Questions & Comments

  1. If you have questions or comments related to recovery from cult controls and abuses, feel free to submit them here. I will do my best to respond.
     
  2. Bonnie…I happened to stumble across your books on Amazon and ordered them. Anxious to get them tomorrow and start “healing”. Born and raised as a JW and disfellowshipped 6 years ago has made me a wreak. Divorced of a 18 yr marriage with 3 children. 2 daughters are baptized and have had nothing to do with me the past 6 yrs. I get my son every other week(per divorce), Judge gave ex custody of all 3 as the religion provided a more stable enviornment for the kids. It devasted me. All family and friends i’ve ever known..gone. Remarried a wonderful man last year. Things are great but the emotional effect leaving the religion has me a mess. Glad i found your books and am looking forward to the healing & moving forward process. Thanks again!!!

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    • Thank you Tamara. You have really been put through a terrible ordeal by an organization that has no qualms about tearing families apart. While no book can eliminate the pain of being ostracized by your children, I feel confident that you will acquire tools that will help you manage the emotional challenges and pain you face. Wish you all the best!

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  3. I can not express enough gratitude for sharing your story. The largest residual effect of leaving the JW cult is isolation and a lack of belonging. When I left, the internet was in it’s developing stages, and I spent years re-building without a community to commiserate and heal with. When I discovered your books, I re-visited my trauma, hearing your story. You confirmed so many suspicions regarding illness, repression, emotional abuse, etc. that I always knew, but couldn’t put into certain terms. We need each other, and voices like yours, to heal. Thank you so much Bonnie.

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    • Margo – You are SO welcome. Warms my heart to hear that my books have affirmed what you already knew about the devastating effects of all the deception, betrayal and coercion we experienced in a cult. And, yes, it is wonderful to have access to an ever-growing, worldwide community of cult survivors. Thank you for this encouraging comment!

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  4. Bonnie,
    My wife and I just took placement of 3 foster siblings that we intend to adopt. All 3 were in separate foster homes. The 8 year old girl was in the home of a JW for approximately 1 year. She was instructed to ask us not to take away 3 JW books that were included with her possessions. We knew that it wasn’t the time to remove them. Are there are signs we should watch for? Would an 8 year old girl really see a difference between JW and church?

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    • Hi Richard,
      My guess is that, for now, she may have an emotional attachment to the books – but probably not to the contents (dogma) of the books. New people, including children, who attend the JW meetings are greeted with what is called “love-bombing” and she may have felt more acceptance and ‘love’ in that organization that she had ever experienced in her little life. I would not make a big issue about the books as you indicate you are already aware. I would just make sure she feels loved and accepted and forms a bond with you and your family which will ultimately take precedence over previous, briefly formed attachments and loyalties. As well, I would be careful about JWs trying to insinuate their way into her new life with you and your family. All the best to you and your growing family!

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  5. I’ve had many years of experience in a religious group colloquially known as the 2 X2s, the Friends or the Truth. I wondered if you’re familiar with the group? If so, how would you suggest helping a former member of this group?

    Please advise – many thanks,

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    • Hi Cory,
      No, I’m not familiar with the group. Since I know nothing about the person or the group or the circumstances, there is not much I can say here. I would recommend they read my book, “The Challenge to Heal After Leaving A High-Control Group”. There is a lot of good information in it.

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34 thoughts on “Questions & Comments

  1. Hi Bonnie,

    I was going to do a podcast and wanted to know if I could use some material from a worksheet that I got somewhere on your site. Conditions commonly experienced in a high-control group and the effects after exiting. I have been a blogger for a while and just started podcasting. Thank you.

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  2. Bonnie – wow. I devoured your Fading Out book. I’ve been out of the “truth” for about 10 years. However, I never dealt with any of my issues appropriately. I managed to push them aside and forge on, seemingly successfully. However, when I became a mother, something shifted and I have been dealing with my issues with a therapist. The last 4-5 years have been rocky. Finally dealing with everything the last year with my therapist and addressing these issues head on have had a huge positive impact. I can’t believe how much I have been suppressing! Your book has given me validation I didn’t even know I needed. Thank you, sincerely and honestly for your book. You have no idea how it has helped me.

