Running a successful support group for abused people has got to be difficult - by it's nature it will require a lot of good honest communication, empathy for the trying situations exiting JW's are put in, and a willingness to share the burden and with those who have had their lives turned upside down by the organization. Not to mention the ever-present threat of litigation from the organizations doing damage.
We're talking about a lot of responsibility here.
I'm afraid what we have with the AAWA is a group that... just wants to bash the WT and hide behind avatars as though they are still in the anonymous internet user mindset. There may be a place for that - and that place is not in a professional, funded organization.
Point 1: What Is the AAWA's Real Goal?
By it's name, the AAWA is not anti-shunning. The AAWA is not anti-protection of pedophiles. The AAWA is not anti-blood policy. The AAWA is anti-watchtower. By it's name - the groups primary purpose is to oppose the people and the organization rather than the things it does which are wrong. It just starts out on the wrong foot - and you can tell by it's own FAQ. The Watchtower answers questions like "Are JW's a cult" by presenting it's own reasoning, no-doubt because people are asking if JW's are a cult. The AAWA answers on it's FAQ "Is AAWA a hate group?" by presenting it's own reasoning... no-doubt because people are asking if the AAWA is a hate group.
Which raises the question - why are so many people asking if you are a hate group? Could it be that your name implies you pretty much are?
Point 2: Leadership Priorities of the AAWA
Next, let's consider what GOOD the AAWA has done: So far not one thing.
So far their news page is.. the wonderful news that they managed to fill out some legal paperwork (I'll bite my tongue), and that they are 'growing rapidly' thanks mostly to forcing a bunch of people into their Facebook group, outing people, and then sweeping the damage they caused in the process under the rug.
Here is the problem with the AAWA: First and foremost, it cares about ITSELF. It cares about it's own corporate image. The AAWA spent more time writing a white-washed PR piece than the AAWA spent fixing (which is not the same as damage control) the mess they made on Facebook. With that sort of mindset on the board, rest assured: They're not going to be able to help many people, and it's just a matter of time before they screw something else up.. because their priorities are clearly backwards.
When someone slips and falls in the mud you have to be willing to get a *little* muddy yourself if you're going to help them get up. The AAWA is too concerned keeping it's own clothes clean to help anybody.
Point 3: Filtering Feedback
The popular youtube video blogger Thunderf00t recently made a point: You can tell genuinely helpful groups vs. harmful groups with one simple thing: Do they filter comments on their channels and blogs to include only the things they want the public to see? Creationists filter the comments. The Watchtower filters the comments. The AAWA? Yes, the AAWA filters the comments.
I find it very ironic that the group's first reaction to it's own mistake is to ignore feedback from the community. It claims it wants to have an open dialog with the governing body and wants the GB to be accountable for the harm it does. Yet... it doesn't want an open dialog with Ex-JW's, and doesn't want to take responsible action for what it did on Facebook. How stupid is that?
Point 4: Accountability
The AAWA want to spew hate at JW's with legal validity but without legal accountability. I've appealed to the AAWA board members not to stand for this, but to stand for what JW's really need - an open, honest, helping hand. They don't need someone trying to tear down their house for them while hiding behind their internet names like cowards. If you're going to risk screwing up people's lives pushing your world view (like the AAWA did on Facebook), at least stepup to the level of responsibility the JW Governing Body demonstrates by putting your real name on your work.
I would like to appeal to AAWA volunteers to demand more honesty and responsibility from their leadership. Like the board members, the volenteers play a role in making the AAWA a success. They can push the ship forward in the wrong direction, or first ask that the board re-consideres which direction it is headed.
The last thing JW's and Ex-JW's need is another manipulative group controlling information while ignoring valid critism that puts it's own corporate interests above those of people. It should be clear by the name and actions of the group that it is a help group. It shouldn't have to explain on it's FAQ why it is not really a hate group.