Jehovah’s Witnesses Can Destroy Your Family

15-year old Canadian

JWSurvey.org recently published a news story titled “Canadian ‘Brainwashed’ Runaway Teenager Chooses Religion Over Mother.” (Read it here.) While that recent news report upset me, it is an unfortunate story that has been repeated many times before. In fact, it is also my story – although mine has a happy ending.

I first came in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses was when I was ten years old. They offered to start a Bible study with me, but I was too young and my Italian Catholic parents were dead set against the idea.

Fast forward nine years…

The Jehovah’s Witnesses were back at my door – but this time I was no longer a child but a young adult. The conversation seemed to pick up from where it had left off all those years before and once again they offered me a free Bible study. This time I accepted, along with my younger sister. Little did we know (or even suspect) where it would lead us.

In hindsight, I can now see how they misled us right from the start. The indoctrination was so subtle that we were not even aware of it. They told us during our very first “Bible study” that we would encounter strong opposition and much of that opposition would come from our own family. They used the scripture at Matthew 10:34 to reinforce this message on us. It reads:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

And so, just as the Jehovah’s Witnesses warned us, the opposition and persecution began. And indeed, it did come in the form of our parents.

The arguments were relentless–the screaming and shouting became a constant part of our family life. The more they forbade my sister and me to study with the Witnesses, the more we dug our heels in and believed that we had found “The Truth.”

A Family Breaks Apart

Things came to a head one day after a particularly bad argument. Our mum delivered an ultimatum: Stop studying or leave the house. Because we were living under our parent’s roof we were subject to their rules and regulations. They delivered their ultimatum, without doubt, trying to scare us into stopping our weekly Bible studies. Instead, what it did was drive us straight into the arms of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

We seized our chance to escape whilst our mum went about her daily chores. We snuck upstairs, grabbed some clothes and toiletries, and made a run for it.

We contacted a local Jehovah’s Witness family. They took us to the home of another family who took us in for the night. While fired with righteous indignation, we were still scared, excited and nervous all at the same time. They told us that we had “done the right thing” and had “chosen Jehovah” – and we believed what the Witnesses had told us.

I don’t know for sure what my mum’s reaction was when she realised we had left home. I think we may have scribbled a quick note and left it for her to read. I can well imagine the heartbreak that we must have caused her as she read that note and the full realisation of what we’d done finally sank in.

To this very day I bitterly regret having caused that untold hurt and grief to my parents. But I realize that we were “puppets on a string.” Our puppeteers were Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Desperation

As the weeks passed by, we heard about our mother’s heartbreak, her failing health, and of the shame we had brought, not only upon our own family, but also for the wider Italian community. We heard that our dad had come looking for us, rifle in hand, the day after we left. He was furious and reacted in a hot-headed way. Luckily for everyone, he didn’t find us or any of the local Italian Witnesses. Eventually, his temper cooled down and he finally returned home – although desperate, angry and with his pride wounded in ways he could not hide.

The Witnesses, far from being concerned about breaking up a family and bringing such pain in its wake, were joyous. They commended my sister and me for our bravery and held us up as outstanding examples for all to see. They told us that this is what it meant for us “to fight for The Truth.”

Weeks turned into months and the Witnesses helped us find a bedsit to stay in. I found a part-time job as a waitress. My sister and I lived as well as we could in accommodations that were less than desirable.  By that time we’d heard through the grapevine that our parents considered us as “dead” to them. We soon found out exactly what that meant.

One day my sister and I were walking in town and came face to face with my mum – who completely blanked us. This came as a complete shock to both of us. Nonetheless, this event convinced us that we were being persecuted for the sake of “The Truth.”

Somewhere along the line our mum had a change of heart. Unbeknown to our dad, she sought us out and started coming round to visit us. She would bring us bags of groceries – and on occasion even give us some money. While we could see the toll our leaving had taken on her, we still refused to give in and return home despite our mum’s pleading and tears.

A Father Buries His Pride to Save His Family

After we had been away from home for nine months, our dad turned up at our door. He was beside himself with worry for my mum as she had taken to her bed, ill with the stress and months of tears and sleepless nights. He begged us to come home – something that must have been very hard for him to do. There he was – a proud Italian, a big strapping man – reduced to coming to his daughters, cap in hand, pleading with them to “please come home for your mother’s sake.”

