I grew up faithfully active in the church and believed all the doctrine I was taught, including the proper steps for repentance. When I was 14 I started dating a boy who sexually assaulted me. I was manipulated into continuing my relationship with him and allowing his behavior. When I was 16 I started dating another boy who also assaulted me on an almost daily basis.
A year later I started dating my first boyfriend again who continued to assault me and pressure me into performing sexual activities with him.
Because of the intense manipulation I received from both of these boys it wasn’t until after I terminated all contact with them that I felt ready to begin my repentance process. I left my first meeting with my bishop sick to my stomach. I had felt completely misunderstood. He told me to stop taking the sacrament for six weeks and to tell my parents.
My next meeting with him he accused me of lying and asked me if I left out any details. He told me that he had been in contact with one of the boy’s bishops who was told that more happened than what I had told him. I then felt forced to tell him that there was an instance when clothing was removed. I felt violated. I had done my best to block out the traumatic experiences that occurred in my relationships, all for them to be pulled out of me by a grown man I was not comfortable confiding in. But I told him. I told him because I believed that I would be healed and able to move on from my horrific experiences.
My next meeting with him he asked me to ask the young man for his forgiveness. I was a victim of sexual assault and my bishop told me in order for my process of repentance to be complete I had to ask my abuser for forgiveness. He was not trained to see the signs of assault and manipulation because he was not trained, but I should not have felt the need to tell a grown man about my sexual experiences in the first place. The church has introduced training, but it’s not enough. In no circumstance is it appropriate to encourage children to give a detailed account of their sexual experiences to a grown man. My multiple meetings with my bishop lead to more mental damage that I am still working through. Enough harm has been done, this needs to change.