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    • Research! If you were a JW, watch videos that totally debunk 607 BCE. Read articles and watch documentaries about the veracity of the Bible. Look at the behaviors (works, actions) of those who believe and decide if they are something you want to follow and what that indicates about the bible. You can also google for “thought-stopping techniques” to help you if you find such thoughts become nagging and/or obsessive. You have a world of information and techniques available at your fingertips – Google.

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  3. Hello Bonnie, I want some information about JW mixed marriage with people out of their cult. My wife is in JW religion, I am not, nor have I ever been and i have no contact to them.
    She is not fanatical, she has already been cut off once, but its environment is too fanatical.
    I never go to their meetings, and my wife also does not go often, but when she goes she turns somewhat different. We have two young children as well. I want information on what a witness marriage with non-witness means (NOT APOSTATE, things then are getting harder). I am very negative with their religion.I remember the way they face her when she disfellowshiped(shame for human species). I do not know what they (elders or brothers) can advise her, which behavior they suggest. I have both Franz’s books, surfing AAWA, sites of ex-jws, and recently I found your site. I want some advices and i want to you to help me if its possible with information based on their publications, not on the experiences of former witnesses.
    Can I find your books in Europe?
    Thank you very much, keep doing what you do.

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    • Unfortunately, I do not keep abreast of current JW publications so I can not advise you based on their recent publications as you request. In general terms they will inform any woman married to an unbeliever, to be “obedient” to her husband unless what her husband wants conflicts with the Bible and their interpretations of the Bible. Sounds like the possibility for her eventually waking up is good if she has already experienced their harsh judgments, and does not attend meetings on a regular basis. Each person is unique in terms of their level of indoctrination and their vulnerability to influence and manipulation. I hope she finds her way to leave and that you and your family can live free of cult undue influence. (Yes, my books can be purchased on Amazon in Europe.)

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      • Thank you so much for the reply.
        I was late to answer because we are on vacation.
        I will order some of your books from the Amazon.
        I will contact you again when we return.

        Regards, Tom

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  4. Hi, I’m not certain if I’m leaving this comment in the right place but I found your website following a google search about leaving anonymous reviews on Amazon. My only issue was I personally knew the author but my review of the book was unfavourable, if honest. The matters your website deals with appear to be much more serious than that, so I thought I should just post a warning. You can, as you say, alter your name on Amazon to something generic like ‘Amazon Customer’. However, if the reader clicks on that name, they will see your other reviews on Amazon. While those other reviews will also be by e.g. Amazon Customer, they may well give clues to who the person is. I know this happens because I tested it with a separate book review. I haven’t found out yet how to get round this. If anyone else does, do please say! Regards. Phil

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  5. Hey,
    I am excited I just received your book. I have been out of the JW cult for 9 years now. I was doing ok till recently when I had to go to the KH for my grandfathers memorial service. Needless to say shunned and looked down upon. It hit me like a ton of bricks, how they can make your skin crawl. I would have been fine after that incident eventually. However my dad, who never had an interest growing up, is now studying with the JW’s. My fear is that they will get in his head an brainwash him. He has always loved me no matter what, even when I came out after divorcing my husband and all my tattoos, lol. So for this to be something that would cause him to not be in my life is almost to much to face. He has always been my rock and loved me no matter what. I am seeing a therapist who recommended your book. There are no support groups for EX JW’s or outcast from cults of any kind here that she new of but ,there needs to be one. She said it might help me and that she would back me up if I would like to start one. I just don’t know how to go about it. So I was reaching out to see if you had any suggestions on getting one started or where to go for info on starting something like that. I live in a big enough town that it would be beneficial to help those that are wanting out but do not know how to start. Or suicidal like I was in my teenage years. I want to be there for those that want help so that they do not have to suffer as I did. This life is amazing. I want others to feel the freedom and self love that is truly meant to be.
    Namaste,
    CR

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    • Thank you for your comment, Chaz. It is too bad that your father is studying with the witnesses. Have you mentioned to him that they would expect him to shun you if he becomes actively involved. You might also ask him, what it is that he needs or is seeking that has prompted him to study with them – and if there is another way (apart from joining such a high-control group) that he could get those needs met – and how you might be able to help him do so?

