I have a lot of stories, but I would like to share the two most important ones. Shortly after turning 16, I had my first kiss. It was totally innocent but, as a good Mormon girl, I believed that it was the height of sexuality. Of course, I never experienced anything more than that, even by myself.
The whole experience was awful, so I was extremely disappointed. He was a boy I was set up with, through ward connections (common in the wards I grew up in). It was a way of “reactivating” inactive boys in the ward. The relationship (if you can call it that) lasted about a month. One Sunday, after breaking up with him, I was called into the 1st counselor’s office. He was someone I had known since I was about 6 years old, so I trusted him completely (he really is a great man). He proceeded to ask me if I had anything I needed to tell him, since the temple trip was coming up soon. I figured this was my temple interview, so I said “No, not that I know of…” He continued to push me to confess something, but I had no idea what, so I told him that I had recently had my first kiss, but that it was just a kiss and that I had broken up with the boy so there would be nothing further. He seemed to believe me, and said something like “We might have a problem.” He told me that I needed to go talk to the bishop. The bishop was also someone I had known since about the age of 6. He ran the daycare I grew up in, so I knew him very well, and trusted him. I was waiting, with my mom, by his office door. He called me in, without my mom (even though I asked if she could come in). He asked me the same questions I was asked before, and I answered the same way as before. Instead of believing me, he said “That’s not what I heard.” My heart sank, I started shaking, and I burst into tears. All I could say was “What have you heard?” He suddenly looked concerned, called my mom into the room, and then took off down the hall. It turned out that two boys in my ward were spreading rumors about me. Mind you, I never fit in at church and I was extremely withdrawn. This situation completely shattered me. I never felt like I was good enough, after that, and I just wanted to end it all (the usual dark thoughts and minor suicide attempts followed). The boys weren’t punished, they just had to write me some short apologies.
The other incident was when I was technically an adult (I was 20), but are we ever REALLY adults within the church? I am 34 now, and only starting to feel like a fully autonomous adult after leaving the church this past May.
I was out with a friend one night. We were stupid enough to accept an invitation from some boys, to go to a party. I was going through a rebellious streak, and wanted to see what a party was like. I had never rebelled, so this was exciting. I knew I wouldn’t do anything too crazy, like take drugs or alcohol. I also knew enough to not accept any open drinks from them. I thought I was being SUPER safe. When we showed up to the “party”, it turned out it was just their house. Long story short, my friend and I were both raped. We didn’t talk to each other on the drive home, and I texted my mom that I would be spending the night at my friend’s house. I couldn’t face my mom. My friend and I couldn’t sleep. We just sat there, shaking, all night. In the morning, I tried to drive home, and got in an accident. It was minor, and I was at fault, so I sorted it out and then continued home. I was still shaking. I ran into the house, trying to avoid everyone. There were some men from the ward, helping us to move. I got into the shower as fast as I could. I used to watch CSI, so I knew that you shouldn’t shower if you were raped, but I didn’t believe I had been. In my limited knowledge of rape, you must claw their eyes out and scream for help for it to be considered rape. If you are merely locked into a house and scared out of your mind, it means you allowed it to happen. I got as clean as I could get, and fell into a heap on the shower floor. My mom was furious that I wasn’t helping to pack, and that there was a huge hole in the side of my truck. I just sobbed. She finally asked me what happened, and I tried to explain, away from the men. Being the good Mormon, she is, she was so angry that I let it happen that she started screaming “You got raped?! How could you let this happen?!” in front of the men, who were packing our cars. I completely broke down, and my mom finally took pity on me. She took me straight to the police station, and I gave my account. I gave them my clothes, and they sent me to the hospital. We got that all sorted out, after about 5 hours, and I went home and slept for about 3 days straight.
After a few days, I decided I needed to talk to a therapist. My mom told me that the bishop could set me up with one. This bishop was one I did not trust at all. My brother had some bad experiences with him, as a youth, and he scared me. I gave him a brief description of what happened. Instead of setting me up with a therapist, he asked “What did you do to lead them on?” Of course, I was filled with guilt and shame, I believed I had brought it on myself (I only got over this when I finally left the church). I decided to go with his repentance plan, which would last at least a year. He said that I just barely avoided a disciplinary action, by agreeing to go through with his plan. But first, I had to give him all the details, so he would know what we were dealing with.
I felt so violated, again. I had already gone through it in person, then at the police station, and now here. Again, I just wanted to be dead. I wished that I would die somehow, without actually having to kill myself. That’s all I really want to say about that. But I want to make sure that people know that growing up as a devout member of the church does not lead to happiness in marriage. I have a wonderful (non-member) husband, who only cares about my pleasure. I am still trying to deal with my inability to have any pleasure at all. My marriage has suffered so much, since I was not allowed to attend sex education, and never learned about how my body works. I am trying to play catch up, now, and my husband finds it difficult to understand that I don’t know how things work. I know this is a problem for women of any background, but it is so much worse if you are taught that you are evil if you have even the slightest thought about sex. Also, having lived though so much trauma, without a way to talk to anyone about it, has caused me to have flashbacks whenever I try to be intimate with my husband. I know people debate whether the church does more harm or good. I don’t see the good in the church. Some of the people are good, but the church itself is pure evil. Nothing can compare to the feeling of all the weight of the world being lifted off your shoulders, when you finally leave the church. I can’t wait until I am finally safe to resign completely.