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Home arrow Leaving a Cult? arrow Personality Disorders Resulting from Physical & Emotional Abuse

Personality Disorders Resulting from Physical & Emotional Abuse

© 1995 by Gary Busselman

Abuse in the name of God i.e. SPIRITUAL ABUSE:

My core beliefs were the result of phobia indoctrination by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (New World Society) of JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, reinforced by my parents and the collective efforts of the local members of the group, including most of my relatives.

My father's parents were Jehovah's Witnesses.  He was baptized in 1935.  When I was seven (second grade in school) the Watchtower organization became the primary focus in my parents life.

I tried to simply "walk away" from the control of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1974.  I knew I had left Jehovah's Witnesses but I had no idea that the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses had not left me, but were in fact my core beliefs that I was using to run my life.


When I tried to be a part of the Watchtower organization I experienced dissonance, that is an inner conflict which caused me discomfort and at times outright pain.  Consonance, dissonance, as described by Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken, and Stanley Schachter in their 1956 book; WHEN PROPHECY FAILS, p.25-30, is what happens to me when my beliefs and my actions are in conflict.  Thus if my core belief is that The Watchtower, Bible, and Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses is God's only means to communicate with all the people on the entire earth , that the only way that I can merit God's favor is to attend 5 group meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses a week, distribute their literature, try to recruit my friends, non-witness relatives, and everyone else I meet into the group, and to believe whatever is the "present truth", when I, for whatever reason, can not do these things I feel, on some level, like a failure, a traitor to God and, at times, unworthy to live.  When I tried to "just get on with my life" and simply deny my Watchtower training I experienced a dissonance (pain).  When I experience the pain of internal conflict I will always eventually try to resolve the conflict or medicate the pain.

When I feel like I am a failure and rejected by God then I probably feel like a failure, unworthy, and rejected by any and everyone.  If I try to run, I can't run fast enough or far enough so I'm always restless.  If I try to change the cause of the dissonance when I don't understand what the cause is, I almost always change the wrong thing.  The last thing I can look at is my core beliefs.  My core beliefs are my reasons, my tests, my justifications, my security, and my very foundation.  So I try to change my environment.  I change jobs, houses, towns, friends, wives, and everything around me.  To the world I appear radical, inconsistent, restless, irritable, and discontent.  I have relationship problems and there always seems to be 3 crisis's, the one I'm just getting out of, the one that I'm in the middle of, and the one I'm working to create.  The worse my life goes, to a degree, the less the dissonance because, in a sense, I am proving the Watchtower right when they said if I ever left the "organization" I would experience similar fates to others who left.  The Jehovah's Witnesses I remember had a rumor network that would keep the members up to date on the terrible things happening to group members who were disfellowshipped or dared to quit "Jehovah's Organization".  I never heard of anything good happening to a former member while I was a practicing member myself.

When I could not accept the behavior of the members toward me and each other, or accept all of their "present truth" teachings and when the pain of staying got greater than my fear of leaving I had to leave.  I believe that I was set up by Jehovah's Witnesses to self destruct.  When I try to change people, places, and things around me and nothing works, I only have a few choices.  Go back to the Watchtower organization and see if the mind control works this time.

Go on trying to change people, places, and things around me, stay in turmoil.  Sink deep in depression and possibly commit suicide.  Medicate my feelings with alcohol, food, work, sex, or prescription drugs.  Get in recovery, accept what was done to me, overcome it, and help others.

I choose to get in recovery.  I choose to accept what happened to me as unchangeable by me now.  I choose to get some power in my life by facing my past and actually changing most of my core beliefs.  Before I can start to change I must accept some things about myself.  Perhaps among the hardest things to accept about myself was my lack of personal boundaries, my lack of self esteem, and my almost compulsive attraction to people who reject and abuse me.


My lack of boundaries caused me to do things to other people that were inappropriate.  Since I didn't have my own boundaries I could not see and respect other people's boundaries either.  If I crossed a boundary of another person and they were healthy enough to tell me, I would take their action personally as a rejection?  And I can not stand rejection!  Having been rejected and abused by my Jehovah's Witnesses mother and father, I seem to be drawn, actually attracted, to people and institutions that abuse and reject me.  I seemed to keep setting myself up.  My lack of boundaries caused me to set myself up for invasion, rejection, and abuse by any and all.

I set up a dangerous cycle for myself that I'll try to describe.  If I was lonely, for example, I would seek out a companion.  The companion would be walking in an emotional mine field.  Since I could not define my boundaries, my friend would go way past.  Since I was inconsistent, what was OK yesterday was not OK today.  Eventually my anger or fear would build up until I blew.  My behavior would drive people away from me and I would become lonely, starting the cycle over again.

