Deutsch   English   Français   Nederlands   Español   Polski

YHWH in Hebrew letters
besucherzaehler-homepage

Sexual child abuse among Jehovah´s Witnesses – The Netherlands Deutsch

Also in the Netherlands the horrible issue of child abuse and the no less damaging internal handling by congregational leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses comes to the fore.

The following article was published on 23.01.2020 in the online news magazine "NU.nl".

 

young woman covers her face

Abuse in jehovah community: 'I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone about it.'

January 23, 2020 | Source: NU.nl

A report on sexual abuse within the community of Jehovah's Witnesses was published on Thursday. An important moment for 33-year-old Maria Kramer*. She was abused for years by a person with a high position in the community.


Kramer grew up in what she calls an "average" jehovah family of five. Her parents were members of the community which meant that she sucked this faith in with her mother´s milk. "I was already going from door to door while I was still in the pram."

The family lived in a place near Rotterdam where at that time between three and four hundred Jehovah's Witnesses lived spread over three so-called Jehovah congregations. Kramer was sent to a public school by her parents where she was supposed to seize every opportunity to spread the faith among her peers.

There was no room for a social life outside the community. "I was busy with nothing but faith," Kramer says. "I wasn't allowed to interact with other children from outside the community or practice team sports because outside influences would be dangerous."

Sexually abused by an elder

But it was precisely within the community that danger was lurking. Kramer was sexually abused by an elder, someone with a high function within the community. The abuse lasted for years.

"When I was fifteen I dared to share this story with my mother. She also turned out to have been abused," says Kramer. "We never talked about how she experienced the abuse. She didn't want to talk about it."

Together with her mother Kramer reported the abuse to the community. After this, two other elders came to visit her to listen to her story.

 


"I got my driver's license as soon as I could
and I looked for a job to live on my own."
Maria Kramer, abuse victim


 

Elder was allowed to remain active as a member of the congregation

"The men were asking for all the details of the abuse," Kramer says. "To be honest: besides the actual abuse, this is the worst thing I've ever experienced. I've never felt so naked."

The elder was expelled from his position, but was allowed to remain active as a member of the congregation. His wife was allowed to continue to welcome young children in their home to look after them.

The community did not disclose the reason for his dismissal. "I was told not to talk to anyone about it. I could only go to the elders with my story."

Apart from the abuse, Kramer did not agree with her learned interpretation of the Bible and life. Eventually she decided to leave the community. "I got my driver's license as soon as I could and looked for a job to live on my own."

Parents broke off contact

Building a new life turned out to be very difficult because Kramer had no relationship with people outside the faith. Her parents also broke off contact with her. "Family and friends were supposed to have no more contact with me. I was put aside by everyone I knew at once."

The last fourteen years have been tough for Kramer. But after she got depressed last year, she says she has found the right help and has almost processed the past. "But I still have a huge problem with trusting others."

Kramer hopes that, now that the report has been published, change will take place within the community. "I hope that the internal handling as it is now will be banned so that other victims get adequate help."

She herself never reported it to the police because the community advised against it. "That's the essence of the story: everything had to remain internal. And when I left, I wanted to put it behind me."

*Maria Kramer is a fictitious name. Her real name is known to the editors.

Pfeil nach oben


Update: The court has released the report of the University of Utrecht on Jehovah's Witnesses and Child Abuse for publication. Read the first reactions of Dutch politics here.

 

Downloads

Coming soon ...