I am so scared to tell my story because of the backlash I could receive from family members who may read this so I have decided to share it to the public anonymously.
When I was just 9 years old, my Mom caught me “exploring” myself. I can’t even call it what it is because it still feels SO bad and dirty to say. She told me I needed to go to the Bishop to repent. I didn’t understand sex (didn’t even know what it was), and I had no idea I did anything wrong.
Her reasoning is because I was above the age of accountability (8 years old) and that I had been baptized just a few months prior. According to that logic, I should’ve known it was wrong on my own, without any previous education on the matter.
We went to the Bishop’s office, said a prayer, and with my Mom sitting next to me he proceeded to ask me what I had done, where I had touched myself, what I had used, if it “felt really good” (referring to orgasm), if I had looked at any pornographic images, and other extremely invasive questions.
I walked out extremely confused, feeling disgusted about myself and my own body, embarrassed, and extremely upset. I felt violated. It was SO scary, and weird to me. I was NINE years old!!! Because I’d been taught it was so wrong, I went into several different Bishops (ward boundaries changed) through my teenage years for the same reason -it had become something I couldn’t control after the experience I had when I was nine and my resulting twisted view on my body/sex.
In total, 3 different Bishops asked me extremely invasive questions, the same questions that were asked of me when I was nine. As an adult now, it still haunts me. I’m still LDS, as I believe it’s not the teachings that are flawed, it’s the people. However, I get extreme anxiety going to church, and especially talking to the Bishop.
Now, not all Bishops are this way. But THEY ARE out there, and it’s more prevalent than you think! I know others who have experienced similar situations. It’s traumatizing for a child to go through something like that, and I would know. Being a little girl, and explaining personal details like that to a creepy older man is scarring. I have a poor body image, I’ve had to go to an OBGYN because intercourse with my husband can be painful, and I found out the reason why is because I can’t relax. I’ve been told to go to physical therapy for pelvic floor exercises, and I’m so scared to do anything with my husband out of fear it’s sinful.
Sex still confuses me because I constantly feel guilty for my body responding and feeling pleasure, but I want to have children. I strongly believe it’s all a result of what happened to me. To me, it’s sexual abuse/grooming behavior, and Bishops as well as other church leaders who are doing this NEED to be held responsible. It’s definitely a form of pedophilia. Kids are taught to trust and rely on these authority figures… it needs to be made known. It’s not just happening to teenagers, it’s happening to young children too.
Even my Mom thought it was okay because it was the Bishop asking. My own mother sat next to me in approval of what was occurring, and she put the Bishop’s position before her own daughter’s well being. Predators are very good at putting forward a righteous persona, and putting abusive leaders -who are in a position of power- above everyone else is dangerous. It creates an illusion that they are above the ability to sin, and need not be held accountable. Most people in the church look up to these leaders and some, if not most, will defend them to their death regardless of the leader’s sinful actions.
I hope to bring awareness and change by telling my story. I only tell it anonymously because it is still an open wound for me, and I fear that telling my story openly before that wound has healed will only bring more damage. I hope that through therapy and time, I will be able to be an advocate -openly. Until then, I will do what I can to help bring change so that we may prevent other children from experiencing the same horrors that myself and many others have experienced.