Growing up as a JW was a form of mental abuse for me

by Miss Fitt 47 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • Miss Fitt
    Miss Fitt

    I agree with all your comments.

    To make matters worse for me, I was quite a bright kid and always did my homework, revised for exams and was generally a model student. The teachers seemed to like me, but this only made it worse for me with the other kids. Not only was I a JW, but I was seen as teacher's favourite pupil, I was a bit of an ugly duckling, painfully shy and wore spectacles. I may as well had 'BULLY ME' tattooed on my forehead!

    My husband also had the same experience in school. He wasn't shy like me, but his parents were very pushy in expecting him to witness in school. Every day when he got home his parents would ask him what witnessing he'd done. As a young child of around 6 or 7 he felt a huge sense of responsibility to witness to his little friends in school. Like breakfast of champions said, he felt bloodguilty if he held back from witnessing. What a terrible thing to do to a child!

  • nugget

    It was seeing my childhood replicated in my children that helped me question my beliefs. I saw the way their beliefs isolated them from their peers and made them socially awkward. I saw the misery of going door to door and the worry that they might call on school mates. I carefully made a note of where their school friends lived so as to avoid making them call on those streets. I took them on as many return visits as possible so they would experience friendly interactions. It wasn't enough and leaving gave them a real chance to grow and blossom as confident happy children.

    My pain is that my mother saw the same thing happen to me and my sisters but she never questioned it.

  • Jim_TX

    Just here to put a 'ditto' on what has already been said. I wasn't 'born' into it, but my mom started studying with the JWs when I was about 5, so I started school when she was already getting into it.

    As a kiddo in school, I never really knew what I could do - or not do - but found out later when I got home, that I couldn't do it. I remember one time, in the second grade, it was Valentine's day activities. We all had to make little paper bags and decorate them and hang them up to get (and give) Valentine's day cards. Well, I made the sack because the teacher said that it was 'art'. I also received many Valentine's day cards. When I took the sack home, I learned how wrong it was, and the cards got tossed.

    Poor kiddos at school never got any cards from me, and they never knew that their cards got tossed. I got talked to severely at home, and learned never to do THAT again. Soon, I learned that I couldn't do almost ANY activity if it was connected with some holiday or other. Music class was confusing around Christmas. There were some songs that I COuld sing, and some that I couldn't. Try explaining that to an adult music teacher that is trying to get all of the class to sing.

    Yeah... I guess you could call it a form of mental abuse.

    I learned young where to go to get away from all of the bullies - the library. None of them (or very few of them) read books, so I was usually safe there, and got to read a lot of books.

    Not all of the kids in school were out to get me, there were a few other mis-fits that I could hang out with, but they were not JWs, and so I could not really be friends with them like other non-JW kids could.

    No sports. No band. No music. Not even allowed to join honor societies - we weren't allowed to receive 'honor'.

    The irony of it all is that I have done genealogical research recently, and went looking into a newspaper in the town where my mother grew up. I found several articles where they mentioned her name and the activities that she was involved with when SHE was in school. She was quite the social butterfly, and was on the school newspaper, among other activities that I wasn't allowed to do when I was in school.


    Jim TX

  • free and happy
    free and happy

    I can relate to all your stories of not fitting in, I hated going to school and being made to feel like an oddball.

    I used to get the usual name calling and to be fair you got used to that, it was being made to stand out as different that really got to me.

    In the hall at the time, there was only 4 witnesses kids and our parents decided that we should all stand out the same so people could see that witnesses had the same standards so at school when we had assemblies we all had to stand outside the hall while all the kids from the whole school walked past us, staring at us, then they use to close the glass hall doors so we could be seen by everyone and when they had finished we were made to wait until all the kids had trooped back past us before we could leave and join our classes.

    I also wasn't allowed to do r.e so when that lesson came the teacher use to ask me to leave the room with my chair and sit in the corridor until the lesson was over.

    I wasn't allowed friends over that I made at school as they were worldly so no after school activitites for me.

