Nikki's Story

I was born into the organization in 1974. My mom had me at 17 and was married to my father at 18. Mom was studying with my father's aunt and eventually she got baptized. From what she told me, she was looking for a hope for the future. She had grown up as a Catholic, she never believed in a fiery place of torment, so she took to the organization very well.

My father was very physically abusive to her and so we moved a lot until I was 9 nine years old. I will get to this later. I remember having tons of close friends in the congregation, but looking back on it now, my mom was not really "strong in the truth" at that point. We were very poor because of my real father, mom always worked waitressing jobs, life was very stressful for her during this time in our lives. I was an only child, and like my mom, I have a good personality, a real joy for life itself despite the circumstances going on with my mom and dad with his abuse to her.

Eventually they were divorced, and mom started to see a "worldly guy" for about 6 months. I really did not think anything of it, I was excited to see her happy. We were so poor that the thought of my mom marrying someone with money was very exciting to me since I had no idea of what it was like.

Then one day, mom has a talk with me, and decides that we need to figure out what we want to do "we need to work at getting stronger in the truth" she said. It being my mom, and I had her on a pedestal, and I was 8 years old and wanted her to be so happy, I told her I would do the same too.

My real father was never baptized, he mostly just used the witnesses for selfish gain, there is no need to mention details on him since he was never around and I really did not mind at that time in my life.

Mom eventually remarried my stepfather Andy and this is when I was nine. I was so excited he took me in and adopted me like I was his own kid. I was so excited my mom and I weren't poor anymore. I had my own room, didn't have to share the bed with mom anymore.

The JW organization was all I ever really new. So, of course my goals of pioneering, marrying young, going to Bethal, etc., these were just things I thought were suppose to happen. From the time my mom remarried Andy, this is when my childhood life was gone and will never replaced. We went to a congregation in Chicago and there weren't a lot of young people. I hung around adults all the time. My parents friends were my friends. I accepted it though because by nature I had a positive attitude.

I do not remember the organization coming down too hard on hanging out with worldly people around 1983. If it was known, my parents did not keep me from hanging out with "worldly people". They eventually got me involved in dance and acting because I was eating all the time and getting chunky and they told me they thought this would help me be more active and they gave me a goal to lose 5 lbs. Well I did; mom and stepdad were so proud. I remember both my parents telling everyone about too. This is pretty much when I became self-conscience of my weight.

Once my parents realized that I was very interested in dance and acting, they took me out and broke my heart. My parents wanted me to pioneer, pioneer, pioneer, marry a bethalite etc. I once again got over it and continued on my way and tried to make them happy as I always did. As time went on, mom became a regular pioneer, stepdad became an elder, and they both became more strict. And stricter. And stricter. So, I tried harder, harder, and harder.

As most JW's do, you go to the meeting Sunday, Tuesday night, Thursday night bible study. Plus if you are lucky enough to have a mom as a regular pioneer, then you also go out in service for 60-90 hours a month, and have to study for a lot of these things too. Plus studying for all the meetings and the family bible study. I remember being so stressed if the study would go smooth or not; if I was not 100% prepared, my stepfather would be so mad at me, to say the least.

I became the world's best highlighter You know, when you are studying for the meeting or whatever you needed to prepare answers for, you need to HIGHLITE all answers or the bullet points. I also became the world's best person with the smallest handwriting. My parents would be so proud when I would have all the notes and answers written on the sides of the Watchtower question and answer, or what you were currently studying during the book study on Thursday nights, along with my yellow highlights. I became quite the artist! Ha.

I remember I had a 4th grade teacher who's husband had died. So, my parents suggested I write her a letter. I did not want to write her a letter because frankly, she was the crabbiest teacher I ever had, just a person that snarls all the time. But, to make mom and stepdad happy, I did. I remember writing about the resurrection of her husband in that letter, and also that she would continue to give me more homework, Ha. Looking back on that now, what a weird kid she probably thought I was.

I remember spending 9-10 hour days on the weekends going out in service with my mom, in the city of Chicago. I remember mom starting bible studies with crazy people; people that took to my mom because she was so nice, and really they just wanted to steal from her.

Again, I really did not have any young people to hang with, so it was me and mom most of the time. Eventually, we moved out of the city and into the northern suburbs. We moved into a really "stiff" congregation and again there were not a lot of young people, but I learned to accept it and all was OK I guess. See, I was a happy kid by nature. I do not think I really knew if I was unhappy or not. Once mom remarried too, we lost touch with Grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, just plain family.

My stepdad handled the discipline actions of me not too long after they were married too. Looking back on this, I wish I would have told my family to call the abuse Hotline. I feel my parents abused and controlled me, just like those other stories I read on this site. I was a normal kid, I do not feel I gave my mom and stepdad grief at all, just normal things that kids do.

