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Religious Trauma Syndrome [Should I stay or should I go now?]










.A Message from Jacqueline

This article is about an organization and an entity called the governing body, not individual Jehovah witnesses or people but a SYSTEM a corporation.

Jehovah witnesses have asked me why expose and talk about the trials and troubles within the Jehovah witness organization? Why be concerned? Why help others? This is why we help. There is a stressor out there that has caused suicide, early death and families torn apart! There must be a platform for these Humans to talk it out, and someone who is listening. It is my belief that religious persecution by the witness organization on other Christians and ex members have produced:

Religious Trauma Syndrome

Religious Trauma Syndrome is the condition experienced by people who are struggling with leaving an authoritarian, dogmatic religion and coping with the damage of indoctrination. The benefits of doctrinal insights and zealous dedication are undermined by transferring allegiance from Jehovah to an organization that crushes Christian liberty. Some members struggle through the shattering of a personally meaningful faith and/or breaking away from a controlling community and lifestyle.  Religious Trauma Syndrome is a function of both the chronic abuses from harmful religion and the impact of severing one’s connection with one’s faith.  It can be compared to PTSD.

Religious Trauma Syndrome has a very recognizable set of symptoms, a definitive set of causes, and a debilitating cycle of abuse. There are ways to stop the abuse and recover.










What Symptoms are evidence of Religious Trauma Syndrome?

  • Cognitive: Confusion, poor critical thinking ability, negative beliefs about self-ability & self-worth, black & white thinking, perfectionism, difficulty with decision-making
  • Emotional: Depression, anxiety, anger, grief, loneliness, difficulty with pleasure, loss of meaning
  • Social: Loss of social network, family rupture, social awkwardness, sexual difficulty, Arrested Psychological Development (being ‘stuck’ in an emotional level of development).
  • Cultural: Unfamiliarity with secular world; “fish out of water” feelings, difficulty belonging, information gaps (e.g. no knowledge of things outside of the witness community)


hurst feelings












.What contributes to Religious Trauma Syndrome?

Authoritarianism coupled with harsh theology which is received and reinforced at the kingdom hall, conventions, and home.  It results in:

  • Suppression of healthy child development – cognitive, social, emotional, moral stages are arrested
  • Damage to normal thinking and feeling abilities – information is limited and controlled; dysfunctional beliefs taught; independent thinking condemned; feelings condemned; normal familial love is abandoned and pressure to shun close family members breaking free.
  • An Exclusive Truth Source: only from the governing body; hierarchy of authority enforced; self not a reliable or good source;
  • Mental and sexual abuse: pedophiles thrive in this authoritative environment; unhealthy sexual views; punishment used for discipline; i.e., disfellowshipings; not allowing grandparents to interact with their grandchildren. Women and children on kept on the lowest run of the ladder.

What is the New Cycle of Abuse?

The cycle now is to send elders by the home or hospital to issue an edict that if you die in this window of time before impending Armageddon hits you will go to Gehenna.  One non baptized witness was in a nursing home with incurable cancer and was told this. She died 2 weeks later.  Another 82 year old sister hadn’t attended in 10 years but was visited and intimidated with the threat of death in Gehenna and many more insults since their Annual meeting of 2017.  Adult children are intimidating older parents and siblings that have left the organization.  Not answering text or phone calls, emotional abuse.


This results in an unending cycle of threats and verbal abuse often with shouting and threatening. You get relief when they leave. Then the elders show up again, they say to encourage you but in the same breath they are threatening sisters with death of their little children at Armageddon.  Salvation is not a free gift according to them; you must be in the organization.  Some are getting multiple visits within a week even on their job.


This is getting out of hand and some are going to lawyers to get a cease and desist letter. The governing body says they have fulfilled Matt. 24:14 and are preaching a message of judgement and studying only with those righteously disposed.  They are not raising their heads up because their deliverance is near.  They are in a panic and fearful!


In the Bible, do we see any evidence of this type of behavior by the Early Church at the time of the Apostles?










Can this cycle of abuse be stopped?

You can stop the cycle of abuse, but leaving the witnesses is a “mixed blessing.” Letting go of the need to conform is a huge relief.  There is a sense of freedom, excitement about information and new experiences, new-found self-respect, integrity, and the sense of an emerging identity.


