My story starts with me realizing early in my elementary years, that I liked boys and girls. I was also sexually abused by an older child during first grade. I told no one of the abuse until I was almost 30, except one bishop. A bishop who simply had no training or experience probably, with a young child coming to him with such a serious thing. He asked me all sorts of questions that were… Just horrible. For instance, he made me describe what my abuser did to me, and then ask me whether I enjoyed it or not! When I told him the abuser penetrated me with a pencil, he asked, And did that make you feel good? Ummmmm no! He asked me if I had been tempted to do it again, to myself. Again no! I didn’t even know at that point what sex really was. He was searching for where I needed to repent over being abused. He didn’t alert my parents, or anyone else for this matter, even though my abuser was in our stake. (My abuser was probably being abused himself) This was despite me telling him that my parents didn’t know, and that I was scared to tell them. Instead he counseled me to ask for forgiveness in my part of what happened. That I needed to repent. I had no part, I was a victim! Too bad for me. I was dirty then, and I for sure wanted no one to know about my dark secret.
As I turned 12, and interviews began, things became worse for me. Whether it was because of the abuse, or naturally, I was a sexually curious child. I discovered masturbation in elementary school. I didn’t realize until interviews started, how serious a sin it was. Next to murder no less! To communicate to a child, that they are barely better than a murderer is heinous. I stated cutting myself at 13. I was depressed and anxious about my eternal salvation! I was not measuring up.
Being bisexual, I “knew” was a grave sin. I only ever confessed to one bishop, that I liked girls. I was confessing that I had girlfriend. He of course, needed all the dirty details of what these two 9th grade girls were up to. Again, a bishop questioned me in great detail over which things felt good, or what I liked. Why did he need to know if it was a left hand or a right had doing the touching? He made me feel even more dirty with his questions and answers. I knew it wasn’t appropriate, but who would listen to a young girl over a bishop anyhow? Especially, a troubled child, a black sheep. During the interview, my bishop was profusely sweating, red faced and obviously aroused by my sins. He had a small, red notebook that he was jotting notes in. He assured me he was the only one who saw it, and it was to help him remember specific things about specific members…. I may not read upside down professionally, but I fail to see why he needed to make notes regarding two girls. He wasn’t noting my willingness to repent, or anything that pertained to my eternal salvation. it was my sexual experiences he was jotting down. I could clearly see that. This man held my salvation, and my entire life in his hands. I have never felt more desolate and alone then when he told me that I would be miserable in hell for all eternity, never to see my family again, and that my sins were approaching murderer territory. So of course at 15, I hurried home to finally end my misery by taking my own life. I had been cutting for several years by then. I felt worthless, unlovable, and wrong. I didn’t deserve to be with my family eternally anyway. They would be better off without me. There was something wrong with me, that I couldn’t fix. So began the first attempt of many.
I stayed stuck in the vicious cycle of sinning, repenting and having no sense of self worth for a long time. I finally left the church for good at 29. The final straw was, surprisingly enough, a bishop interview. I had been inactive for a while, and was looking to come back. So the bishop starts his questions. It quickly brought back such horrible memories. It felt horrible to discuss those things as a child, and it feels horrible to discuss them as an adult. As an adult, it was still difficult speaking up for myself. I got mad with him questioning me for the naughty details. Why do you need to know that? I left and never went back.
It has taken me years, and I am still working on it, to build up my self esteem. I have suffered intimacy problems from the shaming, I have self medicated by cutting, alcohol etc. I have made life decisions based on the “fact” the I am wrong, contrary to God’s plan, and not worthy. I have attempted suicide several times, and thought about it millions more. All because of good men, and bad men, with no training and some outdated views on sexuality.
I cry for myself as a little girl. I cry for myself as an adult. How sad to know from such a young age you are doomed. My body, and my heart are covered in scars. I have children of my own now, and you can believe that they won’t be going behind those damn closed doors alone.
My youngest brother took his own life at 15 in 2011. I am tortured over this. He left no note, and we can only guess. My heart breaks wondering if worthiness interviews had anything to do with it. I wish my parents had been more involved in the bishop thing, and that they would have talked more about sex with us as kids. It was such a mysterious and taboo subject. Those are things I can do differently for my children.