My father sexually abused me when I was 9 years old. It was not complete penetration, but unwanted touching and fondling and he made me touch him. The abuse began occurring while my mother was out with relief society meetings and visting teaching or shopping. It went on for about a year and was beginning to escalate to him sneaking in my bedroom while i was asleep and I was starting to get very confused and scared.
I told my cousin at an Easter Party and she ran and got my mother and made me tell her. My mother was about 8 months pregnant at the time with the fourth child in the family. I remember her shocked look and she looked so upset and agitated the rest of the party. I heard nothing more about it…but the abuse abruptly stopped.
I remember hearing arguing…I remember my mother taking away some of the special presents my dad had given me. I remember my father telling me one time that he was sorry. It was a quick sorry and nothing more.
Years later my mother told me that she had gone to the bishop and told him…the bishop got my father into counseling and psychotherapy. Nobody ever spoke with me or helped me in anyway. My mother also told me that from that day on she never went to church meetings or left any of the kids or grand kids alone with my father and as far as she knew, he never did anything like that again.
So the aftermath for me was I felt shame at church…when the teachers gave the morality and law of chastity lessons and taught us about being chewed gum or the brownies with dog poo in them…I was that girl. Nobody would want me…i was unworthy of anyone or any boy or return missionary. I never told anyone about what happened after that except my future husband…I felt hatred toward my father…but also love, compassion and forgiveness. I became very shy and withdrawn…until I got into high school and became promiscuous.
I did not know how to say no to boys…or if I did say no I fully expected the boy to ignore my NO. I got married young to the very first Mormon boy who paid me any attention. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worthy and worthwhile…that I could rise above my ‘sinning’ behavior. I think I needed to prove this worthiness to myself more than anyone else.
I became hyper religious. I was married very young and when my husband began to look at porn; I went to a bishop and asked for his help…. the bishop did nothing. I began to ignore the signs of my husband cheating on me. I buried my head in the sand and just allowed my husbands’ patriarchal, emotional and verbal abuse to continue. I kept forgiving him over and over. I went to two different bishops and tried to get help because husband was cheating…they would call my husband in and he would lie to them and none of them helped me.
But I fully in my mind thought that the Bishop could help- now I realize that Bishops are not trained in these matters. I tried to set boundaries and he kept crossing them. My husband started to ask me to do sexual things I felt very uncomfortable with- and trust me these were not normal things that should be done in a temple marriage which involved a 3rd party and my husband was in the bishopric during some of this time! I found myself lying for my husband. I was keeping secrets for him. I was telling him to stop and to get released from his calling and he would not listen. I told him no over and over again…he did not listen to me…. he would beg and wear me down and use emotional abuse and coercion and threats etc to get me to do things I felt horrible about afterwards. I didn’t understand healthy relationships and boundaries.
I had four kids and I was a helicopter mom and never let them out of my sight until they were grown teens. I never got a baby sitter. However I was taught to look up and respect the Bishop as he was a representative for Christ and I allowed my children to be interviewed behind closed doors and I know now were being asked sexual questions about masturbation etc from bishops.
I began to feel triggered at church when I would see a little girl sitting their fathers lap. My life was a mess-but I was fully active in the church. When I turned 52 I finally went to get some counseling…I had 2 years worth of EMDR therapy for PTSD and counseling and I am finally learning boundaries, I am finally learning to love myself…my marriage is over because I learned to stand up and say no.
Back to my father, he passed away 7 years ago and on his deathbed with tears in his eyes he told me he was so sorry and asked for my forgiveness. I have learned to forgive. My mother needs to face her responsibility in this because she stayed with a man who was a pedophile because she took the advice of her bishop who seemed to think it was a good idea even though the Bishop had no counseling experience…clearly my mother didn’t understand boundaries and accepted disgusting behavior in her husband and passed that down to me as I watched her stay with a man who abused me and how my mother never spoke to me about it…I just buried it deep inside and had all that shame. I in turn as a mother had no boundaries and modeled that for my children and passed that down to my daughter who married in the temple and just divorced her abusive husband after she saw that I could divorce her Dad. I really hope I have broken the chain of abuse.