I am a former Mormon man in my late 40’s. This is my story about Mormon leadership interview abuse.
I was taking a bath when I was very young. I can’t be certain of my age, but I think I was six. I remember I was cleaning my genitals with soap when my Father walked into the bathroom and yelled at me for touching my penis. I remember feeling very confused because I was doing what I was taught to do by my parents to wash every part of my body with soap. He chewed me out for a long time about why I should never touch my penis. I asked how I could go to the bathroom without touching my penis or how I can take a bath without touching it. He said it was a sin to scratch my genitals even if they itched. I can’t remember every word that was said but I certainly do remember the confusion I felt and the overwhelming feeling of guilt and shame. I wasn’t even masturbating. I was simply cleaning my genitals. My Father yelled at me for some time while I was naked in the bath tub. Then I was worried every time I went to the bathroom that I was sinning. I tried urinating without touching my penis and I would make a bad mess so that didn’t work. When my balls would itch I would do my best not to scratch them. After that incident in the tub my Father would question me all the time if I was touching my penis. I thought about it all the time and eventually actually started masturbating. My Father was my bishop most of my young life. He was my bishop at a young age, then after he was done serving as a Bishop we moved and he was called to be my Bishop again. I would guess that he was my Bishop most of the time between age 6-18. He would have weekly and sometimes even daily interviews asking me about my masturbatory habits and my thoughts about masturbation. He frequently would wait outside my door at night….sometimes for hours and if I turned in bed or made a noise he would throw open the door and rip my covers off. Usually I wasn’t masturbating because I knew he was out there. It didn’t actually matter if I was masturbating or not because I would get an ass chewing either way. Even when he would burst into my room and I wasn’t doing anything I would feel tremendous guilt and shame and I endured many evenings with degrading talks that often lasted more than an hour. He would tell me to wear several layers of clothing. I’d often wear five pairs of underwear and up to five pairs of pants. He explained to me that sometimes we are asleep and would wake up unconsciously masturbating so wearing multiple layers would prevent the unconscious masturbating. He also explained that if I wore multiple layers to bed and still masturbated it was a choice to sin and I couldn’t blame it on just waking up that way. We had hundreds of interviews where he would tell me that masturbation is a sin barely less bad than murder. He told me several times I was worse than the Roman guards that killed the savior because they didn’t know any better…But I did know better and would choose to masturbate anyway. He told me the atonement didn’t apply to me because you can repent only one time for a specific sin. If you committed that sin again there is no redemption. He said every time I masturbated I caused more needless suffering to the savior in the garden of Gethsemane…that Jesus had to pay for the sin even though it wouldn’t count to save me since I repeated the same sin. He would tell me I’d be better off if I’d never been born. He would chew me out for masturbating and then quote the scripture that said if your eye offend thee pluck it out. If your arm offend thee cut it off. I remember spending time on several occasions in his workshop trying to decide if I should stab my eyeballs out or cut off my arms or my penis. I put a lot of thought into this. I was worried that if I tried to stab my eyeballs with an ice pick that I’d stab too far and hit my brain and commit suicide. He had already told me suicide was an unpardonable sin and I would go to outer darkness (Hell) for suicide so I couldn’t stab my eyes out. I considered cutting off my arms. I Even turned his Mark 5 saw on trying to figure out how to cut my arms off. I knew that I could only cut one arm off and I knew I had the ability to masturbate with either hand so cutting my arms off wouldn’t work. So I nearly cut my penis off. I had a plan to apply a tourniquet after cutting off my member so I wouldn’t die. I nearly cut it off on several occasions. I estimate these times I considered dismembering myself happened between ages 10-14. I remember getting his rifle and loading it and putting the rifle in my mouth, crying a lot and taking the gun out of my mouth. I knew that I’d go to outer darkness if I committed suicide and that my torment would be eternal. When I was an Aaronic Priesthood holder and would mess up he would make me sit in the front row of sacrament meeting so everyone could see that I couldn’t take the sacrament. Said it was part of the repentance process so others could see that I’m not taking the sacrament, and that I was not allowed to officiate the sacrament.
