Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Losing Nothing and Winning Everything by Morgana Fae Walter

Contributed by Noel Parsons

My father, Joseph, was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and could remember back in the days when Jehovah's Witnesses celebrated Christmas and his father smoked a pipe.  My Father would travel around with a wind-up gramophone, playing a J.F. Rutherford record in the street.  He married another Jehovah's Witness, Christine, and they had three sons, A*, St* , P* and a daughter S*.  Christine fell away and committed adultery, so my father and Christine were divorced.  

My mother, Patricia, was in an abusive marriage and had three sons, R*, N*, M*.  She divorced her husband when she found "The Truth," which is what the Watchtower Society claims their religion to be.  They met in the Leicestershire congregation and after a short engagement, they were married in November, 1977.  I was born in December, 1978.   

Our combined families consisted of six half-brothers and a half-sister, some living at home, some visiting at weekends.  My mother's boys stayed in touch with their biological father and the abuse continued to them.  My father's children only came to visit on the weekend and they hated my mother.  My mother's children hated my father.  We all were raised as Jehovah's Witnesses.  As you can well imagine, my parents children all hated me, because they saw me as some kind of special favourite.  Having said that, my father dealt swift and tangible judgement to any of us, by means of a wooden meter stick or slipper. 

For several years, my father had his Ministerial Servant position taken away, then was reinstated, and became an Elder.  We had the Tuesday book study and field service at our home.  I later discovered the reason was that my parents had consummated their marriage the night before the wedding, but had fully repented, getting away with a figurative slap over the knuckles.

Two of my mother's boys sexually assaulted my father's daughter when she was seven years old and they were ages seven and nine years.  I have memories of a similar nature, though no one can or will substantiate it or admit to it.  I would have been between one and two years of age.

When I was fifteen years old, I was baptized at Dudley Assembly Hall, Midlands, UK.  My father's two oldest boys A* and St* and daughter S* had stopped attending meetings.  His youngest son P*, was baptized ahead of me, and is now an elder.

My mother's two youngest boys N* and M* went to live with their biological father.  The eldest R,* also was baptized at the same age as the other half-brother, in a sort of competitive way.   When I was between fourteen and sixteen years old, R,* who was a DeeJay in local nightclubs, was involved in a sexual incident with a minor at my school.  This was dealt with privately and nothing more was said.  After R* married, things in his private life went from bad to worse and he was disfellowshipped. 

While I was at high school, I met RR,* a boy from another congregation.  We spent lunch times together, shared our love of The Beatles, picked Daisies and occasionally had a quick cuddle.  It was all very innocent; nothing as dangerous as our parents thought.  RR*'s mother came over one Saturday afternoon with her son and made him break up with me.  

I was devastated, totally bereft.  I packed my bags and went to my half-brother R*s flat.  During my stay, he propositioned me.  I left and went back home.  Once back home, during the following months, I got a Saturday Job at a bookshop, where I found myself in a newspaper article and received a caution from the elders.  I began to slip away and fall in with a bad crowd that used alcohol, cannabis, speed, and did shoplifting, arson, poaching, spiritualism, and of course, sex.  What can I say?  I finally could do what I wanted to, and didn't feel restricted or judged. 

I met a guy and moved in with him.  I was disfellowshipped.  I was abused and raped by him and his friends, while I was stoned on drugs.  I was locked in a room and left to rot.  All of this was happening a mere two minutes around the corner from my parents home.  Finally one day when he had to go out and left me locked in his flat, I escaped through a window and went home.

I was pregnant.  I had two choices, repent, or f-ck off.  I was reinstated.  My first son was born June 11, 1997, and I moved to a different part of the country when my parents retired.  I met new friends and the cycle began all over again with another abusive boyfriend and I was disfellowshipped again.  Then I met my saviour, an unlikely barman called D.*  He helped me find myself.  Although our relationship ended sadly, I will always hold his memory in my heart, for helping me discover my true self-worth.

In 2000, I began a relationship with my husband, B.*   Although I had unfortunately friend-zoned him, we got past that and we now have three children, Et*, R* and E.*   When we had Et,* I wanted to get reinstated, so my parents could enjoy their grandchild and any future grandchildren.  It wasn't in my heart to return to the Watchtower Society, but I wanted my parents to be involved with my children.  I managed to get away with being an infrequent visitor to the Kingdom Hall, and kept my nose clean, hiding under their radar.  I got away with that for a good nine years, before it became too much of a burden.

My father developed Cancer, Hodgekins Lymphoma, but he managed to recover.  Then he contracted Non- Hodgekins Lymphoma.  He became very ill and was taken to hospital, where it was discovered that he had somehow also contracted septicaemia.  He knew the Cancer wasn't going away and declined treatment. 

I remember the day before my father died.  He was so pi$$ed off and he didn't want my "Holier than thou" brother P* reading scripture to him.  Neither did he want my mother to see him die.  He just wanted me with him and, to me, that says so many things.  I loved my father.  He was a good man.  He was a Jehovah's Witness, but his conscience and soul went beyond that.  He was a truly, lovely man in his heart.  I was privileged to be with him when he passed. 

After my father passed, my mother developed a bizarre attitude, considering that she's a Jehovah's Witness.  First, she was going to marry the man who was my father's best friend growing up.  I asked her, "If you truly believe in the resurrection, what do you think my father will think about this, when he is resurrected?"  Then again, she was a local widow.  I wonder if my mother ever believed or if it was just a convenient way out. 

My mother and I have never been close.  It was always my father, who was there for me.....when i had my first menses, he hugged me when RR* left me, ran me a bath when I escaped, etc., and always fought in my corner and pushed things through with the body of elders. 

I sent in a letter of disassociation (resignation) at the end of last year.  I do NOT want to be affiliated with Jehovah's Witnesses.  They are heartless people without souls. 

