My story isn’t necessarily traumatic (I’ve read FAR worse on here), though it can vouch for the negative effects that private worthiness interviews and shame culture have on developing youth and young adults.
As a young girl in elementary school, I stumbled across pornography through unrelated internet searches. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into, but I knew it was “bad”. I was drawn into it pretty quickly; I spent quite a lot of time viewing it in secret and hiding it from my parents. Though I still have no idea why I had such a propensity toward that sort of thing at such a young age, I began messaging strangers on the internet and engaging in lots of inappropriate conversations, drawing lewd pictures, etc. Perhaps my parents figured it out, though they never engaged me in a direct conversation about it. I remember being in my mom’s room, an LDS video playing on the TV, and a young man talking about how he had just barely escaped hellfire by repenting of his pornography addiction. I remember this moment distinctly, it felt like a bucket of ice water had been dropped on me.
From that moment on (about 8 years old) I was convinced I had already been irredeemably condemned to hell, though I didn’t know how to tell anybody. I was too scared, guilty, and ashamed. I would picture the looks on my parent’s face when we met at the judgement bar, after they realized what I had done, and how I had botched our chance at becoming an eternal family. I spent a lot of nights during my pre-teen life sobbing myself to sleep.
Bishops asked me from a young age if I kept the law of chastity, if I had viewed porn, but I ALWAYS vehemently denied it (increasing my guilt). It was never a topic of discussion. Extreme self-hate and self-loathing caused me to attempt quitting cold-turkey multiple times. I would visualize all of my anger and resentment towards that area of my body, and eventually (around age 13) my feelings towards anything sexual turned into disgust and revulsion. Fast forward a few years, I was 18 years old. I was preparing to serve a mission (right after the age-change) and I had a bishop who gave me the CREEPS. This was in part because the other young women had divulged to me how he kept dogging them for the details about wearing bikinis or thongs, having them describe sexual sin in explicit detail, telling them their immodesty was causing older men to feel aroused, and harassing them to remove instagram pictures he felt were “inappropriate”. When he gave me my worthiness interview, he asked me if I had ever masturbated, which I hadn’t. He was CONTINUALLY asking me if I had ever watched porn, if I had even just SEEN it. When I kept lying, “No,” he wouldn’t accept it, and say, “Are you sure?”, “Lots of kids do it”, “You can tell me”, etc.
When I came home from my mission, he sat me down, and the thing he said next made my blood freeze. “I’m just as horny today as I was on my wedding night, 20 years ago.” WHAT THE HELL?? He said, “Do I blame God for making me this way? No, God put a fire in me that I can’t put out. He made men this way for a reason” He also cautioned me to find a husband that wouldn’t “take advantage of me when I wasn’t in the mood”, because according to him, “most men would do that” to me. I left the interview visibly shaken. My parents were upset about what I had told them.
Due to my extreme aversion towards anything sexual (after “overcoming” porn), I told them I could never marry a man if this is how men were. I did end up getting married due to gospel pressures, but had SEVERE issues with vaginismus “fear/pain during sex”. It took me almost three weeks, lots of crying, lots of coaxing, and lots of blessings to have sex because I DIDN’T WANT TO, and my muscles were so rigidly tense. I had to be a good wife; I eventually fought through the unpleasantness and pain, saying, “Just DO it already,” but I felt like my body wasn’t my own anymore. He divorced me soon after, I distanced myself from the LDS church, and shortly after was able to recover from years of shame and guilt. Finally, at 22 years old, I masturbated for the VERY first time, like a normal human being. I didn’t hate myself. Sexual interviews and shame culture have a lasting effect and 100% need to be abolished, or they will continue harming us and our children.