Jessica's Story
I was really glad to find this site. I used to feel like my situation with my family and the elders was the worst that could happen in this day and age, and especially in this country.

It all really began back in high school. Both of my parents were witnesses; however, my dad was what you call inactive, hadn't been to the Kingdom Hall in about 5 years. I was going to a performing arts high school and was much involved in the orchestra and was also taking all advanced classes which took up most of my time, but my mom didn't understand. She wanted me to put Kingdom Hall activities first. I always have loved God, but it was my senior year and I was working towards scholarships. My mom and I argued a lot about college. She didn't want me to go because she wanted me to pioneer and go to Bethel. I was often compared to other's in the congregation that were considered " spiritually successful". This always frustrated me. Finally after a lot of arguments and tears, they allowed me to go to a local college.

Also, during my high school years I became close to a lot of my school mates. This also caused some arguments with my parents, but I didn't see the point in isolating myself. My parents didn't think that my school friends were good enough for me to associate with and kids at the Hall thought that they were too spiritual to associate with me. School was my only escape from the loneliness, and pressures of the JW life. I dreaded summer vacations because I knew I would literally be nagged to go in service and study my Watchtower and the like. During the school year sometimes I would feel an overwhelming nervousness because I didn't want to make my parents unhappy and at the same time didn't really want to be a witness. I saw the serious flaws with the doctrines they taught and I thought they imposed lifestyles on people that they had no right to. So in my senior year in college, because of pressure from my mother and a longing to make her happy, because she was often depressed, I got baptized. I didn't want to get baptized in the faith and that is something I regret and hope that God understands.

Six months later I was working in a bookstore and one of my high school friends came to the check out line to buy a book. His name was Michael, and was always very kind to me in school and worked very hard to make good grades. We started talking that night and couldn't stop. I had some JW boyfriends before but they were rude to me and didn't really respect me, but Michael was much different. From then on he started coming to visit me almost every time I came to work. I was 22 going on 23 but I had to keep the relationship a secret because I was afraid of getting kicked out of my parent's house and afraid of being harassed by the elders. When the relationship was about a month old I ended up telling my folks because it was starting to get serious and I figured there was just no other way around it. So I asked Michael if he would mind attending a Kingdom hall service to meet my mom. I figured that would warm her up and show her what a good guy Michael really was. After the meeting she took us out to eat and laughed and talked with Michael and I felt relieved and I thought to myself " this is going to work out".

Well, I didn't have a car yet, so my mom was getting me from work. That Sunday night when she picked me up she said " Jess I don't know what I was thinking. I can't condone you having a worldly boyfriend. I can't share a meal with him. Satan sent him to you." I was furious and said "how can you say that Michael was sent by the devil. Do not bad mouth Michael just because you can't accept what's happening. She told me how deceptive we were and my father said that Michael should have come to him and asked if he could court me ( how medieval is that!). This started a big long series of arguments with my parents and all of the sudden my dad started being religious again just to prove me wrong.

About 2 weeks after that they invited Michael over for a barbecue and once again trusting me thought everything was all right. A week after that July 2, 1999, they kicked me out and I went to live with my best friend Betsy and her family. By this time I had already had to sit through 2 meetings with the elders. In the meetings I was spoke harshly to, and treated like a child. They wanted to know everything about my life. They wanted to know how often I kiss Michael and for how long and where we go on dates. I was always raised to respect the elders so in the first meetings I gave them the answers they asked for even though I knew none of this was any of their business. One elder in particular behaved really inappropriately to me. In the second meeting he proceeded to tell me that he knew I was not a virgin because when Michael kisses me he gets--- -and this makes him want to do it and that is how biology works. I told my mom this and she would not believe me. Every time I sat in an elders meeting I felt as if I were sitting there naked in front of them.

One day about 2 months after I was kicked out my mom told me that she would give me back the car and wanted me to come back home. ( I started driving a car in my dad's name the day before I got kicked out. So trusting daughter that I was went home again. Things were fine at first, my mom even talked with Michael once in a while when he would pick me up for dates. I actually had two senior years in college because of being a music education major and I was going back to do an internship with a middle school band. Half way through my internship in October, my mom calls me at school and says " we have a family emergency, come home as fast as you can." I sped home during rush hour traffic only to find that she has packed all my stuff in my room and made arrangements for me to live on campus. That was the emergency that couldn't wait. She tried to make me move everything in one trip and was frustrated when I couldn't. That night my dad said " Jessica you are cut out of the will and as long as we are on this earth together you are to call me David, not father. Naturally I cried my eyes out right in front of him. He also said that I was never allowed to even try to contact my younger sister. I was actually glad to move out though because they were screaming at me every day and quite often my mom would come into my room in the middle of the night and wake me up, knowing that I had to be up at 5:30, and start yelling at me and asking all kinds of questions, mainly about my virginity.

Well I lived on campus until Thanksgiving came. My parents decided to go up to New York for Thanksgiving vacation and see Bethel. In the meantime I was in a bind because the campus was closing up and I had to be out. Michael and his father were living in a house together so I ended up going there for the week and I had my first Thanksgiving with Michael's family. My parents came back before the campus opened up and found out that I was at Michael's so they screamed at me and then my mom took it upon herself to call up the presiding elder and tell him that I committed fornication even after I told her I didn't. Well that started another series of meetings and the same thing happened again at Christmas time.

In early February my mom came crying to me saying how her and dad missed me. I kept telling her I didn't want to come home, that I belong on my own and I can make it on my own. Well I made the mistake of giving into her. She might have really missed me, but the real reason I was asked to come home was so that they could control my activities. The first week was fine but then the same old stuff started happening again and all I heard was how she wanted to beat Michael and all my friends up because it was their fault.

Well the elders meeting continued until in early April I was disfellowshipped for circumstantial evidence. I was of course kicked out of the house and I went to live at Michael's dad's. Michael's dad has taken care of me like I am his own and I am still in the house and plan on buying it when I have enough reserves in the bank.

About 2 months ago I heard my dad was in a car accident so out of love and concern I went to go see him. All that happened was they tried to start a fight. I told them that I did not come to fight over religion, or Michael or anything else, that I just came to see if my family was all right. They couldn't appreciate that and I am not allowed ever to go over to my folks house unless I become reinstated.

I would have gone crazy but God put loving people in my life that have supported me and eased my pain. I thank God for Michael, for my aunt Sheila, Michael's dad, his mother, his grandmother and my grandfather. I learned that I still have a family even though I left the JW's and my parents don't talk to me. I wish they would also leave the religion and hopefully someday will see what is wrong with it.