Regarding my eldest son, to whom I gave birth when I was age eighteen, he is now living with my mother and she has poisoned his mind against me.  He has little, if any, contact with me, his step-father or his siblings.  I am just grateful that he hasn't obligated himself to baptism yet. 

My life now, since my resignation from the Watchtower Society, is much happier.  I am free at last.  I am an orphan, but I am no longer judged as unworthy association and I no longer have to answer to anybody.  At thirty-five years of age, that is most liberating. 

Since my mother told me I was dead to her, I have changed my birth name to a name of my choice, I am following a path that fills my spiritual box and hurts no one (paganism) and am happy that my three younger children will never be torn to pieces by this sickening, twisted cult. 
Morgana and her happy family....

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I Did It My Way by Ann Nony Muss

Contributed by Christian Sparlock Freedom
My mother and father were never married.  She told me that my father was a musician, who would come to town with his band and they would see each other.  She said this went on for a couple of years, until she got pregnant.  The problem is that her stories do not jibe.  She has slipped a few times and told me I look like his sisters.  Since I know that she did not know my father's family, I believe I am the daughter of her long time boyfriend.  His family is local and she did not want me to know them, so she pulled the other man out of a hat.  Then she began telling me stories about his family and how horrible the men were.  I was always being told stories about how horrible men were and I saw plenty of evidence to prove my mother's stories were right.

My mother met the man that I have known as "Dad" my whole life, when I was an infant.  They married when I was six years old, after my brother was born and before my sister was born. My life was okay, as far as I knew, until that year. We lived in a nice house, we had plenty of food to eat and I was not afraid.  I remember my father having a motorcycle accident.  My mom was furious and yelling at him.  He was riding a motorcycle and had a blowout.  He would have died, but he was wearing a helmet.  He broke both of his arms and had asphalt embedded in much of his body.  She yelled and nagged him constantly while digging the asphalt out of his body.  He became very depressed and started drinking heavily.  That was the beginning of the end.

We had to move out of our nice house.  My mother was a waitress and worked all the time.  My father was the one to stay with my brother and I, but he was drunk and stoned all the time.  I had a contact high for much of my childhood.  I have always had a very literal mind, so that coupled with being stoned, was not good for a six-year-old mind.  My dad and his friends being drunks were not concerned with the two little kids, ages six and four, in their care, so my brother and I went hungry and were neglected much of the time.  I saw my father and his buddies drink, smoke and pass around women.  I learned what guys do and not to trust them.  I did not know what sex was, but I had been seeing it since I was very young.

I remember my mother screaming at my father about this, and him telling her she was crazy.  She was insecure and making things up.  She hated this woman they worked with, because he was all over the woman all the time.  This woman wasn't the only one, but she was the one my mother saw all the time, since they worked together.  My brother and I spent a lot of time at this woman's house, playing with her daughter, while she and our dad were kissing on the bed.  Again I didn't know what sex was, but I never saw my mother and father doing that.  He did it with those other women all the time.  I only saw my mom yelling at my dad and him telling her she was crazy.

Yes, my mother is a world class nag.  Several times I have done what ever she asked just to make her shut up, so I can't imagine being married to her.  This is what I grew up seeing in marriage, how I saw men behaving, how they treated women.  Yes, I have severe trust issues and am working on them.

During this time, my mother got pregnant.  My father wanted her to get an abortion.  Yes, I remember this fight very clearly.  He wanted a divorce and she refused to abort Ashely.  The other woman was pregnant, and she went to the same doctor as my mother.  He denied this until my sister and the other girl were legally adults.  Ashley was my first baby.  Why?  My mother worked all the time and my father/babysitter was an addict, so I fed my little sister and changed her.  All the things an adult should have been doing, I did when I was seven years old.  I resented her so badly, and we hated each other until we were both adults and she had her first child.

Between the ages of six and ten years of age, I was used to being hungry, living in a condemned house, being neglected and constantly fighting.  My brother and I went to a neighbor's house, because we were starving.  She gave us a package of those cookies with the marshmallow, covered with chocolate, and we ate the whole package.  To this day I cannot stand those cookies, although they were heaven-sent that day.  My father was in a band with this woman's husband and we went to the house for jam sessions, so she knew us and the way we lived.  The one thing my father gave me was a love of music, but I swore I would never marry a musician because of him.  Now I know that being a musician wasn't the reason he was a bad father.

When I was nine-years-old, we lived out in the middle of nowhere.  We never had any company, so when someone came out to see us, it was a big deal.  Guess who?  Yes, Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on the door.  We were hiding and I was wondering, 'Who is it?'  The only Jehovah's Witness allowed in the house was my grandma, because my father hated them.  At this time, my mother was not working and my father would disappear for weeks at a time. We were starving and had no way of getting food. Then Grandma showed up, with groceries.  This happened a few times and she would study with my mother when she came.  My cousin would come with her sometimes.  All I knew was that when she came, we ate, and had company.  My cousin was 3 years older than me.  That's when I learned about sex, although I still didn't know what it was.  My cousin began molesting my brother first.  She said it was a game and that she was just tickling him.  So I played along.  We told my mother and Grandma, because my brother didn't like it.  A nine-year- old and a seven-year-old telling about tickling was pushed aside by adults, so it continued.

We eventually moved to my grandmother's house, with my aunt and her two children.  Grandpa converted an old shed into a home for us.  It had no running water, but it was warm and we had food.  We no longer had any fear of our father showing up and fighting with our mother, but the molestation became more frequent and my cousin's attention turned to me.  I was extremely shy and self-conscious and was constantly made fun of by my aunt and cousins, because they claimed that I was prissy.  Now I was always dirty, so I had no issues with that.  I wouldn't climb trees or go through barbed wire fences and I hated snakes.  I didn't do the things that normal kids do, because my childhood was anything but normal.  I thought something was wrong with me, so I learned to either fake it, or blend in, figuring that if no one noticed I was there, they couldn't pick on me.  I became very good at being invisible.

