A woman without a voice
This is my story in a nut-shell. I hope some of you can relate. If you can..I would love to hear from you.
I have been crushed and heartbroken more times than I can recount by a religion that claims to be based totally on love and mercy and most of that harm has come from the so called "shepherds" who or are supposed to lovingly take the stray lambs in their arms and lead them gently back to safety.
I took "the Truth" on my own as a teenager despite family opposition, and refused a work offer in my dream career as an artist in order to serve Jehovah more fully. I thereafter served Jehovah faithfully for many years. I dated a few JWs and got married to a JW 10 years older than myself when I was just turning 19 (and on the rebound after a breakup with someone I was deeply in love with because the elders told him we were to young to get married). I cried profusely on my honeymoon because I realized I felt no attraction for my husband and he didn't know a thing about women romantically or sexually. I thereafter cried for 20 years for those reasons and also because of my husband's inability to show empathy or understanding toward me. (For years I also dreamt of the young man I loved but didn't marry). I was basically my husband's slave...cleaned the car, shined his shoes, entertained his friends even when he would invite them home at the last minute, and literally waited on him hand and foot...trying to be the perfect Christian wife. My husband eventually became an elder which further increased my sense of responsibility toward the congregation and I often became a shoulder to cry on for many sisters who were having marital or other problems. After I had my son--16 years into the marriage, I found everything harder to keep up with, especially because I had serious health problems and so did my child. Finally I had a total emotional, mental and physical collapse and disassociated myself from the WT org. I ame back a couple of years later, and was sexually assaulted by a JW boyfriend and subsequently disfellowshipped, since my boyfriend had pressured me to say that the incident was 50-50. But even if I had told the elders the truth of how things really happened they likely would not have believed me. One elder on the committee told me that he probably should not serve on my committee because he already knew what his decision was going to be. So I actually asked that that particular brother not serve on my judicial committee and they said okay. But when I showed up for my hearing there he was. And sure enough...despite my very sincere repentance they disfellowshipped me anyway. I went home completely shaken and distraught wondering how it was possible that Jehovah would allow a repentant person who was crushed and broken over her error to be disfellowshipped. I felt suicidal. Fortunately, my sister was at my apartment when I arrived because she had been babysitting my son. If it were not for her support that night I likely would no longer be on this earth.
I subsequently married the boyfriend who had assaulted me because I thought that it was the right thing to do scripturally. And who else would want a divorced and disfellowshipped JW? (Even though I was intelligent, talented, attractive and caring...I had just had all my self-esteem dashed to pieces).
I stayed married to my abuser for 10 years (got reinstated after a year) and put up with unimaginable emotional, psychological, sexual and financial abuse-- all for Jehovah...wanting to prove myself a good christian and always hoping my husband would take the Truth seriously and become a better man.
Eventually I had grounds for divorce and was free to remarry. I met someone online and ended up marrying them. We have been married for nearly 3 years now and have grown very close. But my new husband has a mental disability and had been very misunderstood and mistreated by the elders. In my attempts to defend him I have been told to keep quite and to speak to him about it and let him correct me if I have any questions about how they have handled things with him. They also said they didn't trust me because I am no angel...maybe not a really bad person but not a very good one either. And they insisted to me that all their actions and counsel (as horribly harmful, cruel and unjustifiable as it has been) is straight from Jehovah and I shouldn't question it...I should just obey. Well..that broke me. Up until that moment my faith had been sterling strong despite everything. But here I had endured so much for Jehovah and had recently undergone severe trials, healthwise, economically and with my current husband's disability and I was being told I was a second rate Christian and that this was what Jehovah was saying. I know Jehovah thought no such thing of me. He knows my heart and how difficult my life has been and how very many sacrifices I have made for him. It would have been easy just to throw my current husband under the bus and not stand up for him, but because I cultivate Christ like compassion I would not do such a cruel thing. Yet if I continue to push the issue I know I will be disfellowshipped as a Jezebel influence or an apostate for not obeying the elders. So I started doing research over the past couple of weeks and realized just how woefully inadequate the JW elders are to deal with the delicate issues before them. From there I also came to realize that the lack of insight is coming from the top down and the faithful and discreet slave is not who or what I have been told it is. It has shaken me to my core to realize that and to see and hear all the injustices others have had inflicted on them in this "loving" organization. I have so much more to say and I am so broken up. I need someone to talk to but have no where to turn. My husband still believes this is the Truth despite how he has been treated and doesn't want to hear what I have learned.
If you are someone who has had experiences similar to mine I would love to connect with you and exchange experiences and discuss feelings and give and receive support and feedback. Please accept my love and prayers to all those who have suffered and may still be suffering in this mind controlling cult that has so little respect for people's self-esteem and dignity and virtually no understanding as to what extent they are destroying families and destroying lives.
