After high school, I moved out from my lovely LDS home in Texas to pursue an education at BYU in Provo, Utah at 18 years old.
I grew up in a great LDS home, with faithful parents who taught me and instilled in me principles that I still believed in. I was taught that Bishops are loving, and always there for you if you needed to talk or repent. Well, after moving to Provo, Utah, I got into a relationship with a returned missionary. I thought dating a returned missionary meant that he would be the best I could land! Sadly, this relationship turned abusive, and “loving hugs and kisses” turned into rape. He cut off all my communication with my family, and he threw away all clothes he deemed unworthy, and all my makeup.
I was deeply depressed and felt trapped in this relationship. Eventually, I packed up all of my stuff one day, packed up my car and drove back home to Texas. My parents didn’t realize just how bad the relationship had gotten until I arrived home. I began to attend the YSA ward back home, and fell back in love with the church, and realized that not every man is who he says he is!
I began restoring my faith, and I finally saw a light at the end of this dark tunnel. I had began to study with the missionaries every day, and I told them of my struggles and what had happened to me. They encouraged me to talk to the Bishop and told me I would feel better. A little bit of a backstory, the bishop of this YSA ward was my next door neighbor and a close family friend! He had sons who were my age that I used to go to stake dances with and group dates! I thought about it, but was too nervous to talk to anyone about this yet.
At this time, the YSA ward was planning a trip to Nauvoo, Illinois to see church history through our own eyes. I signed up for the trip, along with my brother and sister, and cousins! We were so excited, and to be honest, the trip was a lot of fun, and helped grow my testimony. On this trip, they organized the women and men into different sets of cabins. One night, everyone was asleep and I was sitting on the front porch of the cabin I was staying at. It was really late, and I couldn’t sleep. I went outside to ponder and think about all of the spiritual things I had been experiencing. Bishop ______ came walking down the street, and saw me so he began to walk my way. I thought nothing of this, and was even excited to have a company with someone I saw as a “spiritual giant.” He explained to me that he couldn’t sleep, and wanted to take advantage of being in Nauvoo. I invited him to sit on the porch with me, and he said he couldn’t sit. Instead, he walked behind me and started giving me a back massage. I thought this was odd, but he was a “family friend” so I didn’t overthink it. He began making his way to my lower waist, and gave my waist a massage. I stood up after and told him I was super tired, and ready to go to bed. I ran inside quickly, and felt super uncomfortable. I told my cousin about it, and she pushed away my comments that I thought it was odd, and told me that he was probably just being nice and maybe I looked stressed. I agreed, and tried to push those thoughts away.
After returning home from Nauvoo, the missionaries continued to urge me to talk to the bishop about my issues, and they promised I really would feel better and not guilty because of what happened to me. I finally decided to talk to the bishop after sacrament one Sunday. I went into his office, shut the door, and asked if we could talk. I poured my heart out to him, and told him about the abusive relationship, and how I now feel unworthy. I cried and told him just how guilty I felt.
Bishop scolded me and told me that moving home was the wrong decision, and how I should’ve realized how “lucky” I was to be dating a returned missionary. He told me how I had encouraged sex by having “immodest clothing,” and how I am lucky my ex-boyfriend took it upon himself to throw away those clothes that were causing too much temptation. He told me I would not be allowed into the temple for six more months, even though a year since this relationship had already passed.
This really upset me, because I am not endowed, and a year had already passed, and during that year, I was doing everything I could to be worthy to enter into the temple again. Leaving his office, I went to open the door, he followed behind me and quickly shut it, and pulled me in for a very tight, and uncomfortable hug. He held me for much longer than I would like and he said, “just try to be a good person.”
I ran out to my car and drove home, because I was so upset by what he had said. During the six months waiting time, I still went to church, and did everything I thought I was supposed to (reading scriptures, praying, attending institute and family home evening.) Almost every day during this six months, Bishop _____ would text me and invite me to all the activities, and would threaten my recommend. He would say things like, “Hey! If you want your temple recommend, make sure you come to Family Home Evening tonight!” These messages really upset me.
At the end of the six months, I returned to his office to ask for a recommend interview. He explained to me that I had been spending too much time with the missionaries, and it was inappropriate, and he couldn’t give me a recommend because I am not a good person. This really broke me, and I could felt so unworthy to Heavenly Father. I went home, and told my parents all about it. They encouraged me to speak to the Stake President about his actions. I made an appointment with the Stake President’s 1st counselor, but cancelled it because I was told by another Preisthood leader to respect my Preisthood authority, and not “rat out” the bishop.
After all of this, it had been two years since I ended my abusive relationship. I decided it was time to get back on my feet and move back to Utah to continue my education at BYU. After arriving to Utah, my now bishop of my singles ward, called me into his office for an interview. I went in, excited to finally have a new bishop! When I entered this bishop’s office, he asked me about the “probation” I was on. I was really confused, because I didn’t realize I was on a probation, and this was my first time hearing of this. He informed me that my previous bishop had called him and let him know I was on “probation” in the church for my actions. I explained to my new bishop everything that had happened, and thankfully, he was so kind and understanding, and informed me I was on no such thing as a “probation.”
I am grateful to have a new bishop who is understanding and helpful, but I am still recovering from all the damage done from my past bishop, and am very upset that he reached out to my new bishop to put me on some kind of “probation.” Talking to others about this and sharing my experience has made me realize that this is not normal behavior, but I am still recovering from his actions, and still trying to feel “worthy” again.