The Jw Legacy

The JW's have left my mother with a horrendous legacy of depression, self-harm and phobias. Twice she has attempted suicide and today is wracked with bad self-esteem and a largley negative view of the world. I would say, I grew up 1/4 JW as my mother went through phases of fundamentalism which came and when with her sickness. Let me explain...

My mother was born a twin in 1944. Her parents were both strict Jehovahs witnesses, my grandfather having been labelled so since his birth and my grandmother 'inducted' when she married him (she had previously been baptist). They were individuals who to the best of their ability did everything possible to be considered 'good' JW's, irregardless of what this entailed. My mother was brought up in second place to her brother (her being female) whilst her brother slept in a bed in a bedroom my mother was given a damp mattress on a damp floor in the attic. In her own words, throughout her childhood her parents at best were 'indifferent to her existance, as they already had the son the 'needed' '. My mother also got the tail end of any food or clothing that came the familys way as they were impoverished, not aided in any way but my grandfathers insistance that my grandmother didn't work (as this isn't a right women have in the JW) irregardless of their state of existance. Things were to go from bad to much worse for my mother however as at the age of 9, her brother who had suffered continuously with epilepsy since birth, drowned in a fishing accident. My nan left my mother and brother home alone for the day, giving mum chores to do before she left and saying that my uncle could go fishing if he wished, which he subsequently did. My mum, not understanding the dangers of leaving a child alone with epilepsy, and being scared of the consequences if she didn't do what her mother told her, got on quietly with her work and her brother went off. He had an epileptic seizure whilst sitting on a deserted riverbank, got tangled in his fishing rod line and drowned in the water to be found two days later by my grandfather who was dregging the river as part of his job. Mum says they didnt seem concerned when her brother didnt come home and just assumed he'd stayed at his grandparents. When grandad came across his body by accident, she said that all he did was haul my uncle into the boat, take him back home and hand his body to my nan just saying 'well thats that then'. My mother was blamed for his death and as part of the punishment was not allowed to participate in art classes at school (her favourite subject) and was beaten by my grandfather. Shortly after that, they took her to my great-grandmothers and left her there for 5 years, until she was old enough to work and then they fetched her home one day and put her out strawberry picking in the fields the next. Mum was devestated.

At the age of 16, mum was offered a place at a local art collage, she desperatly wanted to go. Her parents said no and beat her for asking telling her that 'she was a woman and it was not the will of Jehovah for a sinner to be given advantages over her brothers'. By the end of the next week mum had run away from home and found herself (after catching a bus) 30 miles away in a small town called Spalding. Here she went round all of the hotels and restaurants asking for work and by the end of the first day she had got herself a job in a hotel as a kitchen hand and waitress, the hotel kindly let her stay there until she found somewhere else. By the end of the first week mum had moved in with a work mate where she stayed until her marriage at the age of 19.

During this time mum stayed away from JW, knowing they would most probably contact her parents and inform them where she was. Her parents never looked for her and while she was away they had another son. I guess that made them content.

At the age of 19, thinking her parents would have given up looking for her, she went to a Kingdom Hall Meeting and there met her first husband. After two weeks of dating and him inducting her back into JW life, he proposed, and mum fearing not having a proper home or a decent wage accepted. She later told me that she would have soon been made homeless if she hadnt as her work mate and her husband were expecting a baby and needed her room and mum didnt have the money saved to rent start renting somewhere.

My mum had my sister Linda a year later, and it was then that the abuse started. Her husband up until that point, she said, had been perfectly nice but when Linda was born he started petty arguments more and more and critising things that she did. He stopped her going to work because he didnt think it was 'appropriate'. Then one day he came home and sat at the table to eat the dinner she had cooked and he suddenly jumped up, smashed the plate on the floor shouting 'this isnt good enough!' and then punched her in the face. Mum says that when she went to the KH meeting on the sunday, the first thing a woman asked her was 'what did you do wrong?' and when she tried to explain, a man came from behind her where she was standing in a doorway, put his hand on her elbow and guided her to a seat, hushing her. My brother was born two years later and while mum was pregnant with him she was continually punched, once so hard she fell down the stairs. when my brother was two, mum fled the house to a friends she had made, living the other side of town. She remained there for a few months until she thought she was safe and then moved into the house next door to her friends. A few times her husband came to the house and a few times he had to be escorted off the premises by a combination of the neighbours husband and the police. Mum tried to go back to the KH but once she had started divorce proceedings she found that she wasnt welcome.

