I am the eldest of seven children, three girls and four boys. Mum had us all in just under seven years, she had a set of twins, but it was still tough on her, and I do feel angry about what dad put her through. She’s never been a very strong person, neither physically nor emotionally, and he was cruel to her to put her through that.
We moved around many times. We lived down near the Snowy Mountains up until I was four and a half years old. I must say that those days were the absolute best. I could not find anything wrong with my childhood. I do remember things, even from as young as three years old, but it’s all good. Dad was the best dad, and I have great memories.
Then we moved to Moree which is a hot dry dreadful dust bowl of a place and from then on, life was hell. I don’t know what happened to change everything. Dad changed, mum did and life did. To this day, I cannot reconcile the father my dad was down south, to the father he became when we moved out west. They’re totally opposite.
My counsellor has suggested that the reason he seemed so good up until I was 4 and a half, is because he may have been “grooming” me to allow him to do with me what he wanted. I believe that may be true, but it’s a horrible thought. It means all the good memories I have of that time are nothing but selfishly motivated on his part, and that he was evil right from the start. I’ve asked myself when did his evilness start? I don’t know. My counsellor also suggested that the reason life may’ve felt differently once we moved from the Snowies is that maybe I became aware because of my age that something wasn’t quite right, that he may’ve been interfering with me, but I didn’t realise anything was wrong because I was too young. That may be also true.
I was born and raised in The Way, so was my mother, and her mother too. I was a fourth generation professing person. My maternal grandmother’s parents were also in The Way, but I don’t know if they professed later on in life, or if they were B&R too. They must have been one of the first converts in Australia if they weren’t B&R. My father professed when he was about 24 or so at a mission meeting in a little out-west town called Gwabegar. He had been raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, but he left that I think when he left home. He had an awful upbringing because of his father, but I don’t know the extent of happenings, but dad has always been extremely bitter when talking about his father. I know some things, but not what would cause such hatred.
My mother’s father died when she was 16. He wasn’t a B&R (born and raised) but joined before he and grandma got married, while they were going out together. Before mum married dad when she was 21, she’d already been in mental institutions, and wasn’t exactly stable. I suspect she was abused as a child/teenager too, but I don’t know by whom.
Anyway, to cut out lots of happenings, my father sexually abused me from the time I was 5 (that I know of), until I was 15 years old. The last time he did it, I actually had a boyfriend at the time, and I feel so disgusted when I think back. I don’t know to this day why I allowed him to do anything, but he raped me and penetrated me for the first time and “blowed” inside me (he’d had a vasectomy after the seventh child was born, so I couldn’t get pregnant thank God). I still cannot forget the rage and hatred and shame I felt while this was happening. I vowed and declared to myself silently that if EVER he touched me inappropriately again, I would stab him to death. I meant it too, and I still do.
Before I go on, please understand that I don’t wish to be too graphic, and I’m sorry if I upset you in any way. I still must say though the important things that have happened. Well, he never has touched me ever again, because I think he sensed what I was feeling, and was too scared. Everything changed after that.
We used to get along very well and I was almost like a second wife to him, as awful as that makes me feel. He’d confide in me about everything right from when I was 6 and 7 years old. I still remember some conversations, and they were extremely inappropriate. He used to tell me about sexual things to do with him and mum, and come into my bed when she had her period, and do it with me. I honestly didn’t know any better, even though I hate myself now for not running away. He used to tell me that mum was OK with it, and that Lot’s daughters did it to Lot, so it was OK by the bible.
Mum did find out when I was about 6 or so, but she found out that a cousin of mine was abusing me. I don’t think she knew then that her own husband was as well. The cousin violated me, but not for years on end. He did it while he was living with us when I was 6, which I remember. He has said since that he actually did it on and off from when I was about 4 or so, but I don’t remember so it means nothing to me. He was working with dad though when we moved to Moree so it is quite possible.
Anyway, when mum found out about this cousin, Greg, who by the way is/was also a B&R 2×2, she gave me an article in Readers Digest about child molestation. She asked me had he touched me in places that were private and I said No! Even though I knew I was telling a lie. I desperately wanted to tell her, but my own father was doing it too, and I was scared. I can’t remember if either of them ever made threats to silence me but it is possible they did. Anyway, I was scared. She took me to a doctor to be physically examined, but he just had a general look “down there” and said he found no evidence of any interference. Dad and Greg of course were not silly – they rubbed me with “it” until they blowed on the outside so there would be no evidence.
