by the Speaking Witness (*)
On 22 July 2017, Frank Huiting for the first time puts his story about sexual abuse among the Jehovah's Witnesses under a pseudonym Dagblad Trouw. Frank's story later turns out to be the prelude to a long series of ongoing news revelations about sexual abuse of Jehovah's witnesses in our country. A few months later, Stichting Reclaimed Voices co-founded by Frank and the personal stories of the victims finally get the attention they deserve. Half a year later, Frank even mentions his unveiling in Trouw “a liberation day"And" as if he were taking off a coat and putting a mask off. "
Of course I wish every abused brother the same kind of liberation day. A day on which, like Frank, they will have the strength to speak publicly and can finally focus their feelings of shame on the person (s) who have done this to them.
For anyone who has never had to deal with any form of sexual abuse, it is hard to imagine what must be fought for in order to reach even a small piece of justice. Just the memories of the abuse and the accompanying feelings of pain, fear, shame and powerlessness are sufficient to place the experience often for many years to a corner of consciousness. In addition to this personal battle, there is often a struggle with the prejudices of the immediate environment. Statements such as' How did you allow yourself to be sexually abused as a man? Then you must at least have a share of it yourself! ' 'In fact, I think you enjoyed it' are not even rare.
You would think that someone who has actually been sexually abused will not accept this kind of hurtful statements. Practice learns differently! Victim blaming is a persistent phenomenon and tragically enough the victim himself is not immune to the reactions from his environment. A false sense of guilt can therefore easily be discussed in situations of sexual abuse. Furthermore, biological reflexes such as getting an erection or even an ejaculation during the abuse can easily confuse a victim over the actual question of guilt. Obviously, this is also a pitfall for elders in the interrogation. Perpetrators will in turn exploit all these interactions ruthlessly and put their criminal responsibility entirely with their victim.
Existing prejudices about the perception of male sexuality naturally also prevail in the Jehovah community. For example, an average elder will not readily assume from a brother that he was abused by a sister. On the other hand, in those cases most men will prefer to remain silent out of a feeling of deep shame and fear of not being taken seriously.
Some care providers observe that men who have been sexually abused by another man for a long time sometimes want to doubt their sexual identity. People are talking about it traumassexuality.
A heterosexual man can, for example, be convinced in such a situation that he is homosexual. On the other hand, in principle a homosexual man will (still) have more difficulty in accepting homosexuality in such a situation. This of course applies entirely to a baptized brother within the Jehovah witness community where, with the regularity of the clock antihomic messages be distributed. .
Jehovah's witnesses, like some other denominations, tend to call concepts like homosexuality in the same breath with sexual (child) abuse. This is what the Watchtower says December 15 2003 read: "What about the current moral climate? In these last days the lives of many people revolve around sex. Paul aptly says about such people that "they have lost any concept of morality" and that many have surrendered "to a riotous behavior to greedyly commit all sorts of uncleanness" (Ephesians 4: 19). Pornography, pre-marital sex, sexual abuse of children and homosexuality are very common '.
In a Awake! from 1981 the brothers uncritically quote a sexually abused woman. We read the following:
One woman said that she had been abused by her natural father from a very early age and then by her stepfather. She fell into immorality, drug abuse and finally got an illegitimate child. But she says: "There is a way out of incest, child abuse, rape, drugs and homosexuality. You think that you will never be completely healthy in spirit, but you can do that if you have the hope of something better to live for.
I hope for something better for your abused brothers. I am thinking of a faith community in which you no longer have to be afraid of being disbelieved, of elders who have the necessary expertise on the subject of sexual abuse. Above all, I hope that you will feel welcome and loved by them. In that case, there is indeed something of a way out.
* The Speaking Witness is an active Jehovah's witness who is connected to one of the local congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Netherlands. He is critical of how Jehovah's Witnesses react to the media reports about sexual abuse and shows that there are also people in the organization who believe that the subject of sexual abuse should be dealt with differently.
Blogs from the Speaking Witness express the personal opinion of the author. This personal opinion does not automatically correspond with the opinion of the board of Stichting Reclaimed Voices.