I was in an abusive marriage and filed for divorce in 2009. I remember my Father calling me and reminding me that I shouldn’t masturbate during the divorce process and how sinful of a practice it is and that Satan would tempt me to masturbate. Later when I was 39 or 40 I visited my family in Salt Lake. I stayed at my parents house. My Father woke me up before the sun rose asking me probing questions about my masturbatory practices and if I had any physical relationships with my then girlfriend and I actually answered his questions (and I had physical relations with my girlfriend). I remember when I gained full consciousness thinking did this really just happen? I’m certain it was a decision he made to have a mental advantage by waking me up only a few hours after I went to bed and asking his probing questions. That morning he told me not to take the sacrament because I had masturbated and touched my girlfriend in inappropriate places…didn’t matter that we never had sex.
Speaking of my marriage…Not only was it abusive but also met the definitions of a sexless marriage. We frequently would go 6 months without sex or without any kind of sensual touching etc. One time we went 9 months sex free. I’ve always had a high libido so this was extremely difficult for me. I tried to follow what I had been taught about masturbation. I could usually make it 2-3 months without masturbating and then finally give in. Usually the masturbation was done without the use of pornography, however sometimes I would look at porn. No matter how long my episodes of celibacy would last, as an adult I was unable to have wet dreams. This became quite a health problem for me, and I checked into a medical clinic as I was unable to defecate. Or when I would defecate I would have severe pain. The pain I felt was as bad or nearly as bad as the two times I had kidney stones. My doctor diagnosed me with Prostatitis and recommended that I have frequent sex or masturbate frequently. I told my doctor that I was married and that my wife refuses to have sex with me. He told me I was going to have to masturbate multiple times a week. I told him that my religion prevents me from doing that and I asked if there was anything else I could do. The doctor said “Yes…you can die!” He told me that I had an old man disease that is completely preventable, but that I was refusing the treatment. At this time I was in my late 20s. The doctor wrote me two prescriptions. One prescription he suggested I show my wife which said I needed to have frequent sex. The other prescription was to masturbate. He also told me that I needed to see a Urologist. I showed the prescription to have frequent sex to my wife and she refused and told me that I was just trying to control her. I showed the prescription to masturbate to my Bishop. I explained to my Bishop what the doctor said about having an old man disease that could actually kill me. I asked the Bishop for permission to masturbate. The Bishop said NO. He told me that I needed to have more faith. I responded that I had faith and even though I had faith I am suffering from a debilitating preventable disease. I suggested that I could masturbate without thinking erogenous thoughts and without the use of pornography. He responded that I can NOT masturbate no matter what. Anyway, I continued to pray and I did my very best to be faithful. Finally the pain was so severe and I was unable to sleep from the pain and lack of bowel movement that I finally masturbated. The masturbation caused severe pain, but I did it anyway. I cried while I was doing it because I also believed I was letting the Lord down and that I didn’t have any faith. As I had suggested I wasn’t thinking any erogenous thoughts and I wasn’t using pornography. It was a miserable, depressing and painful experience. The pain started to subside and it wasn’t that long before I felt no pain at all. Only tremendous guilt for going against what God’s chosen leader for my ward had instructed me to do. The prostatitis would come back if I went too long without masturbating. I would go as long as I could go, but when the pain would start I would masturbate again. Most of the time I would do the same thing where I would empty my mind and tell myself that all I’m doing is getting rid of this substance, I’m not doing anything wrong….But that’s not how I felt afterward. I spent a lot of time self loathing and feeling unworthy. I refused to go to the temple and would try to avoid participating in any priesthood ordinances. The masturbation during my late 20s and early 30s was infrequent, but the prostatitis kept coming back. Eventually I got to where I would masturbate enough that it never did return. Looking back I am deeply disgusted that as a grown man I felt the need to ask permission of another man to masturbate, or that I took the advice of my Bishop to not use potentially life saving therapy for a preventable condition.
In spring or early summer of 2018 I found a therapist and eventually he dug into my past and I told him about my experience with my Father/Bishop. He told me that my Father is a sociopath at best and likely a psycopath. Before that time I hadn’t considered how odd my experiences as a Mormon or as Walter’s son were. By the end of the summer I had decided that myself or my children wouldn’t have a relationship with my biological Father. I told my Brother about this and he insisted that I was wrong. He told me my therapist was steering me in a bad direction and my Father isn’t evil. He said he had spoken to Walter and Walter said he wanted to apologize to me and he had remembered things he had done wrong to me. I didn’t want to go, but I love my Brother and I agreed to meet with Walter. It was the day before my Brother Mike got married we went to Walters house and met with him and my mom and both my brothers. Walter promptly told me that my other siblings got it worse than me and he never did anything bad to me. I told him about my experience with the physical abuse and the masturbation stuff and he denied it all. I let Walter know he is no longer my Father and I will never have anything to do with him. The next day my Brother got married, then during the wedding Walter and Paula (Mother) and all my siblings left early went and had a meeting and the best of my understanding is they decided that I’m mentally ill and they should all avoid me. I was separated from my wife and we had been talking about reconciling. They told her that I was mentally ill and she yelled the following to me during a fight, “Your parents are right you are mentally ill.” That meant that my family actually told my wife that I’m mentally ill.
After this meeting with Walter I contacted three of my high school friends and asked if they had any similar experiences with Walter. Two of my friends told me they lied to Walter and said they had never masturbated. The other friend told me that he is not a confident man, but he was a confident boy. He said he can trace all his problems with self esteem with the time he spent with Walter as his Bishop. He confirmed that he had very similar experiences with Walter as I had and that he also ended up with his Father’s gun in his mouth. He also was quoted the scripture about if your eye offend thee pluck it out. If your arm offend thee cut it off. He also considered cutting off his penis. He also was told the atonement didn’t apply to him because he repented and committed the same sin again. I sometimes wonder how many people Walter has harmed while being in a position of leadership. I remember when I heard that he was and to the best of my knowledge currently is an Elder’s Quorum President because I believe he is doing the same awful stuff to the elders in his quorum. But at least he isn’t working with Youth.
I began telling lies. I invented stories about having an older Brother (I have no older brother). This older Brother loved me more than anything and he would protect me from all harm. I would hear people tell their stories and sometimes I would take their stories and tell them as my own. I still don’t understand how I was able to tell all of these lies and at the same time believe I was a good person. I even told lies as an adult. Looking back I remember how the fantasy I would tell people about my older brother who loved me might have even saved my life. My therapist told me the lies I would tell was a coping strategy. I don’t know how to feel about that. I just know that I’ve currently owned the lies and no longer do that. Anyway back to junior high school…There was a bully who picked on me and one day I had enough and I hit him as hard as I could. He was quite a bit taller than me but I got a lucky punch right to his throat. I remember the fear I felt when he fell to the ground and passed out. I prayed as hard as I could to let that kid live. Eventually he woke back up and he was fine…But the next day I was walking home from school and this kid was sitting in the back of a camaro and he pointed at me, then the camaro slammed on the brakes and in my opinion tried to run me over while backing up. I jumped out of the way and two older kids that I judged to be upper classmen in high school jumped out and started threatening me. One of them was his older Brother. They threatened to kill me and I remember telling them that they better kill me because my older brother just got out of prison and I am his favorite person in the world and that I have a photographic memory and once I tell my Brother the license plate of their camaro he would track them down and kill them. That gave them pause. The decided not to beat me up but threatened me harm if I ever hit his brother again. I said you better get back in your car and leave or maybe I’ll have my Brother kill you just for the hell of it. They left and never came back. A friend of mine was there and he told me how awesome it was and how cool it was that I scared them with a made up story of my Brother. The reason I could scare them with the story of my Brother is that I’d told stories like that before. Anyway, it still makes me cry thinking the only person that ever stood up for me was a figment of my own imagination.
I remember years ago my Mother telling me a story about how soon after she married Walter that she cut her hair and when he came home from work he was livid that she had the gall to cut her hair without permission. He was so mad that he threw her to the ground and drug her around the house by her hair. After this experience the next time he left the house she packed all her things and was going to leave him….Then she said that God told her not to leave because Walter was going to become one of his choice sons and a great leader in the church, so she stayed. Summer or Fall of 2018 I related this story to my Mom and she said that story wasn’t true. She said Walter threw her to the ground and pulled her around the house by her hair because of something else she had done but it wasn’t because she cut her hair. Honestly I can’t remember what that reason was, but I remember saying OK Mom. lets make a list of all the reasons that its ok for a man to throw his wife to the ground and pull her around by her hair. Who cares what the reason is. She admitted he had done that but seemed upset with me that I got the facts wrong about why Walter did that to her. I felt so bad for my Mom. I thought she had cult brain because all she cared about is that I remembered a detail wrong….Not the fact he had thrown her to the ground and pulled her around the house by her hair. I told my mom that she failed to protect me. I told her that’s great that God told you to stay, but Walter didn’t stop being abusive….He merely stopped abusing you and you turned a blind eye to the abuse he gave me. I told her how upset I was that she failed to protect me.