It feels good today to be able to keep relationships healthy and enjoyable.  Today I can say "You called at a bad time, can I call you back?" or "I feel bad when you do that." or the big one "No".


My lack of self esteem was power.  It was like rocket fuel to a fire.  It was my security blanket.  It was my identity.  It made me omnipotent.  I was justified!  The absolutely worst thing that could have happened to me was success.  If things were going good, look out!  I would sabotage my best deals.  Relationships, jobs, whatever, if it went good, it was doomed.  I would make sure it didn't last.  Then I would say to myself in my pity, "See! I told you.  You can't do anything right." or "Everything you touch turns into garbage".

As a victim of both abusive parents and the other Watchtower corporation representatives I now am realizing I have much in common with all abuse victims.  I thought of myself as bad, worthless, hated by God and "His people" i.e.  His "earthly organization".  If I believe, really believe, that I am cast out by God, I bet my life doesn't run too smooth, and mine didn't.


If you reject me, I'm drawn to you just like a moth to the flame.  The worse you treat me the more I feel safe and comfortable with you.  I love chaos.  I'm comfortable in chaos.  Here is, I think why.

My mother, after she became indoctrinated by the Jehovah's Witnesses, beat my younger brother and me.  We were forced to meet tough standards and we couldn't do it.  The more she beat me the harder I tried to get her approval.

I tried to protect my 2 year younger brother from my Witness mother's rage.  When he did something to incur her wrath I would do something worse so she would forget about him and come after me.  I got all of my beatings and a lot of his too.  I ended up resenting him.  I blamed him for the beatings that I took for him and I blamed myself for my own beatings.  To this day I just fill with fear when a young child misbehaves or causes a disturbance.  As a Jehovah's Witness child when that would happen, someone got a beating.  I was a victim and a witness to a lot of child abuse at Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Halls and small group book study meetings in members homes.  At one group home meeting I don't ever remember a week that this Witness man did not beat one of his children in front of all present.  Never do I recall anyone speaking up in defense of the children.  On the contrary, group members would reinforce the behavior and since he had been with the group longer than my parents, I believe his behavior probably served as a model for them and justified their beatings of my brother and I.

My Jehovah's Witness mother would tell me she loved me while she beat me, screamed, and raged at me.  She told us we would turn out "BAD" if she didn't discipline (beat) us.  She would quote scripture while in a furious rage, yelling and beating us until the veins in her hand and arm would break and then she would scream "Look what you made me do".  I remember telling her "I hate you" after a beating.  She turned me into my Jehovah's Witness dad when he got home and I got it again.  Then they would be overly nice to us.  We got a lot of guilt gifts.  We also got guilt gifts when they would leave us with relatives while they went to Watchtower conventions when we were younger.  When they went to New York in 1953 I think it took us most of the 2 weeks they were gone to read all the comic books.

My brother and I were, at times, praised at Witness group meetings in front of the "friends", then beaten with yardsticks and fly swatters in the privacy of our own home.  Home for me was not a safe place.  Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Halls were not a safe place for me.

Often, after giving my brother or me a beating, my Witness mother would go into a chant, "Where did we go wrong?  Where did we fail?"  On and on!  My dad would rarely talk to us as children except on mothers orders or to punish us on his own.

The real healing today comes from my non-witness friends (my former Witness "friends" shun me today) and my wife and 2 of my 4 sons.  Life as a castaway or walkaway Witness can be lonely.

Regular contact with people with the same experience has been a real benefit to me.  My social network doesn't allow time to be lonely.  The Jehovah's Witnesses, one piece at a time, threw away their power over me.  All their enforced unity did was drive me away and ultimately free me.

In 1971 my first wife, who was a Jehovah's Witness, died following the "present truth" which was "All organ transplants are cannibalism" and "Even if you do die now, you will be resurrected shortly after 1975".  She spent her last energy and time witnessing to people that Jesus has been judging the sheep from the goats since 1914, and that the generation who was of the age of understanding in 1914 would still be alive when Armageddon breaks out in the near future (1975).

If you need more information from me or if you just need to talk please write or call.

Gary Busselman
PO Box 88641
Sioux Falls SD

JW Recorded Message Line 605-373-0144
Live line 605-334-5692
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(Ministries to cult victims have my permission to reprint this document in their newsletters and to photocopy for distribution connected with their ministries.)