This is the true story of Jayne Foreman. She is a deaf woman who was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.From the age of 8, I was brought up as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Back then, I could never understand Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was because I was deaf. And I was in a congregation where there was no interpreter. At that time I was living in London, UK. So, of course, I had to lip-read the speaker. But that was making it so difficult for me to understand.
You see, my mom did not believe in sign language. Can you imagine being deaf at the Twickenham Convention? We were there for 3 days! It was so boring for me. I did not understand what it was all about. I had to put up with all those years of boredom until I was teenager. Yet still, I did not understand the bible.
In my heart I wanted to leave Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I was so scared. One day I told my parents that I no longer want to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. My parents panicked. They called the Elders. There was the usual shepherding call. Then my parents bought me a cat as a bribe. It was a way to keep me going as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Of course, in time, my parents began to realise that I needed an interpreter. Yet, all that time since when I was 8, my heart hadn’t really been in it. Eventually, when I was 16, my parents told me that I should go and meet some deaf brothers and sisters at the Convention. They felt that I should get to know them. I was a very shy person. However, I eventually made some new deaf friends. It was not easy for me because they were all using sign language. I did not know how to sign at all. I could only lip read.
I got married when I was 18. I married a deaf brother who was 30 years old. He taught me British Sign Language. I found it difficult to learn.
We went on to have two children – a Boy and a Girl. Then we moved to Vancouver, Canada in 1983.
I was still not very happy being a Jehovah’s Witness. It was so difficult for me to keep inside my mind the fact that I wanted to leave.
I was married for 30 years. He was an elder and travelled a lot to Bethel in Brooklyn for DVD sign language. During that 30 years of marriage I was a victim of Domestic Violence. No one knew about it. I had kept it a secret for so long.
On one occasion, I had bruises on my arms. My husband said that I must put a sweater on to cover them up. That was despite the fact that it was Summer. And it was so hot! We went to the kingdom hall. And because it was so hot, I took that sweater off. Some brothers and sisters saw the bruises on my arms. They enquired as to what happened. I lied. I told them that I fell. I was too scared to tell the police or even the Elders.
After some time in Canada, he wanted to move back to the United Kingdom. We were always on the move. We moved back to the UK in 2006. And within just a few short months, he already wanted to move back to Canada! He decided to move back to Canada around October or November of 2007.
Back then, I was in fear for my life because of the Abuse. I even tried to commit suicide because I was very unhappy with my life.
One day, he went to the deaf Kingdom Hall meeting in London. I made an excuse that I was sick so that I could stay home. When they left, I quickly packed my things and went to a women’s refuge. I stayed there for about 6 months. That was a very big step for me.
And, of course, my spiritually was very low. I left him in September of 2007.
I wrote a letter to the elders stating that I was no longer a Jehovah’s Witness. As I had been inactive as a member, they told me that I needed to meet with them in a private area. When I met with them, I told them about the domestic abuse. They were shocked. Yet, because I was inactive they said that I had to be disfellowshipped!
Finally, I got divorced in 2011. Was my husband disfellowshipped? No! He was just reproved. I was so angry that he got away with everything. My parents, my kids and my brother won’t talk to me. I am being shunned unless I return to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
If, for example, there is an emergency, or if I am dying, or there was an accident, then they will talk to me. What kind of “loving arrangement” is this? It is clear that they are trying to black-mail me into going back.
When it comes to domestic violence, I know that in my heart, Bethel would keep any incidence of it quiet. They would cover it up. Even the elders keep it quiet and do not go to the police.
I have not been a Jehovah’s Witness since 2007. I feel a lot happier that I left. I am now living with my new partner. I am very happy now. But I am still angry with the Jehovah’s Witnesses for not doing anything when I was abused. I do believe that time will reveal all.
- as told by Jayne Foreman