Religious Trauma Syndrone

 Image result for religious trauma syndrome photosImage result for religious trauma syndrome photos


Jehovah witnesses have asked me why expose and talk about the trials and troubles within the Jehovah witness organization? Why be concerned? Why help others? This is why we help. There is a stressor out there that has caused suicide, early death, and Torn families apart! Religious persecution by Jehovah witnesses on other Christians and ex-members have produced:

      Image result for religious trauma syndrome photos                        

                                          Religious Trauma Syndrome

Religious Trauma Syndrome is the condition experienced by people who are struggling with leaving an authoritarian, dogmatic religion and coping with the damage of indoctrination. They may be going through the shattering of a personally meaningful faith and/or breaking away from a controlling community and lifestyle.  Religious Trauma Syndrome is a function of both the chronic abuses of harmful religion and the impact of severing one’s connection with one’s faith.  It can be compared to PTSD. 

Religious Trauma Syndrome has a very recognizable set of symptoms, a definitive set of causes, and a debilitating cycle of abuse. There are ways to stop abuse and recover.

Symptoms of Religious Trauma Syndrome:

  • Cognitive: Confusion, poor critical thinking ability, negative beliefs about self-ability & self-worth, black & white thinking, perfectionism, difficulty with decision-making
  • Emotional: Depression, anxiety, anger, grief, loneliness, difficulty with pleasure, loss of meaning
  • Social: Loss of social network, family rupture, social awkwardness, sexual difficulty, behind schedule on developmental tasks
  • Cultural: Unfamiliarity with the secular world; “fish out of water” feelings, difficulty belonging, information gaps (e.g. modern art, music)

Causes of Religious Trauma Syndrome:

Authoritarianism coupled with toxic theology which is received and reinforced at the kingdom hall, conventions, and home results in:

  • Suppression of normal child development – cognitive, social, emotional, moral stages are arrested
  • Damage to normal thinking and feeling abilities -information is limited and controlled; dysfunctional beliefs taught; independent thinking condemned; feelings condemned
  • Knowledge is revealed: only to the governing body; a hierarchy of authority enforced; self, not a reliable or good source; 
  • Mental and sexual abuse:  pedophiles thrive in this authoritative environment; unhealthy sexual views; punishment used for discipline; i.e., disfellowshipping; not allowing grandparents to interact with their grandchildren. Women and children kept on the lowest run of the ladder.

The cycle of Abuse-

The cycle now is to send elders by the home or hospital, issue an edict that if you die in this window of time before impending Armageddon hits you will go to Gehenna. One non-baptized witness was in a nursing home with incurable cancer and was told this. She died 2 weeks later. Another 82-year-old sister hadn’t attended in 10 years but was visited and intimidated with death in Gehenna and many more insults since their Annual meeting of 2017.  Adult children are intimidating older parents and siblings that have left the organization. Not answering text or phone calls, emotional abuse. 

This results in an unending cycle of threats and verbal abuse often with shouting and threatening. You get relief when they leave. Then the elders show up again, they say to encourage you. Then they are threatening sisters with the death of their little children at Armageddon.  Salvation is not a free gift according to them; you must be in the organization. Some are getting multiple visits within a week even on their job.

This is getting out of hand and some are going to lawyers to get a cease and desist letter. The governing body says they have fulfilled Matt. 24:14 and are preaching a message of judgment and studying only with those righteously "disposed."  They are not raising their heads up because deliverance is near. They are in a panic and fearful!

The Cycle of Abuse can be stopped

You can stop the cycle of abuse, but leaving the witnesses is a “mixed blessing.” Letting go of the need to conform is a huge relief. There is a sense of freedom, excitement about information and new experiences, new-found self-respect, integrity, and the sense of emerging identity.

There are huge challenges as well. The psychological damage does not go away overnight. In fact, because the phobia indoctrination in young childhood is so powerful, the fear of Gehenna and Armageddon can last a lifetime despite articles like these:

This is why there are so many thousands of walking wounded – people who have left a high control manmade organizational religion and are living with Religious Trauma Syndrome.

