Battered lambs story-
My heart is heavy after reading so many of the stories of the silent lambs. I have been a silent lamb for many years, not knowing that I was until recently. And I will remain a Silent Lamb because I fear reprisal if my identity is known. My experiences with an abusive husband and uncaring , inept elders seems to pale in comparison with many that I have read here. But I will add it to the rest because it seems that as our numbers grow, our unified cry grows louder and we grow stronger..
Some 20 years ago in a New England state, I was an enthusiastic new Witness, who had recently re-married and my new husband was also studying the Bible. I had 3 young children by my first marriage. Right after we were married and as soon as my new husband became a witness, the abuse began. At first it was subtle emotional abuse....constant criticism of the children and me, always belittling and calling us names, swiping all of the dishes off the table if upset about someone or something; purposely stomping on and crushing a favorite toy left out at the end of the day. Then it became harsher and more physical.....swinging the children around by one arm in a rage, pushing them down or shoving them out of the way, choking me if upset with something I said (always in the privacy of our own home and never in public). There were never any bruises for evidence. He was a real Jekyll & Hyde personality who had never shown his abusive side before we were married.
For the first few years, I tried to compensate by being the perfect little witness wife, trying never to upset him to avoid conflict, always minimizing his abuse and making excuses for his comments and assaults, but as they gradually became worse I took the problem to the elders in our congregation. Unfortunately for me, by that time my husband had become very well-liked -- a real guy's guy, so to speak. No one could believe that he would do or say what I had accused him of. They only knew him as the friendly, sociable brother at the Kingdom Hall who would loudly sing the songs, say the prayers and handle the mike. I have heard the social climate described as "good old boys" and it was. Of course, his response to my accusations was that I was not a submissive wife and "my" children were out-of-control brats who he was trying to "discipline."
For years, the children and I prayed for some way out of our escalating abusive situation. He was now adding isolation and excessive control to his mix of abusiveness. My own family had disowned me when I became a Witness so I had no one to turn to. In desperation, I wrote to the Society for guidance. Their response was a basic form letter telling me to continue to go to my elders. This response was worse than no response. My letter to them had been pleading for their help since my elders were only making my situation worse through their lack of understanding and tendency to side with my husband. Then, adding insult to injury, a copy of my letter to them and their response to me was sent to the wrong congregation, informing a second group of elders who now were aware of the details. I had been hoping and praying (in fact, waiting anxiously each day) for some kind of emotional and spiritual concern and guidance and all I got was an uncaring form letter. It was such a disappointment, I threw it in the trash
Our family life was in a downward spiral. My friends within the congregation did not know how to respond to our situation so the children and I were left out of many social gatherings. After I got the elders involved, he became even more abusive and threatening. There were days and weeks of the "silent treatment" punctuated only by sudden outburts of anger, abuse and violence. He withheld money and transportation, taking the car to work and leaving me with a huge, old battered truck that he thought I didn't know how to drive.
If I had not been a Witness, I would have left after the first incident. Instead, I prayed and waited on the elders and on Jehovah. At one point, the advice I was given was to act as if we were living in our home with a wild bear "...when the bear is angry you stay away from it." I often wondered if this is the advise that would be given if I were his own daughter and these were his grandchildren in the house with the "bear".
The years of this escalating abuse were like slow torture, growing worse and with no end in sight. My faith in God was definitely put to the test. Finally, it all ended in one night of violence which included my son being violently kicked for not putting a jar of peanut butter away, my daughter being repeatedly slapped because she walked in on that scene, and me being knocked unconscious when I tried to intervene. The police were called by my hysterical daughter who ran out of the house to a pay phone as my husband was choking me on her bed. The next day, on the advice of the police, I obtained a restraining order.
It doesn't end there, however: the frosting on the cake was when we went to the next meeting at the Kingdom Hall and found my husband had arrived with and was seated with an elder and his family! Could any other scenario have spoken more clearly to the congregation? I think not! In fact, what actually happened in the weeks following was that I was "marked" and my children and I were even more socially isolated. I was told that I would not be allowed to Pioneer because of my action (the step I had taken to obtain a legal separation). One sister who had always provided me safe-haven whenever the children and I had to flee from our house for our own safety told me years later that she had been counseled to back away from me and my situation. Where was the love and compassion so evidently called for in James 1:27 where the admonishment is to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation?
