▪ A total of 751 participants shared their experiences of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witness community via our contact point. These experiences included 292 accounts from people with personal experience of abuse and 459 accounts from people who know somebody who suffered abuse.
▪ 80% of the participants in the study reported their experiences of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witness community.
▪ 30% of the respondents notified the police and 27% of the respondents filed a police report.
▪ Three-quarters of the victims awarded a score of 5 or less for the handling of their report by the Jehovah's Witness community (average score: 3.3).
▪ 63% of the victims awarded a score of 6 or more for the handling of their report by the police (average score: 6.4).
▪ Compared to internal channels (80% report the offence within the community), a relatively small proportion of the participants in the study engage external channels (30% notify the police and 27% file an official police report). There are reasons to assume that the filing of a police report is hindered by the closed nature of the community and the risks involved in informing external parties. However, our study does not provide causal evidence for this factor and follow-up studies would be required for such evidence.
▪ According to our respondents, the closed culture within the Jehovah's Witness community can also be linked to the problems concerning the handling of reports of sexual abuse. The board has now put protocols and instructions in place to establish procedures for responding to reports of sexual abuse, although these mainly seem to focus on protecting the community - and, by extension, the culprit - rather than the victim. As a result, victims receive limited support and insufficient recognition, which can result in secondary victimization.
▪ While the community has taken steps over the past 10 years to improve how reports of
sexual abuse are handled, the Jehovah's Witnesses' formalistic system still provides no
guarantee of an adequate response to sexual abuse.