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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.

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

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    Hopefully everyone is either looking at Dr. Phil or is taping the program. It is one of the most fair an impartial shows I have seen.
    He hit a major point to the father that if his wife and family are being shunned and not welcome in the homes of his friends then he should tell those men in Warwick New York where to go. The father needs to man up.

    • greg (Bible Student)

      For anyone who is interested in watching that episode.

      I don’t know if this link will work for persons living outside Canada, but it works for me at the moment.



      • Jacqueline (Bible student)

        I have been speaking with Tatiana today and she has a difficult road ahead of her. The husband is hard to read. At surface glance he appears to be going thru the motions.
        Greg I dont believe a person should have to join your religion for you to marry them. A Christian should marry another Christian but narrowing it down further bothers me. Thus you have theses coercive forced marriages within small religions. I struggle with this not just in JW religion but others that seem to have this requirement. Within you find hordes of sisters wasting their youthful years because of a lack of “brothers”. Yet cohabiting and confessing often rather than marrying the Christian man. Men don’t have that problem so I wouldnt expect them to even agree. But when the tribe of Benjamin had no mates because of a sworn oath. They worked around it for the males. And this is what caused this problem he had to find a gullible girl to convert but it backfired.

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)


    Judge orders Jehovah’s Witnesses to release molestation files

    Eighteen years of horror in Linda Vista
    By Dorian Hargrove, Aug. 30, 2017

    The mission of Jehovah’s Witnesses is to spread belief in the Bible in hopes of rescuing folks before the world ends.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses’ attorneys seem to have another mission: do anything to keep internal documents revealing the names of alleged child molesters, and the congregations they attended, from seeing the light of day.

    “I can’t explain what their logic is or their legal strategy,” says attorney Irwin Zalkin.

    The second directive is unfolding in two San Diego courtrooms. Attorneys for José Lopez and Osbaldo Padron — both alleged victims of molestation by an elder from the Linda Vista congregation named Gonzalo Campos — say Jehovah’s Witnesses’ governing body, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, refuses to turn over documents. This is despite the fact that two San Diego County Superior Court judges have imposed millions of dollars in sanctions for similar conduct……. Click link for full story

  • Ellis Green

    Hi Jacqueline,

    This will be the dumbest question I’ve asked all year, but all those 103 countries have all got Bible Students? I’m off to Kiev next Spring (an old friend lives there) and I was wondering if you might know approximately how many BSs there are there?

    I hope Little Lady gets the support she needs. I found her story very moving. I had that fear too but prayer and comparing JW beliefs to Moonies, Scientologists, Restored Church of God, Plymouth Brethren, Children of God, and the impact of Armaggedon seems less drastic and the Bible’s REAL message became so much clearer.


    • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

      Ellis, I don’t think those are Bible students, they are xjw or those still in. We can’t identify them, we just know the country is on here. To date 102 countries or lands! At one point we had 200 different lands. These friends are reading what we say to each other and they are learning what the Bible really says about disfellowshipping and Armageddon. Then the next biggest topics are whether the Bible condones setting up an organization or a governing body. They click on holiday articles and how to fade and leave without fanfare. In fact that is a big one clicked on. Bible students don’t have an interest in these things. We have one very special visitor always on here but I can’t mention the entity publicly for fear they (it) will get in trouble. I will send you a private email.
      But we can’t know what persons are on, just what countries and entities or corporations in some instances.
      This info is helpful so we know we have a world-wide brotherhood, that they and we are not alone and imagining these organization’s abuse. They read on here what we discuss on our testimony hook up on the weekend.
      Hopefully some will come on and talk, knowing they can see who is on and they may use a moniker instead of their own name. They can change their speech even if they like. All on those hook ups are their friends, trying to recover just like them.
      BTW, Richard asked about you Saturday. Also let me check on Kiev Ukraine, right?

      • Ellis Green

        Jacqueline, thanks for the info. A shame some people feel afraid to use their names and instead use nicknames. Maybe that says something about how WT has got some people “afraid of their own shadow”? I’ve got Richard’s email and I’ll drop him a line. I’d like to tell my story now, as I’ve been on here a few times but what page should I use for that?

        God bless you Sister, and may He help all that feel let down and need support.


  • Marjo

    Psalms are also good to read. When I was reading a bible my daughters were ?me, what is that? Then I asked them, don’t you read bible in religion class? She said no. Is bible not so important anymore in teaching at school? When I was young we were reading bible from the first grade.

    If you mean those 5 minutes speeches which sisters had to do?
    Some of the topics were hard. Some how I survived of them.
    When was my turn I was always nervous, and my hands were shaking when opening bible.

  • Jacqueline (Bible Student)

    Our countries are 103. I sincerely hope the brothers are comparing what they are learning with what the Bible says.
    1. United States
    2. United Kingdom
    3. Canada
    4. Australia
    5. Finland
    6. Greece
    7. India
    8. Nigeria
    9. South Africa
    10. Philippines
    11. Netherlands
    12. Ghana
    13. Brazil
    14. Germany
    15. Norway
    16. Sweden
    17. Denmark
    18. Romania
    19. France
    20. China
    21. Mexico
    22. New Zealand
    23. Kenya
    24. Zambia
    25. Italy
    26. Singapore
    27. Austria
    28. Israel
    29. Peru
    30. Zimbabwe
    31. Belgium
    32. Indonesia
    33. Poland
    34. Ukraine
    35. Bulgaria
    36. South Korea
    37. (not set)
    38. Switzerland
    39. Spain
    40. Hungary
    41. Ireland
    42. Jamaica
    43. Colombia
    44. Czechia
    45. Ethiopia
    46. Russia
    47. Slovakia
    48. Togo
    49. United Arab Emirates
    50. Bahamas
    51. Chile
    52. Cameroon
    53. Hong Kong
    54. Lebanon
    55. Malawi
    56. Saudi Arabia
    57. Sierra Leone
    58. Trinidad & Tobago
    59. Taiwan
    60. Uganda
    61. Venezuela
    62. Barbados
    63. Congo – Kinshasa
    64. Dominican Republic
    65. Algeria
    66. Egypt
    67. Croatia
    68. Jersey
    69. Japan
    70. Malaysia
    71. Portugal
    72. Turkey
    73. Angola
    74. Argentina
    75. Bahrain
    76. Bolivia
    77. Costa Rica
    78. Curaçao
    79. Fiji
    80. French Guiana
    81. Guyana
    82. Honduras
    83. St. Lucia
    84. Sri Lanka
    85. Liberia
    86. Lithuania
    87. Latvia
    88. Morocco
    89. Moldova
    90. Macau
    91. Namibia
    92. Papua New Guinea
    93. Pakistan
    94. Puerto Rico
    95. Qatar
    96. Réunion
    97. Slovenia
    98. Thailand
    99. Tunisia
    100. Tanzania
    101. Uruguay
    102. St. Vincent & Grenadines
    103. Vietnam

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