Within the “sanctuary” of God’s “one true church” I was emotionally, spiritually, physically and sexually abused. “God’s chosen ministers” did everything they could to protect my step father, and keep me quiet. After finally having the courage to leave WCG, I spent four years in weekly counseling. Only recently have I found the life I deserved all along.
Briefly, my mother entered the WCG when I was two years old. She’d met my step father and became a member to be able to marry him. It was a decision she soon came to regret. He became abusive to me and my siblings almost immediately. He was extremely controlling and emotionally abusive to my mother as well. I think the shock of her situation kept her from acting for many years. I went to “church” authority for help. I had three different ministers during my time in the WCG. I went to all three for help. I explained the sexual and physical abuse I was suffering. All three promised me confidentiality. All three went straight to my parents and told them everything I’d said, and each time I was severely beaten by my stepfather. None of the ministers checked back in with me. They all went to my parents to make sure the “situation had been corrected.” As a child I assumed the “situation” was me. After all, I was the one being beaten and molested, even after following “God’s advice” and seeking help. Maybe it was me.
I remember praying for what seemed like days at a time that God would make me a better child, so that my father wouldn’t hurt me. I also remember sitting on my blanket in services the day I heard ministers talking about mental illnesses and how the “world” used diagnosis like multiple personalities and schizophrenia to explain demon possession. I panicked. I didn’t know why then, but I panicked. I remember hearing that one of my friends was “exorcised” by our minister. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and properly treated, but his family was ashamed of his “demons” for years!
Rumors began spreading about my sexual abuse, even though I’d told no one, other than ministers. It seemed that while they were extremely concerned with keeping me quiet, they didn’t mind the gossip. Again, I went to them for help and was told to “consider the source” and that the comments would die down. It has been 20 years and I am amazed at how many people still talk about my personal life as if it’s common knowledge that I was being abused. Perhaps the most shocking of all is that while everyone talked about my abuse, not one single person did a damn thing to help me!! I still wonder where the rumors came from. Did ministers make loose comments?? Seem logical at this point.
I was baptized when I turned 19 and was still doing my best to be a good Christian. I was finally out of my father’s home and beginning to have a life that I thought was my own. Then I found a group of friends outside of the WCG. It took all of 2 weeks before our minister was calling me to tell me that I was going to be suspended from any WCG functions or communicating with members (my entire extended family on both mother’s and father’s side were WCG members–I was being cut off from my family as well as the WCG) because he believed that I was having premarital sex with one of the friends in this group. I was never asked if I was having sex, I was simply told that I was suspended. When I explained that I was not sleeping with this friend and that he was just that, a friend, I was told that the minister believed me but the appropriate thing to do was to stop seeing these friends and rekindle my friendships within “God’s church.” So I did. I regret that to this day.
At the age of 21, I finally found the courage to stop attending services. You can’t imagine the shock that hit my family. When my mother went to my minister for counsel, she was told that he wasn’t surprised at all. I’d been the model church member. I was obedient, sang in the adult choir from the age of 13 forward, wanted to attend Ambassador College, never spoke a word of my abuse to anyone, counseled all the younger ones in Y.O.U. about being a good Christian and did everything I could to be a child that my father would no longer abuse and yet the minister was not surprised that I left??
I entered counseling shortly thereafter and was soon diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), or Multiple Personalities. I guess this stands as testament to the level of abuse and mind control I was under. I was terrified to tell my mother what I was now going through. What if she believed that I was demon possessed? I remembered the sermon from my childhood.
I did tell my mother and am happy to say that today I am a whole, happy person. I am, of course, no longer a member of the “church” and my mother has since left as well. The rumors of my abuse, although never confirmed by anyone in my family, are still the highlights of many, many WCG area gossip sessions! I have since moved away and am building a life of my own. But I look back at my childhood and at all the people that could have saved me and the lengths I had to go through to save myself and it makes me very, very sad. We were so mind-controlled to be obedient to “God’s Ministers.” I wish one person had had the courage to stand up for me. I would have saved my small person a lot of grief and heartache.
By Naomi – Child survivor of WCG
P.S. I’ve written this letter many times–to ministers, other WCG members and my family. I’ve never sent it, of course. I knew it would fall on deaf ears. I wrote it as part of my healing and counseling.
Recommended Book: On The Threshold of Hope (Opening the Door to Healing For Survivors of Sexual Abuse) by Diane Mandt Langberg, Ph.D.