      Support groups can be really helpful and setting up one would involve finding a meeting place and advertising in local papers or on local bulletin boards. Once you have a few people, you could meet and share your stories and see if there is any subject matter that you would like to discuss in future meetings – and then each person could do a little research on the topic and speak about what they discovered at the next meeting. Certain ground rule should be agreed upon and if you are seen as the organizer or ‘leader’ you would have to be prepared to receive phone calls and requests for help at all hours of the day or night. If you don’t want the on-going responsibilities as the organizer you could propose that organizing chores rotate among members from month to month – or something like that. It would be good to compile a list of resource addresses and phone numbers for your area to hand out to members. It would also be good to stipulate that while this is a group designed for support, it does not make each one responsible to meet all the needs of the others, as is the case in JW congregations. You want to offer support while encouraging people to become independent and self-directed. You also need to clarify that it is a support group and not a therapy group.

      It is admirable that you want to help in this way, but it is also important to realize that you cannot alleviate everyone’s suffering. Those who leave will have come through a terrible struggle in their process of exiting and they will then find themselves in a grieving process for the life that was stolen, the loved ones lost, and the lost ‘worldview’ (even if they know now it was erroneous). “Suffering” is part and parcel of what people will be dealing with. Prepare yourself by reading up on the topic of cults and the after-effects of leaving one as much as is possible – and, as said, have printed lists of local resources (suicide help-lines, police, social service, food banks, therapists, adult education, etc., etc.) for those that come. I wish you all the best!

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  6. Bonnie,

    If you still consider Skype sessions, please contact me if you would. I’m carrying quite a heavy weight with me and I am trying everything I can think of to help change my life for the better. I would love to speak with someone that can understand my pain.

    Hope to hear from you soon,
    Stephanie

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    • Hi Stephanie, So sorry to hear you are in such pain. Unfortunately, I am retired now and do not take on any more clients. As a therapist I noticed throughout my career that pain is pain and that the particular story that elicits the pain becomes rather incidental to the therapist – what they have to help the client with is the pain. Therapists understand trauma, grief and pain. If you can find a good therapist locally they will be able to help you without necessarily understanding all the nuances of life as a JW. If you want, you could give them my book (Cracking the Cult Code for Therapists) to help them better understand what you have been through, but my guess is that the way they will treat you and your pain will remain the same. Do reach out now and find an experienced, local therapist and get the help you deserve. Wishing you well. Bonnie

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  7. Hello Bonnie, I came here really hoping you still take on clients, since I have read your book and live near you (my parents went to meetings at a KH in southwest Mississauga in the late 80’s) I am looking for a counsellor, since I left the cult 9 years ago, with my parents and brother, but was already married to an inactive JW and we have 4 young kids. I’m having a hard time dealing with his attempted indoctrination of the children and not allowing us to celebrate birthdays etc. Anyway, since you are not providing counselling, can you recommend anyone in the north of Toronto area? Orangeville is the closest bigger city near us. Thank you!