Sorry you have been though all of this. But as a woman you are automatically a third rate witness anyway. Then if you aren't a pioneer its even worse.
I'm assuming since you came in as a teenager you have some family that is not in the org. Do you still associate with them?
Even though I have not had similar experiences, my heart goes out to you.
I am male, and much of what you have gone through is a product of the WT's low regard for women.
In the WT religion, which is a legalistic perversion of Christianity, JWs can never do enough and are never good enough.
Jesus came to save lost sheep; the WT seems determined to abuse them.
If you would find it helpful, feel free to PM me any time.
If you would prefer to correspond with women or with others whose experience is similar to yours, no problem...
Hi Florida born,
Yes, thankfully, I have 2 brothers and a niece who are not JW's that I have continued to maintain a close relationship with all along...albeit not as close as it could have been. My sister, and a cousin whom I dearly love, however, are JWs. When I was DF'd previously my sister never stopped talking with me. She loved me and I think she believed the elders had unjustly disfellowshipped me. In any case she didn't abandon me. But if I am df'd for apostasy people will believe I have truly sided with the Devil and I don't think she could withstand the pressure.
Are you still in the organization yourself? If not, how long have you been out and how long did it take you to heal?
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What Ding said too, although I have experienced some of that warped "love" from elders and R&F members
Thank you for your kind, empathetic words. I am not against men, despite all I have been through. I have a wonderful son, two loving brothers, and a very tender husband. I am open to talking with any caring, decent person who wishes to correspond with me.
Please tell me a little about your own story, if you don't mind doing so. You can PM if you wish or simply respond on here.
I'm slowly trying to fade. My immediate family shuns me even though I am not Df/DA. I am only fading because of my daughter who is totally torn.
I have been a single mom for all of her life and because of that was never included in any circle of the cliques. I was a nuisance to the elders and never once had a shepherding call.
They dont have the time to encourage but will certainly pounce when they believe you have done something wrong.
Is there anyway you could fade now?
As far as heeling, this religion has taught me to cut people out of my life on a moments notice. I have actually just started reconnecting with ones I grew up with that left before me. It has helped a lot and I know those relationships are unconditional.
I am so sorry for the difficult situation you find yourself in. I, too, was a single mom, a lot of the time, even though married, because during my marriage I had to separate several times from my abuser...but out of love for God, wanting to be a good Christian I kept taking him back. I did my best to be hospitable toward the congregation, despite very limited resources, and to some extent the congregation returned my hospitality but not much. I mostly felt alone and left out so I have some idea how you feel.
Ironically, my son who was a model JW, and was baptized at 13, later realized that the mind control, disfellowshipping and discouragement from pursuing a good education were red flags and after a year of investigating things on his own, he left. I was completely devastated at the time, but fortunately he was not disfellowshipped but managed to successfully fade and he continued living with me. I have only just begun to realize how very brave he was to take the stand that he did. He is a big source of comfort and support to me now but I don't want to lean too heavily on him -- it isn't fair to him--So that is why I am reaching out to others for comfort and support and to hopefully be a comfort to others.
You are right that most of the elders do little to give real and meaningful support but are all too quick to jump on you if they perceive any real or imagined weakness in you. I have to say, in all fairness, I have known a few very wonderful, patient and compassionate elders, but sadly they are not the majority.
Hugs and heartfelt caring to you and your daughter...Please PM and tell me more about your situation if you wish to.
Thank you for sharing your story. Please be assured that this community is made up of people who are empathetic and caring. We are no longer held captive by the harsh viewpoints and judgemental attitudes that often characterise JW culture.
Your self-worth and self esteem is valuable, and you need to build this up. Recognise that you are a valuable person, and that regardless of what has happened to you, you have the right to be happy. Please remind yourself of that.
Also, as has often been said, "the windscreen is bigger than the rear-view mirror". So focus on what is ahead of you rather than what has happened in the past. Yes, take lessons from the past. Acknowledge the hurt it has caused. But now you have the opportunity to build a life that is free of the FOG (Fear Obligation Guilt) of your JW past.
Much love and support!
Whoa, that's quite a story and I'm sending internet (((hugs))) your way. I'm so mad for you, for all the years lost and the tears shed.
My story is found at thisjwlife.com and my podcast called thisjwlife. So far it's helped people heal, so maybe listen to my 9 part story and it can help you.
You can also go to shunnedpodcast.com and that podcast is just called "shunned" and listen to the stories of others told one atva time.
You aren't alone. We've all been broken by that religion but many have come through it and found true happiness. You can too. You just have to give up on the notion that you can control what happens and start doing humble research, ready to accept whatever you find, even if it goes against everything you've held dear.