I grew up in an abusive household where I was regularly subject to physical, emotional and mental abuse. One day when I was 12, I was experimenting with myself not knowing what I was doing was bad and my parents walked in. My parents then sent me to the bishop, unfortunately the first of nearly 7 years of regular sexual interviews.
My abusive father would come in to the interviews often to tell what happened and to further isolate and often dehumanize me and nothing was done. I believed that I wouldn’t be able to control myself, that one day I would just break, that I could never know Love because I had masturbated too many times. This was further shown through what I was told that pornography keeps escalating and escalating into more and worse terrible areas until you watch the vilest things imaginable. I believed that every step I took was a step of no return and that I had turned into this lifelong sex addict despite never having even kissed someone until I was 17. This became all the more worse when my father was excommunicated and suddenly I was the only priesthood holder in the home. Despite wanting to be in the church, his actions had got him excommunicated and he put extra pressure for me to kick this “addiction.”
The bishop and my father decided one day that my addiction had gotten too severe and sent me to LDS church rehab for masturbation and pornography despite my masturbation being around every 3 or so weeks and pornography being significantly less than that. The Sons of Helaman it is called. This was just a huge amount of shaming. We were collectively punished if an individual had “relapsed” with Mr. M and Mr. P which for the majority just meant that like most of the youth in the church they just didn’t talk about it. Everybody’s doing it seems way too on point here. We were charged a considerable sum and expected to go 3 months without incident and only then could we be told that we were passed it. Well except for my bishop which on top of the months long requirement to get a patriarchal blessing also required a 6 month no relapse period to go on a mission. It was obvious to me on some level that that was never going to happen. The Sons of Helaman while it masqueraded as a support group just shamed us and lead to more shaming and control by my parents expecting me since I had all the tools, the tools being like getting super angry and imagining someone physically assaulting my girlfriend as a way to get rid of the thoughts or whatever I was passionate about that I should be passed it. Sons of Helaman told the story of a man that had read the Book of Mormon every month for a year and had stayed clean for that year. I took on the challenge making it nearly 3 months of reading but still “relapsing” further solidifying in my mind that if this and prayer didn’t help, then I was just truly lost. They eventually passed the charges down to me which I eventually couldn’t afford and just felt horrible. The Sons of Helaman say that personal financial stake makes it more likely for individuals to “pass.”
Believing that I was horrible and that I was going to be this terrible sex addict and having an adult in authority grill me on sex questions lead to the point where I was incapable of setting boundaries. I didn’t know what was or what wasn’t something I would like because I wasn’t allowed to set those boundaries for myself. My bishop and through him my parents had stripped that from me it has only been years later that I’ve learned that likely every young man that I passed the sacrament with was doing the same thing and the only reason I got grilled was 1, I was caught and 2, I was a terrible liar. The church’s policy of asking sexual questions and not preventing sexually explicit questions, allowed my abuse from home to follow me to the place that I should have been the safest
Throughout this time my mental state started to rapidly deteriorate. Bipolar runs in my family and as strong as it does, I was bound to have it. But this just made it worse as I was constantly depressed and suicidal and was at the cusp innumerable times of killing myself, the only thing keeping me back was fear. I was anxious and incredibly stressed and self-harmed regularly. This was made worse that I was told that I wasn’t just self-harming, I was mutilating my flesh, that I was defiling the temple of God and that it was a horrific sin that instead of getting help the bishop once again decided to ban me from taking the sacrament for 2 weeks because I self-harmed. I didn’t tell the bishop about other times I self-harmed after that, I couldn’t. Not even my parents knew. I told the bishop that I was really depressed, or my parents did, can’t remember, I remember them being there for the self-harm meeting. My bishop told me that if I prayed and read the scriptures enough that my depression would go away. So I tried, I had read the book of Mormon almost every night for 6-7 years at this point. I prayed and tried to remember to say my morning prayers and say prayers throughout the day. I tried to do service, I went to seminary and participated, I tried everything that I could think of but still, I was deeply, deeply depressed. I believed that God didn’t care about me. I had done all the things, why….why didn’t it go away as promised?
My self-esteem was destroyed by a combination of my parents and the Mormon church. And It’s taking years to learn to be ok with myself as I am and to unlearn all these harmful awful teachings that I learned in bishop’s interviews. No one deserves to go through this and what I went through sucked but there are so many people that have gone through so much worse than I have. For myself and them please Stop Sexual Interviews and Stop Protecting Sexual Predators