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

Voltaire

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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. Religious persecution by Jehovah witnesses 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.

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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)

 

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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?

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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:

http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/category/armageddon-2/

 

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?

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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!

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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.

http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/2017/11/09/testimony-meeting/

http://www.friendsofjehovahswitnesses.com/2017/11/08/feb-6-wed-new-study-join-us-the-time-is-at-hand-volume-2-of-studies-in-the-scriptures/

 

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.

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

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    This is an article of sadness. The Coroner made his assessment and decision according to the constitutional right of the witness to “choose” at 27 to die rather than take a blood transfusion. Read it here:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42002996
    But I have heard the aftermath of what it is like for the family. This father breaks my heart. I have heard him tell his story and followed him thru the court system when his 16 year old was faced with this issue. He breaks your heart.

    FATHER LASHES OUT AT CORONER!
    https://qtelegram.com/quebec-coroner-slammed-by-former-witness/23319

  • Ellis Green

    Hi Jacqueline, I read that article you posted and its so true! The similarity between Catholic Church’s thirst for funds is equally matched by JWs. Money talks! And threatening old people with Gehenna is totally insane! These muppets do NOT have the right or the authority to make such unchristian judgments! Jesus said that “whoever dies is acquitted from their sin” and there’s a resurrection of righteous and unrighteous so these threats are unfounded in Scripture and they should be ashamed of themselves!

    An ex- girlfriend of mine dropped out of JWs years ago because the elders would only visit her elderly Mum just to pick up her monthly donation; didn’t give a hoot about her well-being. When I was growing up in the Watchtower, it was a “spiritual oasis” and I loved it! There were 2 congregations in my town and every Sunday both congs would meet for a soccer match, then the sisters would join in for a game of Rounders. (Bit like baseball) We had fun back then! But now its like being in a concentration camp and I’ve had enough!! So I haven’t been for a whole year now, although I did go to the Memorial as I did that for Jesus. I would love to go to a Memorial done by Dawn Bible Students to see what that’s like! I’m thinking of attending the convention near London next summer.

    Back to the money, I suppose with all the down-sizing, selling Halls etc. they need cash for all the lawsuits that are looming! $4000 a day in San Diego for refusing to turn over a list of child sex offenders? Is this what they mean by “Kingdom Interests” that the donations go on? And then there’s the dodgy investments in certain companies that they should stay well away from? They’re not planning on vanishing into thin air (their rapture) or zooming off to Cayman Islands when the crap hits the fan? When Jesus returns to establish God’s Kingdom I wonder if Warwick will receive the same fate as the Vatican?

    Sorry about ranting on, but I don’t tolerate hypocrisy! Or people with ulterior motives!

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Ellis, I totally understand what you are saying.
      Can you come on the testimony Saturday? Check the article on this site.
      This money thing will be their downfall. I personally think with them saying the preaching work is over , that as the governing body they have completely fulfilled Matt. 24:14, they are ready to run off to an island or honker down in the Warwick fortress. Let’s talk on testimony meeting tomorrow.

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    I have been trying to figure out why one 82 year old witness that has not attended the kingdom hall in 10 years has suddenly since the annual meeting, has gotten so many visits by the elders that her family has had to step in. I told the Bible student sister that it was money.
    Simply because that is always the motivating factor for the governing body of the Jehovah witnesses.
    Then I have gotten some of the worse visits from family, even limiting my ability to see my grandchildren as the final blow to me.
    I still say why do you want me back so badly? I haven’t been to a kingdom hall for worship in 9 years! I am 69 years old. Another witness woman here in my neighborhood is having visits although she at 75 has married a non witness and he is taking her to his church.
    Do you get the point? Why are they targeting OLDER WITNESSES AND XJW?
    See if you can spot the reason in this article. It is about Catholics but read it and notice similarities. There is just too many older witnesses or ex witesses are being pressure and even told if they die now they won’t get a resurrection.
    (hint: insert JW in place of catholic).

    https://www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/vortex-time-is-running-out

    • greg (Bible Student)

      Thank you for posting this link, Sr. Jacqueline. I found it informative and thought-provoking.

