And then it hit me: we were abused

by Anders Andersen 25 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Anders Andersen
    Anders Andersen

    From a Psychcentral (run by mental health professionals): a familiar item on a list of 7 types of parental abuse :

    Spiritual Abuse. Has the child experienced:
    • Dichotomous Thinking – Dividing people into two parts: those who agree with the parent and those who don’t. The parent makes fun of, belittles, and shows prejudice towards other’s beliefs.
    • Elitism – The parent refuses to associate with people or groups they consider impure or unholy.
    • Submission – Requires that the child completely adopts the parent’s point of view. There is no room for differing opinions or questioning their authority. Name calling, chastising, and the silent treatment are common maneuvers into compliance.
    • Labeling – The child is taught at people who don’t comply with the parent’s beliefs are seen as disobedient, rebellious, lacking faith, demons, or enemies of the faith.
    • Public Performance – Demands perfection and happiness from the child at all times. Religious activities such as attending church have extreme demands, excessive expectations, and rigidity.
    • Legalistic – Strict adherence to the parent’s rules and regulations are commanded with absolute statements about insignificant issues such as hair color or clothing.
    • Segregation – Estrangement from extended family members and friends outside of the religion. This includes shunning, alienation, or persecution.
    • Blind Obedience – Is expected from the child to the point the child is expected to worship the parent.
    • Abuse of Authority – Parents use their spiritual authority as justification for why the child should completely submit.
    • Fraud – Parent engages in criminal misconduct or covers up the transgressions of others in the name of their religion. This includes covering up sexual abuse, physical abuse, financial felonies, and misdemeanors.

    0-5 items in any section may indicate that a person is being groomed for abuse at a later time. Be mindful of any further escalation.

    So what's your score in the 'religious abuse' section? We're you abused?

    Do you abuse your own children with regards to religion? (Yes lurkers I'm talking to you).

  • Giordano

    Anders, This is a troubling list and Spiritual Abuse listed with Sexual Abuse was a different way to view the high control JW religion. In my opinion it has and does qualify as a child abusive religion.

  • David_Jay

    I am an adult survivor of child abuse that took several different forms. I know exactly from years of personal terror what child abuse is.

    It is never a bad idea to educate people in the various forms that abuse toward children can take. But it should be noted what doesn't appear in this article, namely the fact that this is not a list describing members of any particular religion but of abusive parents who use religion as a weapon. The article is talking about people who use religion as a means to abuse children, not really about people who belong to a religion that teaches such things.

    I knew of too many Witness families that were very, very bad at following the guidelines for shunning, segregation, and unquestioning obedience (which is really very, very good). The very fact that the Governing Body constantly has parts on programs, gives talks, and prints articles about the same subjects along these lines (and now produces video about the same) shows that many members of the JWs still regularly fail to live up to the standards demanded of them. In my experience of about a decade with the JWs and serving in 4 different congregations across the US, I rarely found a faithful Witness who did just about everything taught by the Governing Body. Most were R-movie-watching, get-drunk-when-no-one-is-looking, masturbating, porn-watching, bad-word-using, finding-ways-to-get-around-rules-against-sex, gossiping, lying, hypocritical Witnesses. Not bad people, no. Just not good Witnesses. Almost none I met had ever read the Bible all the way through or kept up with the weekly magazines.

    Religions that do demand such hard things can become horrible weapons in the hands of abusive parents. Cults are big on transferring the abuse of church leaders upon adult members to their children, and children become too easy of a target. But do not confuse what the study cited above is saying. It is talking about parents who abuse their children by making these same demands but of minors with severe punishment of some sort as a consequence. This may have happened to you as a Witness, but it has less to do with the doctrine and more to do with the parent's intentions upon the children.

    I know of a case in the Roman Catholic Church where a man treated his family and especially his children almost to the letter of this description. Clergy have had to repeatedly intervene to save the children from what their father was doing. The man had managed to turn Catholicism into his weapon for child abuse: demanding that children recite so many number of rosaries a day, daily learn large sections of the Catechism and Scriptures by rote, attend constant prayer vigils before abortion clinics where the father would incite non-Catholics into violence and put his children in danger of physical harm, tell the children that they were already consigned to hell unless they could live up to the demands he was placing upon them, etc.

    While we may have grown up in a religion that teaches ideas that matches the above-quoted list and demands such things of its baptized members, we might not have been children of parents who demanded the same actions of us. They may have taught us these things, but were we forced to follow them and punished in some manner when we didn't? Was horror and despair the result and mainstay of our childhood lives as a consequence to how this played out? There's a difference between being taught that these things are right and being forced to put such things into practice in order to intimidate.

