NEW LIFE: Abigail Andersson and husband Dan in happier times after her experiences as a Jehovah's Witness which she claims is a cult.
NEW LIFE: Abigail Andersson and husband Dan in happier times after her experiences as a Jehovah's Witness which she claims is a cult. Contributed

'It was like a cult': Former teen bride speaks out

ABBY Andersson is a hard working, bubbly member of many community committees, but behind that big smile is a childhood of dark secrets.

Mrs Andersson was born into a family of Jehovah's Witnesses and said she experienced many terrible things during her time in in what she describes as a cult-like religion.

She said this included sexual abuse which was covered up by the religious community.

"I told dad that this man had done something inappropriate," she said.

"I discussed it with my other young friends in the church and they had similar experiences with this man.

"They just swept it under the carpet, nothing ever happened."

Her family was committed to their church first and foremost and when Abby's teenage marriage broke down she said they gave priority to their religious beliefs.

"The religion was such an integral part of who my father was, I would never ask him to question his faith to associate with me," she said.

These days Mrs Andersson is happily married to her husband Dan, and with their three children she now has the strength and bravery to share her story.

"I have always been able to be remain really calm in really oppressive situations, I credit my dad for that," she said.

Mrs Andersson recalls a time when she was eight and went door knocking with her father.

A disgruntled home-owner came out and aimed a shotgun at the pair.

"I remember dad said, 'I don't think they want the truth today'," she joked.

Mrs Andersson has distanced herself and her family from the religion and sadly her father has since passed away.

"Dad and I had got to a point where we respected each other's views," she said.

"I told him I will not be going back to the religion and that was awkward."

Jehovah's Witnesses do not get involved in politics however this did not stop Mrs Andersson's father from voicing his opinion when she ran for a South Burnett Regional Councillor position.

"He phoned me and said, 'I am just ringing to let you know how disappointed I am that you are doing this'," she said.

"You think you are emotionally tough but there still is that little girl who wants their dad to say 'I'm proud of you'."

Since sharing her story, Mrs Andersson has received lots of support and people have shared their similar experiences within the Jehovah's Witnesses religion.

One Facebook user wrote, "I was also a Jehovah's Witness growing up and I agree with Abigail's statement, they bullied, gossiped and treated my mother terribly."

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South Burnett

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