The governing body says they are mentally diseased not realizing:

Religious Trauma Syndrome mimics the symptoms of many other disorders –

  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • clinical depression
  • anxiety disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • eating disorders
  • social disorders
  • marital and sexual dysfunctions
  • suicide
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • extreme antisocial behavior, including homicide

There are many extreme cases, including child abuse of all kinds, suicide, rape, and murder. ( ( Not as extreme but also tragic are all the people who are struggling to make sense of life after being severely SHUNNED and losing their family and friends. Many who try to get help from the mental health profession cannot find a therapist who understands Religious Trauma Syndrome. They say just leave and forget about going to worship services with others. 

What’s the problem?

We have in our society an assumption that highly organized religion is for the most part harmless or good for you. Therapists, like others, expect that if you stop believing, you just quit going to services, putting it in the same category as not believing in The Tooth Fairy.  Therapists often don’t understand fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism refers to the belief of an individual or a group of individuals as the absolute authority of a sacred religious text or teachings. In this case, the governing body must be obeyed without question. They say even if you can prove them wrong by scripture you must teach and believe until they change it. They even have a new song to them that states right or wrong follow them. Gehenna is the penalty. 

Therapists do not realize what a complete mind-violation this really is and persons can’t just get over it. They have been indoctrinated (the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically, without questioning.) The governing body is a god to most witnesses. 

In the United States, we have a bill of rights, our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. This makes it extremely difficult to address a debilitating disorder like Religious Trauma Syndrome without it threatening these rights. Raising questions about toxic beliefs and abusive practices in religion seems to be violating a taboo. No one wants to be pointing fingers for fear of tampering with our precious freedoms. In the meantime, people are fighting to mentally break this mind control that the governing body has used for so long, threats of death at Armageddon with their minor children dying because a parent left the witnesses...

 Sanitizing hierarchy, high control religion makes it all the more insidious when it is toxic. (A system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority. A peeking order, ladder climbing, inclusiveness.)

 For example, small children are biologically dependent on their adult caretakers; built into their survival mechanisms is a need to trust authority just to stay alive. Religious teachings take hold easily in their underdeveloped brains while the adults who are controlled keep tight control on the children. This continues generation after generation. Masses of believers learn to value self-loathing and fear Armageddon. It’s difficult to break this cycle!

There is hope 

Awareness is growing about the dangers of religious indoctrination.  There are more and more websites to support the growing number of people leaving harmful religion.  Slowly, services are growing to help people with Religious Trauma Syndrome heal and grow, including this site that attempts to offer spiritual healing for witnesses with international testimony sessions by internet, articles and call in study groups.  By discussing here people can understand what they have been through and take steps to become healthy, happy human beings. 

So feel free to open up and talk. Let others know what you are going through and how you are coping. Together the shock, pain, and trauma will move further in the back of your brain and mind.

8 Responses to Religious Trauma Syndrone

  1. jacqueline says:

    The full story of the life of the German Shooter who killed 8 people so far at the Kingdom Hall. This is wrong for him to do that. He should have just stayed away and gotten mental help. Families need to get their loved ones to help if they can. May Jehovah and Jesus comfort them as the families and the Witness community mourn their loss. We mourn with them and held a vigil tonight in our Support Group.
    This is his life story:

  2. Ted R says:

    A wonderful and encouraging video for those who are being shunned by a cult!
    DON’T CRY OVER THEM | LET THEM GO | Powerful Motivational & Inspirational Video

  3. Ted R (Bible Student) says:

    I thought I posted this but I don’t see it.
    Learning to Trust after being Betrayed by your Religion
    Leaving a high control group such as Watchtower can be traumatic. Many feel betrayed! Many have been slandered by the people they considered friends. Jon Leger, an ex-JW gives us some good advice!

  4. Ted R (Bible Student) says:

    This is a great article for all of us who left the cult or those leaving. Why is it so hard to just get over it?:

    • jacqueline says:

      TedR, his sincerity and understanding comes through in his words. First time seeing his site but I have worked with Hassan and learned how to understand the struggle to feel an act normal after coming out of a high control group. I would advise also for ones to take a look. I asked him if I could make him a custom click on this site because he has other great subjects.