There are huge challenges as well. The psychological damage does not go away overnight.  In fact, because the phobia indoctrination in young childhood is so powerful that the fear of Gehenna and Armageddon can last a lifetime.  Encouraging articles linked here can help provide some emotional relief and comfort:


I am reminded of the lyrics to the 1982 song by “The Clash”

Should I stay or should I go now?

If I go, there will be trouble

And if I stay it will be double

This is why there are so many thousands of walking wounded – people who have left a high control man made organizational religion and are living with Religious Trauma Syndrome.

The governing body says they are mentally diseased not realizing that…

Religious Trauma Syndrome mimics the symptoms of many other disorders –

  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • clinical depression
  • anxiety disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • eating disorders
  • social disorders
  • marital and sexual dysfunctions
  • suicide
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • extreme antisocial behavior, including homicide

There are many extreme cases, including child abuse of all kinds, suicide, rape, and murder. (http://www.silentlambs.org/murderjwfathers.htm) (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/family-found-dead-apparent-murder-suicide-article-1.1582545)

Not as extreme but also tragic are all the people who are struggling to make sense of life after being severely SHUNNED and losing their family and friends. Many who try to get help from the mental health profession cannot find a therapist who understands Religious Trauma Syndrome.  Their solution is to “just leave and forget about going to worship services with others.” But it is not that simple, is it?















.How is this control happening?

We have in our society an assumption that highly organized religion is for the most part harmless or good for you. Therapists, like others, expect that if you stop believing, you just quit going to services, putting it in the same category as not believing in The Tooth Fairy.  Therapists often don’t understand fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism refers to the belief of an individual or a group of individuals as the absolute authority of a sacred religious text or teachings. In this case the governing body must be obeyed without question. They say even if you can prove them wrong by scripture you must teach and believe what they say until they change it.  They even have a new song to them that states right or wrong follow them.  Gehenna is the penalty.  When did we ever see a concept like this in the Bible?  Can you sing that right or wrong you will follow the Governing Body?


Therapists do not realize what a complete mind-violation this really is and persons can’t just get over it.  They have been indoctrinated (the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically, without questioning.) The governing body is god to most witnesses.


In the United States, we have a bill of rights, our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. This makes it extremely difficult to address a debilitating disorder like Religious Trauma Syndrome without it threatening these rights. Raising questions about toxic beliefs and abusive practices in religion seems to be violating a taboo.  No one wants to be pointing fingers for fear of tampering with our precious freedoms.  In the meantime people are fighting to mentally break this mind control that the governing body has used for so long, threats of death at Armageddon with their minor children dying because a parent left the witnesses.


Sanitizing hierarchy, high control religion makes it all the more insidious when it is toxic. (A system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.  A pecking order, ladder climbing, inclusiveness.)


For example, small children are biologically dependent on their adult caretakers; built into their survival mechanisms is a need to trust authority just to stay alive.  Religious teachings take hold easily in their underdeveloped brains while the adults who are controlled keep tight control on the children. This continues generation after generation.  Millions of witnesses learn to value self-loathing, never being able to do enough and fear Armageddon.  It’s difficult to break this cycle!


happy family 3












Where can I find help now?

Awareness is growing about the dangers of religious indoctrination.  There are more and more websites to support the growing number of people fleeing harmful religions.  Gradually, services are growing to help people with Religious Trauma Syndrome to heal and grow, including help from this website which attempts to offer spiritual healing and encouragement for witnesses with international testimony sessions that you can join by internet, as well as articles to read and call in Bible study groups.  By discussing their experiences with other likeminded people, each one can understand what the other has been through and each of us can take steps to become healthier and happier human beings.




So feel free to open up and talk.  You are safe among friends.  Let others know what you are going through and how you are coping.  Together we can work on freeing each one from the shock, pain and trauma, moving it further to the back of your brain and mind.

124 comments to Religious Trauma Syndrome [Should I stay or should I go now?]

  • Ted R. (Bible Student)

    I found this great article on the two witness rule. Here is the link:


    This website also contains other great a articles debunking many of the JW doctrines. The website is beroeans.net and also beroeans picket. Great websites with well written studies on JW doctrine.