      -greg

      • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

        Greg, it wasn’t just me wondering what was going on but I noticed a pattern in every discussion group. A parent or grandparent was getting 4-6 visits in a 3 week period but not the young ones that have left also. There is also the letter sent to congregations on leaving assets to the society. This is done about every five years but mentioned in talks from the governing body also.
        I think this article answers the questions on why the visits on older ones. Poor Linda (xjw on our Wednesday study group) had 2 of these visits as she lay succumbing to cancer but never any discussion about her illness or health just to come back now because if you die you will go into 2nd death.
        Canada had a big split over a wealthy brother with a horse farm changing his will leaving all to the society. His son, an elder, was in shock that others on the body witnessed his signature and oversaw him do this. I dont know how the court case turned out but congregations were upset and many left because the society targeted this older brother whose sons were actually running the business. Do you know the outcome in Canada over this?

        • greg (Bible Student)

          Jacqueline,

          This is the first time I’ve heard anything about the dispute you mentioned. Of course, I never get any kind of news from JW’s themselves, so I’m not surprised it didn’t make it to my ears.

          As for the “terror tactics” that Sr. Linda experienced and that others are experiencing, I find it really tragic that sensitivity, compassion, and love have been so far lost and forgotten. In my mind I see it as a manifestation of the “rescuer’s triangle”, also know variously as the drama triangle. As a therapist you’re probably familiar with the model. I’ll mention it here for the benefit of others who may not know about the concept.

          Put very simply the triangle is typically formed by three people: a Victim, a Persecutor, and a Rescuer. In some instances a single person may play more than one role. But in every instance, all three people that get onto that triangle invariably end up playing all 3 roles.

          As soon as someone gets it into their head that they need to “SAVE” (or rescue) someone (who they perceive as a victim), they can quickly end up vilifying and then persecuting others and also playing the victim themselves drawing still others into the conflict.

          History is FULL of accounts of this playing out. Whenever we get it into our heads we need to “Save” someone, we begin down a path that ultimately leads us to believe like the Inquisitor’s did that “the Ends justify ANY means.”

          The only way to avoid playing that painful game is to refuse to “get on the triangle”, meaning to refuse to play any of the three roles. Seeing JW’s play this kind of conflict out over and over and over was one of the biggest incentives for my leaving JW’s.

          Sigh… So many millions of needless casualties…

          Anyone wanting more information can learn more by having a look at “Karpman drama triangle” on Wikipedia and/or Google.

          -greg

          • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

            Greg the emotional blackmail becomes a game to the congregation members.That case in Canada was especially hard because the brother gave up his career and moved back to help his father keep the farm and all the expensive paintings in the home until he died because the father enjoyed it. But the brother had a good friend that was on the same elder body with him and he knew the society had coerced the father into signing everything over to the society. I wonder how they sleep at night knowing they had aligned themselves with the devil and destroyed so many families that have a bit of knowledge about Christ. He hates Jesus and the governing body has substituted themselves for Christ in the lives of the so called Jehovah’s witnesses.
            The failing systems, governments, religions and men held in favor are being revealed for who they are. Presidents and governments are losing luster in the eyes of millions. If any witnesses living in Australia or San Diego, California can’t see the light then maybe they will just have to share in the shame when the watchtower organization is revealed, laid bare. I like the triangle.
            http://theweek.com/speedreads/737910/jehovahs-witnesses-owe-4000-every-day-dont-turn-over-details-alleged-child-sex-abuse-cost-2-million-far

            https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=australian+royal+commission+jehovah%27s+witnesses+2017

    • Richard Tazzyman

      Sister Jackie,so good to have you online today evev after all the trouble we had.I was also very happy that you met Sister Angie & Brother fred as well.Could you pls give my e/mail details to ellis green from the UK AS I WOULD LIKE TO TALK TO HIM as I will be in the UK for the English Convention in August this year.Regards to you & pass on my christian love to Bro Henry.Your Bro in christ.

  • Ellis Green

    That video was AMAZING! I really admire the way he didn’t lose his self-control. If that had been me, I would have erupted!! Its so sad that the Otg has become so “mind controlled” even by remote! I’m glad I’m waking up! My kids shunned me because I AM (or was) a JW, I just wonder if they’ll change their minds once they know I’m not anymore?