Since then, my children and I have somehow managed to pull ourselves together and have gone on to become accomplished individuals. Each of us has achieved success and respect in our chosen professions. Yes, even I, the battered wife, somehow got a grip on my self-respect and became a successful businesswoman. I stayed single for more than 12 years, never allowing myself to trust a man into our home again while my children were growing up. Time has proven us to have been the innocent ones in that fiasco. My ex-husband was eventually disfellowshipped for other reasons and has proven himself to be the loser and guilty one. In time, as it became evident that my children and I had been victimized and were the innocent ones, did we receive an apology or words of consolation from the elders or others in that congregation? NO. Only my friend of long ago came forward and cried when she recently told me how terrible she felt when she withdrew from me after being advised by that elder to do so many years ago.
Needless to say, those years took a terrible toll on our spirituality. I never attempted to pioneer after being told I wouldn't be allowed. None of my children are Witnesses today and two of them have suffered bouts of severe depression. I think that they were weakened by so many unanswered prayers for help that didn't come and by their knowledge that our dangerous and desperate situation was being doubted and minimized by the elders .
I am still grieved that I allowed the nonsense to continue for so long. I could stand the abuse aimed at me, but my children should never have had to endure it. They really were good kids and didn't derserve any of it. We would have been better off if I had simply left the marriage when the abuse first began. Yes, there are scriptural rules for living that need to be followed, but common sense tells me that Jehovah doesn't want women and children to be abused! I managed to barely hang on to the truth through the years and am still an active Witness today only through the grace of Jehovah and the knowledge that He will make all things right. Older and wiser, I now know that each one of us is responsible for our own personal decisions and for our own standing with Jehovah. Walking away from hurt and abuse is not wrong. It is smart. If a situation seems innately wrong....it probably is! Get out of it!
I know that our loving God Jehovah is anguished by these gut-wrenching stories we share here. He will punish the wicked and abusive ones and the decision-makers who have erred on the side of the abusers while refusing to extend love and compassion to the victims.. His arms are open to all of us Silent Lambs to comfort and to heal us. -From A Survivor
Abused lambs story-
I am 30 years old and was raised as a witness. I just want to share my story with you. I was born in the Philippines and it is a very conservative country, combined with being a jw, you practically have to be a saint. I didn't grow up with a dad so I always crave for male attention even when I was a kid. When I was 13 years old, a 19 year old witness was assigned to give me bible lessons. He is a very charming guy and he always gives me compliments like how I am so pretty and I looked older than I was. He would pick me up from school with his car and buy me stuff, at 13, I thought he was awesome, older guy who really likes me, and I was totally falling for him. One day, he asks me if we could do our bible study in his house because he needs to stay home to watch their house for some reason. That was the first time he kissed me and told me that he would show me what petting is all about, and he did. That's how it all started. I didn't want to disappoint him because at this point I was totally in love with him. In the evenings, almost everyday, he would come and visit me, his excuse to my mom was he was helping me with my homework. My mom totally trusted him, I really don't know why, I guess because he is a Jehovah's Witness, he would always stay till everybody's asleep. He would do a lot of things to me that only grownups should know how to do. It went on for 6 months until he got tired of it I guess. He said he can't see me anymore because I was too young and he was neglecting his studies. I was devastated and didn't go to school for like a week because I was so heart broken. I kept a diary and I would write everything in there. My mom read it and went to the elders. they asked uncomfortable questions and I answered them but I was disfellowshipped anyway, was announced in the Kingdom Hall and was shunned by everybody, some of my good friends weren't allowed to talk to me, that hurts allot, they want to but their parents wouldnt let them because that was the rule, they cant talk to me as a punishment, was talked about by the elder's wife. The guy was public reproved but moved away. I was forced to attend the meetings at the same congregation because of my mom. I felt so betrayed and felt so dirty for doing what I did. The guy who did this to me got mad at me for keeping a diary...the elders didn't do squat but instead punished me for committing fornication. I was 13, I was in love, he was 19 and he is my bible counselor. It doesn't make any sense. All throughout my life I blamed myself, I have problems trusting anyone. I had used drugs, slept with more men than I could count, mutilate myself than I could remember, tried to kill myself more than once, I felt worthless.
I don't go to the meetings anymore, I still believe that there's a God but I don't believe in organized religion anymore. Trying to be a better person now...
Thanks for listening.