  • greg (Bible Student)

    Pathetic JW Response to its Dutch Child Abuse Survivors
    (from JW Suicides’ YouTube Channel) (length = 4:56)


    From an original News Article found here:


    Google Translate Link for English:

    A short snippet (via Google Translate):

    (begin quote)
    “The national administration of the Jehovah’s Witnesses refuses to talk to the Reclaimed Voices foundation about the approach to sexual abuse within the religious community.”
    (end quote)

    And another short snippet about what the JW organization wrote by way of reply:

    (begin quote)
    ‘We received your letter of 19 April 2018 in good order. We will not enter into dialogue with your foundation about its contents. However, individual victims of child abuse can feel free to contact us directly if they want to talk with experienced elders. They will gladly listen to the concerns of the victims and provide pastoral care.’
    (end quote)

    Apparently the JW organization also issued a statement saying it refuses to speak to the Reclaimed Voices foundation (begin quote) “because we prefer direct contact with individual victims of child abuse.” (end quote)

    (Personal comment: I keep having pictures in my mind of children being sacrificed to Molech by the ones who were entrusted with their care, and the words of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NWT) “…For men will be …haughty, …having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, …fierce, without love of goodness, …headstrong, …having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power;…”)


  • greg (Bible Student)

    I’m very saddened and profoundly troubled by the many tragic events that stimulate deep pain, suffering, and residual damage for so many persons. I’m also grieved when I contemplate how these tragic events end up inspiring shocking news stories and documentaries like the ones I’ve linked below. At the same time I’m happy to see that there are so many persons who are actively involved in exposing the groups and gangs that are causing, allowing, and perpetuating such great pain for the weak and innocent ones. I eagerly long for the time when the world will will be filled with love of God, and love of neighbor.

    So even though it pains me to report them, here are a couple of recent youtube videos and news stories that have been posted. I’ll let the titles and captions speak for themselves.

    More Blatant Hypocrisy From Watchtower Over Their “Two Witness” Rule!
    Published on Apr 28, 2018 (duration = 8 minutes)
    The July 2018 Watchtower showed an obscene hypocrisy from Watchtower over the application of their “two witness” rule.

    And a webpage with supporting, documented evidence:
    In a Shocking Hypocrisy, Watchtower Refuses to Apply Their “Two-Witness” Rule to Adults Committing Immorality!

    ALERT! Watchtower destroying records – legal attacks by ‘Satan’. LEAKED VIDEO.
    Published on May 1, 2018 (duration = 59 minutes)
    (My own synopsis: This LEAKED video blames Satan as the reason the governments of the world are taking legal action against Watchtower and sets forth new terminology, definitions, policies, and guidelines for “…which records we need and which ones need to go away quickly.”)

    New TV show about JWs on A&E in May, Elizabeth Vargas.
    Published on May 4, 2018 (duration = 2 minutes)
    “Yet another TV show that highlights what happens inside Watchtower/Jehovah’s Witnesses. The series kicks of 28th and 29th of May on A&E.”

    And the Original Source Article for the video cited directly above:
    ‘Cults & Extreme Belief’: A&E Investigates To Focus On NXIVM In Series Premiere
    “Additional organizations that will be explored in season 1 include Twelve Tribes, Sanctuary Church, United Nation of Islam, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witness and The Family.”

    Dubtown – The Covert Op – Secret Recording of Elders Meeting
    Published on Apr 19, 2018 (duration = 10 minutes)
    “This weeks episode includes audio from a friday night elders meeting with the jehovah’s witness circuit overseer. An elder recorded the meeting and passed on the recording to the brother being investigated.”

    David Splains how to be United at JW Elders Meetings
    Published on May 6, 2018 (duration = 5 minutes)
    “This weeks Watchtower Quote of the week explains how jehovah’s witness elders can achieve united, unanimous votes at elders meetings.”

    I’d better stop there. You can find loads more like these all on your own.

    Warmest compassion to all the broken, crushed, and trampled reeds.
    (Isaiah 42:3,4)

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Thank you for getting the site back on track with helping and exposing these injustices. I am traveling today but will go look at all of them when I Touch down. Peace

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Greg the A&E was advertised on a channel when I was down south and I put it on my calendar. So we will have to put your comment back up to the top during that week to highlight so everyone can check their listings. I am going to check out all these links today. Thanks for posting them.

      • greg (Bible Student)

        There was one link I didn’t post even though I was tempted. For a variety of reasons I am choosing to leave only a bread crumb trail to it at the end of this post.