Nowadays things have changed, and doctors actually look for even minute surface abrasions and they can tell beyond all doubt but back in the early eighties, in a small country town, they didn’t do that. I remember that when the doctor told mum his findings, I distinctly remember thinking “it’s wrong what he’s saying, and they (dad and Greg) did do things. I wanted to butt in and say that but I kept silent. After that, mum didn’t mention it EVER again.
She found out about dad somewhere around this time as I must’ve told a school friend of mine, who told her mother, who told my mother. But nothing was done for me. I WISH TO THIS DAY SHE HAD’VE TAKEN US AND LEFT WITH US SO WE COULD’VE HAD A DECENT LIFE WITHOUT A FATHER. IT WOULD’VE BEEN BETTER THAN LIVING WITH THE FATHER WE DID HAVE!!!!!
I must mention here that we moved from Moree when I was 5. I started Kindergarten at Coonabarabran, but shortly after, we moved to a very small town called Mendooran which has a pop. of only about 400. This is where all this happened with Greg, and the doctor, and mum finding out about dad. It was in this home that the meetings were actually held as well. It was the only mtg house in this town, and we lived with an old bloke. It was his house. All these disgusting goings on were happening in a meeting home!
Anyway, life goes on, and he also physically abused us kids. We used to get the most severe floggings. Life was most unbearable looking back now. We still continued to move, and go to meetings. I professed when I was 9 years old. I was certain that I loved the Lord. That’s never changed. I used to hate being so different, not only because there were so many kids in my family and we were poor and had head lice and were so weird, but also because we belonged to what other people would term as a weird religion. I was sure they just didn’t understand that it was the only true way, and you had to be in it to be saved, that it was the only church that descended from Christ and His disciples. I was teased at school from day 1 to the day I left school when I was 14. The religion was just part of the teasing.
Anyway, my father also abused my other two sisters as well. There are so many things I could tell but it would take an age, so I just can’t. It’s all too many goings on. Dad and mum and all us continued going to meetings and taking part, as we each professed over the years. Dad continued his abuse to me and my sisters Gina and Amanda.
The boyfriend I had when I was 15 that I mentioned earlier, Andy, he started coming to missions when the workers were in Coonabarabran (we’d moved back there from Mendooran when I was 11). However, they were never very favourable to him and they used to comment that he wasn’t really “one of us”. Anyway, we broke up after a while, but he was still a friend of the family and used to work with dad. Dad by now was in the firewood cutting industry and spent a lot of time in the bush cutting wood. He worked all of us so hard from such a young age. We all had to help.
My brother was only 15 when he got his chainsaw accreditation and started felling trees full on. He did the work of a man even before then, but now he did even more. We all did. We used to have to split the wood by hand with a blocksplitter in the heat of summer, and winter. I did too, but my main job was “chief cook and bottle-washer”. Of course, it suited dad perfectly to have us out of school as soon as he could, and away in a secluded environment so he could carry on his little secrets with us girls which he did a lot. Mum hardly ever came out to the bush, but all us kids spent a lot of time out there, even before we left school.
All this time, as you’d know, we were taught that the religion we belonged to was the only true one, and we were to be a peculiar people, and that the reason it was right was because the workers went two by two, and the organisation didn’t have a bank account (I question that severely now) and we didn’t have an official registered name. We all believed it of course, because mum did wholeheartedly, and dad I don’t think cared at all. This religion suited him perfectly because he could cover up so much. It suited him that we weren’t allowed to have TV and radio, or read “worldly things”. We never knew what was going on in the world.
If we did have TV etc, I would’ve known much younger I think that what was going on was called incest and that it’s a criminal offense and wrong also by God. He used to tell us a lot the verse in Eph 6:1 I think it is where it says “children obey your parents”. Now because I did want to serve God, I never wanted to upset Him. He’d justified what he did by the bible hadn’t he? It was years later when I was in the process of leaving The Way that I looked that verse up and it says “children obey your parents IN THE LORD for this is right”! He’d left off that last part.