Things got harder and harder as time went on. In the "stiff" congregation, I was eventually used to it and made my own friends, mostly older than me but at this point, I still hung out with kids at school too, this I was still allowed to do. I remember keeping the fact that I was a JW a secret from the kids at school up until the point I had to preach in my neighborhood. I went to the door with my mom, and looked up and saw these two twins I went to school with. They knew me and the next day everyone knew I was a JW at this new school. It was devastating and embarrassing, but I got through it. I would never wish what I went through on my own children, but what a waste of such childhood years. I am not a person that says, shoulda, coulda, woulda (OK, maybe I am), but it is hard NOT to think what my future would be had I not grown up in the organization.

Eventually, I started to lie to my parents, I lived a double life as a lot of young witnesses do. The kids at school knew me as a witness and eventually accepted me because they knew I did not want to be one. I used to dream about what it would be like to NOT be one. But, at that time in my life, I really did not think it was ever going to happen. I always thought I would get through it, and eventually become a strong spiritual "sister". I saw this happen all the time. JW teenagers get in trouble, and then they eventually grow into becoming a regular pioneer. This is how I saw it.

I remember eventually growing into puberty, and being crazy about the boys. I always dreamed of being able to go to the school dances. I was in 7th grade and there was a social hour in the afternoon at school. So, I wore one of my "witness" outfits to school and made it more "worldly looking" once I got to school. I thought I was so sneaky and thought I would be able to get away with it. Somehow my parents found out about it and mom came and got me after school. I remember in the car her acting a little different but I did not think it was because she knew I went to the social hour. When I got home, I received one of the biggest beatings of my life and then I had to tell mom and stepdad that I loved them afterwards. This was the routine after my spankings with a paddle or a belt (if mom broke the paddle from the last time, the belt was the option even though she used to say that she did not believe in the belt because she got beat with it as a kid). I got over it and continued on. I remember my mom telling me that I reminded her of my real dad, because I lied. This used to hurt me so bad because I remember what he did to her. I only lied about things if I was determined to be able to do them.

Looking back, I just wanted to be involved with school, to hang out with my friends. I was not into drugs, I was not having sex. Eventually, school became where my only freedom was during the day. I started to bring clothes to change into everyday at school and continued to lead my double life as the JWs call it. I even had boyfriends at school but had to have terms with them. I only could date while I was at school. So, this would only last a couple of weeks and kissing would get old and therefore I would be heartbroken. Then another boy would come along, heartbroken and so on and so forth.

I went to school with a couple of other JWs. One being a kid named Willie. He told on me on a couple of occasions. The last time he told on me was when I was a freshman in HS. He saw me kissing a boy and when I came home, my mom and stepdad were waiting. For the next several hours I was disciplined. I was spanked (bare butt) with a paddle, afterwards mom set me up in front of the microwave and cut 8 inches off my hair. Then I had family bible study to talk about what happened. I went to school the next day devastated because none of my friends knew I wanted to cut my hair so they knew it was my parents that did this to me. Looking back, a lot of the girlfriends I had a school were very good to me, supportive. I eventually got over it and mom and stepdad put me in home school because "bad associations spoil useful habits".

Well, you know that kid who told on me, Willie? Not too long after I was taken out of public school, (which in my parents mind, I became a much more spiritual person), something snapped in Willie. To be honest, I never really clicked with him. Frankly, he was a nerd and knew it. I did not relate to him at all but I was very close to his father, he was a big teddy bear. I guess Willie had planned to murder his parents. He arranged to buy a gun, he had a plan. We always knew something happened with his mom and him years ago, but noon knew what had happened. Anyway, his dad, Paul was the conductor of our bible studies we had at our house on Thursday nights. He never showed. He was an elder, so he was scheduled to give a talk at another KH on the following Sunday. He never showed. My parents knew something was wrong and honestly, we all somehow knew that Willie had done something. I remember seeing Willie the night before he killed his parents, and noticing that his face had such bad acne. I remember feeling something wasn't right but I thought maybe it was because Willie was just not "Mr. Personality".

My mom and stepfather were the ones that found the bodies in their house. Willie had waited for his mom to come home, and shot her right in the head and then raped her afterwards. Then he shot his dad in the back, wrapped both his parents in sheets and flew to Canada.

This was the kid who told on me on several occasions. Granted, I guess I was doing things that were wrong, in the "organizations mind", yet was I really that bad? No way. I was just a normal teenager. He was caught, went to trial, and is currently still in jail.

I remember at the funeral, a "spiritual sister" came up to me and said "Now, don't you go and do something like that". I remember crying my eyes out. I knew people in the congregation thought my parents were too strict and worried if I would snap. Yet, how dare anyone compare me to Willie? I was nothing like him. I couldn't believe someone would say that to me.

This situation really affected my stepfather who had seen a lot of close people loose lives due to murder, drugs, illness, etc. But, he never really showed emotion, so as a kid, I never really saw it. What happened with Willie was really weird and something very difficult to get over, but I did and I will always remember Paul, he was one of the nicest, sincere people I had ever met.

