Madison's Story

Where to even begin!? I guess I’ll start with how I got to this site! A couple of months ago, after leaving the religion and being DF’d for 3 years, I decided I was ready to “taste the forbidden fruit” – which was seeking information from ‘outsider’s’ on the organization I had been affiliated with my entire life. I always knew sites such as this one were out there. Of course they have always been strictly forbidden by the organization! As well, being DF'd is one thing, but being associated with this information or so called ‘apostates’ would mean 'sinning against the holy spirit'… the point of no return… no hope of ever being forgiven by god… dying a certain everlasting life! This is something that never sat right with me! DF'ing is one means of controlling people, but even after they leave, they still try to control you with something so ridiculous!? But, that did control me to some degree until just recently! I used a search engine to look up JW's - I was ready to hear and see for myself what former members and opposers had to say! To my amazement there was 300,000 websites associated with my search! I looked thru a few and came to this one (which by the way I think is incredible) and I was blown away by what I found! It has literally changed my life and the way I will live it going forward! This is thanks to reading all of your experiences – I've read every last story posted and each of them has touched my heart. How I wish I had found this immediately upon leaving 3 years ago! All the loneliness, anguish and horrible emotions I experienced and inflicted by this cult (I still can't believe I'm okay with saying that word now! :) could have been taken away by gaining this invaluable information. But, I'm also a believer in that everything happens for a reason, and it truly came at a time when I was ready to accept it!!!

I no longer feel alone; I know there is support out there from the very ones I need it from! I have been able to un-program some existing beliefs that were lingering in my mind, thanks to the hard-core facts here on this site! I see this religion for exactly what it is now and ultimately have found some degree of inner peace. It’s one of the last elements I need to be able to move on and feel good about my life! I've also went from being angry and bitter towards my parents to feeling sorry for them and hoping that some day they will see this religion for what it truly is – A LIE!

Because of how much I have been helped thru everyone’s words and encouragement, it lead me to wanting to share my story in hopes that maybe someone will be helped by it! So, here it is;

My grandmother had been on a quest to find the ‘true religion’ her whole life and had pretty much gone thru them all when JW’s came knocking on her door in the mid 1970’s. She had lived quite a difficult life – her husband was an alcoholic who gambled his earnings away and physically abused her and their 13 children badly. They finally separated, early 70’s, leaving her a single mother to several of the children still living at home. The organization appealed to her because they didn’t go to war – which she read in her own bible, “Christians do not take up arms”, however she found few religions actually abided by that.

My mother, coming from a staunch Catholic family, married my father in the Catholic Church in 1972. In 1975, they had their first child – my brother Ethan. At this same time my grandmother had been studying with the JW’s and was preparing to be baptized. My father would visit her often and occasionally would walk in on her bible studies. But, he would excuse himself into another room until they were finished. However, eventually he was talked into sitting in on a study. After several bible studies had ensued, he was certain he had found the true religion and was baptized. My mother on the other hand wouldn’t hear of it! She and her entire family fiercely opposed my father! Against my dad’s wishes, she went behind his back and baptized Ethan in the Catholic church. They were fighting bitterly over the issue until my mom took Ethan and left my dad. She moved back home with her parents. Also coming from a big family she was one of 7 siblings. Some of them, after failed marriages, were back at home with their children. I believe the separation lasted several months until I think my mother just wanted her life back and did love my dad. So, she moved back in with my father and decided to look into what she was fighting against. She agreed to a bible study and was baptized after my birth in August 1978. In turn, she was cut off by many of her family members who thought the religion was a cult.

My dad took the lead in the family with the religion and was strict about it. He made sure we had family studies, studied with my brother and I individually and made sure we all got out in service on a regular basis and had no worldly association. My mom went along with it, but still to this day I don’t believe she has the same passion for the religion as my father!

My earliest memories are of 1983 – this is where my story really takes a turn. I was 5 years old and had started school. I remember being made to feel ‘different’ from the rest of the kids at school and in my neighborhood. It was always put in my head that I couldn’t have friends who were ‘worldly’, so I never got very close with any school friends. I vividly remember telling a neighbor child and his mother (who drove us home from school occasionally) very proudly that they were certainly going to die at Armageddon but I was going to live cause I was a JW. (Can you imagine what they would have thought hearing this from a 5 year old!?) However, in general I hated being centered out – not being able to participate in activities that revolved around the holidays, being made to stand in the hall for the national anthem. The worst part of it was I could never explain why. It was very frustrating and is mentally damaging to a child.

