I had previously dated the son of the bishop of our neighboring ward. We were sexually active, I had a lot of guilt and tried repenting and met with the bishop. There were many times I had said no, but he proceeded to still touch me and it eventually led to rape and it happened on multiple occasions. I didn’t feel safe or comfortable sharing this information with anyone because I felt I had brought the pattern upon myself. I was also afraid of the public shame, repercussions and alienation.
The boy I dated and was raped by left for his mission and I had to participate in many meetings with the bishop and stake president about his worthiness. I had to describe the sexual acts in detail to these men that I didn’t know, that didn’t know me, but were yet charged with my judgement.
I eventually talked about the raping to my Stake President during the last meeting that was set for me. I wasn’t given any form of consolation, I was told to not talk to the boy again, I was told to repent more. I was asked to schedule another meeting and when I was ready to meet again my calls and messages were ignored by the first counselor in the stake presidency. To this day the Stake President hasn’t spoken to me again about what I shared and he is now a member of the seventy and nothing else was reported to higher authority to my knowledge. I was left thinking that he thought I was lying about what I confessed. It was awful feeling that way especially after everything I was forced to describe and relive to him.
My rapist served a partial mission and came home for a time because he felt he wasn’t ready or fully worthy to serve. He asked me to go to lunch with him to apologize for how he treated me, he had found enlightenment on his mission and needs to ask for forgiveness. I had a great lingering guilt and I genuinely believed it was my fault that he had to apologize in the first place, I obliged I went with him.
I fell asleep in the car on the way home. When I woke up he was on top of me with his pants down trying to rape me again. I pushed him off of me and escaped by opening the car door. I threatened to call the cops, He drove me home and tried to tell me he was “testing me”.
I didn’t allow him the opportunity to “apologize” again. I was still too scared to share what happened with anyone especially after the stake president told me to not see him again. A few months later he was again still found worthy enough by church authorities to finish serving his mission. I have been left damaged and constantly feeling unworthy from the many meetings of worthiness I have had to subject myself to. I had never scheduled the meetings for myself except for the last one with the stake president. They were all schedule for me and I was asked to attend the meetings when I was in class and subject to the scrutiny of the other young women and leaders if I said “no”. Not only did nothing come of my honesty, I was ignored afterwards.
I didn’t understand until 3 years later how awful the entire situation was because meetings of this nature are normalized in LDS culture. You are expected to meet with these men of authority and you are expected to subject yourself to the very probing and uncomfortable questions but no action is taken when things of this nature are reported? I believe that good intention is meant, but the damage it can create is real. These men aren’t licensed to guide you through the remaining damage, they rely on divine intervention that may or may not come. These men volunteer their time in these positions but I definitely didn’t volunteer to subject myself to that kind of judgement and I was left feeling that I had made up what I shared and hated myself for it. I am a good person and it has taken me years to come to terms with that fact because I couldn’t believe that of myself for years.
I understand that a filtering process is needed to ensure the sanctity of the temple and other LDS practices, but the way this process takes place is incredibly wrong and, in many ways, inappropriate and unbridled. I didn’t realize that so many others have had similar experiences to mine, I want to just cry knowing how many other have had to be interrogated, let down, attacked, and judged also. I am so blessed to have found the light at the end of the tunnel, I have found my self-worth and I can now love and appreciate myself. I now know and understand that what happened to me was incredibly wrong and I was the victim. I hope others who read this and relate to my story know that a better life is out there and situations like this shouldn’t have to define you or determine your future. You are loved.