About Lee Marsh

Born in Toronto, Canada in 1952, Lee Marsh lived with her parents and three younger brothers until she was nine years old. Her father was an abusive, angry man who took out all his frustrations on his family while her mother, in the guise of "protecting" them from him, frequently inflicted her own version of abuse on the children. When they weren't busy letting their frustrations out on the children, they let it out on each other.  By six years old, Lee was a quiet and fearful child.


When Lee was nine, her parents separated, and the two youngest boys went to live with their mother, while the oldest of the boys and Lee stayed in Toronto to live with their father. Lee’s earliest memories of sexual abuse start around this time and the abuse continued for almost three years before he was reported to the police. After a court case, Lee’s mother was granted custody of all four children and along with her common-law husband and their daughter Lee and her brother went to live in Montreal.


It was during this time that she began studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses.Lee's mother and common-law husband were also supporting Lee's grandmother, her 3 youngest sons and her youngest daughter who was only 1 year older than Lee. They were all baptized Jehovah's Witnesses. All 12 of us studied, went to meetings and in the door-to-door ministry.

After a move to a slightly larger apartment both Lee and her aunt were sexually abused on a regular basis by my baby sister's father. Initially they found out about my aunt and an elder from the congregation came in and the decision was made to send her away from her mother and brothers to live 700 miles away with an older sister.. Shortly after she committed suicide. A few months later he was caught sexually abusing Lee. Again the elder was called and it was decided to send Lee 500 miles away in foster care. Lee did not see her family for 3 years. When she turned 16 she was sent back to live with her mother. By this time the boyfriend was gone.  

At seventeen Lee was baptized as a Witness and at eighteen was pushed into marriage with a "new brother" in the congregation. After two weeks of marriage Lee knew that it was a terrible mistake but felt trapped into trying to make it work since divorce was not accepted by the Watchtower organization.


Lee and her husband had two children during their fifteen years together. He eventually became an elder in the congregation. Although other people thought they had a wonderful marriage, inside she was hiding her suffering while staying busy and pretending that they were happy. Her husband was emotionally abusive to Lee and the children. He often used scripture to coerce them into "acceptable" behavior. He also used scripture to get his deviant sexual needs met, stating that if she did not submit to his sexual demands, she would be held responsible if he committed adultery.


After the years of childhood abuse, and fifteen years of abuse in the marriage, Lee had a breakdown and got permission from an elder to start therapy as long as she never said she was a Witness.. Initially, she dealt with the childhood abuse but there were so many similar abuse issues in the marriage and in the religion that before long the full impact of reliving the abuse of her childhood overwhelmed her. She became very suicidal and realized that she had to either leave the marriage (and the Witnesses too) or she would die.


It took about a year for her to finally get her divorce and start to rebuild her life. She went back to school, worked part-time, and raised her two daughters. Her mother who is still a Witness rarely spoke to her. None of her old Witness friends spoke to her, practicing a Witness policy of shunning. Extended family that were Witnesses never called.


After a brief marriage in Winnipeg Lee moved to Ottawa and enjoys visits to see her grandchildren.

Professional Profile

As a survivor of childhood abuse and neglect Lee Marsh suffered for many years from the effects of the abuse her many care-takers inflicted on her. As a preteen her mother got involved with a high control group which added the element of spiritual abuse which continued into her arranged marriage to one of the group members. Like many victims of childhood abuse, her marriage was also abusive. After 15 years she made a traumatic exit from the group, her marriage and her family. After counseling and with no skills to support herself Ms. Marsh went to college and then university with the hope of helping others who had been through the same kinds of abuses she experienced.


Studying in Dawson' College's Social Service Program in Montreal, Canada, she focused most of her course work on learning about sexual abuse and the long term effects of abuse on the survivors. Her 3rd year practicum at the Women's Centre of Montreal provided her with the opportunity to establish an information and referral service for incest survivors as well as provide individual and group counseling for survivors and their partners. By the end of her year long practicum Lee had established a not-for-profit organization, The Centre for Incest Healing, to provide information, referrals, guest speakers and individual and group counseling for incest survivors and their partners. The Centre provided support for over 600 women and their partners in its 7 years of operation.


After graduating from Dawson College, Lee went on to study Applied Social Service at Concordia University.  Lee graduated in 1994 and continued her work as a counselor focusing on incest survivors. In addition to her studies Marsh has attended numerous conferences on the topics of treatment of survivors of child sexual abuse, mental health, cults, and suicide prevention.


During her studies at Concordia, Lee had a private practice and became active in lecturing about incest issues at Concordia and McGill Universities, Dawson College and a wide variety of community organizations. She also became a frequent guest for  CTV's "McKenty Live" a call-in TV talk show that addressed social issues and concerns.


Ms. Marsh also became familiar with the issues of those who had left a variety of high demand religious groups and began to offer information and  support to survivors of  cults.  She spoke at McGill University on several occasions concerning the group dynamics of cults and high demand groups in Canada.


After leaving Montreal in 1999 to move to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Lee worked at three shelters for battered women as the Coordinator/Counselor of the Compulsive Coping Behavior Program.  The program offered long-term safe housing with on-site counseling and support services to help women break the cycle of abuse in their lives, and develop skills for the workplace.

Another move to Ottawa, Ontario where she now resides, has required her to focus on her health issues. Despite that, she has volunteered for 14 years on various websites helping anyone who had suffered abuse of any kind but the focus had definitely moved from sexual abuse to spiritual abuse.

Marsh now volunteers as the President of Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA) that focuses on the damaging policies of the Watchtower Society with a goal to educate the public.

Copyright © Lee Marsh 2014

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