Around the same time I started school a “brother” in the congregation molested me for the first time. This certainly pointed my life in a completely different direction! His family was good friends with my family. It wasn’t often but my parents used him occasionally to babysit my brother and I. He used these opportunities to target me or whenever else he could get me alone. These incidents happened over the course of about 4 years until I was 8 or 9 years old and finally stood up to him. He would have been 19 years old when it finally stopped and remember that point which I’ll touch on more later. Although he never threatened me or told me to keep silent, I never said a word to anyone! As I child I really believed I had something to do with it or that it must be my fault in some way.

I was raised very much upon basing my conscience on how my actions would affect my parents and then second to that was how Jehovah would view them! Never, ever were we taught how to make decisions or choices based on how we thought they would affect us personally – would they impact us negatively or positively, would they make us happy or sad. So, at a very early age I began to live and do things strictly to make my parents happy!!! That was my purpose for living! My mom was more responsible for this thought process. She spent so much time and energy worried about what other people thought. This made a huge impression on me that stuck with me until my early adulthood!!! So in regards to the religion – everything I did for it, was really for my parents!!! I never wanted to be at the meetings, engage in personal study, pray or go out in service. For whatever reason, it was just never in me!? But, I did a damn good job of telling my parents what they wanted to hear and by doing what they wanted me to do!

I lived a double life, being one person at the meetings and at home and being another one all together away from them! By about the time I got in grade 7 I decided I’d had enough of the embarrassment. So, I would stand for the national anthem and participate in all activities associated with holidays. But that excluded doing anything outside the hours of school. I would have loved to be more involved in sports teams and anything else extra curricular. I believe it would have made me that much more interested in school itself. My parents, both being high school dropouts, as well as having the belief that this system would end any day, never encouraged my brother and I to apply ourselves in school. Secondary education was out of the question and not even discussed. So I barely made my grades and wished my high school years away!!! I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I looked like everyone else there, maybe even acted like it, but I was worlds apart from them. It was almost too much to bear – constantly getting invites to be a part of social gatherings and other going on’s, but constantly having to make up some stupid excuse that I couldn’t come! When instead I wanted so much to be like any of them – happy, free spirited and enjoying my youth!!!

What really did I have to look forward to? Finish school, hope that some ‘brother’ marries me and spend the rest of our days waiting for the end to come? Depressing as it sounds, that’s pretty much what happened!

When I was 17 all my other JW friends were getting married – it was the thing to do before you turned 20 in my area. Casual or recreational dating – which is a normal desire at that age – was not permitted. Dating (which you would have no experience with) was done for the sole purpose of finding a marriage mate. So, it kind of became my ambition. And, looking back, I think a huge part of me also just wanted to move out of my parent’s house and feel like I had some control over my life. By this time I detested doing anything at all associated with the religion – I actually loathed it! Everyone was just so fake at the meetings and I could never relate with anyone being ‘theocratic’ or spiritually minded – it was the last thing from my mind. Despite feeling that way, I shoved myself through it all – I cringe now just thinking of the feelings inside me waiting to explode!!! I had no voice – inside I was screaming, but had to suppress it. This was for my parents of course – although that bullsh*t ‘free choice’ thing was always taught to me, I knew the reality of it was – you don’t take it! Once you enter into that organization and exercise your free will of making a choice to serve in the religion or not – it’s their way or nothing at all. If you take the other option of not serving, you’re punished for it severely. I surely didn’t want to loose my family, so this way the only way for me. What a depressing prospect – living I life I didn’t want to live. But, you learn to ignore that inner voice, your dreams, goals and aspirations. Instead, you just reside yourself to being controlled by fear of Armageddon and stick it out. Besides, something equally if not more distressing to me was the fact that my father would have been crushed if he knew I wanted nothing to do with the light of his life!

