Please know, you are not alone, help is available.
We are aware of instances where a Jehovah’s Witness child has been kicked out of home, or left home, due to religious differences. It may be the result of admitting to no longer believing Watchtower teachings, refusing to preach or attend meetings, or having engaged in conduct that breaks Watchtower rules. In extreme cases, this leads to homelessness and the dangerous risks of living on the street, in a car, or temporary shelter.
As someone raised a Jehovah’s Witness, you will likely feel disoriented. Your circle of friends were predominantly Jehovah’s Witnesses that are now warned not to associate with you. Meetings have instilled in you a fear of worldly people, which will seem validated because homelessness will bring you into contact with the most dangerous elements of society.
Homelessness makes you vulnerable to abuse, and living on the street should not be considered an option, as it carries a high risk of being a victim of violence and rape. Unscrupulous people aware of your circumstances may present themselves as wanting to help you, but this will not be without the expectation of some form of payment and often an end result of being trapped in a cycle of drug addiction.
It is important to find safe shelter immediately. Depending on age, this is usually with your own parents, which is why we list this as the first thing to consider. If that is not viable, there are other options available.
In the heat of an argument, you may have been asked to leave home, or chosen to leave. In either case, talk to your parents about taking you back in. You may have to swallow your pride, apologise and possibly lie about wanting to return to the religion, but getting back home will provide options to plan a safer way to leave in the future. Unless you are in physical or emotional danger at home, it is safer than homelessness. A compromise of attending weekly meetings may be frustrating, but safer than the physical risks of not having stable accommodation.
Whilst Watchtower directs parents to shun disfellowshipped children, it allows for minors to remain at home, since it is a legal requirement in most countries for parents to care for their children until the age of 18. It is usually illegal to be thrown out of home before the age of 18, and also illegal in some places to be thrown out without adequate warning even if you are over 18. Look up your rights in your particular area, as even a few weeks notice is enough to find a job and safe accommodation.
If you cannot go back home, contact a family member or a friend for help. They will hopefully take you in, even if for a short time to find other options. If you have been disfellowshipped and other Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to talk to you, try school friends or work mates. They will usually be appalled at the treatment meted upon those that wish to cease being a Jehovah’s Witness and more than happy to help if you are open about what you are going through.
Try a youth shelter, or go to the police. They will give you a list of people to get in contact to help with your immediate needs. Be aware that Police may place you in a foster care system where the end goal is to negotiate a return to home plan. As mentioned before, returning home may be your best option, and the time it takes for you to be processed through the system provides time to clear your head and work out a better long term plan.
If you have to suddenly leave home, take identification and other paperwork with you, such as your birth certificate, drivers license, social security cards, title deeds, car registration papers, and bank statements. Some of these may be in your parents’ safe keeping, so organise to get these from them. At least get a copy, though some application forms will only accept originals as a valid form of identification.
Check online, such as Reddit and Facebook, for exjw groups and support groups for emotional support and advice. There are tens of thousands of active former Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it is possible some live in your area with a knowledge of local laws and support centers.
If you end up homeless, make a plan to get back on track as soon as possible. The longer you are on the streets or with no fixed address, the longer it can take to get out of such a situation. Let your neighbours, school counsellor, youth worker, or any adult you trust know your circumstances. Most people do care and will want to assist in making sure you are safe.