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    • Hi Christine. Good to hear you ‘escaped’, but sorry to hear that your husband is still using JW beliefs to influence the children. I cannot keep up with the names of psychologists around the country (or world, for that matter!) but would recommend you connect with the Ontario Psychological Association to help find one that suits you: https://www.psych.on.ca/Utilities/Find-a-psychologist.aspx Just know that they all are trained to deal with relationship problems, trauma, emotions, catch-22 situations, etc. no matter what the source or specific details. You could also bring along my book “Cracking the Cult Code for Therapists” to help them better understand how your husband is indoctrinated and trapped in that thinking and how you and your children are affected. Tell the therapist you are shopping around for one – and they will understand if you say you will get back to them (if you think they might not be right for you). Wish you all the best …

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  8. Hi Bonnie,
    First off, I want to thank you for your work. I was raised in the JWs as a child, and have only began to realize the impact that it had on me a few years ago, and I am on the road to healing. I think I only began to realize how much it all affected me because of the publicity that Leah Remini’s exit from Scientology. Over one summer, I read her book, Jenna Miscavige-Hill’s, Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, Ron Miscavige’s book, and Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, and while I had originally just been interested because of the publicity and “weird beliefs” I eventually realized that these groups were eerily similar to my experience in the JWs and was floored.

    I am currently in graduate school for my MLIS (Masters in Library & Information Science), and I am taking the opportunity to use my first research paper on information communities and their behavior to focus on former JWs, Mormons and Scientologists and their reddit communities. I was wondering if you were aware of any studies that are available on people who leave these groups in particular. I’ve found lots of theory on religion and apostasy, but not many studies. I would love to hear your input.

    Thanks in advance for your help, and again for all the work that you do. I watched one of your videos after hearing you mentioned on a podcast, and it was so reassuring to finally know that there were others…many others, unfortunately, with my same lived experience.

    -Leah

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    • Hi Leah, My area of expertise is recovery from the trauma from having been in a cult – not on the entire cult phenomenon per se. Up until recently most information gathered about cults was based on anecdotal reports. The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) may be able to refer you to recent research about cults. Steven Hassan, while not providing research, does provide a model of typical cult controls called BITE – the “I” standing for “information control”. You can also read Lifton, Lalich, and Singer books. Wish you well on this research paper and your future endeavors.