Though years later my mum met and married my father, had me and got a career in caring for the elderly, To this day my mum suffers with the effects of her early life, she suffers from depression and takes medication daily, the depression peaked when she tried to return to the JW'S when i was 7. Two weeks after she started returing to meetings, he behaviour changed for the worse, She started talking about the end of the world and how myself and my dad (who is Anglican/ Native american spiritualist) would go to hell and that she deserved to burn too. I would come home from school and find her in tears, one day i came home and found the living room door closed and could hear voices inside, two JW's had made a home visit and i could hear them telling my mother that my father was a negative influence and that she should seek a divorce, as it was wrong for a JW to be involved with a non-believer. My father, it is worth mentioning is the most wonderful person, worked for the ambulance service all his life, awarded ambulance person of the year twice and now works as a paramedic trainer for both the ambulance service and St Johns Voluntary Ambulance Service. Also setting up and supporting a first responder scheme in our county. No one can ever say he is a negative influence!

Anyway i burst in, angry as hell, throwing a temper tantrum and they left calling me demonically possessed. A 7 year old child? real nice. The next afternoon, i came in from playing in the garden where my dad was working in the shed to find a silent house.I couldnt find my mom anywhere so went into the living room where i saw her curled up in a ball on the living room floor shaking and crying next to a big empty bottle of paracetamol. It transpired she had taken over 200 and my dad immediatly called the ambulance. She spent the next 4 months in a psychiatric ward.

Over the years, though psychiatrists and family alike have tried to convince her otherwise she keeps going bk to the KH and as a result once again attempted suicide when i was 16, this time spending nearly a year in psychiatric care. As i speak now, my grandfather has passed away and my grandmother is also currently being treated for depression and anxiety. My uncle (who only made his self known to us when i was 17) has little if nothing to do with us. He is very much his fathers son, strict JW, little regard for non-believers and to date has fleeced nearly £10,000 out of my grandmother. he has no children and makes it known he dislikes his wife.

To say this is an opinion forged soley from one familys experience and cannot be generalised to the whole JW population would also be incorrect. I had a friend at primary school called Jonathan whos parents were JW's and he would regularily miss school and then turn up with bruises, one day his leg was so badly bruised me and a friend asked him what had happened and he told us that when he and his parents were out preaching his mother has forced him into the gap in a closing door when someone refused to speak to them. The door had slammed on his leg. I have recently got back in touch with Jonathan, who thankfully, moved out the first oppertunity he got and no longer associates with the JW. he has a fiancee, a job and a home and is hugely happy.

Another example is when i came to Lincoln for my studies and was verbally abused in the street by a JW for simply saying 'no thankyou' when she tried to hand me a leaflet. I cant repeat what she called me.

I know we now live in a PC society where everyone should accept what everyone else does, but i dont believe that should infringe upon protecting people we love. All of you for sharing you stories are so brave! The JW world is still largely an insular world, largely left alone by the media etc but i really think the horrendous treatment vulnerable individuals recieve at their hands, particularily children should be brought to light. I cant tell you how much pain they have caused so many people I care about and the degree of negativity they are spreading in the world as a whole. Love to you all x

VintageBelle VintageBelle
22-25, F
4 Responses Feb 24, 2009

You cannot say it was the era my mom grew up in because as a childcare worker today, I can tell you that there are many many children in difficult situations with a lack of good parenting. Secondarily, my mom grew up in the late 1940's and 50's, I went to school with my friend Johnathan in the 1990's, so again, it isnt about when these things tooks place. Im not ignorant of the techings of the jehovah witnesses, in order to better undertstand the bad things they did to people, i researched. I read the watchtower, the 'young peoples answers' or whatever they call it. I didnt want to be confronted with one of them one day and have them claiming i am entitled to no opinion because I dont understand their religion, because I have made every effort to do so. In truth, the members of my mothers old religion did nothing to assist her, they abandoned her when she needed support the most and made every attempt to conceal the links between the way she was treated and the motivations to do so that they clearly and absolutly put in place. I think people who have suffered as a result of these monsters need to start speaking out, forget political correctness, there are dangerous and manipulative groups of individuals out there who hide under the banner of religion and they need to be shown to be the criminals that they are. I hate the fact that they are still allowed out on the streets to pervert the minds of decent individuals. Maybe you have met one or two 'ok' JW's, but then again you mention you have a connection with them so im sorry, but i have learnt not to take any notice of people who vouch for them because as Ive learned over the years, there are only two groups of individuals connected with the JW's, their minions and their victims.

It seems like religion had nothing to do with the bad things your grandparents and dad(?) did. All of the Jehovah's Witnesses I've ever met have not put men above women. The women at the Hall i used to go to all had jobs of their own. Perhaps it was the era in which your mom grew up? Because none of the Witnesses i know are like that.

I am not a JW and never have been. I have no relatives or friends that I know of who are in that group. However, I think it's that the people you described were behaving very badly indeed. I think their religion had nothing to do with it. Had they been following the teachings of Jesus, they certainly would have behaved differently.

Thank you so much for sharing your story!<br />
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What a way to live the most important years of your life<br />
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The J.W,s tried for years to get me to go to one of their <br />
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meetings, BUT gave up on me!!