JW Bulletin

Jehovah's Witnesses in the Media

Translation: EenVandaag – 12 June 2018 – Video article

Hadassah werd 10 jaar lang misbruikt door Jehovah’s getuigen – original video with Dutch language article.

“Hadassah was abused by Jehovah’s Witnesses for 10 years

“Ten years of sexual abuse by an uncle and aunt: it had major consequences for Hadassah Wiersma, who grew up as a Jehovah Witness. ‘From the outside I always laughed, but inside I broke down.’

“‘The abuse starts at the age of seven and has continued for almost ten years,’ says Hadassah Wiersma in her home in The Hague. She shows photos from that period: a blond girl with a radiant smile. ‘I laugh, but my eyes cry, you see a girl who has a lot to hide.’  In a hotline that was set up last November, almost three hundred reports were received. The Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves refuse independent investigation of the cases.

“‘We are family, so you do that’

“At the age of 7 it is her uncle who proposes to put Hadassah to bed. Before bedtime he tells a self-made story. ‘My body became part of the story so that he could feel me.’  When her uncle and aunt married, they got their own house where Hadassah could stay. ‘Then the real misery started, I had to sleep in between them without pajamas.’  That naked sleep soon becomes more. “I thought it was weird, but thought: it will be okay, we are family, then you do that.”

“Her uncle and aunt put Hadassah under pressure not to tell anyone. It creates a double life for the girl. ‘I always laughed from the outside, but inside I broke, that’s your life, you have to be constantly on your guard what you can and can not say.’ As she gets older, the threats that make her silent become more intense.

“If Hadassah is eighteen, she breaks. She meets someone who helps her to talk. The ball begins to roll like this: her parents learn what happened and in this way it also ends up with the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“No condemnation

“Within the Jehovah’s, a ‘committee case’ begins, a lawsuit that takes place within the closed community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this context, elders of the Jehovah’s are called in to investigate the matter. Ultimately, it may be decided to punish an accused person, for example through restrictions (someone may no longer perform certain functions), exemption from an official position within the Jehovah’s, or exclusion. The latter is the heaviest punishment that can be imposed on Jehovah’s and means that every contact with the excluded should be avoided.

Exclusion can be undone if a condemned repentance shows to the community. In the case of Hadassah her uncle and aunt are for a while excluded, but within a few months back into the community because they show repentance. It shows a bigger problem at the Jehovah’s: they try to solve the problems indoors, so that municipalities, for example, do not get information about alleged child abusers.

“No witnesses

“Hadassah did at the time also reported to the police. It never came to a case because there were no witnesses. It is therefore an exception: from the 292 reports that came in to Reclaimed Voices, it led to only five declarations. Frank Huiting, founder of Reclaimed Voices, thinks this has to do with the closedness of the organization, so that victims are afraid to revive everything and confrontations with acquaintances of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“Huiting hopes that the Jehovah’s will adjust their policies to ensure safety for children. This requires openness and transparency. The Jehovah’s Witnesses indicate that members can always go to the police. But according to Huiting, who is himself ex-Jehovah and victim of abuse, there is fear of coming out with the story.

“‘The threshold for reporting is very high, because of fear of provoking the trauma, but also because of fear of the community.The signals that we receive should lead to an investigation.’  That has not succeeded so far. In fact, the Jehovah’s refuse to enter into conversation with Reclaimed Voices.

“Three suicide attempts

“Hadassah himself never said to have received excuses or acknowledgment from them. Because she lives together with someone from outside the Jehovah community, Hadassah herself is excluded. ‘I lost everything: family, friends … The world where everything revolved was falling apart, I was alone in the world, you are not believed, you’re just a burden to everyone.’  The result altogether in three suicide attempts.

“Years of therapy ensure that Hadassah comes a little further. The turning point follows about a year ago, on her father’s deathbed. ‘In the end, we had really good conversations for the first time, and he told me: you have a battle to fight, go into battle, there were about four hundred people at the cremation, all of Jehovah’s, there was only a handful of people. that I came to condone, I have nothing left to lose, I have lost everything, if my story causes one or two children to have the courage to talk, then I have already won. ‘


 11-06-2018 14:55

Jehovah’s Witnesses reaction

“‘It is difficult to say something about the number of reports mentioned by the foundation, because further details are not known to us.We do not have the illusion that sexual child abuse can be completely prevented, but we can conclude that within our denomination we are dealing with incidents. Although we do not keep statistics, the number of reports of child sexual abuse that we have received over the past decades has been low, so we do not recognize ourselves in the number communicated by the foundation, and in our opinion an independent investigation would be unfounded. would be disproportionate.

“The relatively small number of child sexual abuse within our religious community is partly due to the series of articles that we have included in our publications and on our website http://www.jw.org over the years  and in which parents and guardians are warned about the dangers children can be exposed. In order to protect the religious community, means such as excommunication and lifelong exemption from office are not avoided against perpetrators. Nevertheless, every case of child sexual abuse is of course too much for us. 

“Our efforts have been formulated in the document Biblical view of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the protection of children . By bringing our protocol for the treatment of child sexual abuse into the open, everyone now has access to our methods.

“Other than claimed, we provide pastoral care to every victim who approaches us for that. There must therefore be no misunderstanding that we are willing to speak with individual victims and give them the personal attention they need. That is much more productive than communication through open letters in the media, as the foundation apparently stands for. Direct communication with the individual victims therefore has our absolute preference. ‘”

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