All this time we were going to the Kingdom Hall with my grandmother, my meanest cousins were also the children of Jehovah's Witness parents, so I could not escape, no matter where I was.  I was made fun of at the Kingdom Hall, also for being ugly and fat and stupid.  I would cry and hide.  Eventually, I made friends with some other girls at the Hall, although my mother didn't like them.  My new friends didn't make fun of me and they had all kinds of stuff we didn't a television and a radio and their mother let me wear makeup.  They lived in town, so we got to go to the park and we had so much fun.  I hated going home and my mother would nag and yell at me worse, because I was not home to cook and clean and take care of my brother and sister. But I was having a bad attitude, and it was all the fault of these girls and their family for making me see what fun could be had by a twelve-year-old.  My mother didn't have any friends and she still doesn't.  If someone does not do exactly as she wants she cuts them off.

I met a new friend at the Kingdom Hall, when we were nine years old and we became best friends by the time we were fourteen years old.  She taught me how to be a friend and I love this woman with all of my heart.  She is the only person in my life that knows me, the one person that taught me unconditional love.  Even though I am what I am, and she does not approve of my life, she understands and we love each other anyway.  She was also the child of an addict and was molested. We have so much in common, including crazy mothers.  We were each others rock.

I was in choir in Junior High School.  It was amazing, except for the holiday part, which we couldn't celebrate.  I found out that I could sing and became very popular.  My mother would cry every time she heard me, but she never came to any of my shows.  I had several solos.  I wanted her approval so badly and the only way to get it was to be exactly what she wanted.  My new friend and I were in a talent show, though no one had heard me sing because I was shy.  When we got up there and belted out "Colors of the Wind," people were going up to my mother, and saying, "You should be so proud she has a wonderful talent!"  My mother said she had no idea that I could do that!  (Yeah, because she had a fit every time.)

Eventually I learned to deal with life as I knew it.  I had a friend and we stuck to each other.  I started working a part time job with a sister from our hall, when I was fifteen years old, so I had money to get clothes and makeup and some independence from my other job of being a mom and housewife for my mother.  I was a good girl, not because I had no desire to kiss boys or flirt, but because I was so painfully shy, and believed I was ugly.  I got in trouble for talking to boys.

There was an the assembly where we got the "Young People Ask" book.  All the young ones were asked to sit in a special section of the assembly hall, so the brother could talk directly to us.  That day I met a boy my age that was nice to me!  I was so excited, because I had made another friend. We talked and walked around the assembly hall together that day, and I had the brilliant idea to introduce him to my mother.  Oh! My! God!  She came unhinged, accusing me of having sex with this boy, saying that I was a dirty slut.  She screamed at both of us, I was devastated.  My grandmother told me that my mother only wanted to protect me, because she loved me.  ABUSE AND DISTRUST= LOVE?  I never spoke to a boy again in front of my mother.  I would actually get sick and my hands would get clammy and sweaty and I would feel like vomiting if a guy talked to me, because I believed that all they want is sex, so I had to avoid them like the plague.

All through high school I worked, payed my own bills and maintained a 3.5 grade point average.  I was the happiest I had ever been, and I was perfect in the eyes of my mother and the congregation.  I was baptized at thirteen years of age, regular in field service (going door-to-door), and I gave talks for the ministry school.  Commenting, during the Watchtower study was always an issue for me.  Again, becoming invisible came in handy.  I was made fun of for my comments all the time, but I was just too sensitive.  I got a scholarship for art and my teachers wanted me to go so badly, but being the perfect girl I was, I was determined to make a "witness" to them and let them know my life was to pioneer (special title bestowed by the Watchtower Society on those who devote full time to the door-to-door work) and that was it.

A local congregation made a group trip to Bethel, where the Watchtower Society Headquarters in Brooklyn is, each year to visit their son.  They rented a bus and my best friend and I saved all year to go.  It was our first vacation and without our mothers.  For the most part, it was the best week of my life.  I met a young boy, but I had no idea that he was only fourteen years old, whereas I was already eighteen.  Again, we just listened to music, laughed and had fun.  We sat by each other on the bus.  Lots of the young ones on the bus were doing the same thing, but for some reason, even though I had never even kissed a boy, I seemed to have a big sign on me that said "SLUT."  So we were forced apart and the boy and I never spoke again.

We moved to a different congregation when I was age seventeen, because my grandfather decided to go to meetings. He was a pedophile, and had abused my mom, her sisters and apparently, my cousin, too.  My mother was told to get over it and that she was a bad christian, because she couldn't be happy with him there.

I loved our new congregation.  There were a lot of single mothers in it, so my mother made some friends, finally.  There were also a few really cute boys, but I could only admire them from afar.  I met my pioneer partner, a girl I had hated throughout most of my childhood, because she lived a double life and was a snob.  She was also one of the cool kids so I wanted in her group.  We would sing and dance, and when I learned that witnesses could dance, I freaked out.  We got invited to a congregation dance.  It was the best, but of course, my mother complained because it reminded her of her worldly days. UGH!  I loved hip hop and the 90's were the best.  My popularity was growing; I was the perfect pioneer sister, never dated, and I was serious.  My friends would go to parties and make out and do everything but have intercourse, but not me.