    One more question: Will the GB ever abandon or change their views on 1914?

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Ellis I applaud this brother! Wasn’t he kool, calm and collected? I believe there was someone there that needed to hear his talk. When you receive the Holy Spirit it has a moving effect on you if you have learned to recognize it’s urgings. He gave that talk because he was prompted by the Spirit of God. He was just GOOD.
      I don’t really think about them making changes as I don’t regard them as having any more knowledge than any other church system, so whether they change or not doesn’t matter to me. It won’t mean anything in my opinion. I never go to their website or read anything they write so I will miss it unless someone points it out. Hopefully someone woke up after that talk. Hope you were able to convert your time for the call in Saturday. I would read the article to see what time is this week. Ask questions here if you have a problem. I would love to hear your voice.

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    This is one of the most moving videos that I have ever heard or seen. The calmness of this brother as he uses the Bible to show why we should submit to Jehovah. Enjoy and contemplate.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqqt0Y1peUU

  • Ellis Green

    Thanks Jacqueline, will look that up. I saw the news last night about that shooting in the church; horrible! People go to church to get replenished spiritually and then this happens to them! Those victims’ families are in my prayers.

  • Ellis Green

    Any TV coverage of the rally at Warwick?

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      You tube has it. Put in Warwick jw rally. Over here we have a Mass Church shooting 26 dead so since 11:30 this morning US news is covering it. But YouTube will bring up the info and there was a TV crew there i heard yesterday.

  • Ellis Green

    I really feel such deep sorrow for the people that have been victimised by all the things mentioned regarding sexual abuse of kids, spousal abuse, shunning of family etc. I honestly did not know how bad this situation was as JWs are so “kept in the dark” but now I’m waking up and “smelling the coffee” and I wonder how God feels about all this. Didn’t Jesus say that “all will know you are my disciples if you have love among yourselves”? So where did that love go? I don’t see it now, just fear and in some cases, hate. Nobody’s perfect but how could all this heartache happen?

    I see there’s an ex-JW rally in Warwick this weekend and some Media will be there. I wonder how this event will go? Someone has to be accountable for all the hurt caused!

    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Ellis, yes the Rally will be big and I am sure Rick will discuss it and put it on you tube so all can see the results.
      I have done a little unofficial study. I have been on a crusade to ask persons not to read, nor go to jworg,,not listen to anything JW and see if some anxiety goes away. A client told me that if you are still going to their magazines and website to read you have not left them and you will not get over the abusive conduct spewed out in the GB talks.
      I had to stop all JW talk to me from my sons and wives to stop the hostility. It worked I feel so much better without the tension and constant confrontations. I am not allowed to stay at any of their homes when I travel but that is okay I have hotel money. tee- hee. I hope this article help our friends see they are okay, it is the bondage that is the problem.

      • Peter K. (admin)

        Jacqueline,

        I jumped around and listened to parts of the audio. The defense argued for infringement of civil rights and that paragraph 46 “agreement to associate together” is a civil contract. The judges seemed to have difficulty seeing the the courts had jurisdiction in this matter.

        2 hours and 53 minutes into video: Shergo, paragraph 48 The court says, “Similarly, the members of a religious association who are dismissed or otherwise subjected to disciplinary procedures may invoke the jurisdiction of the civil courts if the association acts ultraviolet or breeches in a fundamental way the rules of fair procedure.”

        Video ended without a final judgment rendered.

        • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

          Okay, thanks for the review. To me this emphasizes there are problems with a religion acting judicially instead of spiritually. Instead of medically untrained men judging Randy and harshly dismissing him, prudent men would recognize he might have a medical problem. What about helping spiritually instead of cutting off spiritual help along with medical intervention.
          It is alleged and I have witnessed alcoholic dependence while visiting Patterson Bethel on numerous occasions. Does high authoritarian religions somehow produce this necessity in witnesses lives? I vote Yes. The pressure to obey men under a harsh governing body and elder arrangement of harsh men is great.

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