Two weeks after my brother was married in Nov. 1995, my family attended another JW wedding. This is where I met my ‘suitable candidate’ for marriage! He was a baptized brother who had just moved to my area from another province. We were both physically attracted to each other (again having no experience with dating) so we were in an instant relationship and knew 8 weeks into it that we wanted to be married. I was not baptized at the time we started dating. I knew it would be a must if we wanted to get married at the kingdom hall. But, I never looked at it seriously until an elder approached me. He wondered how ‘spiritually minded’ this person was if he was able to date an unbaptized individual in good conscience. So in some way I was left feeling like less than a person and very quickly after looked into to getting baptized. I did it for the purpose of getting married as well as knowing how much this would please my parents. A very, very poor decision now looking back!

I ignored every last undesirable quality and red flag during the courtship. We became engaged a few days after my high school graduation and just shy of my 19th birthday. The wedding date was set for that following November (1997). Shortly after we were engaged, there were things I could no longer ignore. He was extremely verbally, emotionally and mentally abusive towards me. And just after getting engaged it had escalated to him becoming physically abusive. My sole train of thought was not wanting to disappoint my parents or embarrass them by canceling the engagement and calling off the wedding after the invites had been sent. How stupid of me, I know. Here’s a good example of me not weighing in at all on how this decision would affect me personally. We were married and things went from bad to worse immediately after. Things inside the marriage were horrible and too countless to mention. However, being on of JW’s comes with a hierarchy of happiness – your happiness being the very last on the list. So, I put all my efforts into maintaining a facade. I wanted my parents to think I was in a fairytale marriage and that we were doing great spiritually. And being that I was not in the same congregation as my parents they were ignorant to the fact that our attendance at meetings was far and between, my husband never went out in service and rarely did I. I was miserable!!! I had started to accept the fact that I would never be happy and live a life I choose to live. I learned to shut off emotionally, mostly as a protection from the abuse and also so I could resign myself into living with such depressing prospects. By the time I was married almost 2 years things were starting to change for me. I was now 21 and really starting to grow and develop mentally and began the search for my identity. I was even starting to have and voice my own opinions. My husband did not like this! He wanted someone he could control. His opinion was supposed to rule. But, I was getting more defiant and wanted to do my own thing, which meant our altercations were getting more violent. Instead of growing together, we were growing very much apart. We both had quite a bit of worldly association at this time and neither of us put the “truth” first. I was becoming close with work mates and associating with them after work and on weekends. I was starting to see life in a different light and was beginning to see and understand that what was going on inside my marriage was inexcusable. I had gotten to the point where I was really not in love with my husband anymore. Too much damage had been done and the emotional and verbal abuse really did a number on me! I think I knew then that I could never love him the way a wife should love a husband. As well, someone who was treating me this way could not possibly love me! What was I going to do, where was I going to go? Was I going to leave the “truth”? How devastating would this be for my parents?

My husband and I decided to have a trial separation. He went to visit his parents for a while who lived in a different province. We lied to everyone and said that he was just vacationing and I couldn’t get the time off work. I really needed the time to myself, but my parents were checking in with me quite a bit and even wanted me to come stay with them. I declined and spent a lot of time dodging them and lying as to my whereabouts. Skipping some of the details, during this time I had an affair with a long time friend of mine who was a non-JW. Looking back I really think I did it out of desperation. I knew that my actions would land me out of the marriage and DF’d. Which were both things I wanted but wasn’t brave enough to do, so I thought maybe it would be easier if they ‘happened’ to me. Maybe that would somehow be easier for my parents to deal with. Regardless, when I did it I knew it was the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for the marriage. It was done. Boy…was I off the mark!!! My husband returned and I informed him very soon after about my betrayal. He was devastated and went off the deep end! He promptly went to my parents, brother and sister in law and told them everything. And by everything, I mean everything I had ever confided in him. He was the first person I had told about the molestation and that was something I did not want my parents to know – they would be crushed by it and were. He even told them stupid things like the fact that he was allowing me to go to bars with my girlfriends and that I had got my navel pierced. At the same time he contacted the elders. I had not been prepared for any of what followed. I was completely exposed and being forced to deal with a lot of things I was not ready for. I found myself in elder’s meeting’s the next day being grilled by 3 men for every last dirty detail. I was so gutless and so afraid of really what was on my mind; I had lost total control of the situation. It wasn’t playing out at all how I had imagined it would. The molestation issue was so huge in itself; it was too much all at once. I was sick to my stomach as my plan unraveled in front of me. I was devastated to find out that I wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t strong enough or able to deal with my parents. I ended up telling the elder’s what they wanted to hear. They did find a lot of fault in my husband who they blamed for not taking the lead spiritually as well as they learned of the abuse in the marriage and were not pleased. Then they began to deal with the molestation. My abuser was still a brother active in another congregation. They asked me if I was going to take legal action, I said I really wasn’t sure but didn’t think so because the case was now 12 years old. They certainly didn’t encourage me to pursue it with the law and said they were going to deal with it. I’ll touch on what happened with this a little later.

