I joined the Church at the age of seventeen hoping it would fix things.
I was being sexually abused by a teacher at my school who preyed on my vulnerabilities and exploited my trusting nature. I was aware that what he was doing was wrong, but never fought against it and never told anyone. It was something I kept entirely hidden, and there was slight hope that I would tell someone whom I was told I could trust.
The Missionaries appeared at my door and promised me a new life in a restored Church, which I gladly accepted. Before being baptized I had to go through the Bishop’s interview. When asked if I was keeping the law of chastity, I broke down entirely, believing that this was the right man to tell. I told him very simply that I was ‘having an affair’ with a teacher, and he asked for details. Where does he touch you? Does he penetrate you? How often do you do it? Did you do anything to make him think this was okay? I had to put my baptism back until I stopped it and repented for what I had done, because it was my fault that I wasn’t obeying the law of chastity.
I felt awful about the entire experience, shutting down more whilst the abuse continued. I felt as though it was my fault because I never tried to stop it. When I graduated, it finally stopped and I could be baptized, but even after my sins were apparently washed away I felt like I was dirty because of what I had done. Even now the feeling of guilt has never really left.
The Bishop also ignored mandatory reporting laws, having heard about an instance of abuse and doing nothing about it. It makes me wonder; how many other peoples’ stories has he heard, and how many continued because he never said anything?