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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inside/Outside by @JennyHayworth1 #Abuse #Women #AmReading

8:30 AM Posted by Mickalia Peck , , , , No comments
Imagine that someone you love dies. You no longer can see them, speak to them, or touch them or have any literal experience with them except within your mind and heart. This is what being disfellowshipped or disassociated from the Jehovah’s Witnesses means to those who are cut off. They are treated as if they are dead to those remaining in it.
When I was an active member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and believed a hundred percent in it, I had always believed what had been taught to us from the platform by the elders and in The Watchtower magazine (published twice a month by The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society).
I believed that when baptised Jehovah’s Witnesses decided (because they had bad hearts) that they no longer wished to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, they would say to the elders that they no longer wished to be known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was a totally voluntary process, I was taught, and it occurred because these people wanted to do things that were condemned by Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Bible and so no longer wanted to continue being known as one. It was a voluntary separation on their part from the organisation even though they would realise it would cause enormous pain for their families.
Since these people knew that by choosing a lifestyle contrary to one Jehovah God wanted them to lead (as set forth by The Watchtower Society), they knew their families would have to cut them off in obedience to the scriptural direction given by the Apostle James on how to treat those who left the fold. This was to treat them as if they were “dog[s] returning to [their] vomit” as the scriptures put it.
The families would not be allowed to speak to them, eat with them, or greet them. In fact they were instructed to treat them as if they were no longer living. If their families did associate with them and didn’t repent for it after being given the opportunity to do so by loving elders who would try to turn their hearts back to obedience to God’s way, they also would be disfellowshipped.
The elders saw disassociation as a choice made by a baptised person even though both—disassociation and disfellowshipping—were treated in exactly the same way. Disfellowshipped ones might have just made a mistake and need to be punished for the behaviour in which they had engaged. So they were often seen as not having badhearts but as having been led astray or needing to be shocked into realising the seriousness of their actions. People could, however, commit any disfellowshipping sins, and if they were expressing enough remorse or contrition they might not be disfellowshipped.
Talks were constantly being given from the platform about all the things one could be disfellowshipped for including fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and any sexual conduct considered “Unclean” or classified as “pornea.” Also idolatry and celebrating worldly holidays (birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween) were considered disfellowshipping offences, as they were all pagan in origin.
However, when I asked the elders why witnesses like myself could wear white wedding dresses and wedding rings, both of which were pagan in origin, and asked who picked which historical customs were allowed to be practised and which weren’t, they could not give me an adequate answer.
We just had to be obedient to the direction of The Watchtower, and if they changed their understanding because of a “light” from God in the future, we would be told. But in the meantime, we had to be patient, be obedient, and wait.
My major doubts had surfaced while being reprimanded in New Zealand about going to worldly counsellors for my children when they disclosed their sexual abuse. I had not received counselling from anyone, and this had not helped me. I knew deep inside myself that I had to get help for my children other than just what the elders would provide. I didn’t want my beautiful children to experience the extreme guilt and fear I had experienced because of the abuse by Pop and all that flowed from it.
I could not see how elders who were not trained as counsellors in any way, shape, or form and had no formal education on sexual abuse victims and how to counsel or treat them could have been better than trained professionals. Also I could not see how, if someone broke the law of the land by sexually abusing a child, only the elders and not the judicial system should have dealt with him or her. I had scriptures quoted at me at the time saying God appoints elders, so they are his representatives on earth and not some worldly judging system that does not understand the ways of God’s people.
Again I could not see how, if police were not involved, the guilty person’s just saying sorry to the elders would stop it from happening again or to someone else. Who was accountable? If a member of the congregation murdered someone, he or she had to go to the police and to court. Why not those who committed sexual abuse and rape? Why were these lesser crimes? Why did they not warrant criminal inquires?
When in Wellington, New Zealand, and taking the children to see the counsellor, I had been disturbed by what I had seen happening in our own congregation, where Leonard was involved as one of the elders. A young girl disclosed past sexual abuse that had happened to her, committed by a witness male friend who had worked for her father. She had stated he had come into her room and raped her a few years previously, when she had been about thirteen years old. Now that she was sixteen years old, she had disclosed it.
