At the age of 18 I finally told my mom and my bishop that my step father had sexually abused me, the good bishop did what our culture had taught him and told me to let sleeping dogs lie since it had been a few years and put me on the repentance process (yet again) by trading the miracle of forgiveness, not taking the sacrament and not helping with the local temple open house because of inappropriate contact with my boyfriend. He was more concerned about my physical actions with a boy than realizing my I was seeking love through physical touch with a boy.
This wasn’t the first bishop nor would it be he last, that were more concerned over what it looked like and how it would be if my step father was hauled into court for the sexual abuse. These men were good and honorable and I am sure trying to do their best within a system that was inadequate for them even if we believe that they carry the mantle and should have he spirit of discernment. Five bishops would see and know that there was severe physical and emotional abuse in the home, and could have guessed that there was sexual abuse as I had shared with them the inappropriate movies he watched and hat I was uncomfortable with them.
Police were often involved, as well as the bishopric, but they would talk with him and I would be labeled a problem child and away they went. Even counseling was sought for their marriage and I was blamed as I wore sexy shorts over nylons that turned him on….soon we would move to another area and he local bishops could sigh with relief and wash their hands of the matter for not only having to be done with the abuse issue but the constant needing of financial support and food from the church.
Through five bishops, this would happen, until I would marry and be told that I was a sinner because we had not been sealed in the temple. I took this to heart once again as being less than and worthless for obtaining mercy in god’s church and from among any person.
I would nearly destroy my marriage as I sought to strong arm my way to heaven by being perfect with many children and jumping through the many cultural hoops that LDS observe to be required of exaltation. I would be unkind to my husband not realizing his ultimate goodness because it was never enough. I was breaking my back against the system trying to justify the mercy I do desperately wanted.
As I grew older and refused to be quiet about the sexual abuse, I would face more abuse as those that told me to let the atonement work for me and to wait for justice for the man that continued to be in the temple and even serve in bishoprics. Only this year, was this man released after he moved a woman into his home after the recent death of my mother….and it looked bad. Three different women would make complaints, including my mother, as to the inappropriate actions he had towards other women. The bishopric would once again approach him and he would spin a tale of misunderstanding. 44 years of living with the pain of thinking that I was the chewed gun, the licked cupcake or the hole pounded wood… that I was never good enough…. until someone told me there was a different way.
My family has been splintered by the abuse, as some don’t believe it or don’t want to face heir own abuse at the hands of a man that continually found safety in the LDS congregations because he played the part.
Where was the spirit of discernment in all these instances?