Our objective is to be heard and to protect current and future members of high-control groups from the practice of mandated shunning
What is Shunning is a Crime (SIAC)?
The Shunning is a Crime initiative brings together victims and survivors of mandated shunning, as well as global experts and leading activists. After leaving their high control group, these survivors became lawyers, artists, mothers, fathers, therapists, researchers, creatives of all kinds and successful business people eager to give their time and resources to this initiative.
The objective of our global network is to help create a standard definition of mandated shunning. In countries across the globe, we are challenging how and where mandated shunning is imposed so that a common definition is enshrined in each country’s legal system. This will allow anyone who wishes to leave a high control group to do so without significant negative consequences and have increased legal rights and protection.
Some people have chosen to remain anonymous because of possible repercussions of mandated shunning on their personal lives.
Who we are
"As someone who has personally endured the anguish of mandated shunning and witnessed its profound impact on numerous lives, my unwavering commitment lies in advocating for its recognition as a hate crime."
PATRICK HAECK, BELGIUM
"In my work for the victim support association of the German-speaking region "JZ Help", I am confronted every day with the unfortunate people who have been abused and abandoned by this organsation. People who are often mentally ill and traumatized because of their loss. Also people who have suicidal thoughts. They have lost too much: Children who lost their siblings or parents, grandparents who lost their grandchildren, or parents who are ostracized by their own children. Religious freedom is not a one-way street! Ostracism destroys families and human lives! It is time to act!"
ESTHER GEBHARD, GERMANY
"The UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12 states: ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home, or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.’ Jehovah's Witnesses have created a system, a cobweb, in which family is used as a weapon, and it (mandated shunning) is a clear violation of human rights."
JAN FRODE NILSEN, NORWAY
"As the spouse of a disfellowshipped Jehovah's Witness, I have seen the damaging effects of a fractured family. The heinous and cruel practice of mandated shunning causes two of my husband’s four beloved adult children to refuse to speak to or acknowledge this decent loving father. Mandated bullying /shunning is a hate crime that must end."
STEPHANIE MCNAMARA, USA
"During the last forty years, I have personally observed over a hundred different scenarios where the damage was deadly or debilitating for people being shunned. Therefore, I am passionate about doing everything I can to stop mandated shunning and treat it as a crime."
RICHARD E KELLY, USA
"Mandated shunning has affected my family to its detriment, causing early death, unnecessary dislocation, fractured familial bonds, and uncalled-for shame. It is mandated abuse."
SUE HALL, UNITED KINGDOM
"As a former member of a high control religion that practices mandated shunning I have been subjected to its deleterious and evil effects. The ramifications of being shunned had profound negative impact on the mental health and emotional well-being of myself and many of my family members as well as close friends. This practice, in my view, constitutes a form of emotional cruelty and is incompatible with the principles of empathy, love and compassion that form the bedrock of human connection. I firmly believe and ardently hope that such a terrible practice should and will be unequivocally condemned and prohibited."
"Mandated Shunning has personally affected my family. My children were shunned because they chose to come live with me. My sister was shunned and suffered terribly throughout her life, until after many attempts, she finally succeeded in taking her life. Over the last 25 years I half volunteered my time and energy at helping hundreds of men and women who were the victims of mandated shunning . The loss and devastation it causes cannot ever be forgotten. Every life experience, it gets triggered again: graduations, marriage, births, weddings, illness and even the deaths of those who are forced to shun, cause the scars to reopen and the pain returns. For some it never goes away. Mandated Shunning causes a lifetime of pain for both the victims and those who are forced to shun. And for far too many, like my sister, the pain is too great a weight to bear."
LEE MARSH, CANADA
"Shunning is severe violence that leads to serious consequences such as loss of health, and tragically, even death. Children are particularly vulnerable and should be protected from this type of organized bullying. Shunning violates basic human rights such as freedom to choose one’s religion, because for fear of punishment, people are not free to leave a religious group if this means losing their parents, grandparents or children. Governments have a duty to protect their citizens from various forms of harm, including organized ostracism."
JONI VALKILA, FINLAND
"I am a Post Cult Recovery Therapist in the UK. I am currently doing doctoral research exploring the therapy experiences of those born and raised as a Jehovah's Witness, who leave as an adult. I recognise the unique form of grief that comes with being shunned from your community. As a second or multi generation ex member, this leaves you completely disconnected from the only community you knew, essentially treated as if you were already dead. You of course, are not dead, you are very much alive. The the process of restarting a life is often complex and painful, and nobody should be made to experience such an extremity."
CLAIRE ALISON HAMS, UK
"Mandated shunning is the metaphorical billy club used by Watchtower leaders to enforce compliance with their controversial policies on the use of blood products. Even children under the age of ten are routinely baptized and expected to adhere to intricate regulations that even adult Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) struggle to comprehend. Young ones have been meticulously groomed for martyrdom since infancy and are well aware that any JW who fails to observe the policy, or questions it, is subject to ostracism and institutional bullying. I personally bore the solemn duty of carrying the casket of a young JW who lost her life due to this policy, and I've encountered many similar cases. Conservatively, more than 1,200 JW's perish each year as a direct result of Watchtower's draconian policies."
LEE ELDER, USA
I dedicated five decades of my life to Jehovah's Witnesses, serving as a congregation elder and a full-time evangeliser for much of that time. I also exerienced the trauma of being disfellowshipped, not once, but twice. Watch Tower's cruel policy of mandated shunning ultimately led to the heartbreaking loss of my parents and my children, pushing me to the brink of suicide. As a life coach with Flaxenwick, and a presenter on the OnionUnlimited talk show, I have met many others who have experienced the same brutal treatment of mandated shunning, amounting to nothing short of psychological murder. I advocate for an end to the harm caused by this barbaric practice.
DANIEL TORRIDON, AUSTRALIA