        Disclaimer: It was openly claimed that the audio recording was believed to be a legitimate (but admittedly unverifiable) talk given at a Kingdom Hall circa 2005.

        That said, I did listen to it, and I see no reason to believe it isn’t legitimate. However, the expressions made by the speaker were so nauseating to me, I couldn’t quite bring myself to freely post the link here. What I will say is that this talk condemned and mocked governments and social agencies for taking suspicions of Child Sex Abuse seriously. And the audience laughed approvingly.

        If anyone desperately wants the seek out the link for themselves, you can search for it on youtube. Look for it on the JWvictims channel. The title is:

        Mirrored – 2005 Talk on “Apostasy”

        (Even though it’s only a 3 minute excerpt, I found it was a painful and tough 3-minute listen.)


    • just Stay Sweet and Good

      Gregg…..May I add one more. Blatant mistranslation of John 10:28 “……….ALL ……in the graves…..shall come forth..” not “all sorts” in the “memorial tombs”. “Memorial tomb” is not in the original it is the word for grave only, and the word for all means ALL not ” ALL SORTS”. Strongs 3956 pare that with 1 Timothy 2:6. What is it about the word ALL they don’t want us to believe? Yes, presumption can be anybody’s downfall, even the elect: “Beware nobody steals your crown” Rev. 3:11

      • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

        JustSSG, my father left 9 children all under 18 yrs down to 2 yrs. They told us because he died disfellowshipped and refused to let them reinstate him, that he was dead forever. The all sorts didn’t include him. Crazy, I would say all sorts meant even the viliest to the holiest. I could not embrace God’s goodness all my life because of this.
        They are like the religions that teach hellfire, no different except those religions at least embrace Jesus. Cultlike ones have all these different other laws. They think they are gods.

        • just Stay Sweet and Good

          Jacquelline …….another way to view “all sorts” (based on the root word polli… where it is translated correctly) is variety, all kinds, different ethnicities, good and the bad, smart and ignorant, rich and poor. In the 1950’s we were told that the “name of the wicked will rot”. Indicating that their is third class of people at this time, other than the righteous and the unrighteous. I realize this plays right into our hate of evil in this world, but it creates polorizations…”them and us” Ounce you establish that in the mind you then can advance from one perversion to the next. This is the “in” in to the mind Satan has always used to get mankind to fight among themselves. The truth of the manner (as my mama taught me before I was JW) “We are all sinners and there are two kinds…….Those with faith and those willout faith” “Just stay sweet and good” K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid)

          • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

            JSSG, true and we are all captives on this spaceship earth. We all die just like the dog and rot.
            So glad I have learned that God’s justice means I get to see my father again. They told brothers not to go to the funeral but some sneaked. A baptist preacher did the funeral. The neighborhood was shocked when they learned not a soul of the witnesses brought us any food although my mom and grands plus aunt and uncles were witnesses. They started food to flooding once it spread. I was 10yrs. I remember it all and was trumatized by it. I look back and can’t be like some who say well i learned this or that from the witnesses. I SAW a horrible SERMON from them all my life! Yet I was trapped in that cult because of family. Glad to be free now. Keep being encouraging and helping thise young witnesses on the internet. Love you😘

      • greg (Bible Student)


        I appreciate your expression regarding the subtle change of wording which creates the illusion of an “Us” and “Them” that supposedly gives credence to the Watchtower teaching that only some persons can hope to be reconciled to God. I hope that what I’m about to say makes sense at your end. I can’t imagine anything worse than you reading my words and then scratching your head and wondering, how does that even fit with what I just said. 🙂

        I recall reading that Pastor Russell was often called “the man who turned the hose on Hell and put out the fire…” (http://pastor-russell.com/misc/bio.html)

        God created human beings with a deep-rooted need for autonomy. It seems to me that Pastor Russell must have had some very deep trust, appreciation, and confidence about the way God designed human beings because Br. Russell always encouraged individuals to focus their energy and attention on improving and controlling ONLY themselves–rather than spending their lives trying to effect changes in others.

        However, I see nothing to indicate that Judge Rutherford shared either God’s, Jesus’, or Br. Russell’s confidence in the basic built-in nature of human beings. Instead, Rutherford’s teachings and methods suggest to me that his general attitude towards his fellow man was deeply suspicious, highly distrustful, even contemptuous and soaked with disdain.

