I struggled with bishops interviews all growing up. The questions always made me feel uncomfortable, I hated being alone in a room with an adult male that I didn’t know well or trust. I felt so much confusion for not completely understanding what they were asking me.
Like others, I had no idea what masturbation was until a bishop described and discussed it with me. I had been doing it for awhile but again, I had no idea it was “bad” or would cause me to be unworthy of Gods love. I didn’t even know it had a name!
The bishop often would use me as a way to pry into my parents marriage over many years. Wanting to know details about what happened between them at home, then wanting to know even more during and after their divorce. Sharing their opinion about what they thought of my parents personal matters with me when I was only 14 years old. It always made me uncomfortable and worried. I was far too young to be dealing with such things.
When I was 16 I went on my first date with a friend. We attended a school dance. This friend was a convert and a big joker. We were dancing together near a bunch of other Mormon kids and he grabbed my butt knowing the others were watching. He knew it would get a rise out of them. The next morning at church the bishop called me to his office. He had been told by his son what had happened and then insisted on getting a detailed account of everything this friend and I had done together sexually. (Which was absolutely nothing) but he kept prying, assuming I was lying. I had never even kissed anyone. The mounting shame continued.
I went to BYU after high school. I ended up being sexually assaulted by a return missionary on our first date. I experienced my first kiss ever (at 19 years old) followed by my first sexual assault immediately after (I ended up being sexually assaulted by multiple return missionary’s while attending BYU). I didn’t feel safe to go talk to any bishop about them. I didn’t feel anyone would believe me. No bishop had believed me before.
I ended up struggling to continue to attend church. I’d do anything to get out of meeting alone with any man. I didn’t trust them.
I ended up meeting my husband a year later. During our engagement we ended up having sex. I was so ashamed and wanted so desperately to be married in the temple so I pleaded with him to go talk to his bishop and I would talk to mine.
We both ended up having disciplinary councils. I felt sick to my stomach as I sat in a room with 15 men, most of whom I had never met, being asked about the sexual encounter I had had with my fiancé. I felt sick to my stomach. I hated myself.
We were not allowed to be married in the temple. We had to wait till we had been married a year to be sealed. By this point I had so much sexual shame built up in me that once we were married I didn’t want to have sex. I felt broken and like I was a horrible person.
After years of having a really disfunctional sex life, within marriage, the last bishops meeting I ever had occurred when I took our 2 year old daughter to go visit family out of state and my husband stayed in Utah to work.
Within 2 days of being home with my family I got a call from my husband crying, he was sitting outside of our bishops office, ready to confess that he had just had sex with another woman. I was devastated.
With the encouragement of my mom, she got me to go talk to her bishop (who I had known all growing up). I explained to him what had happened. That I came to visit family and my husband had sex with someone else.
The next thing out of the bishops mouth surprised me. He asked me “how long are you visiting for?” I answered, “3 weeks” he sighed. Looked at me and said “what did you expect to happen leaving him for so long?” He went on to tell me that men need to have sex every few days. They cannot be expected to go longer than that without it. It was my womanly duty as his wife to be there for him (sexually) even if that meant not visiting my family.
There it was. In that moment I felt more broken than I ever had in my entire life. Instead of storming out I asked him what was I supposed to do next. He then told me to return home to my husband as soon as I could, to take this instance of infidelity and put it in a box in my brain. Then tuck that box away and never ever open it again.
The damage was done. It took a few more years after that and entering into therapy before I began to start to heal from the sexual shame I had developed. I’m still in therapy working on it.