There were so many things. The workers used to visit our house when they were in the area, and there was a certain amount of fear and awe for them. We were told how they’d sacrificed so much to preach the gospel, and we must make their life as easy as possible. We all professed at young ages, and mum and dad were so proud that we’d sit up in meetings and conventions and take part, and they had their perfect little unrebellious bunch of children who sat up in the meetings without squirming and whining. They never realised that any rebellion was flogged out of us from the start.
We were made to feel special by mum and dad, grandma and the workers and friends when we professed. Saying our testimony at convention was always highly looked upon as well. It took lots of guts though to stop our legs from buckling under us. Life goes on.
I met a very nice man who was in my roll call at high school at Coonabarabran. I met him again though after I’d already been left school two years and I was working full time at a motel in town. (There’s lots I could say about control here how dad controlled everything we, and I, thought, did, said, spent our money on etc. The money I earned from all my jobs after I stopped working out in the bush always went on the family. Dad always said we had to pay for our raising).
Anyway, I was 16 at the time, and a mess although I didn’t realise it at the time. (I’d been keeping a diary for a couple of years which dad always hated me doing and he disapproved very strongly of but I still did it. I read them over when I was 17 when I had 3 years worth of diaries, and I couldn’t believe what an absolute mess I was. I thought I was coping well, but reading over my diaries later, I began to realise that I was on the verge of going insane. There were so many things that happened that accumulated for so long, that I was almost tipped over the edge.
I just don’t have the time or inclination to go over them all. All I will say is that despite all the words I write here now to you, my life was hell, trying to please dad, mum, the workers, the friends. I tied myself in knots trying to be good for everyone. When I wasn’t (in dad’s eyes anyway), I was given the silent treatment and dad would turn my brothers and sisters against me. He used to play all of us against each other by telling fibs. He’d also use fear tactics especially to do with God to get me and us all to “behave”. We were told of others who had left ‘The Truth” and that they would be punished by God in the future. They were always an example to us to not take the same path as they. We were told that obviously those who left were never part of it in the first place. I for one wanted to be with God and do the right thing, so I tried to be good).
Anyway, this boyfriend I started going out with when I was 16. His name was David and he was very kind. I told him what had happened to me right from the very first day we started going out with each other. He was absolutely LIVID with rage against my father. He told me it was called incest and that it was a criminal offense and against the law. I also found out then that others went through it too. I had no idea. That was the first time that tiny tiny doubts about my father’s character started forming in my mind. However, it still took me several years to face up to the fact that the father I’d feared, loved, confided in and hated was actually evil and twisted.
David wanted to fight him, and he wanted me to go to the police. I was taught to never involve the “law” in anything so I knew that would be the wrong thing to do. David respected and loved me too much to go against my wishes. As much as he wanted to absolutely murder, so to speak, my father, he wouldn’t because he could see I’d been brainwashed and that it would take time for me to see it all for what it was.
Anyway, despite all that, David was attracted to The Way by the seemingly Godly standard amongst the brethren in dress and behaviour etc. He started going to missions and after 6 months, he professed. Of course, he was the star in my grandmother’s eyes. She absolutely doted on him and both he and I were the toast of everyone because we were meek, obedient and sincere, and we loved each other too. We both wanted to do the right thing by God.
David is, and has always been, a very level, logical guy, but it shows the power that “looking good on the outside” can have on people who want God, and how those appearances can take in even the most logical, “unbrainwashed” people. Then 6 months after he professed, he was baptised. Then when I was 17 yrs and 9 months old, we were married. We had the blessing of everyone including the workers. There were even two of them at our wedding. Now, I was informed that they normally DO NOT attend weddings, but two of them did attend ours.
Of course, it was done with all sobriety and propriety according to the rules and regulations. My dress had to be mid-calve length, no veil, no wedding ring for David, hair up in a bun, no wine at the reception, etc. etc. etc. (Although dad had sometimes secretly, and sometimes not-so-secretly supplied us with alcohol and cigarettes from very young ages, but no one but mum ever knew. She couldn’t stop him tho.) Because I had to have my parents’ signature and consent for me to marry because I was underage, we had to do everything their way.