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  9. Hi Bonnie,
    I apologize in advance for the length of this post. If you feel it is too long or in some other way inappropriate for your comments page, please feel free to take it down. It has been very therapeutic for me to write it regardless. If, on the other hand, you feel it may be helpful for others I am happy to share.
    I have read several of your books and just picked up two more. Thank you so much for your work. I really appreciate your clarity about cult impact and recovery process. I also greatly value your therapeutic and spiritual (and non-Christian) framing of the issues. I have read many cult recovery books over the last few years, some of them excellent. Yours are the clearest and most helpful books I have read to date about the JW’s specifically. I really could have used your books 20 years ago.
    Today I got “Cracking the Cult Code for Therapists”.
    In my recovery process I spent a lot of time educating therapists etc. about what it means to be in a cult and what it means to leave. I was happy to do it (paying forward) and it was quite a bit of extra work. I often felt very alone in the midst of a great deal of support. I am excited to see your book working to address this important issue.
    I left the JW’s, after 30 years (born and raised). I have been out for 19 years last month. I was a 4th generation JW on my mother’s side. My father was baptized at 20 and a ‘Regular Pioneer’ and ‘Congregation Servant’/’Elder’ by 21. He essentially ran our congregation for my whole childhood and long after. He was both zealous and skillful in teaching and holding the group’s principle and practices…and in punishing and carrying out shunning upon the congregation. He was harsh and unbending in chasing down ‘sinful actions’, especially with the children in the hall. He enforced the ‘Society’s’ shunning policies and coerced the parents and families of these teenagers to be very strict in their interpretation of the rules.
    I was “that” Elder’s daughter…and I was the “good example” I was supposed to be.
    I am also a gay, gender-queer, and dominant female born to this father. Needless to say, I did not fit in the homophobic patriarchal JW Organization. I love my family and I didn’t want to lose them. So, I tried for 30 years, finally writing the letter ‘Disassociating’ myself. Immediately upon leaving, I came out, and began my long course of recovery.
    One thing I noticed was the intense impact of this ‘high control’ organization on those ‘born and raised’ in it. Those children frequently had nowhere to go to escape the abuse. Additionally, they didn’t know how to unweave the web of lies, half-truths, and coercions ensnaring their minds and emotions from birth. Most of the kids I grew up with bounced in and out of the JW’s for years. They seemed to tear themselves apart, whether they were in or out. Many of them appeared to me to be hurting either way.
    When I left and joined the ‘World’ I noticed a prevalence of cultic mind traps. I see the violence of mind control and trapping systems, of various kinds, impacting many, many people. Mind control is a much bigger problem than just the Witnesses.
    In the spirit of Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world”, I committed myself to sharing the tools I worked so hard to find and develop during my own recovery process. I have done a variety of things over the years to offer this type of support.
    More recently, I have been working (for about 8 years) with my chosen family, in the sex-positive community. I have been travelling around the country and Canada teaching people about consent, communication tools, and alternative relationship skills. I have been educating and offering support to nurture people’s sexual and gender orientations.
    This includes 3 years of personal training with Hamish Sinclair the developer of manalive. The Alive Program is a tool he created working with court assigned domestic violence cases (and other types of violence). This program works to help, even very physically violent people, to notice and stop their violence and practice equalizing and intimating skills.
    I hold a weekly online work group, called topsalive, using his program. I am working with him to adjust it for people who are actively seeking ways to change their old patterns of thought and behavior. People who want to notice their own self/other directed violence (including micro-aggressions) and to practice equalizing and consent. I have never experienced anything like this tool. I have found it to be very helpful in unlocking the stories and mind control of a cult. http://www.thealiveprograms.org
    I am approximately 2/3rds of the way through writing a book about my experiences with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. http://www.sunrisecreations.org is currently my umbrella website holding the framework for a number of elements in my work. It includes things like Radical Rehab and my Death Doula work.
    As a ‘faithful Witness family’ we never put any J.W. relatives into nursing homes etc. We always took care of our own. My first experience in attending death as a caregiver was when I was 18 and my aunt died. My mother was the ‘lead caregiver’ for the entire 3 months she was bedridden and dying at home. The whole Witness family showed up and pitched in taking care of her. Except my “Disfellowshipped” cousin, who was only allowed to come in to say good-bye to our aunt. My family arranged for all the rest of us to be gone from the house…only the “Spiritual Heads” were there…to supervise. He was given an hour or two…during the entire 3 months.
    Years later, as a “Disassociated JW”, I was asked not to come to my grandmother’s dying. She was the one member of my Witness family who loved me no matter what. She was also told by one of my uncles she would be “Disfellowshipped” if she let me take care of her. When my father died, I found out hours after the fact and it was a “Worldly” family member who gave me the news.
    I am much calmer than I used to be about these painful experiences…and they still hurt. Death Doula work, in addition to being amazingly rewarding in an of itself, has been healing for me. I have attended 12 deaths and have 4 others still on their dying journey. It is something nurturing to do with my energy rather than spinning in what I have lost.
    I have taken the skills my mother gave me as a caregiver and the skills my father gave me as a teacher, to “spread the word”. I have been demonstrating, educating, and empowering people how to take care of their own loved ones at home. (Website coming soon)
    For the last year and a half, I have been working with Dossie Easton, a therapist, author, and sex-positive educator. We are running a series of classes in San Francisco, CA, called, “The Ethical Slut Presents: Navigating Consent”. This program is organized around experiential exercises, personal sharing, and skills practice. I am the lead teacher of these classes and they are supported by a team of volunteer teachers. http://www.the-ethical-slut-classes.com
    I have found the Witness skills my father so carefully taught me to be very helpful in my work strengthening our teaching team’s abilities to “reach people’s heart’s” so to speak. My father was the “School Overseer” for many years and an excellent public speaker. I love being able to take what works for me from my upbringing…and leave the rest.
    Dossie and I anticipate having our participant’s and teacher’s manuals for the program ready to go to her publisher by the end of this year. With the current attention to the #MeToo movement and consent violations, my vision for the Consent Project, and its manuals, is to bring this process to multiple communities seeking these skills.
    I am the “Missionary” my father raised me to be. I love working to heal the violence I grew up with using the tools they gave me. It was hard won knowledge.
    I am reaching out to you at this time because I am interested in seeing how I might offer support to those who have left a cult (JW and others) and who are looking for tools to unlock the mind control. I am especially interested at this moment in supporting the LGBTQ survivors of homophobic trapping systems.
    I see you are on the board of “Opening Minds” cult recovery group. I am wondering what suggestions you might have for how I might connect with the wider cult recovery work?
    When I was a Witness I was not to go to college or seek a career.
    When I left, I was a homeschooling stay-at-home mom and college/career were still very out of reach.
    With my kids grown I have been working on manifesting the work I want to do in the world. I have lots of training and experience…a chunk of which came from my Witness family…who will not give me a ‘good reference’ because I am an ‘Apostate’.
    I have not followed the ‘Worldly’ route of resume writing and letters after my name to make a career for myself. I notice as I write this, ‘Career’ is still a ‘Loaded Word’ in my body…a word with automatic shame attached to it…still…after nearly 20 years.
    I have approached my work in the world as a calling instead of a career. I have volunteered many hours in the organizations I wished to support. I have become known in my communities by showing up and doing real work. I have developed a reputation which has spread by word of mouth.
    I am now working to take my work up to the next level of outreach and I find my cult survivor self triggered again. I am doing my process to unpack and move these stories out of my path.
    I am looking forward any thoughts or suggestions you might have.
    Thank you in advance,
    Kat

