My mother was converted via the door to door ministry, when I was very young, probably age three or four years. My father never fell for it, so his "non-compliance" caused a lot of friction in their marriage and eventually led to their divorce when I was about ten years old.
My two brothers and sister were much older than me. They were ten, twelve and fourteen years older. They had all become Jehovah's Witnesses in their teens through my mother. My oldest brother married a Jehovah's Witness and they both left the Watchtower Society around 1975, shortly after the Governing Body's failed prophecy re: 1975 being the "end of this system of things" debacle. I never really knew the circumstances of their leaving or whether they were disfellowshipped or they disassociated themselves. I know they were both smoking and I had heard the term "apostate" thrown around, but I never really heard the full truth about what led them out. The rest of my Jehovah's Witness family shunned them and did not speak to them for years.
In 1986, my oldest brother shot and killed himself. This happened shortly after he had been severely shunned by my sister. My brother was having marital problems at the time and had come to visit at my father's home. My father was not at home and my sister opened the door, because she was there babysitting for me. She told me at the time, that she was very cold to him and barely said anything to him other than nobody was home and she acted disgusted that she even had to speak to him since he had left "the truth," which is how the Governing Body has ordered Jehovah's Witnesses to view the Watchtower Society. She had not seen him in approximately ten years and that is how she treated him. A week later he was dead. I remember seeing her and my other brother acting so sad at the funeral and feeling really sick about it, but I knew how he had been treated.
My parents had divorced around 1974 or 1975 and my mother became rather inactive, because she felt she was getting no support at the Kingdom Hall. My mother and I stopped actually going to the meetings around that time. I still thought it was all true, but hung out with non-Jehovah's Witnesses throughout my high school years and married a non-Jehovah's Witness at a young age. We had two children and were divorced after five years. I became involved with the Jehovah's Witnesses again shortly after my marriage through my mother and sister, which began causing problems in my marriage right away. As a divorced single mother, I was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness in 1989. I began working at an insurance agency for an elder from our congregation at the Kingdom Hall and he and his family sort of took us under their wing. Sometimes they would offer their teenage children as babysitters and we would all go out to dinner. This had gone on for about a year or so and the son and daughter had babysat my sons on several occasions.
One evening, my youngest son, who was around three years old at the time, blurted out something that no three-year-old would ever say unless they had been molested. I asked him to repeat what he said and he was very upset and repeated it and give me more details. He said it was gross what Michael had told him to do to him. He actually used the word gross several times and was very agitated. I knew it was true and that Michael had molested him. The next day at work, I told the elder's wife what my son had told me. Shockingly, she said that she was not surprised and that her son had been acting strange. She said she would tell her husband and let me know what happened. The next day I went to work again and her husband, the elder, was there. He sat me down and said that they had confronted their son and that there was some type of altercation between them and their son admitted to them he molested my son. I remember just not even being able to see and running out of the building and driving home in a daze.
At some point, I spoke to the Presiding Overseer (P.O.). I don't remember if I called him or he called me, but he knew all about it, because the elder whose son had molested my son had told him. I said to him that we needed to call the police and he said,
"Well wait, we need to let Jehovah handle this situation. He knows how to handle these situations and the world does not. We normally handle these types of situations within the congregation, because the way the world handles these situations is never correct."
I remember calling my sister, whose husband was a Jehovah's Witness elder in another congregation. I was extremely upset and told her what Dave the P.O. had told me. I will never forget that she told me I should not even be speaking about this and to just put it behind us and let the elders handle it. The other thing the P.O. told me that just disgusted me was that what happened to my son was just childhood experimentation! I remember being so upset and I yelled at him and said a teenage boy raping a two- or three-year-old is childhood experimentation?!!! I was young and naive and a newly baptized JW and I was told that the elders know what is best. I wish so much that I had been older and wiser and things would have been so different as to how I handled things. I would had told them, "Go to Hell!!!" and I would have called the police in a heartbeat, regardless of what they or my Jehovah's Witness family said. But I was brainwashed and believed the whole submission thing and that they knew what was best.
After this, I went into a deep and long depression and started becoming more and more inactive. I went rarely to the meetings over the years. I would start up and then the more I went to meetings the more depressed I would get. Things kept gnawing at me. I would hear them judging and condemning everyone and everything that was not Jehovah's Witness, when I knew all the terrible things that I had witnessed and experienced.
The final straw was around the year 2000-2001 and my remaining brother confided in me that they just found out his six-year-old step-granddaughter had also been molested by an elder's son in their Arkansas congregation. I was shocked that this could happen twice in the same family both times at the hands of elders' sons. They had also been told not to get the police involved. The parents, my brother's step-son and wife, went against the elders anyway and the guy was convicted. The parents were put under tons of pressure not to pursue conviction and were actually persecuted in the congregation. It was so bad for my brother and his family that they had to move away to another state. Everyone was against them for going to the police. Even so, my brother is still a Jehovah's Witness in his new state, because he is so brainwashed and says, "Where else would we go?" (Watchtower Society rhetoric championed by the Governing Body as support for their twisted version of "the truth," another method they use as an "Exodus-preventive.")
The final straw for me was seeing the Dateline program on the child molestation coverups in 2002. That opened my eyes to the fact that this was a worldwide child abuse coverup situation. I started researching the history of the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses, the many false and failed prophecies, the constant changes in doctrine. I had already experienced the hypocrisy and saw the awful treatment of my brother, who committed suicide. I read the bible without their literature and began seeing that they twisted scripture like crazy to suit their own agenda. I realized they are a destructive, family-destroying and life-destroying cult, a publishing company using slave labor to bring in their funds, masquerading as a religion, but always a cult.
I disassociated in late 2002 and have not looked back other than to tell my story to warn others. Leaving was the best thing we ever did, even though we lost family. The love inside the religion is completely false and conditional and I have found true family and friendship since leaving.
My son is an adult now and he knows that I have spoken about what happened to him. He is okay with that, if it helps others.
We are all shunned by my sister and her entire family and my brother and his family. Not only am I being shunned, but also my children are shunned, even though they were never baptized as Jehovah's Witnesses. They are being shunned, because they are my children, so they have lost their relationships, not only with their aunts and uncles, but also with their cousins, with whom they thought they were close. My mother is the only one that has refused to shun me and my children, probably because she had not been able to live with what happened to my oldest brother. I thank God that at least my mother has a strong enough mind to follow her heart and refuses to follow the shunning command of the Watchtower Society. Thanks for listening.
NOTE: If you are a former or Ex-Jehovah's Witness, who would like to have your case reviewed legally, concerning you or your child having been molested/raped and receiving no assistance from anyone in the Watchtower Society, you can contact William H. Bowen, the founder of silentlambs.org. For confidential contact info, check with Admin. in "The Truth Behind Jehovah's Witnesses" group on Facebook.