I thought for a long time that I was alone in feeling that the interviews were damaging and shaming. This is the story of how my experience with Bishop interviews led to me leaving the LDS church and cutting all ties with my blood family.
A bit of context. I am a female. Being raised in the LDS church I did not know anything about sex, my body parts, or the feelings that come along with puberty. I was very naive and kind-hearted as a child always trying to help others and be of service.
Between the ages of 10 – 12 I was sexually abused by a family “friend.” who was also female. I never told anyone in those two years and endured the abuse alone. I never wanted to burden anyone, I worked hard at school, volunteered, and tried to keep it a secret.
Often times I would protect other children that my abuser attempted to lure. I would tell the children to run away so that I could take the beating or rape.
The details of my abuse are not something I want to elaborate on, it was utter hell. Even my sister, who I was very close to, I pushed far away and shielded from the abuse.
The reason I told no one was because I feared what my family, the LDS church, and ultimately what God would think of me. When my parents eventually found out they set up an interview with my Church Bishop on my behalf to start the repentance process.
In my eyes, my family turned against me, instead of being on my side they deemed my “sin” the issue. My abuser never faced charges, she never went to court, she basically got let off with a warning in the form of a written letter my mother penned.
The interview with the bishop left me in tears of humiliation, anger, guilt and pain. The rejection I faced from my bishop, family, and community was far worse than I had imagined. When I wanted to be brought closer to the love of God I felt excluded and outright denied.
In the interview my Bishop asked me vivid questions. ( ex. When she put her lips on your breast did she use her tongue? ) I was mortified that this man was wanting to know such detailed things about the abuse I so badly wanted to forget and put behind me. During the interview I was so numb and dead on the inside that I showed little emotion. He told me that I was not crying enough and thus did not earn forgiveness.
He told me it would be a long and painful process to forgiveness and that God may not give me a husband because of my sin. I felt so confused, I was a victim, I knew in my heart that I was not to blame for being abused. He made a point to tell me that it must be because of how I acted, talked or dressed. Perhaps I had not been praying hard enough or reading my scriptures often enough. He made a point to make me feel disgusting and dirty. ( Which I already had been feeling for two horrible years. ) I left his office that day feeling more broken than when I walked in.
Over my high school years I was raped and assaulted by people I trusted. Men I thought were friends who waited until I was vulnerable. I had a Bishop interview when I was 16 after being raped. Because of my previous history I was once again blamed. Somehow I must have tempted the poor young men!
My parents would even call the men and ask for their side of the story! It was outrageous that they would trust a stranger over their own daughter.
When other events took place in following years I just pretended that they didn’t happen. There was no point in crying about it or asking for help when I was always blamed and punished. I struggled through blurry years or depression, self-harm, suicide attempts, and crushing guilt.
When I left the church at 17 I felt a weight lift off my back. Everyday since leaving I have grown stronger, I have been able to heal and find myself again after many painful years. I am married now, and my husband is the most supporting and loving man I have even known.
I never want another child to endure the pain I did. We should bring people closer when they are hurting.
No child should be afraid to tell their parents about people harming them or making them uncomfortable.
I hope my story helps other to feel less alone, I am grateful that this movement is coming to light.