That very night we took a few of our belongings and returned home. Our dad hadn’t told mum that he’d gone to ask us to come back. When we got home, mum was overjoyed and in tears with the relief of having us back home. But we made it clear to our parents that if we were to stay we would need our freedom – and that “freedom” meant our being able to carry on studying with the Witnesses. They reluctantly agreed because they really had no other choice. That was the price they had to pay to keep us at home.

We were able to re-establish relationships with both my parents, my sister more so than I. Eventually I was baptised, but my sister was not. I became a full-fledged Jehovah’s Witness and remained one for fifteen years.

My life was strained. I couldn’t share in family celebrations like birthdays, Christmas, or Easter. That caused a rift between us, even to the point that when I got married none of my family attended the wedding.

Looking Back

When I look back at that time in my life, all I see is hurt, pain and a wasted life. I realize that I dedicated the best years of my youth to a lie – and in the process broke my parents’ hearts. Had I known then what I know now, I would never have taken the path I did.

They say that “young hearts are foolish.” That’s true. Young hearts are foolish. They are also naïve – and so very impressionable. That’s exactly the type of people Jehovah’s Witnesses need to perpetuate their lies.

Liz Sorbo
AAWA Volunteer

Liz Sorbo tells her story…

A somewhat longer version of her video…


Comments

Jehovah’s Witnesses Can Destroy Your Family — 42 Comments

    • They warn you of people who worm their way into weak womens lives only to destroy. This is what they did to me. I told them my business thinking they were christians. They then go around other peoples houses gossiping and telling them your business. My son was a drug addict, they would sneer at him and make him feel guilty. They had no idea about addiction. I couldn’t get rid of them. The one told me not to let my son take my peace and if i threatened to throw him out she promised he would sort himself out. I did this and he killed himself. I told her what happened and she smirked at me. They are not trained and should not be allowed to councel. They weren’t there to councel but gossip and cause trouble. If a con artist tries to con an old lady it would be against the law. I was depressed and they wormed their way in pretending to be christians. The law should stop these people from pestering people by knocking their doors and being forceful with their religion. They are not christians thdy are very deceitful. My daughter said that when i wasn’t there they were ridiculing my son. The religion is a farce.

    • Yep, she’s definitely being treated like a rock star in the congregation, there’s no doubt about that. Talk about ‘love bomb’, they bombard you from all sides to the point that they’re tripping up over themselves to get to you for their turn to pat you on the back and say, “that’s one in the eye for the worldly people”. It’s pathetically sickening.

  1. They don’t care about families; it’s a war of attrition with them. If they get one recruit, they “win.” Well, what did you “win”? Two naive little girls who don’t know any better and who wind up leaving anyway. What did they “win” in Canada? A teenager using the JWs as an excuse to rebel and treat her parents like dirt. “We don’t break up families” the way I don’t love dark chocolate, and I love me some dark chocolate.

    • Exactly! It’s all about recruiting, nothing more and nothing less. The Governing Body want the numbers to increase and they will stop at nothing to get what they want. They don’t care if the people they recruit are young, naieve or, indeed, lack life experience. They just want numbers.

      • Agree 100 percent. All they care about is getting hours in for the almighty org. They don’t care about you as a person or your kids if you have a worldly husband. There is clicks in the congregation. The blacks a stick together. And the white people have this clicks in the congregation. If you have a worldly husband. You are screwed. You are marked in the congregation and your children will have no friends at the Kingdom Hall. You are an out cast. Even though you try and you wonder why. The teach HATE HATE HATE. You can’t have anything to do with worldly relatives or in laws. You can not do any thinking for yourself. You have to obey the watchtower and not question even though they have been wrong on the 1914 year. And in 1975. And a whole slew of other issues. Like Education. They want you dumb and stupid so they ca Control You. They llie on assembly programs. My sister was on the program and did not tell the truth kept The Truth hidden. What else have they Lied about. Liars.

  2. Great story Liz! Having lived in Rochester, NY for almost eight years I have learned more about Italian culture than I have in previous years growing up in Buffalo. I came away with the concurrent view that they were capable of great love, and unfortunately great obnoxiousness, lol. Italian men bringing their families into the JW congregations can create a combustible mix that leads inevitably to periodic cold wars between racial and ethnic groups in congregations. All of this plus the Watchtower Society’s rules can drive a person insane.

