Rebekah Vardy, best known for being the wife of English soccer player Jamie Vardy and also at the center of last year’s dramatic trial of Wagatha Christie, has revealed the truth about her upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness.
We present a new documentary from Channel 4 entitled Rebekah Vardy: Jehovah’s Witnesses and IVardy says she grew up within the religious organization until, at the age of 15, she was shunned from the Norwich community where she grew up.
The film comes at a time when Jehovah’s Witnesses, who belong to a closed and often secretive religion, have been embroiled in allegations of child sexual abuse in recent years.
One of the key elements of the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the belief that the end of the world is near, which Vardy says she was taught as a child.
In a harrowing account in the documentary, Vardy describes being abused as a child and claims that when she told elders within the organization she was told that going to the police was a “disgrace” to her family and herself would bring with it was then avoided.
She described that for many people, exclusion – also known as exclusion from the organization – often means being excluded from close friends and family members.
“I was abused from the age of 12,” Vardy said to the camera. “So I told my mother about the abuse I was experiencing. She cried but didn’t believe me [she] told numerous members of my family and members of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had called a meeting.”
Vardy said she was unsupported when she revealed what happened to her.
“It was presented to me [by the elders] that I had misunderstood the abuse as a form of affection, [even though] I knew exactly what was right and what was wrong.”
“And it was explained to me that I could possibly bring shame to my family and I was basically manipulated into thinking it wasn’t best to take the matter any further and take it to the police.
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“I remember there was a big fight and I was told to go away and never come back. It’s hard to imagine how I survived that,” says Vardy.
Elsewhere in the documentary, Vardy reveals that since she left the organization, she hasn’t had any contact with members of her family since she was 15. She has also been estranged from her mother for seven years.
“It’s only when you have children that you develop a really strong protective spirit. But still no one valued me enough to protect me…my kids are everything,” Vardy says emotionally to the camera.
Towards the end of the documentary, Vardy says she understands why members of her family have never left Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“When you’re so involved, it’s really hard to see the big picture within these four walls – and I think that’s what makes this organization so dangerous,” she says.
channel 4 Rebekah Vardy: Jehovah’s Witnesses and I will air May 16 at 10 p.m.
If you are a child and need help because something has happened to you, you can call the NSPCC toll free on 0800 1111. If you are an adult and concerned about a child, you can also call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) has adult support on 0808 801 0331.
If you are experiencing distress or are having difficulty dealing with it, you can speak to the Samaritans confidentially on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Samaritans website for details of your concern to find out nearest branch.