I don’t quite remember who’s decision it was, I believe mostly my parents, but I went and stayed with them for about 4 weeks while my husband and I tried to work things out between us with the help of the elder’s. I felt hopeless under my parent’s roof. I was getting that familiar feeling of just wanting to please them again and forgot about what I wanted. There was just no way out, I was trapped and being rail roaded back to my husband. My husband wanted to work things out, he promised to forgive and forget and he appeared truly sorry for how he’d contributed to the demise of the marriage and vowed to be a different man. Looking back, I really believe he viewed me as a possession and couldn’t deal with loosing it. I was very confused and didn’t know what I wanted by this time. But, I had to get out of my parents home. I wanted some degree of my life back. So, I went back. Within a day of moving back in, it was very apparent I had made a very big mistake! It was September of 1999 and over the next few months the abuse in the marriage was escalating to all time highs. My husband could not deal with what happened and was making me pay for it every day! By January 2000 I had decided that was it!!!! I had become stronger and smarter. I was now ready to deal with whatever was going to be thrown at me as a result of leaving my husband and religion. He also wanted out – there was nothing but bad blood between us now. I had intentions of moving in with a cousin who had left the truth years earlier. This time my parents and the elders would be completely left out of it and would be the last to know after the fact. That way there would be no interference.

Things were finally going to come together for me until the unthinkable happened – I discovered I was pregnant. We were surprised to say the very, very least! The two of us were now like caged animals! We didn’t love each other, didn’t want to be together but now had a baby on the way. Despite being pregnant the abuse didn’t slow down, it actually gained momentum. When I was 9 months pregnant we were in the car, fighting as always, about the affair. It escalated so much that my husband actually punched me in the face, breaking my nose. I’ll never forget seeing blood falling onto my pregnant belly. I can’t begin to describe the flurry of emotions running thru me at that exact moment. My first instinct was to run, I got in side the house and was going to call the police. My husband ripped the phone off the wall. I went upstairs, threw myself on the bed and cried the entire night. What had my life become? What was I going to do? This was unacceptable. However, my train of thinking led me to only caring about how things would look to my parents and other people. I couldn’t possibly tell my parents what had happened. I had been lying for months, telling them things were going just fine with us! And I certainly was not going to go up to the hospital to deliver this baby as a ‘single mom’ – how would that look? My parents would be so embarrassed. So, I shut off mentally a little more and now I was at the point where I felt almost nothing. I was a walking zombie. I didn’t want to be hurt any more and I guess I was functioning in some kind of survival mode.

In the beginning of October 2000 I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I loved him and still love him with everything I have inside me. I thank God for him everyday because he is what ultimately saved me.

I really didn’t know what to expect after he was born. Would the birth impact the relationship negatively or positively? Would my husband finally stop tormenting me and let go of the past? Could I see my husband in a different light and perhaps begin to love him again? The sad reality of it was I had become nothing more than a shell! There was nothing inside left to feel with. I was cold and bitter towards my son’s father and resented him for what he had done to me very much! The fighting, yelling and screaming continued after the baby. But, I set very hard rules down for my husband in regard to any physical abuse. I swore to God I would not hesitate at calling the police! He never touched me in that manner after our son. As the first weeks and months of my son’s life went by, even though I loved him, I simply was not bonding with him. At first I thought it could be postpartum depression, but after a 5 months had passed I really started to re-examine my situation. At this time, like I said, I wasn’t feeling anything much more that anger and bitterness. I really think I had sterilized all my emotions and built a wall around them. It was how I protected my mental well being from an abusive husband. It’s how I survived 15 months of daily abuse. I wasn’t going to let him hurt me any more, but it meant letting nothing in or out, good or bad. Therefore, I could provide for my son very well physically, but emotionally I wasn’t fully available to him. By the time my son was 5 months old he had become completely immune to what was going on around him. I remember screaming and fighting with his father, looking at this infant who wasn’t the least bit phased by the upset. It was normal for him and it was all he knew. Coming to this realization grabbed me and shook me! It was no longer about keeping up a facade or living to please other people. There was a little person in our home observing or every word, action and conduct. There was no hiding it now. More than that, there was no way I could raise my child to think that this was how a married couple exist together. My child deserved more out of life; he deserved a healthy and safe environment where he would be happy. I made the decision to leave my husband.