A year after I graduated, I met a single brother at the basketball court.  The young men in the congregation played basketball every Sunday, so it was a great place for the sisters to gather and hunt for prospective mates.  I noticed him, but I wasn't attracted at all.  He kept trying to talk to me and I blew him off.  My brother was with me and those that didn't know us always thought my brother was my boyfriend, because we look nothing alike.  A friend gave the single brother my phone number and he phoned me a lot.  He begged and I gave in.  He was bad news and I was warned, but I was tired of not having anyone.  My friend liked him and we had been through this before.  She was skeletal skinny and the boys loved her.  I had such a great body and thought I was fat.  The boys treated me like a sister.  I was the buddy, the one to ask if my friend was seeing anyone.  I was not girlfriend material.  A perfect 36-29-36, all boobs and butt, I grew up in the wrong town and had never been kissed at nineteen years of age.

My friend wanted him so badly, but he wanted me, so I went out with him and my brother and best friend chaperoned us.  They hated him, and rightfully so.  I could not see it, because I was just so happy someone liked me.  He kissed me that night, in the back of my brother's car, a real kiss.  When I went home, the sh*t hit the fan.  Her mother was on the phone with my mother.  They were saying that I had no right with this boy, kissing him.  I was such a slut.  I got in so much trouble.

A month later, after I finished pioneer school.  I lost my virginity, on the living room floor of my mother's house.  After that, we had sex on just about every surface of that house every chance we had.  I was always accused of being a slut, so I might as well be one, right?  We were married a couple of months later.  I didn't want to marry him, because he was a jerk, but I had sex so I figured it would be better to marry him, rather that go to the elders and get disfellowshipped.  I had a miserable life with him.  He was a loser, didn't work, smoked pot, took methamphetamines, drank constantly, and I had so many "Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STD's)!  Of course, he claimed that he was not cheating on me, that the STD's must have been dormant on his body, until he started having sex with me.

His friend and wife lived with us for the first several months of our marriage and his friend would sit with my husband and watch porn and play video games.  I would dress up and try to get my husband's attention, but he turned me down all the time.  I was not exciting like the women in porn, because I knew nothing except what he taught me about sex, so I was no fun.  I was devastated, and again, I believed there was something wrong with me.

My husband's cousin moved in with us after his friend moved out.  I did not like him.  He was creepy.  It was during this time that my husband decided he wanted anal sex.  I had never said no to sex.  I gave him oral sex and tried every position he wanted.  I was willing to learn, although I did not enjoy sex, because it was all about him.  So when he got drunk and proceeded to shove himself into me, I was terrified.  It was the most painful and terrifying experience of my life.  I screamed and cried and begged him to stop.  When he finally did, he yelled at me, that I was not a real woman, because real women like this.  I could not go to the bathroom for several days, because I was bleeding and sore.  A couple of weeks later, he did it again, the same way.  The next day I went to him, crying and begged him to never do that to me again.  I told him how much pain I was in, and he laughed at me.  From that moment on, I hated him.  Every time he touched me, I felt like throwing up, but I was married and that was it.  I was stuck.

My husband was the son of an elder and had been a pioneer and a ministerial servant, and was accepted to Bethel (Headquarters for the Watchtower Society in Brooklyn, New York), but chose not to go.  He was one of the few educated young people, since we were not allowed to go to college, and he was very smart and talented.  He could have been a great provider, but that was too much for him.  I worked or we borrowed money from my mother, or his parents. One year into our marriage, I had to get another doctor's exam, so I could renew my birth control.  He wanted a baby, but I was not ready and didn't want to add a baby to my miserable life.  Additionally, because of the sex, drinking and I smoked marijuana a few times, we were inactive.  I was in constant fear of Armageddon and I was a mess.  No one knew what I had done.  My husband would not let me talk to the elders and kept me away from my family and friends.  My mother offered to get me the birth control shot, but being the submissive wife, I felt that would be wrong.

Fourteen months into a miserable marriage, I got pregnant.  He was happy and I thought maybe things would be better.  I was so wrong, because while going to the doctor for pregnancy, the doctor discovered that I had pre-cancer cells on my cervix.  All the STD's and other women he was with had damaged me.  During my pregnancy, I had to have regular biopsies.  It was humiliating and painful.

I worked the whole time I was pregnant, and he didn't work at all.  We separated for several months and he was disfellowshipped during that time, for threatening to kill some brothers that had told me he was cheating on me.  I had to be part of those meetings, because I was the one he told that he was going to kill those guys.  He went on a double date with his cousin and two single sisters, known for their attention to men.  Then he went bragging about it to the guys at basketball.  Of course, he claimed it was my fault that he got disfellowshipped, and he never forgave me.  He said that I was a bad girl and was pulling the wool over everyone's eyes.  He went to the elders and my mother telling them what I had wanted to do.  He wanted me to be disfellowshipped also and when I got reproof instead, he was infuriated.  When that was dropped after only three months, he became even worse and claimed that I had special treatment because I am white and a woman.  I was so sorry for what I had done.  I just wanted to be happy again.  We went back together before our daughter was born.  I was determined that my child would know her father.

When I was eight months pregnant, I was out in service with my mother one day.  After I came home and talked to the mailman, I heard a crash on the floor, in the house, our bedroom window was right there by the front door.  Out came my husband with two of the women that lived next door.  They just smiled at me, as I was standing there, huge, pregnant.  Obviously, he was having a threesome in my bed.

A few days later a girl knocked on my door.  When I answered the door and she looked at me, she ran away.  I found out later she was a cousin of the guys he was running methamphetamines with and that she was a prostitute with AIDS and he was having sex with her, unprotected.  I found this out several months after my daughter was born.  Then I had a procedure to freeze my cervix and kill all the bad cells after my baby was born. I left him six weeks after my baby was born.

I found his drug stash.  I knew that he owed money to some of the worst dealers in town, they kept driving by the house looking for him.  I was living in a house with no phone, no electricity, no water, or food.  The car was repossessed and the landlord notified us that we would be evicted soon, if the rent was not paid.

