I still struggle putting this down on print and still have the shame that the church issued to me with my abuse.
When I was approximately 7/8 years old I walked the few blocks to my cousins house to play. We lived in a very safe are of Sandy Utah and this was a common summer activity.
Once at my cousins, my older teanage male cousin and his friends let me in and proceeded to tell me that my cousin was up in her room. They got me up there, locked the door and told me the only way they would let me leave was if I took of my clothes and let them touch me. I protested and started to cry, but fear kicked in and in my little 7/8 y.o. mind I thought that was the only way I was going to be able to leave and go home. They stopped short of penetrating me as they heard the garage door open as my aunt came home. I ran down the stairs as they unlocked the door to tell her what happened. I ran home and told my parents what had happened and my parents called my Aunt. Next thing I remember was going back to my aunts house, meeting in her living room with the boys that had just molested me, the bishopric ,and someone from the stake presidency ( by the way, that word ,molestation, was never once used). The bishop and his councilors then began to lecture me on my behavior and allowing anyone to touch me. I remember being asked what I was wearing ( a tank top/ short romper ) and told that my choice of clothing and eagerness to undress when teenage boys were joking around and being boys was what lead to the incident. I was then asked to thank my cousin for not allowing his friend to put his penis in me when he heard the garage door open. I then had to shake hands with the boys that had just assaulted me and “make up”. Not once did I question what these church leaders were telling me. I internalized the whole thing and tried to forget it, knowing how guilty I felt as it seamed I was the one getting in trouble and they made it out to be my fault. It was not until 20 plus years later, once I had my own children, that I started thinking back to this experience and realizing what had happened.
I was forced to continue to socialize with these boys and my cousin multiple times growing up. It was a hard situation being that it was family, but every encounter I always felt guilty and that I had somehow been the one at fault. I’m still working through some of what I’ve tried to forget but I know better now. I think it is also worth mentioning that one of the boys then had a brother a number of years later go on, after serving a mission, to abduct and assault a number of girls in the Sandy area. He is currently in jail. Maybe if this matter had been appropriately handled and been turned over to the authorities there would be different ending for so many of us. I am pleading that the Mormon membership as well as it leaders put an end to this. It must be a combination of both. Leaders need to denounce and admit their mistakes in allowing this type of systemic abuse to continue or else members will continue to look back at counsel given over the last few decades and make excuses, blame victims, and continue on the same path we are trying so desperately to leave.