I never thought my story would be important but now that I see others standing up to protect children from these harmful interviews, I feel I cannot be silent. When I was 8 years old a friend I did not play with much came over to my house. We went in my room and she said we should play as if we were her older sister and boyfriend. She told me to get in bed, under the covers and then told me I had to pull my shirt up and my pants down and she had to touch my private parts. I had no idea what was going on and I was so afraid to tell her “no” so I complied. This went on for a while and I knew it was bad. Something was wrong but I could not articulate it. I never played with this friend again but I was so damaged by what had happened that I cried uncontrollably off and on for days and even weeks. I remember my mom getting mad at me because I would not stop crying and she didn’t know why. I had just been baptized and all my sins were washed away but now I knew I was not going to heaven. I thought I was better off dead. I hated myself. I did not even know how to talk to someone about it. I stuffed it way down deep and managed to move on with my life until I turned 12 and started worthiness interviews. I knew that somehow the interviewer was going to find out I was lying when I said I kept myself pure and kept the law of chastity. I thought I had a huge deep dark secret. I hated those interviews. It was always uncomfortable and I did not feel good about going into them.
Years passed and every time I went in was another time I had to keep my deep dark secret. It was terrible. When I began dating and having boyfriends, I let my boyfriends kiss me. A few times I thought it went too far but I was not strong enough to tell the boys no. I remember being told it was my responsibility to make sure my boyfriend was worthy to pass the sacrament on sunday. So it was all on me. He was the hormonal one out of control and I was the keeper of the chastity gate, so to speak. It wasn’t until college that I felt like I had to tell my bishop of some “sins” pertaining to my boyfriend. I did and he had me read the Miracle of Forgiveness and told me not to take the sacrament for two months. Meanwhile, my boyfriend told his bishop and nothing happened to him. His bishop let him prepare for a mission uninterrupted. It felt so unfair. I felt shame like nothing I had experienced before. This on top of what happened when I was 8 surely meant I was worthless. Time went on and my boyfriend went on a mission and I eventually began dating my husband. When we got engaged and I went in for a bishop’s interview for my temple recommend, my heart was pounding. My bishop asked if there was anything in my past that I needed to confess before going into the temple. I finally got brave enough and told him what happened when I was 8. Imagine keeping that secret from the age of 8 until I was getting married. This is how serious I thought the sin was. He then told me if I repented I would be forgiven. So, in my mind, he confirmed to me that I had done some awful sin at the tender age of 8. All of this shame built up and it affected my marriage. During my bishop’s interviews I was told what was allowed in sex and what wasn’t. He went into horrifying detail telling me what to never let my husband do. Again, I was the keeper of the gate. The pressure was too great. I could not enjoy sex. I thought there was something wrong with me. It was not until I had been married for over 15 years that a counselor finally helped me see that I had nothing to be ashamed of. I had done nothing wrong! This had never occurred to me. I spent YEARS worrying over this! I became so angry that those interviews had damaged me so much. The self loathing was awful. I could have spent the last 20+ years shame free if someone with real training had heard my story. My counselor finally told me that my bishop had no right to tell me what was ok in sex and what wasn’t. HE HAD NO RIGHT! I still carry effects of this shaming with me. It is still hard to enjoy sex but at least I know I am a worthy, good person and I do not need to carry with me this terrible guilt. Just writing this story is making my heart pound!
The only time I let my daughter into a worthiness interview was when she turned 12. I actually did not know it was going to turn into a temple recommend interview. I thought the bishop just wanted to welcome her into young women’s. I told him I wanted to be present and he agreed, thankfully. I was so glad I was in there because he asked her if she kept the law of chastity. She did not know what this was so he started to explain it to her and said it was when someone tried to touch your private parts and he motioned his hands over his body. He looked like he was going to go into further detail and I remember looking at him in horror and he could see it in my eyes and stopped. I am grateful further harm to my daughter did not happen and I decided right there that she would never go into an interview again, with or without me.
Let me be clear – THERE IS NO REASON WHY A YOUNG GIRL ( or woman!) SHOULD BE ALONE IN A CLOSED ROOM WITH A MAN, LET ALONE AN UNTRAINED MAN. And even having a parent there did not fully stop the bishop from starting to do damage to my daughter. That is called grooming.
These interviews do no good. they are completely unnecessary. There is nothing accomplished in these interviews that cannot be done in a better way. THESE INTERVIEWS NEED TO STOP NOW!