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  10. Hello Bonnie, I can’t properly express how thankful I am to have discovered your website, work, and books. I faded out of the JW’s over twenty years ago and have recently realized how much work I still have to do. Thank you for pouring yourself into these amazing resources. I recently identified major growth issues and anxiety problems in my life, and I’m sure they are still related to my childhood and youth as a JW. I believe I read somewhere that you are retired and not taking on any therapy clients, and somewhere else that you would still consider it. If you would consider it, I would love to have some sessions with you. Now that I’ve finished the Exiting the JW cult book, my mind is reeling with where to go from here. I’m planning on looking into the Challenge to Heal book and workbook next. Thank you again, you’re making such an incredible difference.

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    • Hi TL. Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately I am not taking on any new clients, however, I would suggest that you read my latest book, “Shunned: A Survival Guide” as it has a chapter (#4) with recent research about amazingly simple yet effective strategies for managing anxiety. As well, check out the recommended reading sections in my books for excellent resources to help you cope with the residue of trauma and undue control. If you have a specific question that you would be willing to ask in this public forum, I will be happy to answer. Wishing you all the best – confident that you will find your way through all of this – coming out stronger on the other side. Bonnie

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  11. Bonnie, I was hoping you could recommend some reading. I’m leaving the JW org, but I have two pre-teen children which I would like to help. My spouse remains, and will likely remain very indoctrinated. Please let me know if there’s anything you could recommend.

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    • Although you don’t specify, I am assuming from your first sentence that you are looking for reading materials for your pre-teen children. Frankly, off the top of my head, I cannot think of any reading materials designed for that age group. I will come back and comment again if I think of some. One excellent website that holds back on opinion and presents mainly facts that expose the organization and its abuses is jwfacts.com.

      The best thing is for you to be prepared to gently respond to your children’s questions about why you are pulling away, with information they can grasp. You could point to the number of books on Amazon exposing the Watchtower’s deceptions and the number of YouTube videos that do the same – showing them that you are not aberrant or alone in your conclusions and decision. Perhaps you will discover a few YT videos that you think could be appropriate for them to watch. Be prepared that they will resist and distrust what you show them, however. Pre-teens can be very set in their opinions – especially if they have been indoctrinated since birth at meetings.

