Where do I even begin? My family is 5th generation Mormon. My lineage is through James Godson Bleak – of the Martin Handcart Co. My family, along with others who wanted to continue polygamy after it was banned in the U.S., moved to Colonial Juarez, Mexico to continue the practice of polygamy within the Mormon church – at the condoning and instructions of Joseph Smith himself. There isn’t a SINGLE female family member in the Mormon side of my family (up until my very own daughter) that hasn’t been touched by the hands of molestation, sexual abuse, and physical abuse at the hands of Mormon men (sometimes Mormon family, sometimes Mormon acquaintances, sometimes Mormon members – BUT ALL MORMON).
I know, I know, I know… “it’s the men, not the Mormon Church” – some white washed, apologetic, Mormons will insist. However, I beg to differ. And because this is MY STORY, I will tell it how it is!
Let me be clear, that I left the church five years ago (with the help of my children, but not with the support of my Mormon family). I was 40 years old when I finally left. I finally feel peace now… and a sense of safety and unconditional LOVE from my Heavenly parents that I had never experienced before within the church. I am now healing and understanding all that happened in my childhood, young adult years, and adulthood – seeing it now through the eyes of someone who finally escaped the brainwashing and grooming of my entire life.
My story isn’t as heinous as others, but it still is the story of lost child innocence – which is simply sad beyond belief. Even though my “bishop’s interview” didn’t occur until my teenage years, it is important to tell the beginning of the story that would have allowed me to even have ever been in a bishop’s interview with sexually probing questions that would traumatize me.
Me and my sister started getting molested at the tender innocent age of 6, by our Mormon uncles who were in their late teens, getting prepared for missions. This went on for two years, both of us not knowing that it was happening to the other one (until we told each other in our late teenage years). Some would say that this has nothing to do with the bishop’s interviews, but again, this is my story and I do believe it has everything to do with “Mormon policies” that have traumatically effected me and the females of my family, going all the way back to Joseph Smith.
Mormon men in my family, among the Mormon acquaintances, members, and friends that my family was around have been told for generations and generations that it is OK TO BREAK RULES and to basically do whatever it is you please with women and children – LET ALONE doing it in the name of GOD – which started the legacy of sexual abuse in my family. The uncles that molested me were also molested by their older brother, who had molested and raped my mother and aunt and his own children. Other abuses also occurred, including sexual and physical, with my grandmother, and her spouse (my mother’s biological father) and many other cousins from other men, including their fathers, acquaintances, and members of the church. I have female relatives who also suffered through abuse (both physical and sexual) in the confines of polygamist marriages. Their stories are not mine to tell. But AGAIN… men… MORMON MEN have pretty much been allowed – through instruction and by EXAMPLE -to freely do whatever they want with the women and children around them, which has effected my family for generations.
Due to my molestation as a child, I was very shy, scared, and filled with guilt and shame from a very young age. I had two different bishops in my youth who asked me explicit questions about sexual activity (specifically mastubation, which I had been doing since age 6 due to my abuse). NEITHER OF THESE MEN WERE TRAINED AT ALL or even aware of my childhood sexual abuse to even begin to understand the fear and guilt they were causing me by such questioning. I had been GROOMED my entire life since a baby, throughout Sunbeams and primary to treat the bishop (and other Mormon men ‘in charge’) as if he were my Heavenly Father, and that you could never say no regarding anything you were asked. However, after I hit about age 14, I really started to go within and not only hate myself but also be rebellious (as much as a timid Mormon girl could be). When the bishop’s asked me about masturbation I was horrified. I couldn’t even talk. I panicked and lied -which continued my legacy of hiding things and lying about all that had happened to me at the hands of Mormon men. In my trained and groomed mind and heart I knew somehow that I had lied to Heavenly Father and felt there was NO HOPE for me whatsoever. I started to have suicidal thoughts and knew that I would never be worthy to go to the temple or to even be in the Celestial Kingdom.
I did eventually get married in the temple (at the young age of 18), thank goodness my bishop’s interview at that time didn’t bring up my past sexual abuses, or I would have felt unworthy to even have been married in the temple, but in later years – after a very sad divorce (and two suicide attempts)- AGAIN, I was asked EXPLICIT sexual questions in a young adult interview with a 70 year old bishop – someone fully untrained to even understand what I was and had gone through. At that time I just believed he needed to know the EXACT details of things to know if I was worthy or not, but NOW that I understand (in the last five years) that they (bishops) don’t have any exact rules or questions to ask – I was horrified and disgusted that this perverted old man would be having such a conversation with me, again, not knowing the trauma of my childhood. Even though this exact bishop was not directly the cause of what happened in my life next, he and all the other bishops who had asked sexually explicit questions and Mormon men who sexually abused me had an cumulative effect in my mind. I felt completely worthless as a human being. I got into two VERY abusive (both sexual and physical) relationships after my divorce. I had no self-esteem. I didn’t care if I lived or died, and didn’t feel like Heavenly Father loved or cared for me at all. I am an advocate for being responsible for your own actions, and I am not putting blame on anyone else due to the choices I made, however – I am learning finally to give myself some grace and forgiveness (BETWEEN ME AND MY HEAVENLY PARENTS WITH NO MIDDLE MAN – “AKA, a bishop) in my life after stepping away from the Mormon church.
Later in life, I put myself through college and became a licensed professional counselor and have had the great opportunity to work with others who have been physically or sexually abused. I am able to let them know that it isn’t their fault, and that their feelings of self-loathing and hatred are missdirected. The advice that I give to these beautiful women and children, also let those words sink into my heart so that I could finally start to heal.
Mormon policies, from the modern “creation” of the LDS church to this VERY DAY, have involved policies that are harmful, demeaning, and abusive towards women and children. Even though I have left the church to find my own healing, I know others are choosing to stay within the church and try to make positive changes. I am not someone who chooses to be around abuse, or abusive policies anymore (including forced polygamy – with psychological guilt trips about my friends and sisters who wouldn’t be allowed to be in the Celestial Kingdom if I didn’t share my husband), misogynistic and patriarchal policies that don’t allow women to have a voice or any kind of power over themselves or their own sovereignty, and bigoted policies that effect groups of beautiful people of differing sexual orientations and EVEN THEIR INNOCENT CHILDREN!
The ABUSE HAS TO STOP! It is one thing for women and children to finally get brave enough to stand up and use their voices OUT LOUD SOMETIMES NOW, even though they have been encouraged and groomed not to…. BUT IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT for the men in the church who see these things happening or are involved in these things happening to STAND UP AND STOP THE MADNESS! The reason why it is is so important for the MEN to do it, is because, unfortunately, THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!! They are the ones that make the policies, and they are the ones that run it all! It is only going to be from the outspoken men of the church who can put the pressure on the other men in the church that will lead to any kind of changes.
My heart is full of compassion for both members and non-members alike. It is also filled with hope again, that one day soon these things will end. Having left the church five years ago, I have been accused by Mormon family members, specifically the male members, that it is because I wanted to “live a sinful life” and to get away with not having rules to live by. NOTHING could be further from the truth, as I “ran away from the Mormon Church” to get away from the abusive and harmful policies made by men who want to continue to abuse, harm, and oppress women and children! I have stopped the chain and legacy of abuse in my family by stepping away from the Mormon church, because that is what was best for my family in order to heal and be protected and safe!
MEN, Love your sisters, aunts, grandmothers, mothers, cousins , daughters and CHILDREN enough to make some changes within and without of the LDS church, PLEASE!!! Enough is enough is enough!
Finally… a Sovereign and Loved Daughter of God,