I had a newborn, so when my mother showed up, I left with the clothes on my back and a bag of clothes and other things for her.  I hid out at the home of an elder, for two weeks, so my husband could not find me.  He was making threats to me the whole time.

After that I got a job and started putting my life together.  People came out of the woodwork telling me things about my husband.  I had enough on him to get him arrested, if he harrassed me.  It was during this time that I learned about the woman with AIDS.  I had a nervous breakdown and had to be tested for several years, but I do not have AIDS.  Thank god!

I don't remember much about the first few years of my daughter's life.  I was having panic attacks constantly, I could not function, so I was just living, existing for those years.  I would go to the meetings and cry.  I was a mess.  That's when I met another new friend, a single brother.  I had no interest in being with anyone and he drove me nuts.  The congregation thought we were secretly a couple, although I didn't qualify for remarriage, because I was still married and had no proof that my husband was cheating on me.

I was told because of my below average looks, my weight and the fact that I had a bi-racial child that was very spirited, my chances of finding a mate were slim to none, and that I should jump on this single brother while I had the chance.  So, I was very mean to him.  I didn't want anyone to say anything about him to me, because I couldn't be his friend without the rumor mill trying to fix us up.

He moved and got married and for several years, we didn't speak.  I was alone for eight years, going to meetings regularly, out in field service as much as I could, but I was a single mother, working 12-hour days.  I was always exhausted.  I was not good enough, ever.

My mother met another single brother and they dated for a few months.  I was their chaperone, but he did not and still does not like me.  The feeling is mutual.  He is a jerk and keeps her away from her family, because he wants her all to himself.  I lost my mother, who, despite the relationship we had, was my only support, while I was losing my mind during those years, but now I was doing well.  My mother had raised her children and was ready to have her own life.  I was happy for her.  She had been single for twenty-one years and finally it was going to happen for her.  He was willing to take care of her, so she didn't have to work and could pioneer.  Her dream was coming true.

At this point the congregation was concerned for me, because I was a twenty-seven-year-old, single parent and needed a husband.  I had no desire to be married and go through that horror again.  Over and over, I heard, that it was unusual what I went through and that it would not happen again.  They said I was too young to be single.  Although, I was befriending a brother my age at the Kingdom Hall, that was not tolerable to them.  He was not good, and according to my mother, I was not pretty enough for him.  He would never like a woman like me.  So we were friends and we would laugh and flirt with each other.  We were not interested in having anything but a friendship, but the congregation would not butt out so we stayed away from each other.

My step-father had a friend that was single.  He was a good man that would take care of me and my daughter.  The best part was that he lived 700 miles away from my mom.  I started talking to him and he seemed like a good guy.  I talked to his mother and we got along.  I met him and felt I could respect him, so we made plans to get married.  Again, I did not want to get married, but he offered me the chance to be a homemaker, and mother.  I could actually be a mom instead of having to work all the time.  I took the chance, married and moved to Colorado.

We were good for about six months.  He had several physical issues and was in chronic pain.  He also was diabetic and had high blood pressure.  He was eleven years older than me.  He was a good man, but the medication and health issues made him very angry and caused us lots of trouble.  Oxycodone makes people violent and he was taking it.  He was physically abusive to my daughter, although he hid it for several months. I knew something was wrong, but couldn't figure it out.  We fought constantly and my daughter hated him. She would cry and throw a fit every time I left for work.

Nine months into our marriage, he was out on workman's compensation and I was working full-time again.  One day I came home from work and my daughter was behaving worse than ever.  She was afraid all the time and I was so tired of it.  I had seen him spank her a couple of times and we had fought about it.  He was a huge man, who didn't know his own strength, and he was too hard on her.  He told me that I was the reason she was a brat and I believed him.  Our agreement was that he would not discipline her, if I was not present.  He was beating her constantly.

In the kitchen, I forced her to pull her pants off so I could see what he had done.  She was shaking and crying.  She didn't want to tell me, because he said it would get worse, if she did. What I saw set me into a fury like I have never known.  She was bruised from her back to her knees, fresh ones and old ones.  I am 5'4" and weighed about 275 pounds, at the time.  He is 6'5" and weighed 380 pounds, so I did not hurt him, but I punched him with all my might, till my arms could not move, I screamed and cursed and wanted to kill him.  That was the end of our marriage.

He barely spoke to me after that and she became his princess.  I wanted to take her to the police, but she didn't want to go, because she didn't want to be naked in front of strangers.  Also, I didn't want to bring reproach on Jehovah.  I will never stop regretting that decision.  He never laid a hand on her again.  I told the
elders about it and nothing was done.  I just got a shoulder shrug and well you made your bed.  That was the beginning of the end.  I knew he was going to be handicapped eventually, so I worked for a year to find a home that was suitable for us, since the one we lived in was 800 square feet and not wheelchair safe.  I didn't sleep for more than a year and was again losing my mind, but determined to save my marriage.

I found a house that fit our budget and we agreed to rent his house out so we could afford it.  It was 4-bedrooms and had a wheel chair ramp.  In my mind, it was perfect, because he could get around in a wheel chair, when the time came.  I could have my own bedroom, and be able to sleep, and there was an extra room for an office, so I could work from home and be there to take care of him.  My daughter and I could go to the basement, which was nice, and have our space away from him, when he was in his moods.  I was so happy that we were finally being blessed.  I spent several days cleaning and painting, making sure the house was ready.

Finally the time came to move in. We sat at a restaurant and I said, "Are you ready to move?"  He looked me in the eye and said " I don't love you.  I don't want to be married to you anymore". I was so shocked that I asked him to repeat himself several times.  I was exhausted, hurt and furious again.  I could have gone back home to my family, but now I was stuck with a house, that I bought for us. That I could not afford on my income alone.  I moved in, decorated with him in mind, thinking he would change his mind. He never did.