The accused had previously been married and had two daughters. The daughters had disclosed sexual abuse, but they were still young, only five or six years old. The ex-wife had gone to the police and was taking the children to see the same sexual-abuse counsellor I was taking my children to.
She didn’t know me, but I knew her as the two children had been at the meetings with their abuser on access visits up until the disclosures had been made. His ex-wife had been disfellowshipped, and he had remarried, and his new wife was only seventeen years old and pregnant with their first child. He had apparently written a letter of confession to the elders. The police had requested to interview the head elder, known as the Presiding Overseer of the congregation the accused attended. The Presiding Overseer had come to our house to have an urgent meeting with Leonard, who was then the Secretary of the congregation, and the Treasurer. These were the three main elders in each congregation who dealt with these matters.
As the Presiding Overseer was leaving the house, he said the letter had to be destroyed at all costs, as he had spoken to a solicitor and it was up to the prosecution to prove guilt—he did not have to supply evidence that would incriminate the accused. He also spoke about how he believed that the confidentiality of a confession to elders should be considered the same as the Catholic Church did it, and no elder should therefore have been forced to tell a policeman or court what had been disclosed by a member of the flock to him.
He was saying if the letter was found, the brother would most certainly be found guilty (he had pled not guilty in court) and would spend a long time in prison. As he was very repentant and had promised not to do it again, and had responded to the counselling of the elders, they needed to protect their flock.
It sickened me to listen to them talk. I instinctively thought, but what about protecting his children and his unborn child?  What about the children from the congregation who went to his house? The young girl had been counselled by the elders not to say anything to anyone. She came in distress to see me one day after arguing with her witness mother, with whom she had a volatile relationship, and said he had been made to apologise to her, so it was all meant to be okay now.
I knew from my own experience as an elder’s wife and from visiting other elders and their wives that rarely was anything kept as confidential as the congregation was repeatedly told it was. I knew that within a few days, every one of the elders and their wives would know what had been said and discussed, and all who were close to them as friends would be told. There was no confidentiality, in my experience. I didn’t want what had happened to my children and any disclosures I made to be dinner talk around people’s tables. I couldn’t bear for that to happen. So I just knew I had to go outside the congregation.
The most important reason, though, stemmed back to my childhood fear and memories. Hearing the talk given from the platform when I was a child about the scriptures in the Old Testament that said if a woman was raped in the field and didn’t cry out, she was guilty of adultery and was to be stoned to death, frightened me enormously. I had frozen when Pop abused me. I had been unable to move due to fear at times when I was in the bath, in the cupboard, or under the bed. During what had happened on the tennis court, the leadenness in my legs prevented me from moving, and the fear up tight in my throat and chest meant I was unable to scream or make a sound; I had a total inability to fight back as I was immobilised by fear.
I had spoken to Amy and Ben’s counsellor, and she had been quite forthcoming in explaining that children can fight, flight, or freeze. And abusers often picked those they felt would not fight back but would freeze or comply for many varying reasons, but it certainly did not mean the children wished it to happen.
At the time of Benjamin and Amy’s being abused, there was a case getting media coverage involving a woman in the United States, where a man had been found not guilty of rape due to the fact she had made him use a condom in the middle of raping her. Some of the local elders said this showed willingness and compliance. The woman had awoken to find a man on top of her, who she did not know, with a knife held to her throat. She had condoms in her drawer. When she realised he was going to rape her, she begged him to put on a condom as she was so frightened of getting HIV or another venereal disease. He put it on. Then he left afterward. She went to the police, and it had gone all the way through to trial. He was found not guilty because of the condom use. I was outraged.
I thought, here was a woman having enough wits about her to protect herself in any small way she could, even in the process of being violated by a stranger with a knife, and because she didn’t fight him, as she wished to survive, and he complied and wore a condom, it was taken as consensual? I was horrified. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses I associated with agreed with the court finding as it concurred with the biblical teaching we’d had drummed into us.