      As with many things, they will probably best learn by example. Be the best partner and father you can be, to demonstrate that people who leave do not become “demonized” or “immoral”. That will be a huge statement about the validity of your choice. If your wife holds to their teaching that the man is the head of the household – you could use that to give your children permission to stay home from meetings and lessen the amount of indoctrination they are exposed to.

      Of course, I would recommend that you read my books. They are, however, more about the psychological consequences of religious abuse and how to recover from it, than about exposing all the flaws in their doctrines and their patterns of control, manipulation and abuse.

      Bonnie

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      • Thank you for the reply. I was trying to be brief. My spouse very much wants to raise them in the religion. I do not. Our relationship is so bad that divorce is being spoken of. It would be bad without the religious difficulties. I do not want to lose my kids to the religion, and I want them to live their lives and be happy. I have a therapist I am speaking with, but I’m looking into any reading I can find. I have plenty of data to expose the religion, but I do not want to make my kids a battle ground. Just grasping out for things I guess.

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  12. Well … you are entering into challenging territory, as you probably know. It is always a challenge to be able to tell the ‘believing’ parent what they can and cannot do with the children as far as religious education and activities are concerned … unless it is ordered by the court. You will want to provide your children as much love, support and enriching experiences as you can when they are with you and hope that will counter the indoctrination. You could prepare yourself for a possible divorce and child custody issues by googling on internet or on amazon for info/books on “parental alienation” – for that is what your wife will be encouraged to do – alienate the children from the non-believer. The Witnesses dehumanize people who try to leave in order to make it easier to shun them and disregard their opinions. Just stay as close to your kids as you can.

    My book, “Cracking the Cult Code for Therapists: What Every Cult Victim Wants Their Therapist to Know” could be a book you lend your therapist which will help in his/her understanding of your situation. As well, my book “Shunned: A Survival Guide” can help prepare you to cope with any ostracism or alienation you experience.

    The Witnesses cannot stone us to death when we decide to claim our freedom. However, they take pains to prepare their members to impose a social death on anyone who leaves. You need to be able to articulate what you expect the organization to tell your children about how to treat you, to your therapist – or down the road to a lawyer, social worker, or judge. The more succinctly you can articulate what they will pressure your children to do the better (hopefully) you and they will be protected. Clearly, your desire to read is to prepare yourself for that.

    Reading now is the best way to prepare yourself for any difficulties that lay ahead. When there are specific issues that arise that you wonder how to handle – google them – and there should be other ex-JWs who have written or taped a video about how they managed them … and that may help.

    I wish you the best, Juan. You are paving the way for the future freedom of your children.

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    • I read your book on Sunday. It was wonderful, and very helpful. I’m terrified of the decisions that I’m presented with, and if what I do will push them in harder or if it will enable them to think for themselves, or if it will just make them hate me. The start of chapter 18 was so succinct. Thank you.

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  13. Thank you! Which book are you referencing Juan? Walking into the unknown is terrifying, and we’ve all been there – not that that makes it any easier for you. However, there are thousands of us who can totally relate. If it were me, I would proceed very slowly, dropping thoughts or ideas in a gentle, matter-of-fact way now and then.No frontal assault! Acknowledge how confusing and scary it must be for them to see their father change direction and let them know you will answer any of their questions. Tell them there are things you have discovered that you cannot go along with and that you have thought long and hard about it. Listen and watch and you may find clues about what most concerns them, and what they would most benefit from hearing from you. If I recall correctly, your children are pre-teens so a lot of proof about erroneous doctrines may not be the ticket right now. Perhaps they would respond more to how wonderful it is not to be restricted in what you can explore, discover and do when not controlled by Watchtower’s rules. Keep me posted. I so wish that all unfolds well for your entire family.

