WHEN brave Rebekah Vardy plucked up the courage to tell her mum she’d been sexually abused from the age of 12, she expected support.
Instead she claims her mum refused to believe her and turned to the elders in the devoutly religious Jehovah’s Witness Church, which allegedly hushed up the abuse.
The alleged betrayal left Rebekah traumatised and led to a lifelong rift with mum Alison Nicholson, which the tearful WAG addresses in a moving Channel 4 documentary, airing tonight.
Rebekah, 41, tells the documentary: “From the age of 12, I was being sexually abused. So I told my mum about the abuse I was experiencing and she cried but didn’t believe me.
“She told numerous members of my family in the Jehovah’s Witness community, and they called a meeting. I think I was about 15, and it was made out to me I had misinterpreted (the) abuse as a form of affection.
“I knew that I hadn’t. I was well aware of what was right and what was wrong, and it was explained that I could bring shame on my family, and I was basically manipulated into believing it wasn’t the best thing to do to take it any further and take it to the police.
“It’s hard to see how I survived that.”
Rebekah, married to Leicester striker Jamie, brands the Jehovah’s Witnesses a “dangerous cult”.
She was raised in the faith in Norwich and bullied at school, but finally cut ties aged 15 after being “shamed” for the abuse. Her parents were also shunned by the community for divorcing.
Her traumatic childhood, which led to an attempted overdose, has caused an irreparable 25-year rift between Rebekah and mum Alison.
“I’ve had a difficult relationship with my mum all my adult life, and we’ve been estranged for the last seven years,” she says.
Here we take a look the fractured relationship behind the explosive claims.
Rebekah remembers a childhood without Christmas celebrations or birthday parties.
Instead, her young life was filled with bible studies and visits to the Kingdom Hall, the organisation’s church. Books and television were censored and she was warned bad behaviour would bring the wrath of God on her.
Rebekah was not allowed to invite other kids for play dates, sing hymns at her school assembly and had no idea what was happening during puberty because church modesty dictates nobody talks about it.
Rebekah says she believed she would die at Armageddon (the world’s end) if she misbehaved and remembers being shown ‘upsetting’ images depicting the end of the world.
She says: “You would have to do things to keep Jehovah happy, because he was always watching.
“Who you spoke to, how you spoke, how you dressed, how you held yourself, how you conducted every part of your whole life, and we were told if we didn’t pray enough, bad things would happen to us.”
Rebekah said she knew her family was different from a young age and being members of the church made her easy prey for school bullies.
She also dreaded knocking on the door of a fellow pupil during Jehovah Witness house-to-house calls to recruit new members.
Rebekah’s parents Alison and Carlos split when she was just 11.
She tells the documentary church elders were constantly at the family home trying to ‘calm’ arguments between the couple.
When Alison and Carlos, a chauffeur who works in Bournemouth, separated her mum suddenly fled the JW community in Norwich, taking her family to live in Reading, Oxfordshire.
Rebekah still doesn’t know exactly why her mum upped sticks but believes she may have had an affair that led her to be drummed out by the Church.
She tells the documentary: “My mum and dad were going through a tough time and the Elders would intervene, they were always in our downstairs lounge while us kids were in our bedroom, trying to calm situations down.
“One of my last memories of here is of it all kicking off and we left one night and never came back.”
She says she believes her mum had a fling because “that’s the only way you can divorce” within the church.
She said: “She must have done something that wasn’t acceptable, that was frowned upon and she must pay the price for.”
At 11, I hated life. We lost communication with my nan and grandad, they couldn’t come and visit us… formed so much resentment to both my parents
As a result the family was ‘disfellowshipped’ – meaning they were officially shunned.
“We were rejected by all family members and the congregation were forbidden from contacting us,” says Rebekah.
“At 11, I hated life. We lost communication with my nan and grandad, they couldn’t come and visit us.
“I formed so much resentment to both my parents.”
Rebekah says she was sexually assaulted by a family friend, in her own home, every week for over three years.
But when the scared teen confided her her mum, at the age of 15, Rebekah claims Alison “didn’t believe her”.
She told Loose Women in 2017: “I was made to feel like it was my fault, it’s one of those things that you don’t discuss.”
Despite being ostracised by the church Alison allegedly turned to church elders who told her she had misinterpreted the abuse which, they said, was meant as affection.
“I was well aware of what was right and what was wrong, and it was explained that I could bring shame on my family,” she says. “I was basically manipulated into believing it wasn’t the best thing to do to take it any further and take it to the police.”
Rebekah says she tried to take her own life aged 14 because she “just wanted to escape” the abuse.
As she spun out of control, she left the family home aged 15 following a row with mum Alison and step-dad Ian.
She ended up sofa-surfing until she got a job collecting glasses in a pub and rented a room in a B&B.
Rebekah later said: “I was 15 and should have still been a child.
“I had already taken an overdose of pills and vodka in an attempt to end the awful feelings of shame, fear and anger that I couldn’t find another way to escape from. I already hated myself.”
Rebekah got into a series of disastrous relationships before meeting Jamie, who she wed in 2016.
Rebekah’s mum failed to show up for her daughter’s fairytale wedding at a medieval castle in Cheshire.
Her sister Esther and step-brother Robbie were given invites but it’s not clear if Rebekah asked her mum to the star-studded event in 2016.
When asked why she failed to attend, Alison said at the time: “We’d rather not say why, even though it’s obvious people are now going to be wondering why the bride’s mother isn’t at her 34-year-old daughter’s wedding.”
Jamie’s parents Lisa and Phil didn’t go to the nuptials either after a bitter bust-up involving his new wife.
Jamie’s maternal grandfather Gerald Clewes previously said it was “that woman” – meaning Rebekah – who had come between the footballer and his parents.
Jamie’s step-dad Phil, who brought him up, said a row had been going on ever since Rebekah “came on the scene”.
He said around the time of the lavish wedding: “I don’t have anything directly to do with my son any more. It’s a shame and very sad.”
Jamie has remained loyal to his wife, supporting her through last year’s ‘Wagatha Christie’ High Court libel case.
Rebekah sued Coleen Rooney after her fellow WAG accused her of leaking stories to the press.
Rebekah denied using information from Coleen’s private Instagram account but a court found against her – leaving her with a £3 million legal bill
Rebekah says she has not spoken to her mother in seven years – around the time of her wedding.
She remains close to her dad, and Carlos has always supported his daughter. He jetted to Australia when she was on I’m A Celeb, and was by her side during the Wagatha court case.
In the documentary Becky says her wider family are still members of the Church.
In the show, she revisits the Kingdom Hall she once attended and talks to others ‘shunned’ by the organisation.
She has no idea if her mum is still a member of the church but says she is “at peace” with no longer speaking to her.
She recently said: “You can’t dwell on the past. I’m not sympathetic towards her but I have an understanding – and because of that there’s no bitterness.
“I hate to carry anger and resentment forward. I’d be scared of passing those traits on to my own children.”
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