Rebekah Vardy’s Channel 4 programme ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses and Me’ in which she alleges that she was sexually abused between the ages of 11 and 15, and that the abuse was covered up by the Jehovah’s Witness leadership in the community of which she was a part, shines a light once again on how reporting of childhood abuse in religious contexts is dealt with, often inadequately.
Rebecca said "I think I realised that I've probably only just scratched the surface, I think my story isn't unique and there's going to be plenty of others, as have already come out, that will continue to come out." She should be saluted for her bravery in speaking out, hopefully prompting others to come forward.
Whilst we understand Rebekah’s abuser was not necessarily someone from the Jehovah’s Witness community, sexual abuse in that religious community is not unheard of, which has prompted me to republish a couple of earlier blogs which are still relevant today:
- Sexual abuse in the Jehovah's Witness community, and
- Spotlight on sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witness religion)
Religious communities should be places of refuge, sanctuary and safety for children. Childhood sexual abuse in a religious setting, particularly when perpetrated by a representative of the religion, is a profound breach of trust, and in my opinion arguably more damaging as it often has the additional layer of spiritual abuse.
Such damage is unquantifiable, however, a civil compensation claim against the institution can go some way to effective reparation.
We are a firm dedicated to representing survivors of abuse, and have a particular expertise in pursuing compensation claims for abuse in religious settings. Should you happen to be a victim of abuse, and wish to obtain advice about financial compensation routes of justice, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to have a no-obligation, confidential chat with anyone who has suffered sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witness, Jewish, Catholic, Anglican, Free Church, or any other religious setting.