Incognito ~ My Testimony, 2023

I’m sorry this is so long, but this is the first time just putting it all out there and, I think it’s going to be therapeutic just vomiting all these words. I would prefer, for now, to remain incognito, but perhaps with time I will feel more comfortable with exposure.

I was raised in the Meetings in North Central Florida. We (my brother and I) attended Sunday meeting at a prominently known family’s home within the sect that is/are well known throughout the state and even by surrounding states. It was the only life I really knew.

When I was just barely out of elementary school, our Mother passed away unexpectedly. Dad, I have to say, while I know it had to be such a struggle raising two young children, did the best he could.

Just prior to our Mother passing away, an elderly, single man, well respected within the meetings had moved from a nearby meeting (one that joined our meeting monthly for worship). All kids called him Grandpa_____. I only saw him at meetings at that point. However, once Mom passed, “Grandpa” seemed to take a keen interest in Dad, and I suppose Dad saw it as support and friendship in his newfound vulnerability. “Grandpa” suddenly was at our house quite often. Two months after Mom died, summer break was upon us, and Dad struggled with what to do with us kids. He finally decided I was old enough to look after my brother if we stayed inside till he got home from work.

From almost day one, “Grandpa” started showing up at the house soon after Dad left for work. I’m sure you all know where this is leading. Yes…the molestation started. He would tell my little brother to go outside and play. I remember the fear and shame. There was nowhere to hide from him. He would always tell me “Now be a good girl and let me…” I think, even after all these years, there are probably a few things I still suppress.

I can never recall him telling me not to tell anyone. However, somehow, I knew not to? First, this was someone that was, in all accounts, my Dad’s best friend. He was revered by all adults who were a part of my life. I didn’t think anyone would ever believe me anyway. They certainly wouldn’t believe it wasn’t my fault, right? So I suffered in silence…for a year, when he unexpectedly died from a heart condition. I, to this day, feel nauseous when I see a yellow VW bug car (what he drove).

A few years later (while in high school) I was staying the night with one of the young girls in my meeting on a weekend (as we often did), and for whatever reason, I started crying and just spilled all that was on my heart. I let out all the pain. I needed to grieve. I needed to grieve my mother’s untimely death, the atrocities that had occurred thereafter, and the deep shame I carried every damn day on my shoulders.

I lived every day thinking I was going to hell. That somehow, I had brought this on myself. Somehow, I MADE “Grandpa” do bad things. Imagine my SHOCK, when she started crying and said he did it to her and her little sister too. The two of us spoke in depth and as to whether we should tell someone. We found strength in each other that we didn’t feel in doing alone.

We decided to go to her Mom and tell her. She was horrified! I remember hearing her and her husband yelling at each other soon after in their bedroom. Quite a heated discussion. I only learned later, this was because the husband was aware of “Grandpa’s” deviant ways. Apparently “Grandpa” had been moved by the overseer worker in the state from his original meeting to our meeting because one of his previous victims wanted to start coming back to meeting, and they wanted to separate them.

While this man knew, my father knew nothing of “Grandpa’s” history. Grandpa had a long history, including molesting his own daughter, granddaughter and who knows who else. I personally know of 7 victims in a 15 mile radius of the meeting we attended. He was known to frequent another midwestern state at times as well. The ones I knew of spanned over 40 years. A predator doesn’t take lengthy breaks. I’m positive there are more victims out there.

I can’t say what occurred after this, if anything. I was still a kid. I do know that I was never questioned by a worker or any leader of a meeting. Maybe her Mom and my Dad chose not to say anything to anyone. He was already dead. Maybe they chose simply to protect us experiencing exposure at that point? Speculation.

I stayed in the meetings till 1993. I did profess, as I felt was expected of me, in my early teens, but always felt a certain detachment. I think I had a deep-seated resentment really. Anger, if you will. Once an adult, I continued to occasionally relive those conversations that were had with adults once I told on Grandpa. I remember it being called “indiscretions”. No…let’s not put a pretty word on it. It was RAPE. It was just as illegal then as is now. WHY was this man never turned into police? Workers knew of actual rapes. Yet, they simply quietly moved him to a different meeting. A meeting with small young girls! Keep it hush hush!

He continues to take part in meeting. Partakes in the bread and wine…yet, the sweet, faithful lady with the small child in the meeting doesn’t get to take part anymore because she divorced her abusive husband who beat her senseless numerous times. I struggled with this in my maturing mind, and my anger continued to grow. When attending a Milford New Hampshire convention, I heard of a prominent individual doing much of the same thing there and they just moved him to a different meeting. Something in me snapped. I knew I couldn’t have any part of this anymore. This was wrong, and being newly married with a newborn, I refused to expose my child and future children to a culture that was cultivating this. I’ve never looked back.

While I still hold resentment to any adult figure who knew what was happening and held their tongue and in essence enabled there to be yet more victims (me), I truly love those who I remain close with. The people in the meeting as a whole are good people with good intentions. They are simply conditioned to act in a way to certain situations. They truly think they are doing right.

I do know that when I left the meeting, I went through a period of about three years where I was basically ostracized. People were colder initially to me. I don’t know if I was seen as a threat or as someone who was thought would “lure” others out? It was strange, and quite frankly hurt. However, it only solidified that I had made the right decision. You would think that a religion that believes they are the “only way” would do all they could to make others feel welcome, despite any of what they consider short fallings. I also had issues over workers deciding who could and could not take part in meetings. Don’t we all have something to add? Does God not want to hear what is on the heart of the sinner or the downtrodden?

I could go on and on. There are just so many “rules” that just made no sense and could never really be explained. Instead, it was “just the way it was done”. I have often commented just how MANY people who are in the meeting or were formerly who have so many mental health issues! What is happening to all these people? What are their stories?

Thank you for allowing me to vent. My heart is with all victims everywhere. I truly know and feel your pain. You matter and your journey matters. God loves YOU.

Posted on Ex-2×2 Support Group
March 31, 2023