Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA) is an international not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to raising awareness about policies of the Watch Tower Society that violate basic human rights. AAWA is also committed to offering help and support to those who are mentally and emotionally afflicted by the Society’s teachings and practices.
AAWA arose in early 2013 after many discussions between ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, who felt it was the right time to try to organize efforts into one cohesive unit. It was agreed that an organization needed to be formed that could confront the Watchtower head-on, and serve as a focal point for information about Watchtower’s harmful policies to the media, doctors, lawyers, educators and researchers.
With many people from around the world, all of whom offered unique skills and experience, it was felt that much meaningful work could be accomplished if all of these individuals could be connected as a team. It was decided early on that AAWA would need to be religiously-neutral, in that it would not promote or endorse any religious or philosophical belief systems. Instead, AAWA’s primary purpose would be to shine a bright light on the Watchtower’s harmful policies, identify the ways it uses undue influence to break down the resistance and resolve of anyone who tries to leave, and to provide assistance and education for thinking Jehovah’s Witnesses who want to break free from its clutches.
AAWA is an educational resource for the large non-Jehovah’s Witness world community, which includes the media, educators, researchers, medical and legal experts, and of course interested Witnesses and ex-Witnesses.
How Is AAWA Organized?
AAWA is a legal organization, with a board of three corporate directors. They are:
The directors utilize the advice of hundreds of volunteers and supporters to set AAWA’s strategies. Six of those advisers are:
John Hoyle – John is a long-time activist and the founder of several Ex-JW websites including WatchtowerWatch.com and Ex-JW.com. From his home in central Oregon he lends his technical skills to a number of other websites. He helps grease the wheels of the Ex-JW Internet community by doing his best to ensure that the latest news and information about the Watchtower Society is available. firstname.lastname@example.org
The above nine individuals vary in age and come from a variety of backgrounds, but they are by no means an elite group of people. They are joined by hundreds of passionate people from five different continents who champion basic human rights. All of them seasoned campaigners against the unjust policies of The Watchtower Society. Their efforts make up a worldwide collaborative effort of many passionate volunteers, who at one time lived their lives ruled by Watchtower’s policies. They KNOW how this high-control religious group affects the everyday lives of men, women and children. The input from all of AAWA’s supporters and volunteers is its most valuable asset.
How does AAWA operate?
AAWA accomplishes its work through a number of key teams, including…
- The Personnel Team, which is headed by Elizabeth Sorbo, serves an administrative function by collating the applications of new volunteers, and assigning these people to teams that best suit their skills and experience. It works closely with all of the other teams to establish where volunteers are needed and ensures that all personnel needs are met – identifying and approaching individuals with proven skills and experience where necessary.
- The Support Team, headed up by Lee Marsh, serves a prominent role within AAWA. It offers help and a “hearing ear” to current and former Witnesses who are struggling mentally and emotionally from the long-term effects of cruel Watchtower policies such as shunning and the mishandling of abuse. It responds to all emails and phone calls as promptly as possible, and strives to give the best possible advice where appropriate.
- The Public Relations Team is responsible for coordinating media enquiries and for highlighting AAWA’s efforts through targeted publicity campaigns. It issues press releases and works with the Writing Team to ensure that all Watchtower-related news stories are covered objectively in as many languages as possible.
- The Legal Team is responsible for advising the Board on all legal issues, and administering the legal obligations of the corporation – including accounting. It produces reports and ensures that all financial supporters of AAWA are kept informed of how donations are being spent.
- The Technical Team, under John Hoyle, is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of websites within AAWA’s information network. It identifies websites that are of long-term critical importance to AAWA’s objectives, and offers support to the owners to safeguard their future legacy. It supports other AAWA teams in overcoming any technical issues that may arise.
- The Writing Team prepares well-researched written material in furtherance of AAWA’s objectives.
- The Translation and International Communications Team, which is headed by Marvina Benzekri, brings together a network of talented linguists from all over the world who can work together to disseminate news about Watchtower and its harmful practices into a variety of languages.
- The Speaker’s Team is a group of dedicated AAWA volunteers who are willing to use their own voices to further AAWA’s message, either through videos or through appealing to local communities in person.
- The Social Media Team is responsible for AAWA’s presence in social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, although it should be noted that AAWA is not a social network.
If you are interested in joining any of the above teams, please visit our volunteer page and download our questionnaire.
For more information on AAWA and its policies and objectives, please read our Mission Statement and FAQs page. For any specific questions or technical issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .