VRT NWS – 20th December 2018
Victim of sexual abuse Jehovah’s community testifies: “Bury everything and forget about it”
VRT NWS spoke with a victim of child abuse within the Jehova community. For the first time, she testifies anonymously about what happened to her as a child.
The victim AM (initials) previously told her story at IACSSO, the observatory of the sects in Belgium, which collects testimonies from victims of sexual abuse within the community of Jehovah. They call for a parliamentary inquiry committee to be set up on the abuse that has been put up for years.
“It should never have happened and certainly not to such a religious authority that you think everyone lives according to God’s laws.”
AM was barely six years old when she first came in contact with the Jehovah’s Witnesses when she began studying Bible with her mother. At that time her father died and the family moved to an uncle, also Jehovah’s Witness, who took on the father role. What started as an affection ended in sexual abuse.
“As a 10-year-old girl you stand with your back against the wall when something like that happens.You’re first ashamed that it happens.It was a family member and then you also shut up a bit.At that age I did not go outside It was physical and mental abuse, it was really very structural, it took about two years.”
AM mainly complains about the system within the Jehova community. That is a very closed community in which it is very difficult to file a complaint.
“You have no idea how heavy pressure it is, their tactic is to isolate people completely by bringing forward that they are the only good people and that they are well with everyone, that they live only according to the Bible. All other people, not Witnesses of Jehovah, worldly people, they call it, they are bad, that is religious brainwashing “, AM testifies.
AM never dared to tell her mother or family as a child. It was only when she was thirty and she saw that her situation was not the only one and that a lot of things went missing: she had the courage to complain internally, a complaint that ultimately did not happen: “the name of God and the organization is not allowed. made bad, everything is arranged in love. ”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a kind of internal case law in which they attempt to solve internally behind closed doors on the basis of Bible texts. They then set up a judicial committee in which there must be two witnesses to the crime: “In the case of sexual abuse, it is rather difficult to have two witnesses, that is very tricky, and they rely on that.”
“Then you sit there for three men as a woman, then questions are asked, you know in advance that nothing will happen, because those witnesses are missing, an ingenious rule that they call in. They cover themselves. in advance that you will never get those witnesses, so their system is already covered to allow child sex offenders in this case “, says AM.
On the support of her family, AM did not have to count, and that came hard: “I am going to tell you what has benefited me the most in the course of that abuse, that is what my own mother said when that family member was dead. now dead, bury everything with it, forget it and keep going with your life, that has broken me.”
Women mean nothing
It was a constant battle to get out of the community. AM eventually broke all its ties with the organization. She never did an official police complaint, the perpetrator died.
“You have no feeling whatsoever about what the norms are outside the witnesses, which has been a huge pressure, and that keeps you from stepping out of it.” It takes a lot of courage to say anything in that group, and certainly as a woman. It is common knowledge that the witnesses do not mean anything to women, they have to be submissive only, and I now draw the line to sexual abuse in children: As a young girl, you are raised in such a way that as a woman you do not have much to say. are concise in doing and letting as a woman You can not express your own opinion because it is directly suppressed You can not do things because it is always directly suppressed. ”
Call for more testimonies
Kerstine Vanderput, director of IACSSO calls on victims of abuse within the Jehova community to report:
[VIDEO] – see original article
Victims who still want to report can visit the IACSSO website
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