    Ironically I hear the same thing from black cops I’ve known over the years, Italian police officers over here are a load and if you join the force thinking everything will be kumbaya you will get quite an education.

    I am thankful for one thing from the Italian, and it still applies today since returning home to Buffalo armed with my newfound Italian-insider knowledge and dealing with Italian politicians as I became a journalist. I am thankful they cannot keep their feelings and emotions a secret, and in many respects hearing about your father’s reactions and doings since you left and he became his own walking news service I’m sure you are thankful too. There is absolutely positively no religion that is worth losing your family over, and no God worth his lightning bolts will ever commission one to do so.

    • I know exactly what you’re saying here, Chris, about how us Italians can be capable of great love but at the same time great obnoxiousness too. Italian JW congregations are, therefore, a lethal concoction of the two extremes and let’s not talk about the men’s power trips and strict adherence to all the rules and regulations (not though when it involves members of the elders families, of course.)

      And yes, us Italians, it is true, cannot keep our feelings and emotions a secret. My dad was most definitely, as you say, “his own walking news service”,he definitely made sure that everyone knew how the JWs had split up his family.

      I’m also in total agreement with your last statement; there is, and never will be, any religion or god worth losing your family over, ever!

  3. Excellent story Liz. I am sorry you had to go through that and like many of us this cult has robbed the best years of our life. I hope your story will help those parents who have lost their children to this horrible cult and to those that think they are doing what God wants them to do because of the twisted scriptures the WT spreads. This cult breaks up families in every direction, between those that are in and leave or those who leave their families to come in. This is a huge sign that it is a cult.

  4. Thank you for sharing your personal story, Liz. I’m so glad you had a happy ending to yours. It is my hope that many others can be saved from making the same mistake as a young person…avoiding being sucked into cult life.

    • Thanks, Steph. Yes, I did have a happy ending. I was one of the few who did. Hopefully, young people will come across my story and remember it for the next time they come face to face with the harmless looking JWs at their door.

  5. Liz, thank you for sharing your story. By any chance, would you be able to reach the family of the girl who ran away in Canada? You are certainly in a position of experience to help the parents. Glad things worked out in the end for you, Hope the same for the Canadian girl.

  6. “They say that “young hearts are foolish.” That’s true. Young hearts are foolish. They are also naïve – and so very impressionable. That’s exactly the type of people Jehovah’s Witnesses need to perpetuate their lies.”

    Great point and so true.

  7. Hi Liz,

    Great article ! I haven’t yet seen the video, but I’ll watch it as soon as I can.

    I’m truly impressed by your parents. I guess religion is no trivial subject for them, yet eventually they went lengths and sacrificed their pride for the ones they love ! A good example for many JW parents, who would shun their kids if they decided to turn towards different beliefs. I don’t think the spirit of the verse you mentioned is about shunning children though it’s used as such.

    I just had a question in my mind though : Do you think your parents were so upset specifically because you wanted to study with JW’s ? If, for instance, you wanted to turn towards Buddhism, do you think their reaction would be different ?

    • Hi JB, sorry for not getting back to you sooner, have just seen your reply now.

      In response to your question, I know for a fact that my parents would have reacted exactly the same even if we’d have been involved with any other religion. It wasn’t the fact that we were studying with the JWs that upset them, it was the fact that we were abandoning the Catholic church and joining another religion that upset them. It wouldn’t have mattered to them what religion it was; it was a betrayal and not to be tolerated.

  8. Liz – Thank you for sharing your story here. While it’s easy to focus on having lost the best years (19 for me) of my life, I can also see some valuable things I gained there. For instance, I learned the true meaning of integrity and the power of community, probably in deeper ways than most people would ever experience in a lifetime. I am grateful for who I have become today and it is in part because I lost all those years. I’m 51 today, going on 32. I am determined to live a great life despite the damage done.

