Growing up in the JA was very difficult on so many levels and now we know what we do, I think it’s a miracle that any of us have survived as well as we have. I think it shows our resilience in spite of what we’ve all been through, not because of it. I do know some peers for whom life has been unbelievably hard though, and for the reason for this to be because of serious abuse that happened to them in an organisation that is supposed to be Christian, I have no words for that.
Personally, I had got to a point in my life where I thought that being brought up in the JA was not having a negative impact any longer (although I have always suffered from nightmares and flashbacks and knowing what I now do, I am aware that I have never really got over it).
This all changed with the phone call I received from Northamptonshire police and having to give an interview though.
It is because the JA asked for disclosures of abuse, I have been forced to relive my childhood and how poorly we were treated when we left. With this comes an increase in emotional trauma. To then find out that in reality things were so much worse than we actually knew at the time, that is distressing.
I used to be able to look back at my time in the JA and justify the beliefs and actions of some because I thought that we were forming an alternative society, and at its heart it was pure and good. However to find out that this is not the case and in fact even some leaders, going right to the top had/have been carrying on in illegal and immoral ways then wow, that is a hard pill to swallow. In fact it has left me feeling like I’ve been a pawn in some sick men’s game.
I would like current members in the JA to understand that the whole way the disclosures situation has been handled has resulted in more distress for those of us who are the victims. Most of us victims are no longer part of the JA so you don’t have to see the damage that has been done. However, we did not ask for this process to take place. Surely what has come to light because of the leaders asking for disclosures should have meant the JA wanted to put things right, and as soon as possible, not put us victims through more anguish? From what I was taught as a child, surely a Church would want to make redress as soon as you knew something was this wrong? If as a Church you genuinely wanted to right the wrongs, then why did you not have a better way of informing us of what was happening from the start? It appears you have relied on either us stumbling across something online, reading the local newspaper, still having family in the JA who may or may not let us know or to hear about it from others who have found out about it.
What is my overall feeling at the moment? Sadness. Sadness for a lost childhood, sadness for my peer’s and friends and sadness that so much abuse happened within an organisation that was supposed to be godly.