I couldn't pay the bills on my own, so I found two single sisters from the congregation to move in.  Only one of them did and she was a nightmare.  I went to the elders about her and got nothing, but after six months, she moved back out, and I was so happy.  Even though we had nothing, it was better than that.  She spread all kinds of rumors about me and my daughter around the Kingdom Hall and of course, even though very few people liked her, anything bad that was said about me was eaten up by the gossipers, since I didn't associate with very many people.  I tried to be private about my life.

I became inactive, because I was just tired of the hypocrisy and I was embarrassed to go out in field service. The things people would say and do, and during bible studies I went on, someone would be opening up about a loss or how their life was a mess and the conductor would be so cold.  The brothers giving talks would be so hateful about homosexuality, when there were gay people in the audience.  New people coming in that wanted to be part of the congregation and they were treated so rudely.  I didn't want to be associated with it.

The assembly about conscience changed my life.  I sat there and listened to several talks both days.  Hearing over and over, if the only reason you do not commit sin, is because of your conscience or because it would make Jehovah mad, you are not doing it for the right reasons.  You have to hate sin and have no desire for it. Then in the next breath, we would be told that we are imperfect, but Jehovah loves us anyway.  I felt again, as I had all my life, that the sacrifice I made was useless.  Why did I cry myself to sleep all those nights....because I wanted someone to love me?  Why did I give up sex and masturbating, and ignore my needs, when my body wanted it so badly that I was in pain?  Jehovah didn't appreciate that I made this sacrifice out of love and respect for his laws.  I couldn't talk to anyone about how I felt, because being uncontrollably horny was a sin and there was something wrong with me for wanting it so badly.  I would be labeled a freak and be shunned even more than I was already.

After that, my husband went into the hospital.  He had been diagnosed with dementia.  He was very sick and needed care, I was informed that I would be responsible for his medical bills and his family wanted us to get divorced, to save me from that.  I went to the elders, and told them about it.  Not to ask permission, but to let them know what I would be doing.  I was told that I could not divorce him.  We had been separated almost four years and he was not taking care of me, but I could not divorce him?  That would leave me open to sin and they said it would be too much of a temptation.  Really?  If I lasted that long, what was a piece of paper going to do?  I got the divorce anyway and stayed inactive.

My divorce was final last May and I started dating in June.  Until that time I had only been intimate with and kissed the two men I had been married to and had never enjoyed sex.  I have had more experience with it now and I know that I am capable of enjoying it, but I need to be loved to really enjoy it.  Otherwise, it means nothing.  I finally know how I want to be treated and the standards I want for myself.  I am comfortable in my body and I know I am beautiful.  I am figuring things out, but have a long way to go.

I just found out that my first husband was reinstated, while he was in prison.  He has never supported our daughter.  I am furious that he can be part of the congregation again and has not earned it.  He will do the same things again.  But it's not my problem.  I am a survivor.  I have picked myself up from nothing several times and I will again.  I know many things are missing and this is kind of a jumble, but I hope it helps to understand me better.

Friday, April 25, 2014

How I've Worked to Expose a Pedophile by Shannon Michael Rowan

Bullshit taught by the Watchtower Society

LATEST UPDATE:  (see original story below) I am sitting here pondering the last few weeks. Things have been pretty crazy and testing my strength. I've had a lot on my mind I haven't talked about until now. Those in my life know the tragic upbringing myself and my siblings had.  I thought having Larry Vogl being released from prison would be the hardest thing I'd have to go through. NO I was way off. I have had a difficult relationship with my mom for years. I've tried and tried to be the daughter she needed. I have known some things that have transpired since Larry's release that have changed everything for me. 

My mother, Marla Milligan has reconnected with Larry. She has spent time with him. Hooked up his utilities in her name. He has been to her house and had dinner. She and her current husband are all friends. He has been in her home and seen all of the pictures of all of us and the grandkids. The thought of that makes me sick. Her actions are the worst betrayal of all. It shows that she knew all along what he was doing and just didn't care. She always called him "her favorite husband", he was good to her just not her kids. She thinks he had been persecuted enough. 

I've spoken with his parole officer and the district attorney's office, they know my concerns and are on top of it. I ended their little reunion. He isn't suppose to see either one of them or go to the Kingdom Hall. He's being monitored and any infraction he is back in custody. 

For me this was my breaking point. She will never be the mother I have always needed. She is now dead to me. This was a final betrayal against her children. I will never allow her to hurt me any longer. I'm no longer her victim I am a survivor of the reality she created for all of us. 

For 23 years she has denied knowing what he did and played the victim. To every person that was here she's betrayed them. She has never been the victim, she was a perpetrator. She sacrificed her children for a man who did unimaginable things to all of us. We have never been important enough for her. 

l will always fight for the innocent. I will always protect those who can't protect themselves. I see the pain all of my siblings have gone through and the daily struggle for some of them. If I could take away their pain I would. I am strong and will always fight for justice for those forgotten. 

To all my friends and family around the world, thank you for being on my journey. I learn more and more about myself daily. I get inspired by all of your posts. I see the amazing mothers in my life and I am blessed to see so much love and compassion that you have for your kids. I have three amazing kids in my life. I know what the love between a child and mother should be. I would move heaven and earth for them. I will never let them suffer the way I did. Thanks for listening. My next step is to move on. I will appreciate every day and experience life to the fullest, letting nothing get me down.

UPDATE! (Posted in group, July 19, 2014 by Bill Pavloff) Because of Shannon's hard work, being strong and standing up for herself by telling her story everywhere, her attacker has been chased out (told to go elsewhere) of every Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall he has visited since he was released from prison!!! HAHA!! Here's to old pedophiles dying alone and unwanted! (pardon me while I be uncharacteristically mean-spirited)

PREVIOUS UPDATE:  Posted in group, July 9, 2014 by Shannon Michael Rowan
This week has been a rough one. The man who abused me and my family was released from prison Sunday.  He was released as a transient in Fortuna.  For the past twenty-three years, I have dreaded this day.