I will say here that my father never did approve, despite everyone else’s approval, of my relationship with David because David would challenge him on certain things and dad didn’t like that. He tried to break us up by telling lies about David, but for the first time in my life, I actively and knowingly “rebelled” against what he told me. We stuck together like glue the more dad tried to pull us apart.
Of course, I was told by mum and dad and grandma and the workers that it was inappropriate to hold hands, kiss, even sit together in meetings. We were certainly never allowed to go anywhere on our own. They were all afraid we’d have sex before marriage. Horror, Horror, Horror!!!! After all I’d been thru at the hands of my own father, and they were worried about my own sensible, natural loving feelings for my fiancee overtaking my supposed better judgment and learning!! How ironic. But, we were married.
My father gave me away and we had all the photos done to prove what a lovely day it was. Everyone was smiling for the camera and playing happy families. I truly loved David and was happy just to marry him and finally move away into our own home. I didn’t realise the control The Way, and my family would have on us even from a distance. Our son was born 9 months later, then our daughter 16 months after that – Jacob and Constance. I loved them to death, and vowed to protect them with my life if necessary.
Then, in 1995, three months after Connie was born, I began to seriously know that something wasn’t right about The Way. I didn’t know what, but it was just a very strong feeling. We went to convention in Dec. ’95 but I had so many questions that I needed to have answered. I was just 19, only weeks away from my 20th birthday on 28th December. I cannot remember for the life of me what my questions were, but at convention, for the first time, I didn’t “feel the Spirit” there anymore. I had always loved convention and the whole atmosphere, and I felt satisfied. I just loved it. But this time, it was all different. I don’t know what happened to cause this feeling but it wouldn’t go away.
I asked some of the workers whatever questions they were, and friends as well whom we met with at Armidale where we were living then, but no one could give me satisfactory answers. They all kept saying, “just give it time, God will answer you, just hang in there.” I thought something seriously was wrong with me, and that it must be my fault that I was feeling this way. I thought God was angry with me over something, and I was asking why didn’t I feel His presence with me? I got no answers from anyone. It was all so wishy washy.
I, for the first time, did not enjoy convention at all. I just went thru the motions of going to meetings, feeding my baby, making polite conversation with friends etc. I got no relief for my soul. Well, I could say a lot about my parents giving us the runaround all the time while we were married, and their control over me, but it’s a useless exercise. I know, David knows and God knows, but there were still so many rules and regulations from mum and dad and The Way, about how we should live our lives.
Poor David, he didn’t understand why I didn’t tell mum and dad to go to hell, and just forget about them altogether. He asked me to, but I still couldn’t. Dad was still inside my head and I’d hear things he used to say to me to make me feel guilty about things in life so I wouldn’t step out of line.
I won’t go into details, but changes were taking place inside my head, and I started to be aware that all was not well. I became resentful of trying to live up to these impossible standards in things like no movies or music, no computers, not using computers even for working, what occupations are suitable etc etc, and not questioning the authority of the workers and the organisation was the worst restriction, and I found it harder and harder to abide by. The other minor things I could handle as I didn’t desire to be a wild child anyway, but I wanted answers.
David always had a hard time finding work, and my parents thought he wasn’t taking good enough care of me even though he’s always taken care of me in the things that matter i.e. the way he treated me. They are such hypocrites!!!! He did his best, and when he was out of work, he went to adult college to learn things. It wasn’t good enough for them though. How two-faced can you get, when he was so good to me. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t get work, I was well looked after and he loved and cared for and protected me and our babies.
Anyway, I went away from this convention feeling very un-fed. But I kept going to meetings because where else could I go? This was the only way on earth that was true! I was taught that other “Christians” were false anyway, and not to make friends “outside” as they only entice and draw you away from “The Truth”.
Well, we moved back near Coonabarabran in May 1996. Then in July 1996 David and I had a for-me, near-fatal car accident. I praise God our children weren’t with us in the car. I had both legs broken, and severe facial injuries. I was unconscious for 10 days and remember hardly anything at all. I don’t know whether it was all the drugs and painkillers they were giving me or if I truly was unconscious, but I don’t even remember people coming to see me. I was in hospital in Tamworth for 2.5 weeks, then in Coonabarabran Hospital for another half a week. My grandmother and sister came to see me, which I don’t remember, but do you know mum and dad didn’t see me until I was almost ready to be transferred to Coona Hospital!
