In Rebekah Vardy‘s childhood home there were no birthdays or Christmases, television and books were censored and she was warned that youthful mischief or bad manners would bring down the wrath of God on her. As a Jehovah’s Witness, she could not invite other children back to play, or sing hymns in her school assembly. Modesty was practised to the extent that she went through puberty without being told how her own body worked.
Her life and that of her extended family was governed by all-powerful ‘elders’ who sat in judgment with the right to cast people out of their closed community. Such was the dread of these men that when Rebekah told her mother she had been sexually abused from the age of 12, it was hushed up – for fear, she believes, of bringing shame on the family.
Now the WAG – the wife of Leicester City star Jamie Vardy, and a mother of five – is revealing this extraordinary and painful part of her past in a Channel 4 documentary. The 41-year-old is taking the role of reporter in front of the camera, interviewing other former Jehovah’s Witnesses and attempting to confront the movement at their £150 million UK headquarters in Essex.
‘I call it a cult,’ she says, speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday. ‘People are manipulated, brainwashed, it’s coercive behaviour and it is handed down from generation to generation. Once you’re in it, it’s so hard to see the bigger picture, which is that it’s wrong and immoral.
Read more: ‘I was sexually abused aged 12… the church hushed it up so I didn’t bring shame on my family. They can’t silence me any longer’: WAG Rebekah Vardy reveals the trauma of growing up a Jehovah’s Witness – and why she brands it a ‘dangerous cult’