The thing that has pissed me off worse was my mother giving information about it to the Eureka elders, so they could watch out for him!  WHAT??!!!  Twenty-three years too phucking late!  She knew and did nothing; the elders knew and did nothing.  Now someone is concerned?

Here's the best part.  He was never disfellowshipped.  That's right!  He's in "good standing" and has always had "Jehovah on his side."  Forget the victims.  

As soon as there is a current photo on Megan's law, we will make flyers.  I do have a restraining order for my home and work.  Since I work in Fortuna, I could run into him anywhere.  Honestly, I am a bit freaked out inside.  I am trying to get a hold on my panic attacks, which I hide from everyone.  I want to be stronger, but that little girl getting beat with a hammer is still crying out inside me.  This man abused us in every way and I have to fight so no one else has to suffer.  Everyone will be warned about him and the cult that protected him.  I always heard that "Jehovah would make things right and punish those who harm little children."  Bull Shit!  We are responsible for ourselves.  I am making it my mission to warn everyone I can.  Thank you for always being there for me. You are all truly my family. Much love and appreciation to all of you.

I was born into the cult called the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses.  I have four siblings, who may not appreciate or agree with my views.  I am originally from Ukiah, California.  When my mom and biological dad moved to where "the need was great" (Society lingo for, "We're not getting any money from this area.")  I was five years old.  We ended up in Lemon, South Dakota.  There were very few publishers (what the Governing Body calls active Jehovah's Witnesses), and my mom's brother was the only elder.  My father left us high and dry, abandoning us.  

Within months of my mom gaining a scriptural divorce she was introduced to a brother.  Remember the saying that went, "Who, in their right mind, would marry a woman with five children!"  Well, she found him, Larry Vogl.  Once they were married, everything changed.  Larry began beating us.  Yes, I chose the word "beating."  If something went missing or we did anything wrong, he would beat us with 2 x 4's, belts, hangers and his fists, just to mention a few of his tools.  My mom did nothing to stop this behavior, nor did she tell her brother, the elder.  My reoccurring nightmare began when I was about seven years of age and in the bathtub.  I did not hear Larry say to be quiet.  He came into the bathroom and beat me with a hammer.  My mom did nothing.  He abused us regularly.  We were good kids.  I was deeply involved with the truth.  I had bible studies and regular return visits.  I was proud and let others know about Jehovah.  When I did something wrong in Larry's eyes he would punish me by not letting me conduct my bible studies or go out in service.  If I turned in my time he would make me change it to what he felt I had done.  I was in service from morning until night whenever we were out of school.  

Though it's difficult to imagine, things got worse after we moved to Fortuna, California.  Shortly after our move, Larry started sexually abusing us.  My mom has always maintained she knew nothing.  Even if I were to believe that, she didn't protect us from the physical and emotional abuse.  This went on until I was baptized, and I was filled with guilt.  I told him that either he went to the elders or I would.  During this same time period, my mom had gone off to pioneer school which lasted for 2 weeks.  We were left alone with Larry.  The abuse was awful.  I went to my mom and told her what was happening.  She played the victim, saying she didn't know anything was happening.  She was depressed and in bed.  

Larry finally went to the elders.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Each of us had to go into the back room to be questioned by a Judicial Committe of elders.  When I entered, I was made to sit next to him.  He then held my hand while I was questioned.  I couldn't understand.  Why was he there?  I then realized they didn't fault him.  He was a well-liked Ministerial Servant with five unruly step-children.  I lied through my teeth, knowing we were going home with him.  I was told that I could be disfellowshipped for my participation.  I was so confused.  I was at fault and I had disappointed Jehovah.  I was devastated.  The outcome of our meeting with the Judicial Committee was that Larry was publicly reproved and removed from his position as Ministerial Servant.  My mom was privately reproved.  No one was to tell anyone.  No authorities were to be notified.  It was to be handled within the family.  Something to point out is that the elders on the committee told their families and their children were not to associate with us or befriend us.  I accepted what the elders said and what they did.  I thought I should have been punished, as well.  

So continued the ongoing tragedies in our young lives.  Larry continued to abuse us.  He beat us for everything.  Every time the elders would be called.  They would come and pray with him.  He would shed tears and all was blamed on us.  He took the doors off of our rooms and off the bathroom.  He would stare at us and we had no privacy.  If he knew a brother was coming, he would return the doors to their original positions.  He may not have touched us, but he still threatened us regularly.  At one point, an elder and his family were on the phone.  The line was not correctly disconnected, which allowed them to hear us being beaten.  That elder never came over to help.  

Finally, the abuse was reported by my little sister's counselor at school.  I know my mom called her and told her knowing she would report it.  He was arrested.  I was a senior in high school.  He worked for the city so it made the news.  Shortly after being arrested there was a committee meeting called.  We spent eight hours being questioned as to who reported Larry.  There was no concern for us.  I expressed to the elders that we had all lied during the last meeting because we were scared of him.  They refused to hear it.  They said the previous case would not be opened back up and that the current situation was no longer in their hands, but would be handled by the Judicial Committee in Crescent City where he was being placed at Pelican Bay Prison.  

The authorities wanted to charge the brothers for hiding the abuse.  As we headed into court we would see other brothers in the court room. They took notes and approached us later at the kingdom hall, telling us we were liars and how this poor man has suffered.  No help from the elders.  The case against Larry resulted in over 20 charges of sexual molestation against myself and my youngest sister.  He was sentenced to 23 years.  

