Painfully Shunned by Mother and Brother


My parents joined Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was 5 years old. I was raised in the cult and knew no other way. I married very young, pioneered, ministerial servant, then elder. I think that by my 30s though I was having many doubts about doctrine, homophobia, the arrogance of the view that theirs is the only true religion, and the level of control over every aspect of life, even within my marriage.

Then, as I researched more for myself I became deeply disturbed by how poorly children were protected and how the organisation clearly cared far more about its reputation. I faded for years. My marriage ended because of my actions.

By 49 I decided that although I had not associated for many years I did not want my name attached in any way to this cult. I therefore disassociated myself.

I lost everyone I’d ever known apart from my adult daughter. My mother and brother refused any contact. My father took the same but slightly softer line. I wrote to my mother regularly but she never responded. She had previously told me “I must be loyal to Jehovah before you.”

My mother died last year. She was admitted to hospital 8 days before my brother called me to say she was ill and would die. I had not heard his voice for years. Even though I begged him, he would not tell me where she was, saying he had Power of Attorney and that she would not want to see me because of my lack of loyalty to Jehovah, that I could change this by “coming back.”

I was horrified by this emotional manipulation. I found out the next day where she was but the hospital had been instructed not to share any information with me by my brother, a man who has held positions of considerable influence as an elder and former circuit overseer.

My mother died before I could say goodbye. I had sent her a card 4 weeks before in which I told her that I loved her. She never replied. The shunning has had a huge impact on my emotional wellbeing. I have sought counselling privately as I realised how ill this isolation has made me. I am deeply ashamed to have been a part of this cult that requires shunning and promotes it as an “act of love.” I could not stay, but leaving cost me so dearly.