The art of controlling a woman in the organization has been mastered to a T. The formula is very easy. You take a female child, teach her that her role is merely to support. That her role in the organization is “cherished” or “honorable”. Explain to her the organizational “chain of command” and that she it at the very bottom. Then, reinforce for decades. By the time you are done, this girl will not move left or right without a man’s authorization. Of course, it helps if the child is a people-pleaser or a docile one that goes along without questioning the rules. This makes for the perfect Witness. I was that perfect Witness.
I endured quite a bit of abuse as a child so survival depended on laying low and being submissive. I made it a point to never question and to never go against direction. Wherever they assigned me, I went, no matter how inconvenient or humiliating it was. The imposition of stupid rules such as “no Harry Potter” or “no Smurfs” was met with complete compliance. After all it was my duty to tighten the boundaries of my conscience until everything bothered my conscience instead of the other way around. I didn’t want to be fake. So, I became the perfect (submissive) Witness.
When it came to putting up with domestic violence it was a terrible situation to be in. There will never be an elder that will say, “leave him already,” or, “here is the number of a shelter,” since they will not get involved in such matters. In fact, their lack of involvement screams so loud at you to “stay put and do as you are told” that it is deafening! You are told however to “be like Abigail”. I remember distinctly the convention on showing true love back in 2013 or 2014. Shoot it could have even been before that! It was the most frustrating assembly I had ever attended.
Abigail as depicted in the Watchtower publication “My Book of Bible Stories”
Abigail is a Bible character who was married to a man named Naman whose name means “Senseless” or “Stupid”. Abigail is the example the Watchtower uses to symbolize mildness, shrewdness, tact, grace and love. She was married to an idiot yet continued in submission to him until he died. Then she was “blessed” to be married to the anointed King David. I might add that this “blessing” didn’t last long since. Subsequently King David had an affair with Bathsheba, had Bathsheba’s husband killed and he was then cursed by God to have trouble in his household for the rest of his days. Talk about going out of the frying pan into the fire! Again, I digress.
This story – or the first part of it anyway – is what I distinctly remember at that assembly. The weeks leading up to that assembly, my Witness husband had been lying to me and been caught spending several hours a day out at a woman’s house after work. He would come home quite often without underwear and would say that he had an accident and had to throw them away. I tracked his location and brought it to the local elders. Since he was a better liar than I was a stalker no action was taken.
I prepared separation papers though. I told my mom what I was planning to do. She over dramatically said, “NO NO don’t do it!! Wait until you go to the convention. If you don’t, you will be so sorry!” OH Brother! So, I went to the assembly. I sat there and listed to the drama on showing true love. I listened to the talk on Abigail. A small snarl formed at the corner of my mouth and my arms folded over my chest. I, after all, was a PERFECT Witness. How could I not be like Abigail and still have Jehovah’s favor? So, I went home and I ripped up the paper work and just “blanked out”. It was a such bitter pill to swallow.
A few months later, my husband announced that he was leaving. This was a common occurrence over the last 20+ years. Every six-nine months he would be melodramatic and say he had quit his job and bought a plane ticket home. He called me at work on a Friday and told me that he was leaving that night. I, on the other hand, was going to a girl’s party that afternoon and took my sons with me. I told them to pack a weekend bag because we were going out of town for the weekend. I told my JW girlfriend where I was going but swore her to secrecy. I called my husband and told him that I was taking the boys out of town for the weekend. We would not stand by and be a part of his pity party. His response? “Can I come?”
Needless to say, when we got back he was still there. I told him that if he EVER said he was leaving again there would be no assembly talk or elder that would keep me with him. I would pack his stuff and throw it out myself. (He never did by the way-gosh that was easy)
The reason why I tell my stories is because, in hindsight, I can see that this was me testing the boundaries of submission and seeing what type of backlash I would get for standing up for myself. All was quiet – nothing from him, nothing from the elders. I reasoned that I showed my hand while still being loyal to Jehovah. I was faithful and still the perfect Witness.
There was a breaking point, and not from the source I thought it would come from. That will be for a future blog though.