Australian Royal Commission 2015

How Do Jehovah’s Witness Elders Comfort a Teenage Abuse and Incest Survivor? With Counsel to “Respect” Her Violent, Adulterous Father

During the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in Australia, a woman called “BCG” testified of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, which included repeated sexual assaults and violent physical abuse. An elder had previously seen evidence of this physical abuse, when BCG showed up at the Kingdom Hall with a black eye and informed him that her father had broken down the bathroom door when she was inside; the elder had laughed off the incident.

When BCG approached other elders to discuss this abuse, her father was already being investigated by the religion’s internal justice system, called a judicial committee, for committing adultery. During that judicial committee, BCG’s mother testified that the father had molested before, “4-5 times.”

As one might assume, BCG appeared to be very angry at her father for everything that was happening in their family. The response of the elders? See with your own eyes, taken from the notes they made during this judicial committee process:

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So there you have it. A man in the home repeatedly beats his children, molests all his daughters, and brazenly runs around on his wife, and when a child feels anger at this, she is told to “respect” her father.

That counsel and reaction of the elders may be sickening enough, but note what they testified to the Royal Commission, when it was brought out that the atmosphere they created for BCG was not conducive to her being able to speak freely:

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Note the words this elder uses to describe their process of questioning BCG. He says they were patient, kind, and showed compassion. This is in direct contrast to what they did, in actually counseling or chastising her, and for what? Being angry at her abusive, violent, raping, child-molesting, cheating father.

Why, I might ask, did this man deserve an ounce of respect from her? He beat her, molested her and her sisters, and was now cheating on his wife. Simply being a parent and a man shouldn’t render you respect when your conduct is so vile, violent, and abhorrent.

This testimony was also offered by the same elder:

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Two things wrong with this; first, how can she feel “comfortable” telling the elders about her “hurt and the pain,” when her anger may be part of that hurt and pain, and she was just chastised for feeling that anger?

The other issue is that this elder claims that he himself felt “certain feelings of anger” toward BCG’s father. Was he counseled and chastised and told to show respect to the man instead? Does that counsel only apply to his actual victim; the one who was viciously raped and beaten and sees her own mother being cheated on? His teenage victim needs to show “respect” to the man doing these things, but an elder who only hears the story, he can be angry all he wants?

It’s interesting how Jehovah’s Witnesses paint a picture of the elders in the congregations, as they tried to do when under the hot lights of a Royal Commission Inquiry, of being loving and kind and really looking out for their “spiritual brothers and sisters,” as this statement from the March 15, 2011, Watchtower shows:

“Spiritual shepherds may especially be in a position to listen with empathy, show understanding, and provide loving Scriptural counsel. (Acts 20:28) In that way overseers imitate the apostle Paul, who had “tender affection” for his spiritual brothers and sisters.”

Yet, where was the empathy, understanding, and love for this teenage victim of repeated rape and violent physical abuse? The only thing she got was counsel and chastising, for very natural, normal, justified emotions that the elder himself claims he felt. She also got laughed at and dismissed when physical evidence of her abuse was first shown to an elder. Funny how you don’t read those types of things in the Watchtower magazine.

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