        When you believe that people are inherently evil little creeps that need to be controlled, you will see only two possible outcomes: Rebellion or Submission. And since rebellion cannot be tolerated, it must be thoroughly squashed. When you see everything through that flawed lens of expectation, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because everything you “see” seems to reinforce the apparent need for some sort of ever increasing external control.

        So when Judge Rutherford put the fires of eternal damnation back into the Bible’s teachings and re-branded it “Armageddon”, I’m guessing he did that because he lacked both the confidence and imagination that his fellow humans could be interested in growing and developing without some external means of motivating, manipulating and coercing. Rutherford and everyone who he eventually accumulated as adherents to his beliefs seem to have shared his dismal view of God’s creation. And the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has continued in the long tradition of believing that their God wants them to attempt to control, manipulate, and terrorize others. So the Governing Body’s entire existence depends on people being in fear and submitting to whatever Domination methods are imposed. And thus hellfire (eternal death here and now!) needs to be a big part of their doctrinal establishment.

        At the same time, I also see that God is temporarily allowing such groups and gangs and bullies to exist and to dominate and terrorize others because it suits his purpose to let people discover the painful inadequacies of domination structures, manipulations, threats and coercive endeavours. I look eagerly forward to the day when each and every person on the planet discovers that deep within each one of us, lurking hidden and almost unknown is the built-in desire to give, to love, to grow, and to take care of each other. Meantime, we have to deal with persons who would want that we give up our freedom and autonomy to them and to others who misquote and mistranslate scriptures and who would happily send every autonomy-lover off to Gehenna.

        Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

        James 3:8,9 “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;”


        • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

          I am sending Una here to read this. She needs to see your excellent presentation of what is going on. I like how you put it.”Rutherford put the fire back in hell”. Indeed

        • Nubby Tope


          There’s the Scripture (Jeremiah 10:29?) that says: “Man has dominated Man to his injury”. Think that applies to GB? I certainly do!

          • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

            Nubby Tope, we know they are aware that having a governing body is wrong because they fought Raymond Franz when he wanted it instituted. They gave all the right scriptural reasons on it’s wrongness. But they gave in because they saw how centralizatikn of authority meant POWER!
            Thousands left immediately and by the 1980’s, predicting just the state of things we see right now. 8 million means they are still counted all that left plus the deceased. I would guess they have less than 5 million worldwide.
            To be classed with cults on the upcoming A&E special speaks volumes.

          • greg (Bible Student)

            Nubby Tope,

            Yes, absolutely. That’s a great scripture to contribute. Thanks!


  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    Just thought I would mention, congregation are asking all to sign a waiver to say their information can be stored and used by the society. They claim it is to centralize everybody in one data base.
    But really it is to subvert a new law in AU. Where you can opt out of any info held on you. You can ask the watchtower society to forget you ever existed and destroy all records. This can work against victims as they accusers can have all evidence destroyed. So they might want to opt in on their info even tho they dont attend the kingdom hall. I will find and post link explaining this important law.


  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    A thank you to Tresa Baldas for this article on the suicide deaths of those that are shunned! Some of these parents and relatives are not behaving like humans. Some animals show more empathy it seems than these witnesses for the governing body. Does satan take over, because only satan can be this evil toward your child.


    • greg (Bible Student)

      Disclaimer: I’m speaking before I’ve had time to read the article in great detail… Maybe–hopefully–this article addresses or touches on what I’m about to say.

      An important fact I have yet to see highlighted is that the JW shunning practice denies a person not only access to their human support network, but also denies that person their perceived right to (eternal) life along with their dignity. To put it more bluntly, JW shunning KILLS, destroys and erases the entire person AND THEIR HOPES and THEIR DREAMS BEFORE they take their own life so as to finish they job.

      The Governing Body and the Elders have thus insinuated themselves into the throne of God himself and taken for themselves the exalted position of becoming ones who can kill BOTH body and Soul. See Luke 12:4,5

      I stand by my previous statements that equate the Governing Body as the continuing modern day manifestation of the “Holy Inquisition.”

      I’m glad I chose to never be appointed as a JW elder. I wouldn’t want this kind of blood on my hands and conscience.


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