  5. Rene, I was thinking further on your friend that wonders where was God during slavery and why did He allow it.
    Well, let us see if we can give God some glory by analyzing it a little.

    Prov. 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out.”
    Your friend can lift himself up and be a king.’

    Yemen has an epidemic of dengue fever amidst their war. Sex trafficking rivals enslavement of people in all nations today, it is at epidemic proportions. So we have to ask about the Holocaust where was God?

    Your friend, me you nor anyone on this website would be here if He had stepped in and cleansed this world during the holocaust.
    You see as we search it out, we learn God isn’t partial, He would have brought all things sinful to an end.
    I am glad he let me be born and my family and all of us.

    While He is helping He has to stop and kill all fornicators, liars, thieves, anyone missing the mark.

    So, waiting on Him to do it when the time is right for all will bring about the best results.

    It has only been about six days or a small length of time for Him. A 2-year-old might scream and holler that the mom is not doing what she asked when it has only been a few minutes. This shows how time is viewed differently.

    If He will realize that he is not the only one that has suffered and will suffer in the future, perhaps he will humble himself a little under the hand of God, not slave masters but God. Maybe he can find peace.

    I have a way of dealing with racism in my personal relationships when I am sure it is among my fellowship I don’t try to change them. I get away from the environ completely.

    It is okay to protect yourself from constant biases and racism or any other assaults to your person. It is okay to be selfish.
    Selfish in this instance means you care about yourself. God allows you to run from a stressful situation.

    He mentioned even churches where he sees apathy. That is why he should go directly to God thru the Bible!

    Most of my racism has been experienced among religion also. But I have never seen God so I know it wasn’t Him! So why would I blame him? He made life, what men are choosing to do good or bad is on them because people can do good and not practice evil. Many are living as close to good as they can.

    God has made a promise and if He would just trust God He will see and feel joy throughout eternity. I am sure he has put his trust in someone or something before if nothing but his alarm clock to wake him up on time.
    His oven to cook to the desired temperature and hold it. the coffeepot to brew his coffee and stop. The bus to arrive on time and follow the prescribed route.

    Why can’t people trust GOD???

    Rev. 21:” A New Heaven and a New Earth
    21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

    5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

    6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

  6. jacqueline says:

    Spiritual abuse comes in many ways! This is inexcusable. This child went to the lowest point in his life and the self-righteous priest says this. Where is a condemnation of suicide pointed out as a different set of circumstances than death? This priest was abusive to this family!

    What scriptures do religions use to make suicide an unforgivable sin or viewed differently by Christ? I have never understood this. Suicide devastated the family who felt they should have seen the signs but you don’t. This priest misused his man given authority and should have punitive damages imposed so other religions will see you can’t abuse people spiritually and walk away not caring about the damage. This family can now only depend on God and Jesus, so ?.
    A funeral should never be about witnessing to the people there by pushing what your religion’s beliefs are.

    I saw a dear sister that I have known for nearly 70 years and she informed me her daughter passed that night before. I dropped what I was doing in the store and ran over to hug her.
    I offered certain help and I think she and some of the family will accept it. I know she is told not to converse with me but she has never when we meet in the store not talked to me. Our children grew up together and she has lost a grandchild not long ago. It was a time to talk and heal and not think about the religion’s teaching at all but just be humans made in the image of God. And talk about family.
    She has always been a true regular pioneer for decades and I have never heard this dear sister say one bad word about anybody. We do not meet to worship together as we did for most of our life but we do worship the same God. She is true blue in talking about God. May be bless and keep her.

    May Jehovah and Jesus’ words comfort and be with this dear family as they travel now to still the grandchildrens hearts and bury their daughter.

  7. jacqueline says:

    With the reports of so many Kingdom Hall, consolidation and closings, rank and file Jehovah Witnesses are experiencing anxiety, wondering what is happening.
    They build their halls and now have no say-so over them being sold.

    One way a congregation handled it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *