My bishop made me write an apology letter to the guy who sexually assaulted me as part of my church discipline for having been sexually assaulted.
I had gone on a trip to visit my boyfriend’s parents in another state. My boyfriend and his parents were not LDS, but my boyfriend was pretty good at respecting my religious beliefs and boundaries. Around 10 pm I changed into a pair of sleep pants and a t-shirt and went to bed in one of the guest rooms. I woke up around 2 am to my boyfriend touching me inappropriately under my clothing and attempting to get me aroused. It took a few minutes for me to become fully aware of what was going on.
I got out of the bed and quickly left the room. I went into the bathroom and burst into tears. I felt so dirty. I felt like I had been doing so good for quite some time, and now it was all destroyed. My boyfriend came to the door to check on me and apologized. He said he felt really bad for what he’d done and he knew he shouldn’t have done it.
It didn’t help much, I still felt really unclean. I scheduled an appointment to talk to my bishop. I was confused and angry and sad and really just needed to talk to someone about what happened. In my appointment with my bishop, I explained what happened. He asked me what I was wearing, what color my underwear was, how much making out and other things I’d done with my boyfriend earlier that day, if I had led my boyfriend on, if I had enjoyed him touching me, if my boyfriend had stuck his fingers in me, if he’d touched my breasts, and how long I let it go on before leaving the room.
I answered as best I could (we hadn’t been making out prior, I hadn’t led him on, I did not enjoy him touching me, he didn’t stick his fingers in me, he had touched my breasts, and I left as soon as I was aware of what was going on). My bishop said he needed to call a disciplinary council.
The disciplinary council was mortifying. I had to tell a room full of older men intimate details of my assault. I was obviously in distress, and not once did any of them ask me if I was ok or tell me I was a victim. Instead, they all passed judgment on me and said it was indeed my fault for putting myself in a position where this was allowed to happen.
On top of being on probation, my bishop said I needed to write a letter to my boyfriend apologizing for not being an upstanding example of a daughter of God. He wanted me to bring the letter to him for him to read before I gave it to my boyfriend. Writing that letter hurt so bad, I felt worse than ever and even dirtier. I felt like the whole thing was indeed my fault and I had failed by allowing this to happen.
After I gave my letter to my boyfriend he told me it was not my fault, it was entirely his. He still felt awful and said he should have been the one to apologize, not me. It was after that I realized my boyfriend was right, I was the victim, not the one at fault. He thought it was seriously messed up that my bishop had me write him an apology letter. My bishop kept me on probation for an entire year.
Sidenote: While I was uncomfortable with some of the questions my bishop had asked, such as what color my underwear was, for me it wasn’t out of the ordinary. From the time I was 12, it was the normal line of questioning I’d experienced from most of my bishops. When I was 12 and had my first worthiness interview, the bishop explained that he needed to know what color and material my panties and bra were because anything other than plain white is only worn to show off to boys. I didn’t know any better and would get in trouble with the bishop regularly because my underwear was a variety of colors and materials. I didn’t agree with his line of reasoning, so I never stopped wearing other colors. It was also normal for a bishop to ask me really intimate questions, such as how long I kissed a boy for, if there was tongue involved, if there was heavy petting, etc