  9. Dang Liz. Thats exactly what ive been saying for years.The day those J.W S came into our family some 40yrs ago and just destroyed our dreams with the 1975 false prediction (jesus thers been a whole lot Damn!)i had to go thru pure hell getting deprogramed from all that crap.and whole bunch of lies.What mind control they have over people,almost demonic.Makes you wonder how can a person of reason,sound mind and common sense even fall for that slave master bullshit. Boy could i tell you a bunch of storys. Who can serve a perfect God thats going to kill your mother and loved ones.IM SUPPOSE TO WORSHIP THAT! NEVER.That dude is insane. But now that i know its a lie i feel sorry for those who cannot escape that mental prison.ONLY an X J W will understand what im talkin about. so thanks again. I could type for days. Stan B.[private information deleted]

    • Hi Stan, Yep, think is the foot soldiers, rank and file, call them what you will, are only doing what they are told to do (just like robots who are programmed to carry out certain tasks), they too are none the wiser, just as we were, in turn, none the wiser as well when we went knocking on people’s doors.

      They did ruin our lives, that’s true, and because of our falling for their spiel, hook, line and sinker, we lost very many precious years, years that we can never get back (along with a truck load of heart ache and pain), but now we are free and I say it’s better to be free years later than never at all.

      I absolutely agree with you when you say, “Who can serve a perfect God thats going to kill your mother and loved ones.IM SUPPOSE TO WORSHIP THAT! NEVER.That dude is insane.”That’s why, amongst many other reasons, I am no longer a believer of any god. ‘God’ is a human construct designed by man, in its infancy, to try and make sense of the world around them. What they cam up with though was a load of supersticious nonsense and half baked truths so twisted that instead of helping mankind it’s brought nothing but suffering, discord and pain.

  10. Never trust a Johovah Witness. I trusted Jehovah Witness in the past but later I was cheated by our neighbour, a couple of Jehovah Witnesses.They do very bad things although they say very good words. What they care about is money, nothing else.

    Never trust them!

  11. You people are idiots!!! Religeon doesnt destroy a family we control our actions its a scapegoat to blame anything but your self so get over it. I am not a part of any relirion and i have seem more families that care catholic and baptist fall apart way worse so stop blaming anything but your own self. I dont trust anyone I have a tattoo that says trust noone So i wouldnt trust any of you as far as i could throw you! get over yourselfs. ah and i will be ther first to say they dont care about money I grew up down the street from a witness family and they were very modest and non materialistic.. I love reading thoughts of the stupid!

    • Billy Goat “I find your reply very rude and most offensive”. Let me get this right? living down the road from a JW family makes you and expert on what they belive and how they treat there own? As opposed to ones who have been born bread or recruited to the brain washing lies … I dont trust you with my 27 years experience of being a JW so I wont bother to tell you my Journey & the way they protect pedophiles whilst victimising the children and families who dare to involve the police. I would infact urge you to think about what you are saying before you read up and learn more get to know your fact… I for one am not in the process of blaming but working towards educating people as to the dangers of CULTS.

  12. Hi Liz I too have only this year left being a witness i disassociated myself after so much sadness my son endured from being disfellowshipped i cant believe i was so brainwashed my husband says he doesnt know how to love me as not a Jehovah witness i was one for 11years I have been with my husband for 14and a half years so I was not one when he married me on the same night they announced me they sprung a suprize announcement and disfellowshipped our 17year old daughter who had text a friend weeks earlier “that from the way my husband treated me and was all constantly i am the head she didnt believe it was the true religion” boom half hour before the meeting on my announcement night my husband got a phone call to say they are disfellowshipping her too I was so upset she was a baby and had been in the truth since she was 5 but 2and half months on and this is the best decision of my life my family is split my husband couldnt put us first before the congregation i cant believe he even ditched me that night and went to the meeting while we were still together up until last month he would act cold to me because it played on his conscious and needed to treat me as a disfellowsjipped person he listened to the organisation all these years and didnt let myself and the rest of our children have a relationship with there big brother who had been disfrllowshipped since 17 he is now 24 and i just took myself and my children to stay with him in The Whitsundays where he owns a house best week ever kids had dreadfully all missed him and we got to meet his friends who were all lovely and normal not “evil worldly people” its truly criminal what this organisation does to families but new beginnings are awaiting

  13. I was raised jehovah witness. I didn’t choose my family or Jehovah. I chose to marry a Catholic man. The worst choice I made. I did marry for love. But I regret it. I caused my family a great deal of pain and myself. My husband lies to me, has cheated on me. He drinks to much and rather be in the streets with his friends instead of his wife and kids. People in general are not perfect in general, we all make mistakes. But when u have Jehovah in your life u are happy. The Bible shows you how to live your life. If u follow it u will be happy. If u don’t then you will be unhappy. I am currently trying to return to Jehovah Organization since the world has brought me nothing but pain