Within the two months following my decision I had made arrangements for my move, secured an apartment, pawned my wedding rings and got a small car. All without my parents knowledge. I had convinced my husband not to tell them or the elders because I didn’t want any interference. He agreed. However, I had distanced myself very much from my family and they knew something was up. Three weeks prior to moving, my mother called me and asked what was going on. I told her I was leaving my husband and the religion. She took the news with mixed emotion. She could see I was not happy and realized that things never did get better between the two of us. It was certainly no way to live or raise a child. She was actually some what supportive and suggested that I maybe just need ‘some time’ away from the religion – certainly nothing permanent. But rather, a way to start over again. She didn’t want to see me DF’d and at the time I really didn’t know if I just wanted to drift away or be DF’d. I just knew I wanted OUT!!!

I moved out July 1st, 2001. That summer turned out to be very ugly. My ex husband was literally tailing my every move. Spent nights parked in my new neighborhood and watched the activity going on around my new place. He became an ally with my parents, reporting everything back to them. Mind you, he grossly exaggerated and lied about the details of my life. But, since my parents weren’t much interested in hearing my side of it, they took his word to be true and turned against me. That summer included many heated arguments and huge blow-ups between my ex-husband, family and I! I really felt like the black sheep. It seemed like it didn’t matter to them that he had treated me horribly over the last few years. They only saw the fact that I was not living by the religion. Which I feel in their eyes some how atoned for all his sins.

I believe that even though I was 22 years old, my parents had an enormous struggle with having no control over me any more.

I was officially DF’d in March of 2002 after a long time of playing ‘cat and mouse’ in trying to avoid the elders. I met with them greatly due to the influence of my mother. By this time my parents were at the receiving end of many lies coming from my ex and therefore, I believe my mom more so wanted me to go to the elders to tell on him so he would be punished. I told the elders about what had been going on in the marriage (verbal and physical abuse included), even after they had intervened at the time of the affair. I explained to them I was very intent on pursuing things in my life that did not include being one of JW’s. I also took this opportunity to bring up the molestation. I wanted to know how the brother was dealt with. None of the elders had ever gotten back to me on how it was handled. Well, getting this information was like pulling teeth! I was made to feel like I shouldn’t be asking questions. But, I was quickly told that the brother had been talked to by his elders and was “repentant”. Which is good enough for them, so nothing more was done. As well, another elder was quick to add that my offender was “only 19 at the time”. My mouth fell open…I don’t care how old he was, he was old enough to know the difference between wrong and right and it doesn’t change the damage it’s done to me as a person. Since leaving I’ve come to learn more and more that in this organization, sexual child abuse is quickly swept under the rug with no consequences for the offender.

Since being DF’d things have been all over the place with my family. We had minimal contact and association because of my son. His father has visitation with him every second weekend. But, because he hasn’t been much interested in being a dad, he always handed my child over to my parents for the weekend. So over the last 3 years there has been a lot of drop off’s and pick up’s taking place at their home. However, things have changed drastically over the last year. I now understand why I have allowed people to walk over me since leaving the religion. When you leave, it’s ingrained in your head that you’re a bad person. So you carry a great deal of guilt with you and a lot of your actions are guilt driven. I was bending over backwards for my parents and family – making it easy for them, ensuring they were having a relationship with their grandson. But, at what expense…I wouldn’t truly know that until about 6 months ago.

I started noticing behaviors and ‘airs’ coming from my mother and brother (on the rare occasion when I would bump into him at my parents home). My brother would not even acknowledge my existence. I could feel his disgust for me radiating from him. My mother was different. Every occasion was different - one day everything seems fine! My mom would talk and interact with me. Then the next time would be completely opposite – she could hardly look at me let alone speak to me. Yet, I would continue to bring their grandchild there with a smile on my face and keep a consistent pleasant disposition. All of this was happening in front of my child. Then he too was starting to demonstrate behaviors towards me. On one occasion when he was 2 he escorted me out of their home by my arm. At his young age, he knew no one could relax until I left. He knew I was not supposed to be there and saw the dividing line very clearly. This thought kept me awake at night. I came to the realization that this was going to negatively affect my son mentally. At 2 and 3 years old he’s questioning in his little head that there is something wrong with his mother. Something so wrong that she is not even allowed in her own parents home. This is only going to get worse over time. Then if he is further influenced by this religion, over the years he will eventually be turned against me completely because minor children of JW parents are taught that they must gradually, as they grow up, lessen the amount of communication and relationship with the parent who has left the religion. When the child is considered old enough to be personally accountable before God for his actions, he is expected - actually pushed - to terminate the relationship with the non-JW parent. Because of the belief that associating with them, even if they are your parents (or children, brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents, etc.) will result in God's disapproval and ultimate condemnation.

About six months ago I had all I could possibly take from this ridiculous situation. I was becoming so angry. I was mostly angry with myself for allowing this to go on. A part of me was doing it to try and hang onto some sort of contact with my parents. And the rest of me was doing it for them – trying to keep them as happy as possible given the circumstances. The final straw was on an occasion where I dropped my son off at their home. My father was always decent with me, however my mother must have been having one of her days and decided she was completely going to ignore me. I snapped! I stormed out of their home and spent the next 3 days balling! On that 3rd day I called my father and we had a HUGE blow up. Many things were said and among them was the fact that I would have nothing more to do with them seeing their grandson! I tried explaining how the current arrangement was negatively affecting my son and that I cannot be a part of that. I also told them that if they want to see their grandson, they’re more than welcome to come to my home and visit in my presence. As soon as I suggest something like this, my father’s defense is, “you’re using him as leverage against us to try and make us compromise our beliefs and our standing in God’s eye’s”. But of course they don’t realize that that statement is entirely hypocritical because my ENTIRE family has been used as leverage against me to make me compromise!!! However, they’re the only one’s ‘having their cake and eating too’, because they have the luxury of still seeing their grandson.

I haven’t laid eyes on them or spoken to them in months now. My ex husband continues to bring my son there every second weekend, strictly against my wishes. So, no matter what my beliefs are on the best interest of my son, they’re being completely ignored by my parents and ex. I have been left with no other choice other than to pursue legal action, which I’m currently doing. This may result in me having full custody and his father only having supervised visits. (I’ll send an update when this is resolved.)

I can't believe that after leaving and being DF'd - this religion is still having such an affect on my life! I keep thinking my parents love for me and my son will get them to "come around" and start associating with me (especially given the fact that I'm currently pregnant and literally due any day now!!!), but they don't!!!! Then I read experiences on the Internet about people who haven't see or heard from their parents in 15 years!!! My biggest and worst fear is that I will live all my adult years and eventually see both my parents lost to death - under these circumstances!!! How are you supposed to live with that!? I really wish there was something that could be done to put a stop to this! This should not be allowed to be done to human beings! I've moved on with my life, and have a good life! I'm in a wonderful relationship with a very understanding man, and we are expecting a child together - I really have a lot to be happy about and I'm as happy as I can be. But, there's such a huge void inside me causing me a great deal of pain all the time. I don't know if I can ever be 100% happy and content! I have to give up the hope that my parents will come around, because I'll spend my life waiting for that to happen and it more than likely won't happen! I need to some how come to peace with this and let it go. Doing that is beyond me right now!

Website’s like this are very helpful and have given me strength when I’ve really needed it. Anyone who is in this situation or is about to be in this situation – I wish you the very best! This religion can take just about everything away from you, including your mental health.

Every day, the pain gets a little duller and living with this gets a little easier. After coming thru this, I’m certain I can definitely conquer anything life throws my way! I’ve struggled very much with trying to put this into perspective and still do. Because of the mental damaging affects I’ve suffered due to this religion, I know that my priority has to be to protect myself from any further damage. Therefore, even though they are my family and I love them dearly - they are not good for me.

I sincerely wish you all the best in the path you’ve chosen!