Jack * (33) grows up in an environment he experiences as unloving. His father is an alcoholic and his mother an emotionally damaged woman who can not give love. Because mother is a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses (for convenience I write JG in this article), this is the environment Jack experiences as 'normal'.
He is only six years old when he is sexually abused by another JG member, the then 18-year-old son of a friend of his mother. The abuse lasts until his 13e year.
For Dogmavrij * Inge Bosscha Jack was allowed to ask some questions about how his life went.
The story of Jack
It is a happy, lively man who speaks to me. He himself describes these characteristics as 'chaotic', but on me he comes across as clear, sensitive and intelligent.
We have an open conversation.
It must be horrible to be abused and then in that insecure environment in which Jack is dependent on himself. I wonder how the abuse stopped.
"When I was 13 I finally dared to talk to my mother about it. Through her, it ended up with the elders of the JG. The one who abused me lived in another congregation and the elders of my congregation contacted the elders of his congregation. They have confronted this person with it and he has fortunately known.
I had not known what else I should have done. In the case of the JG the two-witness rule is used, which means that in case of an accusation of abuse, it is only declared well-founded when there is another person who can confirm this. This means that perhaps most cases will not be taken into consideration. In my case, the perpetrator admitted the abuse, which made it clear that it really had happened. "
Were there any consequences for the perpetrator? Was there a punishment and what did that punishment consist of?
"The perpetrator was 'restricted', which meant that he was not allowed to be an elder nor become a 'servant in the ministry'.
Because there was a 'libel on the municipality' could, I was advised not to go to the police. This is usual policy at the JG. They prefer to solve things internally. "
By now you are no longer a member of the JG. How did you get out?
"As an adolescent, I became more and more involved with smoking, drinking, drugs and sex. Cases that are all forbidden at the JG. Several times I was warned and I had to repent, but 'the world' was getting harder and harder, until I got to my 22.th was excluded. "
What did this mean in practice for you?
"That I did not belong anymore and that JG members had to ignore me. From that moment on I had no contact with my mother and my younger brother. I was completely dependent on myself. I stopped standing by continuing to use the drugs and pretending it was all very normal. As if it went fine with me. This worked well for a long time.
I was still looking for love, I was very insecure and a real pleaser. I wanted to please everyone. Loved me rather concerned with the feelings of others, than with my own. Until I get to my 29th ended up in depression. I have been depressed for months. Then I walked with a life coach for six months. In that period I learned to share with my own hidden feelings. That way I could leave everything behind and I can say today that I am very strong and very positive in life. "
So you have to work hard for it yourself. What did you miss out on support and care from the JG?
"Everything! There was no care at all, no aftercare, nothing. They had a pastoral function and I was one of their 'sheep'. They should have seen it was not going well with me. They should have sent me fatherly to a psychologist. But they condemned me and shut me out. "
Is there anything else you would like to say to the elders of the JG?
"I no longer have a problem with the JG, but that exclusion rule is really bullshit. They have to delete them. For the rest: they do it. If only they know that their culture of silence ensures that victims have no one to fall back on. And those two-witness rules ... they can also delete them. They must learn to look after the victims, instead of silencing them as quickly as possible.
By the way, last year I was suddenly approached by my brother, who is still JG. He asked me if I wanted to talk to the perpetrator again in the presence of 2 elders. I thought that was good when my girlfriend at the time was also allowed to join. At first this was allowed, but later she was not welcome anymore. I then decided that I did not want to go alone and then did not go. Later it turned out that this was all set up to get me back to the club. I'm sorry it runs like this and I miss my brother very much. "
Jack talks about his brother and how they look alike. He laughs, but I also hear the sadness in his voice. How awful how a family gets torn apart purely on religious rules!
Does Jack want to say something to any current victims?
"Yes. Please find help! Go to the police, go to the psychologist, make sure you get support, because within the JG they will probably silence you.
And do not forget that you can really get over this. I also succeeded. "
* Jack is a made-up name, but his story is not.
* This story has been taken over on our website with the permission of Inge Bosscha. The original can be found here: Jack was sexually abused within the Jehovah's Witnesses