Me, their eldest daughter, almost dead in an accident, and they see me two weeks later as an afterthought on their way home from a steel-buying shopping spree for my father! It’s only 2 hours drive where I was in Tamworth and they didn’t even bother. That really bothered me! I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Anyway, I came home, gradually got stronger and able to walk further etc etc. Kept going to meetings with my great aunt and uncle (my maternal grandmother’s brother and sister in law), my other great aunt (grandma’s other sister), and my great aunt and uncle’s only son. The meetings were pretty boring and dead, especially the singing (remember, playing a piano on Sunday was evil, yet in Wednesday night meetings it was OK – I never did understand the logic in that!). But I was liking the meetings less and less.
I then met up with a friend again who I used to go to school with. Her brother had been in my class, but she was a couple of years older, but we used to say hello to each other. I was so shy though that we never really became real friends, but we always seemed to have a silent drawing to each other. Anyway, I began talking to her, and she was a Christian, and I began to realise that she had real experiences with God as well.
I questioned my great aunt and uncle “how could this be if they’re all false?” We used to talk a lot and my affections for The Way were wearing thin. We didn’t go to convention that year – 1996, and I cut my hair into a fringe. How looked down upon I was. I even put a rinse in my hair! I was a wicked wicked girl! My great aunt started to act ever-so-slightly colder to me than before and I felt the chill. I didn’t really care though, but yet it hurt on the other hand also.
Well, 1997 came and in February I’d had enough of the meddling and interfering from my parents. I went to see my father also in the February and I talked for the first time about the abuse. I told him slightly (I didn’t want to make him angry) that it had a profound effect upon me, and my marriage, and I wanted him to acknowledge that he had done wrong and just apologise. He refused to do that, and we got into a bit of an argument.
He said he reckoned I’d take him to court and send him to jail, but I said I wouldn’t. Because of his attitude tho, and because I was afraid he’d not believed he’d done the wrong thing, I was scared for our children and any other unsuspecting children and/or parents, and didn’t like going there very much at all.
Well, I decided to make a police statement. I did that in early March. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the workers turned up in the area quick smart. Someone must’ve informed them that an ill wind was blowing and trouble was brewing. I used to believe that they were “called” by God to a certain area to hold missions because some interest was there, but now I reckon they go places to squash rebellion and keep people quiet. Friends inform them of goings on in the professing families, I’m sure of it, and they go then to sort it all out. I had forgiven dad for what he did, but I just wanted him to acknowledge that what he did was wrong and say sorry.
Like I said, I became scared that he wouldn’t and I feared for my children. I made the police statement. We were really given the cold shoulder now by the friends, who had formerly been all over us when we were the shining pupils of the workers’ instructions in godliness! Well, I stopped going to meetings although I felt terribly guilty. I thought I was going to hell for sure, but I kind of didn’t care, or maybe underneath, I didn’t think that was true.
My friend Lisa who I was telling you about before, I think our talks must’ve made me realise that what I was in wasn’t right. Of course, we now are the ultimate example to the other friends’ children of why you shouldn’t make “outside” friends. They say Lisa took me away from The Truth, but the truth is that I left it. Anyway, I took my police statement around to where the two men workers were staying and gave it to them to read there and then.
When finished, they handed it back, and although I can’t remember their exact words, their attitude was “Well, so what!” David was livid with rage against them, and I couldn’t believe their coldness toward us. I thought they’d throw up in horror against this crime against me and renounce it and support me, at least in some way. But they did none of that.
All of a sudden we were “out”. We were despised and examples of rebellion and questionings. They did NOTHING for me or David. I couldn’t believe it. We were literally shunned. I decided to leave The Way after the manner in which we were treated. The guilt was there though so I knelt down beside my bed on 18th March 1997 – I will always remember that day and date because I was made free – and I implored God “please, show me what is right”. An almost-audible voice boomed in my head “Behold, the way is within you.” I found a verse in Luke about a year later which goes along those lines. It’s in Luke 17:21.
