From the age of 4 to 12, my older brother sexually abused me. When I was 15, and my brother was on a mission (so I felt safe to tell someone) I told my bishop about the abuse. He treated it completely inappropriately, asking me questions related to my worthiness; treating me as if I needed repentance; and even saying that many girls that are abused end up being lesbian—and then asking if I’d engaged in anything romantic with women.
At the end, he gave me the book “Miracle of Forigiveness” and told me to read it. He contacted my brother’s mission president and my brother sent me a letter, not asking for forgiveness, but explaining all the reasons it wasn’t his fault (e.g. saying this had happened because of our parents divorce—which didn’t even occur until I was 11!). This letter is what the mission president decided was needed in order for my brother to remain on his mission. Wow.
The letter further harmed me, making me feel that the abuse was my fault. Legal authorities were never contacted. I’ve suffered for years, feeling shame, guilt and severe depression. It’s difficult to unwind because the bishop did so much damage, conflating consensual sexual activity with abuse. He didn’t treat me as a victim, but a participant. (Reminder: I was 4 years old when my brother—5 years older— began doing this to me!).
Bishops—who are just men—with their own issues (sometimes perverse, sometimes just clueless) and limited understanding—have no business talking to girls (or boys) about anything sexual. While my conversation wasn’t one related to a standard worthiness interview, it highlights the harmful effects of having an untrained man addressing such delicate and significant issues. It can cause damage for decades or even life-long. This practice must stop.