Story of Brinjen
I was raised as a third generation Jehovah's Witness. My grandmother was married to a non-believer who died when my Mother was a small child. My Mother left the cult for a while and met my Dad, they never married and when I was 2 years old for reasons unknown my Mother decided to leave my Dad and return to them. She went to live with my Grandmother still a JW and began studying for baptism. The first thing they convinced her to do was to cut off all ties with my Dad as he was a non-believer.
I spend my childhood an outcast in every sense. My school peers didn't accept me as I was the member of a strange religion. The JWs never really accepted me either as I was born out of wedlock. While other single parent families got regular visits from the Elders, even 'working bees' to help with jobs around the house, my Mother hardly ever got a visit from the Elders. When she did it was for 'disciplinary purposes' like to have a dig at her for not having a drivers license or car. We were a burden on the congregation. On top of this my Grandmother was both physically and mentally abusive towards me. She would call me a 'mental retard' and tell me I didn't deserve to be born. I remember she'd get in what I can only describe as fits where she would yell and scream abuse at me and my Mother all day. She'd come into my room in the middle of the night and start belting me. The Elders in my congregation were unsympathetic and implied I must have deserved it. Pointing to scriptures like 'answer when mild turns away rage'. I remember lying awake at night absolutely terrified of Armageddon convinced I would be destroyed as I was wicked.
I must have been around 9 years old when one day a boy at school grabbed me, dragged me into the bushes and tried to rape me, stupidly I told my Mother who told the Elders. They accused me of 'being filthy'. When I was eleven I was missing a lot of school on account of feeling unwell all the time. I was always sick with the flu, ear infections or just plain unwell. The doctor diagnosed severe stress and put me on tranquilisers, I contemplated suicide for a while. I figured I'd be saving Jehovah the trouble of having to destroy me by destroying myself. By the time I was thirteen I was starting to rebel. Nothing serious, wagged school a few times smoked a few cigarettes and a bit of shop lifting. Of course, the Elders always found out and blew every incident out of proportion. When I got picked up for shop lifting a cheap necklace, even though the Police dropped the matter in minutes the Elders were still rubbing my face in it more than a year later. I wagged school with a male friend and was accused of being on the pill and having sex with him. An Elder told my Mother I was an "immoral girl' who was going to be destroyed at Armageddon. By this stage I had virtually no friends as I was considered to be a bad influence.
I eventually learned to 'behave' and things settled down for a while. When I was seventeen, I agreed to be baptised. I even pioneered a few times although even then I had no support from the Elders as I had no car and was therefore a 'burden'. Whenever I heard anything about the New System, my thoughts were I wouldn't be there as I wasn't good enough.
When I was 21 my Mother fell ill. By this stage we were both caring for my Grandmother still without any support from out congregation. We eventually managed to get Grandmother into full time care. My Mother herself was admitted to hospital weeks later, she was diagnosed with Cancer of the blood. She passed away 3 weeks after her diagnosis. Within a couple of weeks after her funeral the Elders were visiting me wanting to know why I hadn't been out witnessing, I'd had a couple of weeks to get over my Mother's death, life goes on etc. Strangely though I didn't think of leaving then. I must have been scared as I of course knew no-one outside the cult. I'd also known of plenty of others who had left and went off the rails completely, hard drugs, single parents on welfare the works. They were used as examples by the Elders to prove that the world is a dangerous place and you were only safe within their organisation. I of course, believed them.
When I was 24 I suddenly decided one day to stop attending the meetings. It was the best decision I could have ever made. About 4 months later I got a visit from the Elders to inform me I'd been seen buying a packet of cigarettes and threatened to disfellowship me. I almost caved in and started to return before I came to my senses and stopped attending again. I don't know if I actually am disfellowshipped, they never told me. I spent quite a bit of time by myself, and mapped out what I was going to do now I was no longer a JW. It took some time but I slowly came to the realisation just how much of a powerful cult they really are. I also came to the conclusion that I was in control of my life and sought to make myself a better person.
I managed to track down my Dad a few years later, he died a few weeks after I made contact with him. I will never forgive them for their meddling. The control they have over peoples lives is obscene.
Today I am not a member of a religious organisation and have no intention to ever be. I believe in karma & treating others how you would like to be treated. I am not bitter or resentful towards the JWs. I've promised myself I'm not to waste anymore time or energy, hate is wasted energy.
Today I have a new group of friends, real friends who accept me just the way I am. I am finally in control of my life and couldn't be happier since I left this cult.
email Sharon Russell
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