Non JW friends don't understand
Yes, and that is why communities like this wonderful forum are so valuable to us.
We all just 'get it'.
“stuckinarut2”: “We all just 'get it'.”
Absolutely. It reminds me of something like, say, an addiction support group comprised of recovering alcoholics or something in that if you’re not one of them yourself, that you can’t really understand or appreciate exactly what it’s like or what they’ve gone through. But among recovering alcoholics or victims of some profoundly significant and disturbing experience (such as rape, losing a child, etc., etc.), they do get it – because they can.
People who have never been in a high-control group/cult, or have never had a close family member who has, obviously can’t speak from experience, although unfortunately there are those who think that they know what it is, or isn’t, all about. But people on the outside have to be made aware of the unique challenges involved in having lived in a cult environment such as the JWs. It’s a case where a proper and telling explanation is definitely in order.
Just to say that although I guess I'm quite rare, I'm at least one outsider who has made a huge effort to properly understand and empathise.
I've never been a JW, never been in a Kingdom Hall, never had any family members in the Organisation, and yet I believe I now really do understand, as much as it's humanly possible to do so, what you have all suffered in different ways and what the cult is al about.
I have made it my business over the past 7 years to comprehend the effects of JW lifestyle and empathise with all of you. I have put a huge amount of time and effort into learning the Watchtower history and all the JW teachings like 607, the overlapping generations and the failed prophesies. I have attended three 'apostafests' and chatted with many exJWs to understand their stories.
Most of all, I have befriended someone from the forum (he doesn't now post), who has been through a lot and he has taught me so much. We have now become lifelong friends.
It sometimes breaks my heart to read the life stories of former JWs, but I've observed that even those who haven't suffered major traumas as a JW, are invariably left with some kind of negative after effects. Some have depression, some suffer PTSD, some can't rid themselves of fear or guilt, some have social anxiety and some just feel like misfits, the list goes on. I just wish I could befriend and support everyone!
I read this forum more or less every day, but I post very rarely. I'm not well known so people mostly pass over any comments I make but it's not a problem. I have been observing from the side-lines as all the various changes have been made. I watched all the ARC hearings, I've read many Watchtower articles, books videos and regularly grimaced through the travesty that is JWTV.
People ask me why I bother. I'm fortunate to be a happy, healthy, balanced, normal everyday person with a husband and close family, a great social life and no issues or problems in my life. My family and friends think it's a bit of an eccentric hobby. But I was compelled to get involved because of what I saw.
I joined the site for advice in 2008 when a 20 year old friend was being sucked into the cult. Thanks to the help of members of the forum, she was 'rescued' just before getting baptised, much to the grateful relief of her parents.
I was very indebted to this forum for the help I was given and I stayed around as I found everything about the religion both horrifying and fascinating.
Whilst my young friend was studying with the JWs, I saw first hand the indoctrination, the judgemental attitudes and the control. The study conductor regulated every aspect of my friend's life, checking her bedroom for demonised objects, throwing out books, CDs, crystal ornaments etc. She was not supposed to talk to me as I was supposedly an 'agent of Satan'.
My friend became severely depressed and did something 'immoral'. She confessed and had a meeting with three Elders. The meeting was secretly recorded and i heard them tell her that if she had lived in the days of the Israelites, she would have been stoned for her actions. This and many other disgusting things about the religion, caused me to hate it and want to help to weaken it and support anyone trapped in it that i could..
So I have had discussions with two sets of JWs on the ministry who I invited in (I'm sadly now on the 'do not call' list) and I have chatted with quite a few in London. I'm proud that now i know enough to make them think and give them a major challenge.
So although many on the outside won't want or be able to empathise deeply with what you have been through, bear in mind that some just might!
Love to you all,
This has always frustrated me as well. They have no clue. No one does unless you have lived it. The way this organization has ruined my life. I get the same thing..oh they are such nice people..Yeah right. Everything about them is fake.
I have used my life story entitled "What's it like to be brought up in a cult" to good effect on many forums. Ancestry, Rover and Jaguar forums, all in the "other business" sections, School re-union forums etc etc.
Lots of oohs and ahhs, but the s*it really hit the fan on http://www.familytreeforum.com/forum.php with several members being suspended or resigning. How was I to know that JW's were so into geneology? hahaha..
I recall explaining everything to a non-JW friend over several beers one night and I honestly don't think he believed much of what I was saying. Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes. He was shocked.
I agree, It's really hard for someone who was never in a cult to understand what it was like, how much it affects you, even years after leaving. They may think the JWs are weird, but still just a religion you can choose to leave like any other. Most people think of cults as people wearing weird clothes and living in communes, they cannot comprehend that the nice looking, friendly couple at their door have had been systematically conditioned to believe that eight men in New York speak for God and must be obeyed, even if it results in shunning their own children or even letting them die by refusing a life saving blood transfusion. Most people just can't comprehend how this can happen to normal, intelligent people.
I have been out for sixteen years, I have successfully moved on in my life, and I am lucky to be only minimally impacted by the religion at this point, yet I still occasionally find myself falling into some of the black and white thinking, the negativity and alienation I felt as a JW. I have met a few people that get it, if they have a relative in the group or were raised as a Mormon or other cult type religion, or people like HB, who have taken an interest (and thank you for that HB!). It's this ignorance of the dangers of cult mind control that allows groups like this to flourish, people don't see how destructive it is, they can get sucked in before they realize. Fortunately they are losing their influence in more industrialized countries, but they are still growing and a danger worldwide, and of course there are millions still stuck inside.
I think it's important to keep the conversation going, to keep educating people about the destructive nature of cult mind control. Don't be ashamed of your JW past, it wasn't your fault. Tell people what happened, how much it affected your life, how hard it was to leave. The more people know about this cancer the harder it is for them to get and maintain members.
I explain it as KGB meets SS seasoned with a heap of Joan Crawford and a dash of Napoleon.
Rules, rules, secret meetings, coded speech, more rules, and spies telling if you break the rules. Also looting. Constant mental abuse, sometimes physical. Do more! And lastly, some are exiled.
Yes, mad props to HB!
Lieu, that's hilarious! And thank you HB and bless you for helping your friend get out of it!!
Sometimes (not so often as I used to!) I will mention to someone that I was raised a Jehovah's Witness. They'll say 'oh, that's nice.' Oh my GOD does that drive me nuts. Even when you try to explain 'NO it was really NOT nice' it takes mental energy that people aren't willing to invest. That's why I love this place, you all KNOW.