One of the things I deeply regret is that, to quote Bruce Willis in the film The Fifth Element, I only speak two languages: English and Bad English. As a result, my knowledge of what is taking place around the world in terms of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is often limited to what is written on English language web sites, and in English language news reports.
As such, it is sadly all to easy for me to be unaware of developments that may be taking place in other languages and cultures. Thus it’s good to get a glimpse into what is taking place in parts of the world that speak other languages.
Take for example a new article on the Spanish language news-site Playground that has shed some light on the plight of many Ex-JW’s in Spain, and also on the efforts of others to help them.
You can view the full article here, but we have a translation for you below, kindly provided by avoidjw.org. We also would like to thank JW Survey community member Average Joe for bringing this article to our attention.
“To leave a sect means to accept that your life has been a hoax”.Several ex-members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses of Spain have reported abuses against them and most of them needed time to realize that they had been deceived. To understand why, we have talked to an expert on sectarian problems. – By Alba Losada, Monday 9 January 2017In recent months, several former members of different congregations of Jeovah’s Witnesses in Spain have reported sexual abuse, coercion and interference in their private lives.The last to do so was Juan Bourgon. Because, as he explained to this newspaper, he was recently expelled from the group by asking about sexual abuse committed by members of the religion in the United States.Before formulating their complaints, these victimes needed time to realize that more followers of the religious group had been victims of a sectarian system. This was a system that would never bring them “salvation”, as preached by their religion.To understand why it is so difficult to leave a cult, we talked to Doctor of Psychology and Director of Emaaps (Multidisciplinary Organisation for Counselling and Assistance with Sectarian Problems), Pepe Rodriguez.These victimes needed time to realize that more than being adherents of a religious group, they had been victims of a sectarian system._____________The Difficulty Of Getting Out Of The “Saving Bubble”Many followers have little contact with the real world and they live their entire lives locked in a “saving bubble” which they do not want to leave because of the fear inculcated into them.“What is very difficult for too many people,” says Rodriguez, “is to confront their daily lives and manage their emotions in a minimally adequate way. Those who want to leave a ‘sect’ are only a small part of all those who have tried previously.”The little connection they have with the outside world does not help them to open their eyes. Beliefs enter the emotional channel, so criticism of them is interpretted as an attack on the same person.In the case of taking these criticisms into account, they might think that their whole life has been a lie, a failure. This means that “to try to enter dialogue or debate with a member is an impossible mission.”In the case of taking these criticisms into account, you might think that your whole life has been a deception, a failure.Many of the people who live in such a hermetic group such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, their only family and friends are members of the congregation. This is another reason why leaving the religions gives them such terror: their family and friends would be the first to marginalise them. “They are prohibited under penalty of expulsion to speak with an excluded member or with one who leaves the group.”There would be a disconnection from which that one would be left isolated. When they realise that they would be socially isolated and have no one to turn to, they come to understand that if they leave, they lose everything.Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot use their judgement to analyse or value the ideas that they transmit. Individual thinking and access to information outside of the collective is totally restricted.Therefore, virtually all ideas, beliefs and behaviours are mediated by what they have learned in the congregation.“The nullification or severe restriction of freedom of thought is a sectarian manipulation tactic that applies to all religions, but in a small group such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is more intense”.“The members are prohibited under penalty of explusion to speak with the excluded or with those who leave the group.”There are many who have spent years in the group, or they were even born into it. This has had a permanent influence on their personality. “Families affiliated with some kind of belief are usually strenghtened through rigidity and subordination in the character of their children”. And this only makes them more likely to have blind faith in a sectarian system without being aware of it.___________But Deprogramming is PossibleDiego Hidalgo was a Jehovah’s Witness for many years. He became an elder in the congregation – a leader within the religion. Over time, Hidalgo came to realize that his belief system was a fallacy.Now he is director of Liberados.net, an association that provides advice to members who want to leave the group. He has spent 8 years helping members to deprogram. He attempts to prove to those who want to leave the religion that not everything is true. To do this, he creates reasonable doubts and works on them until he has helped them to see that they have been victims of a lie.“I confront changes of doctrine and the contradictions that have been made over the years and how this has come to exert a negative effect on members.”Hidalgo has been a deprogrammer for 8 years, trying to prove to those who want to leave the religion that not everything is true.However, it has not been an easy task and it has not always been successful. “There are people who do not want to see the truth because they cannot accept it pscyhologically.” But there have been other cases where the therapy has worked. Indeed, throughout this time, he has managed to deprogram about 40 people._________Israel Needed 21 YearsIsrael Florez was born a Jehovah’s Witness. In 1979, when he was only 5 years old, a member of the religious organiszation sexually abused him. However, it was not until 2000 that he built up the courage to tell it to Puerta Del Angel Congregation in Madrid. However, the answer was not what he expected. “I was told not to tell anyone”.Five years later he completely disengaged. He stopped attending meetings and interacting with other members. In this way, he left the group forever. Like most of those who have left, he did it through the back door and practically without the support of anyone.But, over time, he began to interact with others on social networks. He began to realise that he had not been the only victim. There were other people who coped alone with injustices suffered when they met and joined. Thus was born abusostj.org. This website aims to help victims, offer legal aid and provide visibility in the media.100 people already make up part of this organisation. They have already made about 20 official complaints. This organisation’s intent is not to destroy Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather, its purpose is only to effect change in their policies so that no one else has to suffer the same way they have.These individuals have managed to rewrite their history. Now it is up to anyone else who wants to live their life outside of the organisation.”