As a child I suffered years and years of sexual abuse. It started when I was barely older than a toddler and so, I didn’t even realize that what was happening was wrong until I was about to enter Young Women. Once I started attending YW I realized the full extent of what had happened to me, and how I was viewed. Lesson after lesson taught me that once someone had been sexual with me that I was like a chewed up piece of gum, and that no good Mormon returned missionary would be looking for a broken and used person like me. I even recall one lesson in which a cake was brought to class and everyone was to take turns sticking their fingers in it, coughing and sneezing on it and whatever else they could do to it. The point of course, was that now that this cake had been defiled, it had no value and wasn’t wanted and that would be me if I defiled myself with sexual behavior. I never sought help or told anyone about the years of abuse I had endured, because of all of the shame and guilt I felt.
Shortly before I turned 16 I went to a school dance with someone I really liked, a boy, who held the priesthood, who was only a year older than me. That was the first time that anyone touched me sexually since the abuse. I pushed him away and moved, but the advances kept coming and he groped my breasts. I thought to myself that this must be what I was supposed to do, and I was broken anyway so it didn’t much matter. Over the years that I dated this boy, he fingered me and once even forced my head onto his penis and told me to preform oral sex on him.
During this time I was called into the bishops office. While I sat there alone with this man, he told me that I needed to rethink my wardrobe, that my clothing was causing the men and boys in the ward to have impure thoughts. He challenged me to think about what I was trying to tell others about what I wanted by the way that I was dressed.
Several years later, as a 20 year old I started dating an LDS man who told me he was unhappy in his marriage and that he was leaving his marriage. This man groomed and manipulated me into having sex with him under the pretense that he was now divorcing. He was an elders quorum president of his ward. He decided to repent and was told that the ward needed his service as EQ president and so, his punishment would be to not take the sacrament that week.
I married several short years after that. I of course saw myself as someone who should be considered lucky to find a good Mormon boy to marry because of my history. As a result I was married far too quickly to a newly returned missionary who was not at all prepared to have a wife and family. Here I am now 11 years later. I have spent 11 years with a man who has gaslighted me when I have been upset about his inappropriate text messages with others among many other things. It has been a painful 11 years of near constant guilting.
This week, on Monday, I discovered that within days of giving birth with two broken ribs and pneumonia to our fourth child just over a year ago, my husband started a sexting and emotional affair with a perfect stranger and on multiple occasions planned to meet with this woman in the hopes it would lead to intercourse. The depth of my despair and rage cannot be measured. We attended just three short days ago a meeting with the bishop in which I spoke of the pain myself and my children were suffering as a result of this affair.
My spouse spoke of his years long addiction to many things. The bishop asked for his temple recommend for a month and to not take the sacrament until he hadn’t looked at porn for a week. There was absolutely no mention by the bishop of adultery or infidelity at any time during the interview. No mention at all of the seriousness of what had occurred.
I stood up as the interview ended and said: “I feel like we are sweeping the adultery under the rug, why are we sweeping it under the rug? This is the problem with this church. I have been given no authority here to enact justice for the suffering and pain this will cause myself and my children for the rest of our lives. This is wrong. Mercy will not rob justice and this is not justice. Here is my temple recommend, I don’t want it anymore and I won’t be a part of this.” I left the room and drove myself home.