In that same congregation, a 32 year old bother (MS) was after me I guess and I too was very interested in him. He was very good friends with my stepdad and we spent a lot of time together. He did not know I had a crush on him nor did I know he had one for me. I used to talk with my mom's friends about him, because my mom's friends thought he was a good catch, good looking, spiritual. Meaning other sisters were interested in him and I never thought I would have a chance because of the age difference. Well, my parents leave for a vacation and he calls me and proceeds to tell me his intentions for me and I was so excited. My parents returned and he approached them. The next day, our house was for sale and we moved to another congregation.

It was a very difficult time for me, I was very depressed because I thought I knew what love was at that age. I never felt my parents were there emotionally for me, it was so cold. I never felt they had compassion or advise to teach me how to deal with certain things.

I eventually got over it and went to pioneer school, became a regular pioneer. I must mention my stepdad had me working at a very young age. So, when I was pioneering I had a job too that I had already been working for, for 5 years. I went to pioneer school, I was considered a special spiritual sister in the congregation, I was good association. Yet, I was leading a double life, I dreamed of leaving someday but I would always continue to do what I was doing in my spiritual life because it sure did make things easier with my parents.

I remember my parents being interested in this new diet called "Fit for life". I was very active, pioneering, working part time etc. I lost weight. Eventually, mom and stepdad did not like it, and forced me to eat late at night so I would gain weight. If I was 105, they were OK. If was 103.5, then this is when I was forced to eat. They even told me to stop walking!!! Yet, I was eating like a normal healthy girl!!! If I wore certain things, stepdad would think I looked too skinny and would say, "get the scale" and this would continue for some time. I eventually became so distraught over this and had bulimia for 6 years after I left home, it was my way of taking control. But, I got over it and moved forward, but it is another scar for life.

Anyway, going backwards, I was at a new congregation, more young people, I really made the best of it. I wound up meeting a boy that I worked with at the company my grandfather owned (same company I worked for for 5 years), and this was the start of my plan to leave. I thought I really loved him and maybe I did. He was not a witness, and it was my chance to get and be free. My parents never knew my plan, I am sure they were shocked when I left since I never stuck up for myself with them up until I left in October of 1992. I actually was a regular pioneer, and went out in service all day with my mom, I told her I would see her later and I never went home.

His parents actually helped me, they took me in. And a lot of the worldly people encouraged me to leave, they saw something in me, more than the organization would have allowed, and a lot of people (worldly) helped me so much. I remember the day that I left, I went and got a second job. I knew I needed more money and I also wanted to give money per month for the people I was staying with.

Eventually my parents found out where I was and asked me to come home and talk. I know my mom was devastated and I know I left in a cold way. But, for me, it was the only way. I knew if I did not start cold about it, I would give in and stay. I did let my parents try to convince me from 2:00-4:00am; but in the end, I said nothing and left.

That was the last time I saw my stepfather, October of 1992. I would not see my mom until 8 years later, September of 2000. My parent's marriage fell apart not too long after I left. I guess it was while I was still at home, but did not know it. My mom suffered for many years with my stepfather, due to emotional abuse. He became even more mean, more controlling, than ever before. I guess not too long after I left, my parents went to go serve where the need was greater. My mom hated it there, there was no support from the elders, she went to them for help because things were so awful with my stepfather. They would not help her, and so she continued to act like things were OK at the KH. For awhile there, my mom slept in another room for two years. This was their spiritual household, this was right? All preaching they did as a kid, and look at what happened.

I remember how shocked I was to find this all out. I even felt as if I were to blame for them breaking up, but eventually I did not blame myself anymore. My mom became a depressive and also an alcoholic due to all she had gone through in the organization, my real father, my stepfather, etc. She wanted to escape. So she drank. I understand this, I drank too, to escape. It never got that far, as far gone as my mom, but we have similar personalities. I would have if I did not recognize it.

I could not believe the stories she would tell me about my stepfather who actually currently is regular pioneering!!! Are you kidding me already? I believe he will get what's coming to him. I cannot believe he is in a congregation in Colorado, preaching and acting like he's so spiritual and so good?

The organization has affected my life even to this day. I am still so very happy I am not a JW. I do not believe that I am an apostate, I do not believe anyone who has listed their stories on this site are apostates. I can't stand that word. That word makes me feel guilty. It shouldn't, but it does.

We are people that have been robbed of our own mind, our own childhoods, our own family, and everything thing else that has been taken away from us. We are people that truly believed in all this at one point, but in the end were treated unfairly, and humiliated. I knew when I was DF'd, my friends would not be able to talk to me again. I miss a lot of them so much, even though it has been 12 years. I heard a lot of my former JW friends had problems; I have also heard a lot of them became strong in the "truth".

But, as for me, I would do it all over again. I will never let someone or organization control me ever again. I have a mind, I have the ability to speak and think for myself. I can't believe so much was lost because of the JW organization. It is completely wrong. There is a scar for life. But, I am who I am today because of it and I am very proud of that. I hope that I hear from other ex-witnesses. This is my first time even knowing this site existed. There is a lot of common conversation we could have if anyone ever wants to talk to me. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

Sincerely from my heart...Nikki