Mary Aguilar Shares Her Story
By Mary Aguilar
My name is Mary Aguilar. I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the early 70’s and 80’s and a victim of domestic violence. My husband was a Witness too, and still is. I spoke to elders several times about his violent behavior. Their excuse was that I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t a good wife. I didn’t pray enough. I wondered how they knew how much I prayed. After several attempts to talk to the elders, nothing was done and I had nowhere to turn.
The abuse and beatings from him were so bad that once my face was unrecognizable, and he turned my children against me. I remember one time he took me to San Diego, about 60 miles away, and he threw me out of the car and left me there for an hour with no money, nothing. I was petrified. So much for Christian brotherly love!
He was always saying I had a problem with headship and the brothers would go along with what he was telling them, placing all the blame on me. I tried repeatedly to please Jehovah, but the more I did the worse my husband became.
He turned my children against me telling them that I was a bad mother because I was disfellowshipped and I didn’t love Jehovah. I was in a helpless position. Before leaving for field service, he would beat me. I could never please him or the organization. I almost lost my little baby boy who ran into the street. When I screamed, he said, “Daddy told me, I don’t have to listen to you.” It was as if I was being tortured by my own family.
I felt as if the entire world didn’t understand. I couldn’t go to my family in NY as they weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses, so I didn’t want to disgrace Jehovah’s organization. My ex-husband told me that he wanted me to get a job, so I found a job in a French restaurant as a hostess. While working, I spilled a drink on myself. When I returned home, he accused me of letting someone kiss me. He beat me so bad with belts, and I thought to myself, “This is one of Jehovah Witnesses? Something is wrong here.” I couldn’t understand how a loving organization could put up with this evil person. I was disfellowshipped for smoking, but wife-beating and turning children against their parent was tolerated. I could never do enough and I felt like I was a whipping post for everyone.
The brothers were so self-absorbed that they failed to notice that I was being abused; nor did they care. We moved to another part of town, and this was good for him because no one knew him there, and the beatings would be more and more frequent. I was so exhausted from fighting and trying to please Jehovah, who was never pleased. I thought to myself, “What if I died one day in the course of these beatings, are they going to say, ‘She told me so?’” I would never want that responsibility for someone’s life.
All that I cared about was the Watchtower Society and how to please the leaders and getting people into the organization. I realize now that it is a publishing company with a lot of rules which actually stole my life.
One of my neighbors heard my screams when my husband was beating me, and told me later that I was a battered woman and needed to call a phone number she gave me. I hesitated to call but finally did, and to my surprise the counselor said to me, “When you come here you will think you are married to all these husbands.” I thought to myself, “No, my husband is a Jehovah Witness.” But when I went to the shelter, I saw there was no difference.
I was reinstated at the time when I decided that I needed to go for help. So I told the brothers that I wanted to go to a shelter for battered women and said that they could help me by advising me on what to do. I needed help, emotionally and financially! I was told, “You can’t go to the world for help.” I asked, “Are you going to feed, clothe and shelter me?” So I left everything behind, and with my children, we went to live in the shelter where we were cared for. The brothers didn’t help us at all. They still didn’t disfellowship my husband even knowing the truth about him. You just don’t go to a shelter for no reason.
When I came out of the shelter and during the time I was trying to put my life together, my husband kidnapped my children and hid them at different Witness homes; even a local elder hid my children. I didn’t drive, so I took buses, going from town to town to find them. I finally told the police and they found and returned them.
One of the so-called sisters, the one my husband eventually married, hid my children in Jehovah’s Paradise! When I got my children back, I moved to a new place. I had someone stay with me at night because I was scared of living by myself. The next morning, the brothers called and told me that they wanted to talk to me. I said okay. They came over and told me they saw a car in front of my house. I said that I was scared, and for protection, a man stayed with me. I told them that we did not sleep together. They told me I was going to be disfellowshipped. I said, “Just because the car was there?” They said, “Yes.” I asked them, “If I was in a room full of cigarettes and the cigarette smell was all over my clothes and I told you I wasn’t smoking, you would believe that I was? Things are not as they seem.” So I was disfellowshipped. And soon my husband divorced me.
Interestingly, the woman my husband married was terrible to my children, but, yet, considered by the Witnesses to be a loving sister. I couldn’t understand how these two people could get away with the things they were doing. They were seeing each other before the divorce, and then he set me up so he could be free to marry her. When I wrote Brooklyn (Watchtower headquarters) a letter, and notified them what had taken place and had a talk with the elders at the local congregation, nobody offered any empathy, nor did they ever apologize for hurting me so badly.
I would not be able to sleep at night if I knew I had done these terrible things to a woman and then taking her children from her. My baby was only 2 years old! My heart was broken and that terrified me. I had to go through life being disfellowshipped, wearing a label that I didn’t create, and being cast aside like a piece of dirt, but I am back now and I want others to know, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
We don’t have to suffer in silence anymore. I don’t care now and I won’t be what others want me to be because I am me; either accept me for who I am or don’t, but I will not change! I love life, and as long as I am alive, I will speak out for others in distress. I want to thank everyone who gave me a voice and also God for not allowing me to lose my mind over all the stress and heartbreak I’ve had to endure.
If anyone needs to speak out, I WILL LISTEN!