It Happened to Me: I Grew Up as a Jehovah’s Witness

TIME

xojane

The first time he asked me to sit in his lap a wave of nausea and terror flooded my body. I knew it was wrong but everyone was waiting. He was sitting in an armchair at my aunt’s house, our family gathered around.

“Ho ho ho!” The man boomed. My younger cousins shrieked in excitement. I grimaced. “Come, sit here.” He beckoned to me. I had wanted this my entire life, to sit on Santa’s lap, to regale him with my Christmas wishes but it felt horrible, sinful. I was twelve years old. I was celebrating Christmas for the first time.

Up until then, I had been raised as a devout Jehovah’s Witness. I’d lived the early years of my life in blissful ignorance of the rest of the world. My father taught me how to read when I was 3 years old, using a children’s illustrated bible. Jehovah was…

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