Well, I felt immediately free, and I believed I had assurance from God that He wasn’t angry with me. I never did go back, although we were now outcasts from the previously loving fold. My father was charged, he pleaded guilty without going to court, and he was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail (a piddly sentence considering everything), with another 2 years on parole, which he is serving at the moment. He was released from jail on August 16, 2000. Mum is still living with him and has remained loyal and faithful to him because she thinks it’s a sin to divorce. She doesn’t yet realise that you can divorce and marry again in the eyes of God on the grounds of fornication.
My youngest sister is still living at home where he is, and I hate that thought. Neither she (she’s still in The Way), nor my other sister, (who left the Way years ago, even before me and married “outside”) backed me up in making a police statement, even tho they never deny what happened. I guess they have their own issues to work thru just as it took me a long time.
Mum has never stood by me ever, and I don’t believe she loves me. She would’ve if she hadn’t stayed with dad, but her commonsense is so destroyed from the teachings of The Way, and the control dad has over her, that I fear she’s doomed to a life of misery. I sent my parents, my sisters, grandma, my mother’s brother and his wife, and my great aunt and uncle’s only son a copy of some info I got off the Web about the Way.
I got a reply from Grandma saying she feels sorry for me that I’m deceived and so gullible and she dreads to think what will happen to me. She believes ex 2×2’s have are so bitter, and are trying to poison others and cause them to turn away from The Truth.
I have yet to receive any reply from my parents or sisters. I am praying that at least someone will realise the truth about “The Truth”! As much as me and my brothers and sisters have suffered in common under the rule of our father, they still are so distrustful of me and David that it’s impossible to have much contact with each other, even tho they love yet hate our father.
I’d love to blow open the whole Way and everything that’s happened, but the structure of the religion is so tightly banded that it’s impossible I think. They’re false and worse, they’re hiding criminals (how many more) amongst their ranks. Me, one of my sisters and one of our brothers are not in The Way, but too much has happened to trust each other again.
David and I are still together and going stronger than ever. I am healed of my past, although a lot of anger is still there. I’ve always had an aversion to anger, and it’s because we were brought up to think that all anger is evil and is wrong and rebellious, but I feel angry at the blindness of them all in The Way. I hate the attitude of “we’re right, the rest of the world is wrong”.
They count my experience as nothing, and my father, to my knowledge is going to meetings again since coming out of jail. The workers did nothing to reprimand him except stop him from coming to meetings. Big deal! He’d take mum, then sit in the car outside and wait for the meeting to be over, then take her home. What punishment! I learned when I exposed what dad did to me, that quite a few others knew about it in The Way and did nothing either. They were as gutless and brainwashed as mum. I was disgusted that no one helped me. I feel angry about that too. I’ve heard of other abuses within that church too, and no one DOES ANYTHING!
Greg turned himself in after I charged dad. I then made a statement against him and he served nine months in jail. I found out that his wife left him because he’d interfered with his own daughter too. I am sickened by the whole thing and sometimes I wish I could shake them all, and half choke them and make them wake up to themselves, and the deception and the rotting corpse that The Way is. But, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.
David and I nearly didn’t survive being married. I’ve been almost insane several times with strain, and the after-effects of everything. He’s put up with so much, more than most men would put up with, but he loves me to death, and his patience and perseverance with me has paid off. I am free to love and serve God according to my conscience, and bring our children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and to love them as a true mother should. If anyone ever touched my children I would kill. Perhaps I shouldn’t say that, and maybe I wouldn’t but I’d never get over it if something happened to them. They are my life.
David and I both still love and serve God and we’ve been thru an awful lot together, but life is getting better. It’s only been since Sept 2000 that I’ve really walked into the light and away from my past. We’re getting married again on 7th October and are going to have the wedding the way we want. Not extravagant or anything, but simple and beautiful, with our true friends there. In August 2000, I burnt all our wedding photos because I hated seeing those smiling faces haunting me every time we showed the photos to anyone. The relief I felt after destroying them was indescribable and unprepared for. It was overwhelming relief.
Since that day, I’ve been getting better. We’ve been married now 7-1/2 years, and I know we’ll be together a lot longer yet, praise be to God! Thanks for listening. I know it’s awfully long and it’s taken me hours to type but it is my story, and I sent it to you because you asked a second time, so I figured you really did want to know. Please email me when you can, and thanks for putting all the info that you did on the Web for people like me to know the real truth.
NOTE: Lindy appeared on Australia’s 60 Minute program in April 2019.