What do ex-Mormons, ex-JWs, and people with QAnon believing relatives have in common? We've all had relationships destroyed.

January 11, 2021  •  8 - 10 minute read

commentary mormonism politics alt-right


I’ve been aware of the QAnon movement probably only slightly more than the average American for the past couple of years. I have individuals close to me who may not identify with the movement or even know about the anonymous individual “Q” but are definitely influenced by and believe many, if not all, the conspiracy theories rooted in the movement. With the attacks on the Capitol building this past Wednesday, it became apparent which of those individuals believe the 2020 election was rigged and fradualent (it wasn’t).

While not surprised, their support has caused me to revisit my relationship with them. That endeavor led me to the subreddit r/QAnonCasualties. The forum description speaks for itself:

Do you have a loved one who’s been taken in by the QAnon conspiracy fantasy? Look here for emotional support and a place to vent.

As I read through the stories of people recounting an emotional — and sometimes traumatic — experience of their relationships ending due to the differences of opinion, I was struck at how similar they sounded to the stories that I would read on r/exmormon back when I initially started questioning — and eventually renouncing — my LDS beliefs. The tears, the heartache, the pain, and the destruction felt identical between the two populations.

To illustrate my point and show just how similar they are, I have taken several phrases from posts on r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, and r/exjw (a forum for those who have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses), and redacted certain elements of them. I originally wanted to do this with whole posts, but that proved to be too difficult given all the context in posts. Let’s see if you can tell which post is from which subreddit. No Googling!

  1. “Instead of facing it they decided to just stop talking to me.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  2. “Yesterday I literally just grabbed my stuff and left my parent’s house, because I could not survive there anymore. It was like a black hole sucking away my motivation and personality. I was constantly either in a depressive, carefully controlled state of mind or bloodpressure spiking silent rage at the delusional [individuals] in my house.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  3. “How many of you are being shunned by family that follow you on social media? I have a family member that won’t speak to me, doesn’t watch my stories, reply to my messages but still follows me on social media. She texts my kid but won’t text me. It’s sad.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  4. “She burst into tears and said if this was what we would talk about she should just go. Our voices weren’t raised. We were actually whispering because I was nursing my son, and he was asleep. We had a nice time before this. We made pudding. . .I know this is so mild compared to what some people deal with on here, but I feel like I’m losing the ability to talk to my mom.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  5. “Well… I tried to talk to him. I stayed calm. I explained my reasons. I showed him evidence of why I believe what I do. He told me he’s basically right because of feelings and that I’m going to be a horrible mother. . .”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  6. “As we have attempted to set boundaries, there have been multiple incidences where my parents have broken our boundaries. We’ve had many conversations and I’ve confronted them. We’ve been forgiving and have kept trying to make it work. Naturally, they were defensive and resistant to admit to breaking them. Sadly, things have gotten so bad we have had to cut my parents off completely from our lives. The relationship was too toxic. We have not had to cut off my siblings as they have respected our boundaries.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  7. “So I come home from work and my dad is [engaging in movement activities] like he does every night. All I did was point out [flaws in activities]. So my dad charges me and wants to fight and when I refuse he spits in my face.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  8. Trigger warning: suicide

    “My aunt who was ultra [believer in movement] shot herself earlier today, she left a note saying she was terrified [prediction or prophecy was going to happen] because [something else happened].”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  9. “It is odd how happy my husband and I are 99% of the time. Then he hits me with the snitching bitches report of what I have been posting and how dare I persecute witnesses. It’s like what the hell? How do you go from madly in love to pissed off?”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  10. “He had a stroke a few days ago, was in the ICU. Wasn’t allowed to visit due to covid-19. I found out from my wife because my mother can’t even text me to say he’s dying.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  11. “Wife thinks we should part ways because I don’t believe any of this”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  12. “A couple days ago my sister sent a rambling group text to my whole family about how [a prediction or prophecy was going to come true] and for the love of everything please [watch or read this material] and be prepared. I told her in no uncertain terms that she was in a cult and needed help. The rest of my family ended up calling me closed-minded, aggressive, and mean, then told my sister that of course they’d [watch or read the material].”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  13. “The fact that I no longer believe in [belief] seems to have invalidated my opinions and ideas. . . with some family members, where before, I feel like my opinions mattered and I was trusted to be a reliable information source and siblings would turn to for advice. But… not believing in [belief] means my opinions, ideas, or even outright verifiable knowledge can no longer be trusted.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

  14. Trigger warning: domestic violence

    “He wound up leaving the room and for the remainder of the night we stayed in separate rooms. As I was pumping so I could go to bed, he began screaming at me. I couldn’t tell you what he said because I entirely blocked him out. I finished pumping, locked myself in our bedroom and got into bed. He barged in, broke the door handle, started to shove me while I was in bed, anticipating I would fight back but I played possum. Fighting wasn’t worth the risk of losing my baby boy. He was screaming at me to get the F out and other mean things. I remained in possum mode.”

    Is it r/QAnonCasualties, r/exmormon, or r/exjw. Answer found here.

How’d you do? More importantly, how’d you feel while reading these stories?

Personally, my heart broke as I read through dozens stories in all three subreddits in search of the ones above. A lot of it was triggering for me and caused me to feel the same pain I felt when I lost all my friends upon leaving the LDS Church. It also helped prepare me to possibly experience it again soon on a smaller scale.

I hope it was eye-opening yet helpful to you. I hope it illustrates just with how much conviction people believe the QAnon conspiracy theories. They are throwing away the relationships that are dearest to them because of something they believe that is ultimately false.

You may find yourself in a similar situation. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in navigating these situations, but what I do know from experience is that you have to do what is best for you. It is not worth your physical, mental, psychological, or spiritual safety to be in any sort of abusive relationship. If you feel that the relationship cannot be salvaged, get out. But if you think it can be, before trying to do so, asking your peers, or perhaps even these subreddits, if they agree. Often victims of abuse can’t recognize the dangerous situation they’re in. Additionally, they can help you analyze if it’s even worth the attempt to salvage it. If you are able, I highly recommend seeing a therapist.

There are many success stories on each of these subreddits. In fact, I get downright emotional each time I see an ex-JW celebrating their birthday or a queer ex-Mormon living their authentic life. I found a lot of joy in the success stories on r/QAnonCausualties as well.

As for the macro implications of all of this division, I honestly don’t know what those will be, and that’s ok. Perhaps a bit scary, but it’s ok. One thing is clear to me though, our world needs more kindness and understanding. I’m going to choose to be kind and navigate each situation as it arises. That’s the best I can do.

egd