Another case was also in the media of a woman who did not scream or resist as the man had broken in and had a knife, but she had a young daughter asleep in the bed next to her. So she lay quietly and did what he said, as she was terrified if her daughter woke up she also would be assaulted or otherwise hurt. The man left, and because the woman had not screamed, the issue of consent arose. I argued vehemently with the elders that surviving was the most important thing, and no one in their right mind could think she gave consent when it was a stranger with a knife held to her. They kept parroting the scripture, though, as if they were unable to think outside the box.
Even when discussing this same issue with my friends, Lisa and Matthew, I would get frustrated. Matthew said if someone broke into his house, and his wife didn’t scream, he would wonder why. Lisa replied instantly that of course she would scream. I put to her that if she were so terrified she couldn’t run or make any noise, would that mean she consented? She couldn’t give an answer except to say she would scream, and it wouldn’t happen that she wouldn’t. And then they said God wouldn’t have put that in the Bible if it were not reasonable.
I was upset and angry, to say the least. I could not believe that, as scientific evidence clearly showed, a person has no control over his or her physical reaction to fear. So why would God punish people for that? I repeatedly said to the elders that I didn’t believe in a God that treated people like that, and that The Watchtower’s interpretation of those scriptures must have been wrong.
One day an elder came to the house and lent me a few books and magazines he had in regard to biblical questions I had raised. I read them, but they gave me no new answers that satisfied me—nothing besides what I had already found out through studying the society’s literature myself. I had them for a while and then one day put them in Leonard’s briefcase for him to give to the elder at the next meeting. I rang the elder to let him know Leonard would be giving them back, as I was not attending many meetings at that stage. I felt like I would be a hypocrite if I continued to go door to door, trying to convert people to a faith with some doctrines I no longer accepted. I also was spending my time trying to cope with my marriage issues and my own emotional state.
The elder asked me if I had found the magazines useful, and when I thanked him for giving them to me but stated they had not answered my queries, he enquired if he would see me at the field service group that Saturday. I said no and said that as I no longer went witnessing, I no longer considered myself to be a witness. He went quiet and asked me to repeat that statement. As we were repeatedly told from the platform, if we did not go door to door then we were not witnesses for Jehovah. I again stated to the elder that as it had been months since I had been in field service, I did not consider myself a witness anymore.
The conversation ended pleasantly enough, and I thought no more of it. At the time I didn’t realise this innocent phone conversation, which had taken only two minutes, would alter the course of my whole life.
If I had known, I might have paid more attention.

***Award winning book (finalist) in 2014 Beverley Hills International Book Awards***
Jenny Hayworth grew up within the construct of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which she describes as a fundamentalist cult-like religion. She devoted her life to it for over thirty years. Then she left it. The church “unfellowshipped” her-rendering her dead to those family and friends still committed to the church.Hayworth is a sexual abuse survivor. The trauma changed her self-perception, emotional development, trust, and every interaction with the world.
Inside/Outside is her exploration of sexual abuse, religious fundamentalism, and recovery. Her childhood circumstances and tragedies forced her to live “inside.” This memoir chronicles her journey from experiencing comfort and emotional satisfaction only within her fantasy world to developing the ability to feel and express real life emotion on the “outside.”
It is a story that begins with tragic multigenerational abuse, within an oppressive society, and ends with hope and rebirth into a life where she experiences real connections and satisfaction with the outside world.
Those who have ever felt trapped by trauma or circumstances will find Inside/Outside a dramatic reassurance that they are not alone in the world, and they have the ability to have a fulfilling life, both inside and out.
Foreward Clarion Review – “What keeps the pages of Hayworth’s life story turning is her honesty, tenacity, and sheer will to survive through an astounding number of setbacks. Inside/Outside proves the resilience of the human spirit and shows that the cycle of abuse can indeed be broken”
Kirkus Review – “A harrowing memoir of one woman’s struggle to cope with sexual abuse and depression while living in – and eventually leaving – the Jehovah’s Witnesses”
Readers Favourite 5 Star Review – “The book is an inspiring story for those who are going through traumatic times…”
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Jenny Hayworth on Facebook & Twitter

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