Unknown place, 11 July 2018
Dear Mr. Van Hilten,
It took me, wife of the 50, a lot of effort to write this letter to you. It is my only letter (so far) so double counting can not be an issue.
I grew up in a family of Jehovah's Witnesses. I have partly had a happy childhood. The protection of an organization that values morality and solidarity is very pleasant for a young person.
What I have always found very heavy is that the text in the Bible: if you love your children, you will not save your rod, but it will be translated very freely. In our congregation, the parents discussed how this should be done. For example, I have been mistreated several times with PVC tubes, a mat knocker, also with my bare hand, but that hurt my father himself.
I still have contact with a friend from that period who regularly attended this abuse and she said she had sleepless nights of it, and I hate my father thoroughly.
When I was a year or 6 the sexual abuse was started by my father. In the beginning every now and then, but when 11 / 12 year old my body started to change it became several times a month. For years. HORRIBLE!!!
I will save you the details, but the abuse has drawn me for life. I still experience the problems almost every day.
My father was an elder. When the abuse was dealt with, my 'case' was treated in a scandalous, inhuman manner. A commite case was made. I had to tell my story to 6 (!!!!!!) men. 2 elders from the congregation of my father, 2 elders from my congregation, at the request of my father a friend of him and my husband. And I am the only woman. I closed and did not dare to say anything. And NO ONE who told me that I could file a report. It was actually stated that I was not completely believed. This was also fueled by the fact that my father did not know part, but also a part. Incidentally, my father always changed his confession / disfigure!
My father was temporarily retired, but a few years later HE WAS ANOTHER AGING ELDERLY !!! So he was on stage to tell how it should be done, he was used as an elder in families where there was need, and here he really prided. Was the provocation towards me? I do not know, but sometimes I just felt sick. Can someone figure out if he did not have to act as an elder in this type of abuse? That can and must not have happened ??
Grandchildren sometimes stay with their grandfather and grandmother. Because of lack of space they (my children over the 10 years, my cousins and nieces under 10) slept with my father in bed while my mother lay down on the couch. I have no reason to think that things have happened that do not bear the light of day, but because there are no sanctions on this type of behavior with Jehovah's Witnesses he could apparently afford this. When we found out, my children were not allowed to sleep and the rest of the family were also warned. I find the behavior of my father ONACCEPTABEL and I think there is something structurally wrong within the organization of Jehovah's Witnesses.
I got out of the organization, sickly. Not written out or excluded, but I'm not going to the hall anymore. My marriage has now ended. Even my ex man is certainly no longer Jehovah's Witness. We are disappointed in the organization. I recently had a meeting with an elder (I moved and during the house-to-house work with me in the street I offered the Witnesses who came to my door coffee, so I am again). He tried to get me warm again for the organization. I told him my story in confidence. He found it very bad, and said that his daughter was also abused by a brother from their room. Here too no declaration was made of it, but it was a commite case and several cases of abuse were discovered with this same brother. How did this happen? Exactly: because no declaration was made, and because everything was 'swept under the carpet'. You, Jehovah's Witnesses, are not able to judge and deal with such matters with your own hands. And to impose the right sanctions.
Incidentally, there is a file from my case with you. But I still do not dare to make myself known in order not to break the relationships within our family. For a long time we have tried to work on a band that is acceptable to everyone. I succeeded in this because I no longer form an active part of your organization.
It has made me very surprised and hurt how you have responded in the media. If you have nothing to fear (or had), then an external investigation could have taken place in all openness. The fact that you keep the door closed only strengthens my suspicion that a lot has to be put under the carpet. You should feel ashamed that you talk about the victims in this way. You know perfectly well what you are talking about and if not, find this out. Through your words, the victims crawl even further together. And they dare to report even less! And that can not of course be the intention!
I Reclaimed Voices asked to report my case for notification. My data is known to them, but I have asked them to exercise anonymity externally. This way I can be counted as a file. For the time being I have no need to report this to the police. I do, however, wish you Reclaimed Voices sees as a fully-fledged discussion partner who helps us to have a voice for victims. Finally a vote so that we dare to tell you what has happened, unfortunately with the accumulated blockages as a result of being part of your organization.
They are my voice and I demand that you take them seriously! You could have done that too, much sooner !!
An unknown witness (*)
(*) The identity of this unknown witness is with the foundation Reclaimed Voices known