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    • Exiting the JW cult. I also read Steve Hassans book on mind control. As my marriage dissolves I’ve been seeing my daughter grab on to the control part of the org more for comfort and stability. Much the way I saw it when I was young. It’s going to be a long road. Thank you for your book and thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Bonnie,Any advice for a spouse of an ex-jw who was born into it but left about 10 years ago (we me after he left). We are in constant conflict. He cannot admit he is wrong and we are constantly battling any issue that arises. He wont discuss and issue, just always needs to be right and is angry most of the time. I don’t feel he trusts me and he is always convinced I am trying to control him, which he seems to try to control most situations of ours as well. He will tell you he believes I am a good person that takes care of all those around me, yet when I talk with him he doesn’t seem to believe what I am saying. I never lie to him.He says he trusts me more than anyone but doesn’t trust me enough. I want to be there for him and help him but he is shut down and doesn’t want help. I love him and want to be with him but he keeps pushing me away. I don’t want to give up on him but I am at a loss of what else I can do. IS it possible I can handle the situation in a different way. Find a way for him to trust me. Any ideas?

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    • Lauren, The invitation to ask questions clearly states that I will answer questions related to recovery from the abuses of cult controls. You are asking for marriage counseling. Please seek out a therapist in your region for that. Therapists learn much about a client and their issues from the way they present themselves and how they interact with the therapist. I would suggest that perhaps your husband experiences feelings of being used and exploited by you, as I did when I read your question which has nothing to do with the clearly stated purpose of this site. (My first reaction to your post was that you were exploiting the site and access to a therapist for your own personal gain.) Perhaps similar feelings are why your husband withdrawing from and is unavailable to you. Obviously, I don’t know … but that is what I am willing to offer you from a therapeutic standpoint.

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  15. I am a recent Ex-Jehovah’s Witness. I watched your interview with John Cedars and was beyond inspired. Our stories, along with many others are very similar. I’ve read two of your books and they were beyond helpful.

    I’ve always felt the happiest helping others and wanted to become a psychologist as a child however, being born and raised in the Jehovah’s Witness religion education was discouraged, and I only have an Associates. Now that I have left the religion I have the goal of becoming a psychologist specializing in religious trauma. When I watched your interview I was beyond excited to see someone with such a similar story attain the goal I wish to pursue. I just have a few questions and would truly appreciate your opinion.

    Does the school I choose make a difference when it comes to applying to grad schools?
    Are online college degrees taken seriously by schools?
    Does your bachelor major make a difference for grad school?
    If there was anything you would do differently in regards to college what would you do?

    I would appreciate any advice you give.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it has truly impacted me. If you would like to respond through email you can through this one. I’m unsure if the other will show.
    smilesandhugs2u@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jenna – Thank you for your kind feedback about my education and career path after leaving the JWs. I live in Canada and am not quite sure of what an Associates Degree is. I am assuming it is equivalent to what we call an undergraduate degree or Bachelors Degree here. Things have changed a lot since I was at university – but it seems to me that it has been in the direction of more flexibility – which is good. If you are attending university now – or if you can go back to where you obtained your Associates Degree, get an appointment with an academic adviser who can tell you about the requirements and pre-requisite courses for the various grad schools you want to apply to. They are a fount of information in this regard. Different universities have different requirements and you have to do your research and make sure you have acquired the basic courses they require before you can enter a Master’s degree program. I am not an expert in online degrees. They used to be viewed with a lot of skepticism but I am not sure if that is always the case anymore. Again, an academic adviser from a regular university would have that info. You bachelor does make a difference. If you are interested in, for example, being a research psychologist you would probably need at least a minor in the sciences to obtain your maths and stats courses.

      I am happy with the track I chose, however, I did not just attend university – at the same time I was attending 2 and 3 year training programs in Gestalt and Psychosynthesis psychotherapy, respectively. Had I not taken those intensive, experiential outside training programs, I do not believe I would have been adequately prepared to start my own therapy practice right out of grad school. Hope that helps! There are disadvantages to starting your education late because of being in a cult, but there are also advantages to being a bit older as you pursue your studies. I wish you well.

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