Leaving a cult can be a harrowing experience. When you’ve been cut off from the real world, you may run into lots of logistical and conceptual problems that make the outside harder to navigate. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are counting on your lack of experience with the outside world to send you running back to them.
Who Is Silent Lambs?
Silent Lambs was originally founded by William H. Bowen, a former JW leader, and Barbara Anderson, a researcher who was one of the first people to spread the word about abuse in the leadership. Barbara was in a unique position; as one of the only women with access to the leadership, she was one of the only people who saw the thousands of letters that came in from active members about sexual abuse by leadership in the 80s and 90s. She was an important whistleblower against the cult’s abuses.
For his part, William Bowen was an elder in the organization for about 15 years. He was first removed as an elder in 1992 for refusing to back down on the appointment of a known child molester. He was reappointed in 1994, but resigned in 2000 when new allegations of child abuse and the organization covering up crime came to light.
Standing strong together since 2001, Silent Lambs is a group of ExJWs who saw the horrible abuses being perpetrated against children– and then covered up– by the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Silent Lambs exists to put a public spotlight on the organization’s misdeeds and to provide a space for victims to find strength and community.
What Does Silent Lambs Do?
Silent Lambs is a place where people who have experienced cult abuse under the Jehovah’s Wittnesses share their stories. The group hopes that this testimony will help educate both the public and members of the JWs about the enormous challenges of religious abuse. They also want to help survivors know that they aren’t alone.
How Can Silent Lambs Help Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Silent Lambs is an important resource for victims of religious abuse by the JWs, but their biggest role is as a reference for victims of child abuse.
Unfortunately, child abuse is a long-held JW tradition. There are a lot of contributing factors, including the leadership’s insularity and the two-witness rule. The two-witness rule states that there must be two witnesses to an act to establish that something bad has happened.
In other words, abuse doesn’t count to the governing body unless there are two witnesses willing to testify… about something that virtually always happens when the child and adult are alone. You can see how this leads to a culture of abuse!
Furthermore, JW leadership is known to harbor sexual predators. In Australia, the Royal Commission on Child Abuse found that the cult harbored over 1,000 sexual predators in Australia alone. And rather than give up the names to secular authorities, the organization refused– earning sanctions of thousands of dollars per day.
This complete lack of support for the people these predators hurt is yet another slap in the face from the organization. If you find yourself reeling, Silent Lambs can help. Through their legal resources and hotline, they can help you find legal recourse.
Overcoming isolation is vital to your mental health after leaving the organization. People need a community– whether that’s a subculture like the one I featured in Witness Underground, an organized support group, an online community, or any other kind of group, you need people. They know this at Silent Lambs– their collection of letters and testimony is proof that you’re not alone.
This is the 5th post in our resource series. You can see some of the others here:
Check out our Resource Series tag for more information and to see all of these great resources.