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Shelly, 40s, Northeast US


Jack Ryan
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I was sixteen when he raped me. I got pregnant, and my parents told me I had to marry him. My dad was an elder—a leader in our community of Jehovah’s Witnesses—and everything in my life seemed very black and white. I knew what was expected of me, and I knew I had to date and marry someone of the same faith.

I remember that conversation with my father. He told me I should not have put myself in that situation, and that I had to marry Kevin. Abortion was not an option. I was still a Witness at the time, and I believed that if I got an abortion I would go to hell, and there would be no way to redeem myself.

So we went to the courthouse and got married. I stayed for two years, and I got pregnant again. I had my second child, and when she was six months old, I packed up my car in the middle of the night and I drove us all to a homeless women’s shelter. And that was the first time in over two years that I felt I could breathe.

My parents didn’t speak to me. I was excommunicated from our community and forbidden from contacting any members of our church. I was completely alone—all the people I’d ever known and loved had banished me from their lives.

I stayed in the shelter for six months, and then a friend took us in for about a year. My mom and dad reached out to me after that and said that they wanted to be a part of the kids’ lives. We moved in with them, but my dad didn’t speak to me—and hasn’t since. It’s been over fifteen years.

My ex was a very violent man. While we were married, he repeatedly beat me. I’d call my mom and she would take the kids while I went to the hospital. She saw me like that—like a bruised stray animal, scared and in tatters—but she never asked me if I needed help. I put a restraining order against my ex when we were finalizing the divorce, and I guess it wasn’t really a surprise when my mom came forward in court and claimed that she’d seen Kevin molest our oldest child.

Kevin ended up getting supervised visitation, but shortly after the divorce, he completely disappeared from our lives. He hasn’t seen his kids since and obviously that’s for the best. But I never made peace with what my mother said in court: if she did see my ex-husband molesting our son, then why hadn’t she said anything earlier?

Was she lying now? In her twisted world, did she feel that she was finally doing something to help me and my children? On the other hand, she’d seen the way he beat me and she hadn’t said anything about that, either. Was she trying to redeem herself by confessing something that would break open the family that she and my father had insisted upon?

I don’t know. My gut tells me that I don’t trust her. She believes in the Bible above all, yet she turns a blind eye when someone is hurting her daughter—her own blood. This seems so contradictory, so twisted. She told me to stay with Kevin and God would reward me for my pain and suffering when I returned in the new life. But why is it not okay for me to leave someone who hurt me? And why does the Bible trump the welfare of your own child?

It feels like it’s been a lifetime since everything happened. Both of my children have graduated from high school now. I graduated too—I got my GED, then I went to college, and then I put myself through grad school. It seems like I should be a different person, like I should move on. But I can’t—I yearn for my parents to tell me that they were wrong—to acknowledge the effect that their decision had on my life. I yearn for them to see me as their child, and not some foreign object, some pariah.

I could have been so much more. My life could have been so different. I could maybe wake up every morning not feeling that I am broken, that I am unwanted, that I am a victim, that I am less than, that my existence is futile, that I am a liar and a fake… I wonder what it would be like to feel comfortable—to feel that my soul has settled.

I wonder what it’s like to trust people, too. I trust no one. It’s hard to get close to people and to experience joy, but I’ve known nothing different. I think that it’s naïve and gullible to believe that people are good. I don’t think they are—I think people’s morality and goodness is totally circumstantial and mercurial. At the end of the day, I think the only God people serve is the self. And, sadly, “I love you” means nothing to me—they’re just words that are tossed around casually.

And what will my children think of me when I tell them about my past? What will they think of their grandparents? How will they view the world when something they’d taken for granted—that they were the product of a consensual relationship—turns into the ugly truth? I don’t know what that does to young children, and I don’t know how it disfigures their future. But I know that I don’t want to do to my kids what my parents did to me—I don’t want to be the reason for my children’s unhappiness.

    Hello guest!

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I apologize. It was not meant as an insult or name calling. It was a quote from scripture that the other member would understand. It will not happen again.

As a survivor of childhood abuse I am well aware of the long term effects. I am not accusing the victim of slander. I am accusing the author.  I do not believe the original post to be authored by a victim. I believe it to be fiction designed to trap the ignorant and weak minded.  

I was sixteen when he raped me. I got pregnant, and my parents told me I had to marry him. My dad was an elder—a leader in our community of Jehovah’s Witnesses—and everything in my life seemed very black and white. I knew what was expected of me, and I knew I had to date and marry someone of the same faith. I remember that conversation with my father. He told me I should not have put myself in that situation, and that I had to marry Kevin. Abortion was not an option. I was still a Witness a

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Ben, Anna, no compassion for a sixteen year old forced to marry her rapist and have his child?  Shouldn't he have been disfellowshipped for what he had done to her?  You're reflecting the attitudes of her parents who sound they were only concerned about the father's standing in the congregation and not the well-being of their daughter.

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Holly if you look around this website at Jay Witness's posts it's obvious he/she is not a faithful witness for Jehovah.

Also, my question was asked to draw out the lie. If the author of the post was truly one of Jehovah's Witnesses, then she would not fear hell, because hell is an unscriptural teaching that has never been taught by Jehovah's Witnesses. 

Jay Witness is spreading falsehoods. 

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Doesn't the WTS teach using appropriate terms depending on your audience?  Obviously the girl whose story Jay Witness posted was not talking to JWs so she used terms her audience would understand.  Christians and others outside the WTS don't realize JWs believe they all are going to hell (Sheol, Hades) (except the 144,000) and saying she was afraid she wouldn't be resurrected wouldn't have meant much to non-JWs.

How can you and Anna strain at this gnat and overlook the child who was doubly abused, first by the rapist and then by her parents!

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On September 25, 2016 at 9:21 AM, 77benjamins said:

Holly if you look around this website at Jay Witness's posts it's obvious he/she is not a faithful witness for Jehovah.

Also, my question was asked to draw out the lie. If the author of the post was truly one of Jehovah's Witnesses, then she would not fear hell, because hell is an unscriptural teaching that has never been taught by Jehovah's Witnesses. 

Jay Witness is spreading falsehoods. 

I do not condone abuse of any kind. If these things happened to this person it is truly appalling. There are plenty of people out there who would speak lies in an attempt to damage the reputation of Jehovah's Witnesses as an organization. You seem interested in anything that would do just that. 

I do not claim that the organization is perfect, or infallible, or inspired. There have obviously been things that could have been handled differently. Any organization made up of imperfect humans will have its failings. It is a sad thing that people have been abused, and their abusers have used scriptural principles to hide their atrocities. In the end they will answer for their sins just like you and I will. It is quite possible they will pay a heavy price for their sins that have stumbled others.

Having said all that, I seriously doubt the validity of the original post based on the reference to hell, and I will always speak up in defense of the brotherhood when people like you attempt to twist things to suit your own agendas.

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2 hours ago, 77benjamins said:

I do not condone abuse of any kind. If these things happened to this person it is truly appalling. There are plenty of people out there who would speak lies in an attempt to damage the reputation of Jehovah's Witnesses as an organization. You seem interested in anything that would do just that. 

I do not claim that the organization is perfect, or infallible, or inspired. There have obviously been things that could have been handled differently. Any organization made up of imperfect humans will have its failings. It is a sad thing that people have been abused, and their abusers have used scriptural principles to hide their atrocities. In the end they will answer for their sins just like you and I will. It is quite possible they will pay a heavy price for their sins that have stumbled others.

Having said all that, I seriously doubt the validity of the original post based on the reference to hell, and I will always speak up in defense of the brotherhood when people like you attempt to twist things to suit your own agendas.

The abusers themselves have been given the out by the WTS itself, Ben.  Unless they confess to it or invited two people in to watch it being done, the victim has no protection, is not believed, and is muzzled by the very ones who claim to protect children from being abused.  Their rules do NOT protect the victims, they protect the predators. This is common knowledge to anyone who has ever had these kinds of dealings with the WT Organization.  No one has to tell lies to damage its reputation, the truth is doing a fine job of exposing them.

You didn't answer my question about being taught the use of appropriate terms depending on your audience.  Has that been dropped from the Ministry Book now, or did you not read what I posted about it?

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The WTS has not given anyone an "out." The policy on reports of sexual assault has always been to investigate, and allow the complaintent to go to the authorities if they feel it's necessary to do so. Sadly there have been cases where families have been told my a misinformed elder, or even a bad elder, to keep it "in house" and not involve the authorities. These are the failings of imperfect men I spoke about earlier. The WTS itself is not liable for these actions because their policy has always been to help families dealing with these kinds of things. 

To answer your question about using terms easily understood: yes that's what witnesses do. How do most people understand the word hell? The original post was meant to stir people's emotions. That poor woman who feared eternal torment because of her awful parents and their awful religion. Just another lie easily believed by people like you. 

I will no longer speak to you on this subject. I stand by my belief that the original post is slanderous. You are free to believe what you want. 

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15 minutes ago, 77benjamins said:

The WTS has not given anyone an "out." The policy on reports of sexual assault has always been to investigate, and allow the complaintent to go to the authorities if they feel it's necessary to do so. Sadly there have been cases where families have been told my a misinformed elder, or even a bad elder, to keep it "in house" and not involve the authorities. These are the failings of imperfect men I spoke about earlier. The WTS itself is not liable for these actions because their policy has always been to help families dealing with these kinds of things. 

To answer your question about using terms easily understood: yes that's what witnesses do. How do most people understand the word hell? The original post was meant to stir people's emotions. That poor woman who feared eternal torment because of her awful parents and their awful religion. Just another lie easily believed by people like you. 

I will no longer speak to you on this subject. I stand by my belief that the original post is slanderous. You are free to believe what you want. 

Under the circumstances (telling her story to Christians and non-JWs) she chose the appropriate word (hell) that would convey the same consequences as the eternal damnation (annihilation) taught by the WTS.  

That your first reaction and that of Anna is to accuse the victim of slander and lies is more indicative of a heart the size of an unsoaked pinto bean than that of a religion that claims to help victims of child abuse.  Turning a deaf ear doesn't help either. Child abuse IS an emotional and traumatic experience.  Most victims can't even talk about it for years.  And then to face being called a liar and a slanderer is tantamount to being raped all over again.

If your input on this is what JW victims have to face when they go to the elders, the elders need to get out of the picture by immediately turning the matter over to the proper authorities and caring adults.

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1 hour ago, 77benjamins said:

 As a survivor of childhood abuse I am well aware of the long term effects.

I am not accusing the victim of slander. I am accusing the author.  I do not believe the original post to be authored by a victim. I believe it to be fiction designed to trap the ignorant and weak minded.

 

This is what I mean, Ben.  Your immediate reaction is to doubt the victim's story.  It's her story, she's the one who told it, not Jay Witness.  Jay linked to where the victim's story is.  

I truly do not understand how someone who was abused as a child could react as you have to Shelley's experience. Wouldn't you have wanted your story to be accepted as being true and wanted compassion and understanding instead of accusations of lying and slander; instead you took judgmental attitude, nitpicking about a word she used, which turns out to be the exact word she should have used taking her audience into consideration.

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