I can’t remember exactly how old I was I want to say, 12 or 13… I know is was quite Young. I was called into the bishops office for an interview so I could go do baptisms for the dead on our Temple trip coming up (as my parents wanted). I remember one of the very first questions asked was about whether or not “I touched myself inappropriately”. I remember being very nervous and uncomfortable. You see I was a victim of sexual abuse… I was very confused if this man was going to hurt me or help me.
I gave him just a simple “No” and he must’ve sensed my fear and mistaken it as guilt because he kept referring back to the question. I felt at the time that he was enjoying himself, not sexually but the power he had on me, knowing I couldn’t leave, and knowing I was weak and had to listen to him. His words and the same words of my church leaders (especially from my women leaders) of “saving myself for my husband”, being compared to a “chewed up piece of gum” ect… Still sting to this day.
My bishop at the time obviously knew something was wrong. He came around his desk sat next to me and talked about masturbation (which I wasn’t doing willingly). These interviews and teachings really messed with my mind. I felt used, I felt like I would be unwanted and unworthy of love. As I became a teenager I became promiscuous and looked for love and acceptance at the hands of one’s who continued to use me. I remember consciously justifying it because I was already “a chewed up piece of gum, that no “righteous or worthy man would want”.
I remember crying and being extremely scared and nervous during this interview. Which in my bishops eyes meant I was guilty so he kept referring back to his original questions about Chastity. Which just kept making me even more uncomfortable and kept the tears and fear flowing. Another thing I remember about that interview (that I only now as an adult and mother realize is extremely disturbing) is that when I left that office where I (a vulnerable child) sat alone with a grown man for a lengthy period of time behind a closed door, I was visibly upset, red face, obviously crying ect… I walked out into a hallway full of other members (including my parents) and walked straight into the bathroom to try and gather myself.
NO ONE not a single person came to my aid.. not a single person was concerned or came to see what I was so upset about. How in a church full of adults was no one concerned about the well being of this little girl (me)? What if he had been inappropriate (other than is disgusting uncomfortable words) what if he had touched me or worse? Would no one of cared? These interviews DO INDEED hurt our youth. I have 4 sisters and multiple friends within the church who I know for a fact have been effected by these interviews. Whether it’s shame, guilt, setting a precedent for grooming by other men, making them feel worthless or unworthy of love. Our actions as adults have a huge effect on our children. The church is great about shaming others, it leads to a very destructive way of thinking about ourselves as we age. A type of hate and shame for ourselves that causes some major mental battles.
I hope and pray that things change… I would never subject my children to these interviews. This is one of the main reasons I stopped going to church. I have 3 daughters and I would never allow them to be grilled and hounded about these things. And I say shame on any other parent to allows these inappropriate interviews to be had with your children. You have no idea the battles they face now or in the future and shame on you for potentially setting them up for shame and guilt that will last a lifetime of pain.