I am so grateful to have come across this website. As a person who has been greatly affected by abuse in the society, it makes me feel some relief that others see the same thing that I do.
I was sexually abused by my father when I was young. The court found him guilty and gave custody to my mother. The Elders at the Kingdom Hall at the time had many meetings with both my immediate and extended family at the time (most of my family members are Witnesses) and it was decided in the end to sweep it under the rug. My family were warned not to speak of it or it would be considered SLANDER. In order to protect my father, they asked my mother to leave the congregation, accusing her of only being there to spite him. Years later, as I put my heart and soul into studying and trying to do the right thing, they would do the same to me (even though I attended a different congregation). They said they weren't clear of my "intentions". My father has since become a well-respected Elder who is often featured at the District Convention and directs the featured Drama. Most people don't know that it ever happened, the ones that do never speak of it. Even my own aunt doesn't believe it ever happened, despite the court papers that my uncle has in storage.
My other aunt (my mother's sister) married a man who was also a Witness, he came from a Witness family. He also turned out to be horrifically abusive.
He was borderline sadistic with my cousin from the time she was a baby till her teens. He ripped out her hair, he slapped her around and hit her and pushed her into things. He kicked and beat the family cat. When I was a baby my aunt babysat for me one day. My mom says I returned home that night with a giant handprint on my leg from where he had slapped me. My aunt is a very passive, quiet person who never wants to make waves. When she finally broke down and went to the Elders for help, they accused her of being at fault.
The man is the head of the house, obviously SHE was the one who was instigating it. They didn't want to hear about it, they didn't want to help her. So she stuck it out. He has sought out counseling many times since those days and is on a lot of medication. He still has a terrible temper but no longer is physically abusive. He is also no longer a Witness. My cousin who took most of the abuse has had a hard life. She has been on a lot of medication and has needed a lot of counseling to cope. When she acted out (and her acting out was nothing compared to what most teenagers do regularly), the Elders condemned her. Never once did they sympathize when they knew damn well what her life had been like.
When I was younger I went camping with my father's family and another Elder's family. He had a teenage son who was friends with my cousin. Boys will be boys and one day they were doing something mischievous like tossing rocks into trees or something silly like that. The dad lost it and dragged his son away, screaming at him and hitting him. It was horrible enough to see but what was even worse was that this wasn't the first time. Everyone knew. And what did my father, the well respected Elder, do? Absolutely nothing. He stood by while the boy screamed and cried. My cousin's mother looked horrified, shielding her son away from it. But nobody did anything.
A few years ago it made the news that a girl had been dis-fellowshipped and disowned because she had come out about some abuse that had occurred in her congregation. My own grandmother, one of the people I am closest too in this world, is a Witness. She was appalled that this girl had come out with "such lies," an attempt to blast the name of Jehovah's Witnesses. She was in complete disbelief that the Society would ever work to cover something up.
My mother asked her "Doesn't this sound familiar?" Suddenly grandma didn't want to talk about it anymore.