from him, I could never be home alone with him. I had to travel far after school to meet my mother after work. Hung out in the main library. My brother was brawny so I could be there if he were home but I could not insist that he be home. Looking back, I was Stoic. Everything I loved was stripped from me if I made the mistake of acknowledging that I liked something. Good bye Beatles, radio, Star Trek. I did not get clinically depressed. Rather, I moved onto another area to have some fun.

    I fought for my very life on several occasions. Once by brother begged my father not to beat me. He cried for me. It was not any assertion, more like an animal gets upset. The next moments were utter terror. I was going to be the cause of my brother's death. The same brother my father dangled over a cliff with cerebral palsy and heavy braces when he was three. Bad things happen in every religion. My gut is that the Witness culture of deference to authority, blind deference, intensifies any violence within the family. If other kids are unsure what to make of abuse, how did we reason? Jehovah is all-poowerful. God is great. God is good. He will smite you for brushing your feets against a chair as a toddler. Your father will rape you. Anything less than an A+ means a very severe beating but school is worthless.

    I don't understand it all. My gut is usually correct. Fundamentally, active JWs can't have much respect for themselves since they have turned over to their hearts and minds to a cult. Sadly, a cult is more than prejorative here. I'm aware of all the problems with the word cult. No other word is so accurate. Now I go on what I call a dog test. My father beat dogs, kicked them in the head, etc. Stories of his abuse must have reached legends along the canine news route. Strange dogs would be exposed to a massive crowd of people. The dogs would head for only one person to bite. My father. I feel so damaged by my childhood that I do not trust myself to put up boundaries properly. I hate abuse but I also believe I somehow deserve it. So I use dogs as my barometers to people.

    My father died as I was ready to enter a foster home to go to college. Our mom bought us a dog. We showered love on her. She was a spunky terrier. Her willfullness was her best attribute. Rascal, an appropriate name, was so zany. It was beyond words to finally breathe and not spend hours up afraid of demons, parental or Satanic.

  • Ding

    Somehow I don't think this sister's testimony will be featured in the next "Jehovah's Happy Organization" article to appear in the Watchtower.

  • mummatron

    So sad. Reading stories like this just prove to me that the bOrg is no more spirit directed than say, oh, a tin of boot polish 'cause if they were, then all the abusers masquerading as 'loving brothers & sisters' would be properly dealt with by both the elders and the authorities.

  • Hairyhegoat

    Band on the Run. I never new what kind of reaction this post would get ! But yours is another true eye opener It always gets to me when I read post like yours. I hope the post didn't upset you ? But when I read it I had to share it on this site also.


  • Paralipomenon

    I remember in service as a child when the householder asked if we were part of any charities. I proudly mentioned a recent earthquake where we sent truckloads of aid. He followed up asking if we helped everyone who needed it or just witnesses.

    This comment bugged me so after we got back to the car I asked why we didn't help others first, since it would obviously be an excellent witness. The elder tried reasoning with me in the form of an illustration.

    If a house was burning down that had both my mother and a stranger inside and you could only rescue one, who would it be?

    I quickly replied, the stranger, since my mom already has the resurection hope.

    He scowled and changed the subject.

    It's amazing how different the organization looks through the eyes of a child.

  • cantleave

    Interesting, hard hitting account!

  • Vanderhoven7


  • TotallyADD

    Good job. I started to read it yesterday but found it hard to get through. Being a born-in and a survivor of sexual/physical abuse from the P.O. I was in as a child. It causes very strong feelings. Don't feel bad about posting this. It is this kind of things that will stir up feelings in people and get them to thinking and asking questions. Your story and I feel 10,000's more is a very common thing in the JW cult. They have alot to anwser for. I feel the generation of children in this cult for the last 50 years will be eternally scarred. This is what you get when you have a organization that is runned by sociopaths. This story hurts but help you and many more to move forward and heal. Thanks again. Totally ADD

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