I wish I was brave enough to post my name, but my family is still unaware of my faith transition. I feel like a coward. My heart is beating rapidly in nervousness as I type this out. But I need to do it.
I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family. My dad was a highly abusive narcissist and my mom just sat back and let it happen. I was essentially a co-parent with my mom. I developed severe bulimia that I nearly died from, along with severe OCD, depression and anxiety that would follow me for years (still does) as a direct correlation to my home and church life growing up.
I guess I would have called myself highly sexual from the time I hit puberty (I now know, I was probably just a normal, curious teenager). My first kiss was horrible. I had a boy two years older than me take me into his room when I was thirteen, pin my hands above my head, pull my shirt up, grope my breasts and begin yanking my pants down. Thankfully, my friend walked in and it was stopped. I am absolutely unable to explain the extreme guilt I felt. I was defiled. I didn’t really even understand at the time that I was taken advantage of, because the person I told of the encounter, the bishop, just punished me. I was told not to take the sacrament for several weeks and no temple recommend for me. I had to describe in detail what had happened. I was so ashamed and my anxiety was through the roof. This boy told everyone I had sex with him. I lost every single one of my friends in seventh grade. I remember he contacted me on messenger and said “you suck. You’re such a dumb slut. You told everyone we had sex.” I was so confused and had nowhere to turn.
Well, somehow this experience didn’t deter my sexual feelings. I wanted to feel desired by boys. I was so much taller and had developed much sooner than other girls and I was just sort of weird. Since people were calling me a slut anyway, I figured what I did didn’t matter.
I was extremely bullied all through junior high and high school to the extent of having many emails sent to me urging me to commit suicide because I was “better off dead, slut.”
I think I was pretty- though I didn’t know it. I was thin, but thought I was fat. My life at home was out of control and school was hell (enter bulimia as a way to gain control). I went to nearly every bishop I had pleading for help at home (I had a lot of bishops because my parents couldn’t ever afford housing so we moved a lot). My dad was so mean and so abusive- “PLEASE help me,” I begged. I got the same answers always- honor my father’s priesthood, I’m being dramatic, it can’t be that bad, because my mom stays.
Anyway, I had large breasts from the time I was 12. I was absolutely unaware of the effect my body had on older men at the time. I didn’t know I was dressing “sexy”. I wasn’t trying to be sexy! I was just trying to find something to wear while constantly growing and never having money to buy new clothes. During my 12-17 year period, I had two bishops. They both called me into their office monthly (not exaggerating) commenting on how my outfits were “turning men on” and I was “walking pornography”. Well, I just thought that was disgusting and not my problem. Additionally, my mom was always harping on me for dressing immodestly. I responded the only way that made sense- rebellion. Fine! If men were getting turned on- gross!!! Not my problem, and I will continue to dress how I want.
In the meantime, I was hooking up (Mormon version-making out, hand stuff for the most part) with any boy who would have me. I was disgusting and ugly in my eyes, and if boys were turned on by me, though I couldn’t understand why, I would take advantage and hook up with them, if only to feel wanted for a moment. I was in and out of the bishop’s office constantly. These two men questioned me incessantly every time I went in with a new confession. I would be nauseous with anxiety every time I had to see the bishop. I asked myself, WHAT was wrong with me that I couldn’t control myself? Why didn’t I love god enough to stop committing these sexual sins? These men would ask questions like:
-were your nipples erect? -did you orgasm? -how deep did his fingers go? -did you enjoy yourself? -how long did your climax last? -did your vagina get wet?
I have since found out both these bishops asked several of my same friends in the ward the same questions. But these were well respected and loved men- they were not wrong in my eyes, I was. I was told over and over that every time I committed another sexual sin, all the other sins were brought back on me. I am unable to explain the gravity of this comment. I was driven insane thinking of how immoral I was. My OCD and anxiety skyrocketed. I wanted to go to the lords house! I wanted to be good! But how could I do that when boys really only desired me when I used my body? I WANTED so desperately to be wanted.
Well, my boyfriend (now husband) and I ended up doing something really “bad” about three weeks into dating. This was my first time at anything like this. I knew I had crossed a line big time. I was SICK. We nearly broke up. I had JUST gotten my recommend back from a previous repentance process!
So once again, I made an appointment with the bishop, absolutely agonizing the days before my appointment over my grievous sin. The bishop told me my boyfriend had to be addicted to porn- where else would he get ideas like this? He said this is not husband material and recommended I end the relationship; this type of man that desired such sick, sexual things would surely grow up to be an abusive spouse and father. I remember this next part so well. This huge, 400 pound man leaned his head back, closed his eyes, and told me to describe in detail what had happened, asking probing questions along the way. I felt sick, but what could I do? This was gods representative- he knows what is necessary for me to be forgiven. (My husband is the best man and anything but abusive- I’m thankful I didn’t take the advice of my bishop).
Fast forward to when I am 21 and my husband is on his mission. I was at a party and someone spiked my drink. My friends described hearing crying and screaming from the upstairs room I was in. I deduced from this, and from the fluids on my dress, that I had been raped. I was devastated because how would my RM husband ever want me again?
This time, with a new bishop, I once again went in to repent. It honestly did not even occur to me that I didn’t need to repent because it had not been my fault. Once again, I was told that this may not had happened if I was being faithful to my missionary and dressed modestly. My heart was broken.
I can’t blame the church for my OCD and other issues. However, I CAN and will say they were ABSOLUTELY exacerbated by the policies of the church. I now know that in NO WAY is your worth attached to your sexuality- it just does not work this way. The teachinsg within the church regarding sexuality are harmful to every man and woman or child of any age.
I am not “out” to either side of my family about where I stand with the Church- the idea of what will happen when I tell them I no longer believe sparks too much anxiety. Thankfully, my husband wants to stay with me even though he believes.
These practices are HARMFUL and they do NO GOOD. The simple answer is no more interviews. I wish the church would drop their obsession with sexuality, but I know that won’t happen, so let’s at least protect our members, our children and STOP these interviews. A child does not need to think that they are any less of a person because they have sexual desires.
Yes, it may be “rare” that you have an actual story of physical abuse behind the door, but I am here to tell you that abuse doesn’t have to be physical! It can be mental- I believe what I suffered at the hands of bishops is abuse- and any of my non Mormon therapists will attest to that.
The LDS church should not be allowed to perpetuate this myth that they think family is the most important thing; they don’t think that. If they did, these interviews would have already stopped rather than receiving pushback from the church, and I’m sure this will result in the excommunication of Sam Young- what a travesty. If the church believed in families, they wouldn’t care if gays marry or if one race marries another- they would be happy more love is being created in the world. If they cared about families, they would make women feel equal to men, instead of having women give themselves to husbands in the temple. Please LDS business corporation, stop these interviews and do the right thing, for once.