A Moving Account . . .   

Julien Lippens
Chairman, SAS [Study and Advice Groups Sects]
Focus Magazine

A new book has just been published on a subject which is very topical. It’s the autobiography of a boy that was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. The religious ideas of his father could not prevent the fact that he was sexually abusing his four children.

It’s a moving book that allows a deep view inside a household that is oppressed by a dominant father and that bears a large secret for many years.

Donald's parents are from West Flanders and emigrated in their younger years to Canada, around early 1957. In October, 1957, father D’Haene gets involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He accepts their belief and the couple joins the Witnesses. From the early stages of the marriage it is clear that the man is a brutal despot. The mother humbly submits to his character. Later on it will be proven that the combination of a dominant man and the belief of the Witnesses is a deadly combination.

“Don’t ask questions, Donald; just do it ‘cause I say so, “ Papa says.

We only meet people of our own religion. I hear conversations about “ the Truth”. God’s love for us, sin, preaching, strong and weak Christians, men lead in prayer, women remain silent, children born in sin. Often I couldn’t find my sleep. Bedtime songs are a waste of time; the world nears its end. No Santa Claus or Easter Bunny to look forward to.

“God loves you, Donald,” Mama says.

It isn’t a happy family.

“I see mama cringe when Papa shouts at her. Mama and papa shouting at each other. Papa is slapping my mama. Mama is crying ,holding her face and looking sadly into my eyes.”

Donald writes:

“My father kept us isolated from the rest of the world. We never developed normal relationships. He would not allow us to bring friends home from school He decided who would visit our world. I did not have contact with the outside world until I went to school. Anyone who wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness was ‘bad association.’

The abuse of Donald by his father starts when he is nearly four years old. Father plays “the game” with him. Donald does not understand there is something wrong about it, he is too young and thinks it is normal.

“Papa says all Papas play this game with their children. Mamas aren’t supposed to know because they ‘d get jealous. They’d stop us from playing it. The game is the only time Papa talks to me or pays me any attention. I will never tell.”

The father abuses his own children, one after another, while creating in subtle ways the impression that it will never be different. He improves his psychological influence while learning from the children’s behavior.

‘We’re going to the garbage dump. Ronny will enjoy it.” Papa drives the car off the main dirt road.

     “I want to show you something.”
Papa unzips his pants and pull out his thing.
     “What are you doing?”
     “We’re going to play a game -.”
     “Oh, no, we’re not! I don’t want to play this game!”
     “You have to!”

Ronny starts crying. “Stop crying. Give me your hand. Now go up and down!”

Ronny cries uncontrollably. Ronny leaves himself. He floats out of the car. Papa is worried Ronny will tell. “Don’t you dare to tell Mama about this. I gave you life and I can take it away.” Afterwards, Ronny lays his head against the car window looking outside.

This way, father learned a new recipe: Introduce the child very early in the Game and then there will be no resistance. Insist that the secret of the game is very important. The child will be eager to play 'The Game'.

Father’s Touch will have a strong impact on its reader. There were many times I had to put the book aside and think things over. Honestly, I was shocked at how a parent could do such evil things to his own children.

Although the book focuses primarily on incest, there is a lot more to this story. Father’s Touch is also about a social and psychological system gone awry, sending people deeper into their failures, a father whose lust for power is uncontrollable, and a mother driven into submission. It is about a religious system that prescribes rules for every aspect of peoples’ lives, to the point that it abandons Donald and his family to a psychopath.

In the end, those responsible in their community knew what was going on but failed to take the necessary steps to help the children. On the contrary, they told them to “respect their father”.

Donald’s story is the voice of many children. Children that even today, suffer from a system in which community and church leaders refuse to see or admit they are wrong.

Anyone who reads this book will be deeply touched in their heart. I can only admire that little boy that became such a nice person because of his own strength and persistence. He is not a victim - he is a “survivor!”

The enormous amount of information, and the look inside the family and their religious community largely compensates for the small effort to get used to the Canadian English dialect in which the book is written.

Julien Lippens,
Chairman, SAS [Study and Advice Groups Sects]
Focus Magazine