Once Larry was in prison, I expected to hear from the Judicial Committee of elders in Crescent City to discuss the fact that the abuse did not stop and that he had lied.  Those elders did not want to hear from any of us.  The committee was over.  Larry Vogl was never disfellowshipped; he went into prison as a brother in good standing.  Of course, no one believed us and he was never punished.  Instead, we were punished.  We were told Jehovah will make it right.  He will punish him, if he is lying.  My mother had a horrible reputation which has followed me through my whole life.  We were judged by what the adults raising us did.  

Once Larry went to prison, I continued to be a good witness, though my childhood reputation always followed me.  When I moved to other halls a letter was sent warning them of me and my mother.  I had a lot of issues that have never gone away.  I have had to sit in assemblies and listen to experiences from the brothers in prison who are bringing the truth to the inmates.  I know they are talking about him.  I know that some brothers have always remained in contact with him.  I know that no one has ever believed us.  

I went on with my life.  I was married to another Jehovah's Witness for twelve years.  I have always tried to get past my mothers reputation, but I never did.  I would cringe inside, knowing the years are passing.  The final straw for me was when I spoke with an elder regarding Larry's release.  I was concerned he would be back in the same hall.  I was told he will be welcome wherever he is, because he is a "brother" in "good standing" and I could tell no one what he had done.  If I told anyone, I would lose my privileges.  If it was on Megan's Law and someone saw it they would then know.  I could not fathom what was being said.  He was still going to have all the rights?  I had been fighting to stay faithful and now I could warn no one? 

SORRY, I am out!  I will tell everyone who will listen.  I left that day.  That was six years ago. My boyfriend is also an Ex-Jehovah's Witness, who was disfellowshipped.  He and I have known each other for over twenty-five years, so he knows my story and was there for some of it.  Walking away with my boyfriend supporting me felt awesome.  

I thought that I could be happy and start a new chapter of my life.  I woke up shortly after that in pain.  The pain got worse and worse.  After many doctors and tests, I was diagnosed with PTSD, Fibromyalgia and OCD.  I was forced to quit working and spent the next four years in bed.  I was on and off medications and gained weight from taking some of them, which led to my being diagnosed with diabetes.   I have that under control with medication, but I am in pain all the time.  I have gotten myself out of bed and fight for all of my good days.  I have been to counselors and done everything to try and help myself.   Sometimes I just don't want to talk about it anymore.  Why does it have to define my life?  

Today, as I write this, I am scared.  Larry is to be released July 4, 2014.  I have successfully filed for a restraining order, since he is to be released right back into Humboldt County where he was arrested.  I have so much support to help me canvas the area, including all Kingdom Halls in the area.  I know he is not allowed in any church or allowed to go door to door.  I will be there to make sure he doesn't.

I will do what none of the adults in my life have done.  I will protect the innocent ones.  He is going to be in his 80's.  Many think he's too old to hurt anyone.  No, he is a dirty, perverted old man, who will cause no more damage on my watch.  I am getting better everyday.  I still have issues with trust and many days don't want to leave my house.  I have a good support system in place.  I am trying to go back to work, which will help me immensely.  I am no longer a victim of this cult.  I am a survivor.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

When Reality is Recognized by Andy Madit

I was born into “The Truth,” which is what the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses professes to be.  My parents were baptized just weeks before I was born.   I never knew a birthday celebration, nor did I celebrate Christmas, Easter or any other national holidays.  

My first memories were of my father explaining why he must beat us as a punishment…that it was Jehovah’s will.  My mother was a house wife and my father soon started a janitorial business, in order for him to go out into the house-to-house ministry, called field service, in the mornings.  We were very cliché Jehovah's Witnesses in many ways.

When I was in second grade, we moved to Tennessee, where help was needed to build a Kingdom Hall (my father had learned construction in the Air Force before he married).  After that job played out, we moved to Texas.  All in all, I went to ten different schools between Kindergarten and eleventh grade. 

My father was a bit of a rebel.  For example, after living in Texas, we moved back North, where he was soon rebuked for sporting a mustache.  He fought them tooth and toenail, and to my recollection, he never shaved the thing off, though he was reduced to a simple publisher, losing his Ministerial Servant position.  Some good did come of that, though.  Any brothers of Latin decent were allowed to keep their mustaches without rebuke or restriction.

I remember when I was very young, between four and five years old, a group of us little Jehovah's Witness boys, ranging in ages from three to eight years, curiously played as  young children will often do, the game of “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine."  Later, when a talk came out, regarding how Jehovah hates homosexuals, I sank in my seat with such a crippling guilt.   So young and I was so terrified of the wrath of Jehovah against us immoral ones.  This irrational guilt and terror has plagued me my whole life.

In my early teens, I began to doubt “The Truth” and even belief in God.  How could everyone on the whole earth hear the word of the Jehovah’s witnesses?   China at that time didn't even have one witness that we knew of.  How could He be allowing so much suffering just to prove a point to Satan?  How could he kill the innocent children at Armageddon?  These are just a few of the bizarre teachings the Watchtower Society hammers into the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses, meeting after meeting, week after week, month after month, year after year.

As things turned out, right after I was baptized in 1980 at the age of sixteen, my teenage hormones got the best of me and a willing “worldly” girl, who was my age, decided we were destined to be together, and I committed fornication.  I moved out of town and that put an end to that relationship, but a year later, feeling very guilty as my programming insisted, I confessed the matter, and for immorality I was thrown out into the world and shunned by everyone, that I’d ever known.  

Later in life, while seeing in a documentary a cheetah take down an antelope, I asked myself, 'Could this creature have possible been created to do anything else?'  Slowly but surely (over the following 20 years), I dispelled all the dogma, propaganda and brainwashing from my belief structure. I woke up!