I went to a church university in the mid 1980s. I was super young and naive. I was also raped by my Family Home Evening Brother. We had been playing “Night Games” by the church, and he offered to walk me home for safety’s sake. This particular semester I lived with only one other girl and she was gone for a few days. Looking back on it now, I suppose my “brother” knew that; but it didn’t even cross my mind, because we were taught to trust members of our own church, especially men who had the Priesthood (power to act in God’s name).
He walked me down the stairs to my basement apartment, forced his way in, and raped me on my own twin bed. It was so surprising—so quick—and so violent—I remember he punched me at one point, and I remember thinking that it sounded about the same as it did on TV.
I went to my bishop as soon as I could, and poured my heart out to him. I was traumatized—broken. Scared. I remember him asking questions about time and location. He asked if I was wearing classroom attire (I thought the question was weird), or if I was out after curfew. He asked who the guy was, and I gave him his name. He asked why the FHE brother walked me home in the first place if I just lived a few houses down from where we were playing night games. He asked if I had told my parents. I said no.
He counseled me to not disclose it to my parents, or call the authorities, even assuring me that the bruise left on my eye and cheekbone was just superficial and would heal up in no time. My bishop made me feel so much shame. A couple of the questions he asked, I honestly answered with “I don’t remember.” He looked at me like “why wouldn’t you remember THAT detail (I was starting to think he didn’t believe me at all). My bishop quickly made me go from feeling not only traumatized by the whole event, to responsible for the whole event, to guilty and in need of repentance for the whole event.
He quietly put me on academic probation (I say quietly, because I was to thank him for keeping it on the down low). I couldn’t take the sacrament until he told me I could take the sacrament (which was months). I had to meet with him often–alone–(imagine the trauma of a young innocent girl who had just been raped–and now she had to meet with an adult male alone for months after)–He told me I was not to miss one week of church (not even to go home to attend meetings there).
And the worst part of all of this….was that I was passed the sacrament that I couldn’t take from my rapist every week. I told the bishop who raped me, but that didn’t seem to matter. Apparently the FHE brother lost no privileges nor suffered any consequences. My bishop protected the man that raped me. My rapist didn’t get disfellowshipped (he was passing the sacrament), and as far as I knew, didn’t get put on any kind of academic probation. And I thought nothing of all this shit at the time, for that was the culture I grew up in. That was the mid 1980s.
I thought things had changed since then. That’s what cognitive dissonance can do to a person. And then reality has continued to hit me smack upside the head over and over again. It happened on November 5 a couple years ago. And it happened again March 19, 2018. My “respectful silence” and me telling myself that I was the “exception not the norm” out of deference and overall belief in my faith has only perpetuated it happening to others. it makes me sick to think that my silence thinking that my situation was unique, was actually part of the problem. I am a huuuuuuge ball of sick right now.
But I won’t be part of the problem anymore after today. From this day on, I will not be silent anymore. Today I will speak. Tomorrow I will speak. And I will speak more and more and more. And people will get damn sick and tired of hearing my voice. It will be a shaky whisper. I will cry. A lot. I won’t be a Maya Angelou or a Kate Kelly or a John Dehlin and let my voice bellow from the annals of history. Mine will be a broken whisper from a sob that will grow stronger with each breath. But it will be spoken.
This is just ONE of many experiences I have to share. ONE OF MANY. This book is just Volume I Dear Brethren. There are many more volumes to come sadly.
Please listen to us. Then please consult us for help.