Ivette's Story

I have been a JW since birth. I have suffered great trauma in my life as a result, and wonder if my life could have turned out differently if I wasn't. I have a little bit of everything that makes a good JW family J- adultery, drugs, disfellowshipping, public and private reproof and lots of scandals.

I was raised to be a "good wife" by learning how to clean and cook and go out in field service. This is the organization's perception of women. I was not taught to advance myself, but rather to please my husband. I grew up a very quiet and sheltered child. At the age of 9 I remember telling one of my classmates, "my religion is better than yours". She was quite shocked, and in hindsight, I am quite embarrassed that I said such a thing. As a JW, you are taught that you are better than other people simply because of the God you choose to serve. I was taught that as long as I did what the Bible (really, the Organization) told me to do, I would have a happy life (yeah right!)

I was denied a lot of things that teenagers get to do. I wasn't allowed to go to Halloween, Christmas, birthday or any kind of party that was not sponsored by a JW. I missed out on my high school prom because it fell on a meeting night. I was not allowed to go to private school, although I was accepted to 3 schools. It was more than the "basic" education that a JW child should receive. I was not encouraged to further my education, but rather pressured to be baptized by the time I was 15. I met my husband and we married at age 18 (what else was there for me to do?). We finally married (we eloped), I told my mom and she immediately made me go to the elders and tell them. They took me in the "back room" and cautioned me that I had to be truthful, and that Jehovah was watching. Then they proceeded to quiz me about my relationship with my non-JW husband. They even asked about our sex life, which I lied to them about. They put me on private reproof and although I was not good enough for anyone in the congregation to speak to me, I was good enough to talk to other people about the "good news".

My husband was extremely abusive, and I was not allowed to have any friends. We even argued constantly about me wanting to take our children to the KH and he didn't. I thought I was doing what was right in Jehovah's eyes, but I felt I was still doing something wrong to make him beat me. I would call my mom and she would tell me that if I act in a godly way, I would win him over with my godlike personality. WRONG ANSWER! The more I didn't fight him, the more he fought me. I was subjected to mental as well as physical abuse. We ended up having 3 children. Shortly after my first child was born, I was pregnant again with twins. The doctors explained to me the risks involved, including a blood transfusion. He wanted me to have an abortion with the twins. I didn't, not on a biblical stand, but more on a moral one. He eventually beat me until I went into labor at 6 months. One twin was born natural and the second born cesarean. At the military hospital, I begged one of the nurses to call the KH I attended, and ask for the circuit overseer at the time who was living above the KH. He came and prayed with me, but told me there was nothing more he could do. Before I went under, I expressed that I did not want a blood transfusion no matter what. I was then faced with both of the twins needing a blood transfusion. I argued with the babies' doctor while I was still on the table. He told me he would get an injunction against me and prove me an unfit mother if I didn't allow them to have blood. I told him he couldn't guarantee me they would live if they did have the blood. Now, I still can't believe that I was willing to let my children die because of my religious beliefs! My husband eventually signed for them to have a blood transfusion, and one of my babies died the next day.

I have suffered at the hands of the organization, being riddled with guilt for marrying someone who wasn't a JW. When I left my husband and came back to New York, one of the elders asked about how I was doing. At that time, my husband was trying to take my children away from me. This elder was married, living at Bethel with his wife and didn't want to have any children until after the great tribulation. I don't know what made him think he would live through it. I briefly mentioned to him about my problems with my husband. By then, I was revered as a martyr because I had a battle with the blood issue and lost my daughter as a result. This elder, one of the people chosen to "lead the flock" told me that I deserved everything I got, including losing my daughter because I went against the Bible's teachings! I was shocked. After that, I really stopped going, except for the Memorial.

I tried to commit suicide at the age of 19 because I thought God had turned his back on me. I couldn't figure out why if I was doing what the bible taught, why did my husband treat me so bad. I thought I was being punished for marrying someone I loved who was not a JW. My conscience bothered me all the time. I got to the point that I was not living- I was living for the organization. I was denied peace of mind, a good education, and had to go back to school after having my children. I really feel sorry for all those people who have lost their lives as a result of the JWs. I almost became one of them, and that scares me the most. I ended up with no self esteem, no dignity and thinking that God was punishing me. It is a constant struggle to break free from the mind control of the JWs. I have not attended meetings in over 10 years and have not formally disassociated myself because my mother is still alive. I teach my children about God, but not from the JW standpoint. I don't even have any of their bibles in my house

My mother is 72 years old, and will give money from her pension to the organization, even to the point of telling us that we weren't going to get anything when she died- the organization was going to get it. My older brother, who liked to play chess, died 3 years ago. My mother started buying chess pieces so she could have a full set for my brother when he came back in the Resurrection (geez!).

I still suffer the after effects of being brainwashed, and have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I now have a loving fiancee, 3 wonderful children, and my own business. I am at this point in my life because of God, not the organization. I still believe and have faith in God. I have just cut out the middleman.

"No one comes to the father except through me."