Jehovah's Witness abuser quoted scripture while assaulting daughter, royal commission told

By Rachel Browne
Sydney Morning Herald
July 28, 2015

As a child growing up in a strict Jehovah's Witness household she was taught to obey her father as head of the family and warned that outsiders were "worldly people" who served Satan.

In a harrowing day of evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the woman detailed how her father repeatedly sexually abused her and her three sisters.

I wanted to dig a hole and die. 

Sex abuse survivor BCG

The father, given the pseudonym BCH, was a respected figure in the church who would conduct door-to-door preaching and deliver talks from an elevated platform at his congregation's kingdom hall in Queensland.

At home the man became a tyrant, with the commission hearing that he would beat his daughter so hard with a leather belt she would bleed from the welts.

The woman, now 43 and using the pseudonym BCG, told the commission that her father repeatedly molested her.

"While my father sexually assaulted me, he quoted Bible scriptures and referred to Bible scriptures about being more obedient that he made me put up on my bedroom wall," she said. 

"He said to me while he sexually assaulted me, 'You have to be more obedient to me'."

She recalled her father giving her a black eye when he forced the bathroom door off its hinges to get to her, telling the commission that when she raised it with a church elder he laughed it off "as though it was a joke".

In evidence BCG said she had been raised to believe that "man is head of the house and his wife and children have to obey him and refrain from questioning his authority".

She had also been taught not to trust those outside the church.

"I thought that 'worldly people' ... were bad and not to be trusted and they served Satan," she said.

"Even the prospect of speaking to the police was extremely scary as they were considered to be very bad people."

She told the commission how she had worked up the courage to tell to church elders about the abuse but they said they could not meet her unless she spoke to her father first.

She described in evidence a meeting where all the elders were male and friends of her father.

"They asked me questions like: 'Did you enjoy it?'," she said. "It felt as though they were getting off on what I was telling them."

She told the commission she was chastised after attempting to commit suicide because "it was a sin against Jehovah".

In evidence, she said she was also threatened with disfellowship if she reported the abuse to the secular authorities because it "would bring reproach on Jehovah's name".

BCG told the commission she voluntarily left the church and contacted police. After three trials, BCH was convicted of multiple sexual offences in jailed for three years in 2004.

"The trials were easy compared to what I had been through with the elders," BCG said.

"I couldn't bear the judgment of those around me, the public vilification and ostracism. I wanted to dig a hole and die."

BCG told the commission she was aware of many others who had been sexually abused by church members.

"I know so many victims of sexual abuse within the church whose fear of repercussion prevents them from coming forward," she said.

The hearing before Justice Peter McClellan continues.



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