    You may have indeed been a victim of child abuse if you went through something like this. I would hope you find ways to heal and reach out for help. But just because you may have been part of a religion that teaches these things and learned of them yourself, this doesn't mean you were being abused or that JWs are currently abusing their children by being part of an organization that tells its followers that this is the only way to live. When you wrongly accuse others of perpetrating abuse, you might even steal precious time and attention from a real victim who needs your help. There are surviving victims who never get the attention they deserve because people sometimes focus on judging and punishing the abusers more than helping the victims.

  • scratchme1010

    David_Jay, thank you for sharing that.

    I want to add that aside from the well know forms of child abuse inflicted in children way too many times by way too many adults, there is such thing as spiritual abuse. It's important to recognize that not only it exists, but also affects both adults and children.

    A good book on the subject is one written by a ministers named Leo Booth, entitled "When God Becomes a Drug: Understanding Religious Addiction and Religious Abuse". I like his description and also how religious abuse is manifested based on the different social classes in families.

    He goes on explaining that in what he calls "blue collar religious families" there are more incidents of violence and physical and emotional abuse using god or the bible as an excuse, whereas in what he calls "country club christians" the abuse is more covert as those families tend to be more into saving appearances. Either way, the religious and spiritual abuse happens in the families and is very damaging. In fact, the reasons why so many people can't leave religion altogether is similar to battered people who are submitted to domestic violence and still don't leave the abusive relationship. However, it's a lot more difficult since it is accepted/expected that people are supposed to want to remain in a religious organization than in an abusive relationship.

    This is a great topic, Anders Andersen.

    Personally I know that some people react strongly to some of the things that I post but I believe that many (not all, I admit I have been a little bit of a jerk in some of my posts and replies) of those times people are just under the influence or religious abuse, a similar reaction to what they would have if I punch the domestic violent person who is abusing them.

  • stan livedeath
    stan livedeath

    i think all children of jw's are abused--one way or another.

  • nonjwspouse

    Children of JWs are almost universally emotionally stunted, from what I have read from other sources, heard here, and seen personally.

  • stan livedeath
    stan livedeath

    being dragged to meetings--especially mid-week with school next morning.

    forced to sit quietly for 2 hours through a meeting--worse at an assembly.

    being kept out of school assembly--subject to ridicule by other kids

    taken out door knocking--???!!!

    no birthdays

    no xmas

    no blood transfusions

    being taught about evil spirits---demunz---

    being taught about armageddon--an day now--all that death and suffering.

    sweet dreams kids--sleep well.


    being dragged to meetings--especially mid-week with school next morning.

    forced to sit quietly for 2 hours through a meeting--worse at an assembly.

    being kept out of school assembly--subject to ridicule by other kids

    taken out door knocking--???!!!.....SLD

    Gawd I remember all of that..

    Then you`re told how much you enjoy being a JW Kid..


    Disagreeing Was Never a Good Idea..

    Image result for child being slapped

  • David_Jay

    Over 50 now and I still have recurring nightmares in which I find myself playing with toys as a child in the home I grew up in...and then it hits me: "Oh, no! I'm a child again! Help!" Nothing else happens. My parents are not there. I do not get abused. The nightmare is that I am a child again.

    Child abuse is a living nightmare, a horror that even the most strictest of family lives cannot match. I lived with an actual dread of each day, searching for a way out. And you desperately want out each and every day but can't leave because you are just a kid. Witnesses may fear reprisals from leaving the cult, but as adults they can leave. They don't spend each moment of each day looking for a way out as I did.

    You don't see Witnesses and their children constantly peeing themselves in public places or throwing up in church or school each and everyday because of having been made to follow the rules and miss Christmas. But I would do these things all the time due to the abuse I suffered as a child because I couldn't express emotionally what was happening to me at home when I was in the hands of my father and mother.

    Following strict rules in the Witness religion doesn't leave you with bruises, with bloody noses, with concussions or sore genitals and a bleeding bum. Abuse does. Being taught there are evil spirits or Armageddon that can come any day now is not the same as being tied up and gagged and locked in a closet for a day or two, having to live in your own feces and urine.

    Being dragged to meetings and field service on regular basis is a breeze compared with having a naked adult's body on top of you as they release sexual fluids on and in you. Complain about being made to sit quiet through a 2 hours meeting or an assembly for several hours at a time? Try getting slapped in the face 15 to 20 times and then being told if you cry or shout in response you will get more of the same.

    I'm sorry. But you are not describing abuse if you compare those things with these and many other things I went though. It may not have been easy for some of you, and for others there may have been actual abuse even as adult JWs, but these others, they aren't child abuse.

  • stuckinarut2

    Yes, great thread!

    Those born in certainly were raised with a distorted and judgemental view of life! It affects a young developing mind in a way that is truly harmful! Some never recover from it.

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