    My children have been bought up so different, even when we were still witnesses, my experience taught me, never to let that happen to my kids!

  • Ding

    The WTS isolates JW kids from anyone in "the world" who might be their friends... and then tells them they are being persecuted by "the world."

    When you grow up and try to break free, they tell you there is nowhere else to go.

    Of course, they are the ones that did their best to isolate you so as to make sure you really would have nowhere else to go.

    Even that is a lie, as most people on the outside are decent, friendly people who have no desire to persecute you or drag you down.

    The real chains are those fears and phobias the GB instilled in you to keep you dependent on them.

    If anyone here is still a prisoner of those emotions, get some counseling so you can break free of the abuse and live the remainer of your life in freedom.

    Don't go on feeling like an outcast.

    In reality, you have lots of company because everyone (JW or not) has issues to overcome.

  • LisaRose

    The sad part of this is that those who are shy and introverted were treated as if there was something wrong with us. It starts when we are in school, because we don't want to stick out or be different, and continues when we grow up. Because I didn't love the door to door work and meetings I wasn't good enough. There is no allowance for that fact that different people have different personalities and strengths. Since field service and meetings are so much a part of the being a Witness, those who were more introverted were considered spiritually weak, lacking in zeal, not "whole souled" (ugh, hate that term). The fact is that while it takes effort for anyone, it comes easier for those who are extroverted.

    I had an older sister who was much more outgoing, and was the first in our family to become a dub. I was compared to her and my mother wondered why I wasn't more like her, as if I chose to be introverted and painfully shy. I simply accepted that I was lacking, so I didn't find it strange that other JWs thought the same of me. It never occurred to me that it was the religion that was the problem, not me.

    What a sad thing that so many grow up thinking there is something wrong with them.

  • FirstLastName

    I specifically remember when I was in Junior High my parents telling me I would probably never graudate high school, and secretly hoping that Armagedon would wait just a couple years so I could finish.

    Who would spend much time concentrating on a project/event that you knew was doomed to fail? So, I did not try very hard in school. Fortunatley I was quick to learn and did not have to try to hard to do well. I think of how well I would have done, had I just applied myself. What a lost oppurtunity.

    I have recently though of going to college because I do love to learn.

  • Vidiot

    Kill and eat the bullies.

  • civicsi00

    You have described exactly how I grew up. I was never physically beat up but the taunts from the other kids was enough to push my self-esteem down further. I also didn't quite fit in in the KH.

    Yes, I agree, growing up as a JW is most definitely a form of mental abuse. Not being able to explore one's own personality and imagination is the worst form of theft, since we are left with an empty shell filled with their form of how a person "should be". The GB should answer for all the lives they have taken.

    Now I'm 31 years old and I'm barely getting to know even myself. I lack imagination, I struggle to keep friends, and I still don't feel like I belong anywhere (I am fortunate to have some friends from when I was growing up; they didn't give up on me). But I move forward and I strive to be creative and positive as much as possible. As far as I know, we only live once and I feel like I need to do everything I can to move past this; I feel that if I give up now, that they win. And I can't let them win.

  • gutted

    I can totally relate, I have a similar shy/timid disposition and growing up as a witness did not help one bit. I just didn't want to stand out and having to was painful. I was bullied and I've held that vicitim mentality for a long time until not too long ago.

    I think being an outsider in pretty much everything in my life I have become a complete non-conformist. Sure I go along with some things like work and social pleasentries but I can't help but see through a lot of BS in pretty much everything. I think that alone alienates me as I already alienate myself from so many things seeing how trite and stupid they are. But sometimes it is nice just to go along with those things like bdays, holiday parties, letting loose... once you see both sides of the coin it can be hard to enjoy or appreciate being "normal".

    I have to add though that yes I think the dubs were a major contributing factor but for a shy person or an introvert life can also be quite hellish in school growing up regardless of religion, it's just the added "seperateness of the world" that made it that much harder. I've read similar stories to mine and some of yours in regards to being shy and having low self-esteem growing up minus the dubs.

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