S&R: 00DAD .... Are you not doing the right thing still though?
Yes of course, but that doesn't mean it isn't hard and painful. Yesterday was one of my son's 21st birthday. For years we talked about sharing a fine single malt scotch on his 21st. Even though he doesn't talk to me and hasn't in years, I sent him a bottle of Bunnahabhain 12 year old. I had it shipped via FedEx. He refused it and it came back to me.
How do you think that makes me feel?
S&R: I did not deny that some may lose people they love.
In your OP you said, "I understand the difficulty of family reprisal. But in reality if you do it right, it just doesnt happen to the extent that WT would like you to fear."
In reality for many of us--and I speak from first hand experience--it is WORSE than what the "WT would like you to fear."
Your lack of empathy is surprising. I'm glad it worked out well for you. It doesn't and hasn't for a great many of us. There is NO honorable way to leave the WTBTS/JW.
S&R: I really think it is a misconception to say leaving the JW's will destroy you and/or your family.
You think incorrectly. Again, I'm glad it worked out well for you. You are the exception.
S&R: But now you are teaching your children that freedom of thought is right, that questioning is right and that what the WT is doing is wrong ! Also you are now providing a source for them if they are to ever seek an alternate view!
This is true and I try to remind myself that on a daily basis. But the day-to-day reality is that I miss my children very much. I know that 2/3rds of all "Born-in JWs" eventually leave. But that doesn't guarantee either of my sons ever will. I spoke yesterday to a 53 year old "still-sort-of-in, but in-the-process-of-fading" member here on JWN. It took him nearly five decades to wake-up and learn TTATT. He lost his first wife to cancer years ago, possibly unnecessarily as she refused medical treatments that now would be considered a "conscience matter" but at the time would have been a DFing offense.
S&R: I have no doubt it is impossibly difficult.
Not impossibly, but extremely. This is the first empathetic thing you've said.
S&R: Do you consider returning and living the lie for their contact?
For the first two years I was out, I did. In fact, I "lived a lie" pretending to be something I was not for the last five or six years I was still in. Eventually I couldn't stand it any longer. Ironically, when I pretended to be a good little elder, everyone loved me (or at least they pretended to); now that I am no longer a hypocrite all my former friends and JW family members shun me. How about that!
About a year ago I realized that "returning" and pretending would be wrong. It nearly drove me crazy. I certainly injured my psyche. I'm only beginning to heal. I still have great anger and resentment over the betrayal and hypocrisy of the GB and all the WTBTS leadership.
The answer to your OP question is that they are held hostage by the threat of shunning. Maybe for some it will not be realized as bad as they fear. Still they fear it nonetheless. The FEAR IS WHAT KEEPS THEM IN!
For many, that fear is real.
S&R: Do they have children?