    • We all have choices Jessica and the difference is no one here would judge you for returning if it is what you feel you need to do in your heart -the difference is when your family members who some are Jehovah Witnesses and my eldest 2 are disfellowshipped for normal teenage things and you no longer can assosicate with them because they choose to not be a JW anymore yet they are the first to help the old lady across the street with her groceries or stop and pick the person up walking in the rain buy groceries for someone doing it tough -they are certainly not bad kids and” love is the only way “but JWs and my JW husband tried to keep me from my kindhearted older kids because I needed to (show them love by not having any assosication with them because they choose a different way of life)I choose to disassociate myself from the organisation after my husband wacked my 17yearold daughter around and sending her flying into a cupboard nearly dislocating her jaw because she choose not to be a JW anymore from all the hypocrisy 2police and 3elders later… -best wishes honey I truly mean that if it works in your family but my worldly family loves me regardless and unconditionaly and knows the good hearted soul I am I hope yours will appreciate you the same kind regards

  14. I am from Toronto, Canada and……Thank you for sharing your story! My situation is somewhat similar……I was a SDA when I met my husband and he said he made a commitment to study with the JW’s for one year. I never interfered with his decision because we weren’t married and we were just starting to have a relationship. Once we decided we wanted to get more serious in the relationship he decided that he would become a SDA. We both got baptized and then married in the SDA church. That was over 11 years ago.

    Now, there was a guy at my husbands work who was a JW. He asked my husband if he was interested in studying while at work on his breaks. Because my husband always like to study, it seemed like a good idea to him and I didn’t have any problem with it. Then this JW would invite him when he would be speaking at the Kingdom Hall. I would ask him why would this JW ask him to come when he knows that he was married to me and we have a daughter.

    Moving forward now, since my husband is a diabetic….they convinced him not to take his pills….which spiked his blood sugar at a very dangerous level so much I had to take him to the emergency at the hospital. He never told me that he wasn’t taking his meds until after he came home from the hospital. The doctor now prescribed him to take insulin now. I found out the JW is now encouraging him not to take his insulin.

    He is now denouncing the SDA church because he doesn’t believe in their doctrines. When asked what doctrines he is referring to he could not say anything. Before all of this came about he was unfaithful to me with other women. So we decided to go to a marriage counsellor because in his words, he messed up and wanted to save our marriage. Now instead of working on our relationship, he is now making it about his spiritual journey to know “Jehovah” and that I just have a problem with him studying with the JW’s. Every time we go to the marriage counsellor, he discusses it with the JW’s and they give him pointers of what to say and what not to say.

    He speaks to me like I’m the enemy all the time. Making plans to have study and going to the Kingdom Hall leaving me and my 12 year old daughter alone. He has totally abandoned us! He said he is putting Jehovah first, then family and then work. The marriage counsellor said that in reality he is putting God first, Kingdom Hall second, his family third and then his work last. So instead of him trying to really work things out for our family and treating me with the respect and honour I deserve….he has made it about me not wanting him to study with the JW’s.

    Financially I am dependent on him presently…..but I am taking steps to get myself together. My husband also has Bipolar mood disorder and is a narcissist so I’m not putting up too much hope that things will get any better. His loyalty is to anyone that gives him the attention that he craves. I’m just grieving the time I’ve wasted in my marriage. I am so any at these people but even more angry that my husband is collusion with them. I am totally depressed, crying all the time…..I’m a broken spirit!

    I wish there were some kind of ex JW that could come to my home and help me!

  15. First of all, everything the OP said is the reason why the JW are such an evil cult. I don’t quite understand one thing though. The behavior of the girl’s family, the screaming and fighting, the temporary shunning by the mother, that is everything the JW probably do when they discover that a family member of theirs is leaving the JW. How is the behavior of the Catholic family any different when that family says that deviation from their faith won’t be tolerated? How is that any different than what the JW do? If someone in a JW family wanted to leave the faith for Catholicism, would you be against that? Or would you say it’s wrong to break up a family if you were raised JW and want to leave your JW family?

  16. why does GOD let these home wreckers survive?I dated a woman for several year,but when she became a witness she was told not to be seen with me.

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