OK now to the physical abuse. Honestly the physical abuse doesn’t bother me NEARLY as much as the crazy emotional abuse and the craziness about masturbation…However I will write down some of the physical abuse as well.
I was in the fourth grade and had a fight with one of my sisters. My older sister sometimes would beat the shit out of me and I would always get in trouble if I fought back. This was a day that I fought back. I don’t blame my sister….I blame Walter because he made it clear that it didn’t matter what my sister did, if I fought back I got in trouble. Anyway, when he found out I fought back he kicked me down the stairs and carried/threw me across the basement until I was in his workshop where he kept kicking and hitting me. He hit me in the side of the head and I fell on the house heater and cracked my head open. I still have a one inch scar on my forehead from the cut. I remember my Mom running into the room and pushing Walter away from me and taking me to see a doctor for treatment. Currently my mom denies this event ever happened. She backs Walter no matter what. She allowed him to abuse me as a kid and she backs him up now. She denies this ever happened and tells people that I’m mentally ill and that I make things like this up.
When I confronted Walter my Brother Enoch asked me if I had ever told any lies and I did my best to admit all of the lies I’d ever told including accusing Walter of hitting me with a 2×4. What actually happened was he hit my older sister with a 2×4 and I told people that he did that to me. I’ve never been more scared of anyone on this earth than Walter. I know it was wrong to tell this lie and others. I made the mistake of admitting to him and Paula and my Brothers about this lie and others. They now use this admission to tell people that I’m mentally ill. It doesn’t matter that traumatic things happened to me, it only matters to them that I have told lies, so nothing I say could ever be valid. I should mention here that my Brother Mike backed me up and verified that he had similar although less severe experiences. Over the past few years he has become my greatest friend.
When I was seven and living in the mountains of Montana I remember Walter taking me outside and murdering one of my pet rabbits. I say murdering because I was seven and it was a pet. My adult brain knows that all he was doing was preparing dinner for the family, but that doesn’t change my experience. I remember begging him not to kill my pet rabbit. My pleadings fell on deaf ears and he killed the rabbit anyway and skinned it right in front of me and prepared it for dinner. He told me I had to prepare the next rabbit. Later he sent me outside during the winter in the mountains of montana to kill one of my pet rabbits….consider that I had named them all and didn’t have friends. My only friends were my cow, my rabbits and my dog. Anyway, later he told me I had to go outside and kill a rabbit and prepare it for dinner. It was winter time and I wasn’t allowed back into the house until the rabbit was prepared for dinner. I cried the entire time but I did kill a rabbit and skinned it and prepared it for dinner. I chose to fast for dinner but Walter forced me to eat that rabbit. I developed a deep seated hatred for rabbits. I wasn’t allowed to hate Walter who was a Mormon Bishop but I could hate my rabbits. I’ve hated rabbits deeply my entire life…even though previous to this incident I spent a lot of time with the rabbits holding them and loving them.
I was about 12 when something happened. Currently I can’t even remember what I had done wrong, but Walter threw me around upstairs. Then when I was at the top of the stairs he kicked me in the back and I tumbled all the way down the stairs. Then he kicked me around until I was in my sisters bedroom where he punched me a few times and kicked me in the solar plexus. I remember that he broke three toes while kicking me. I remember being certain I was going to die. I remember laying on the ground after he had kicked me in the solar plexus and thinking “This is a shitty way to die.” But I didn’t die. I survived. When I was able to breathe again and calmed down he actually tried to get me to comfort him which I did even though I thought how awful this was and I knew I was comforting him just to survive. It was the first time I allowed myself to actually believe that Walter was a bad person. As a Mormon you aren’t supposed to think or say bad things about your leaders and he was my Bishop.