I wasn’t born into a “mormon” household. I was born into a “wordly” household, as I was often told as a 9 year old little girl trying to navigate my way through life in the LDS church, while having two addicts for parents. It was often hard for me when my grandmother would take me to church services on Sundays because I never felt like I was like all the other children sitting in the pews with their families.
At such a young age, and growing up in a unstable/abusive household, I was already seeking a refuge and somewhere I felt safe at. The church had been that for me at one point in my life. Then my teenager years came along and I started to become more curious and engaging in “sins” as the church would call them. I was often told by church members and members of my family that “going to see the bishop and repent” was the only way to feel whole and worthy again.
By time I was 21 I had sat through numerous 1 on 1 interviews with my bishop(s). Every time I left the interview I had felt completely stripped of my dignity as a woman and a human. Feeling demoralized by a fellow member of my “church” but also my community. To have to look at my male bishop, when he came to our young women’s activities was gut wrenching. To know he knew personal and in depth details on my sexual intercourse “sins” or the fact I struggled with temptations to drink when I was in high school, or the fact he knew I struggled with having same sex attractions, or the details he knew about my childhood sexual/emotional abuse, and then to have to socialize with him and make eye contact with him, and shake his hand, and act like I’m completely okay and not on the verge of a panic attack is something no one should ever have to go through.
I am fortunate enough to have never been in a situation with a bishop where I was physically sexually abused. I, however, have been asked to give very descriptive details on sexual encounters I had before marriage and my sexually feelings towards the same sex. I had to answer a bishop on how many sexual partners I have had and if I had ever received a sexually transmitted infection. I was asked if I had ever exchanged my body for drugs or money.
As a child and a young woman, to go into a interview alone, with a older male, who I am told I can trust, to be asked questions and pressured to divulge such detail, has absolutely affected me as adult woman. I never walked out of those interviews feeling “whole”. I left those interviews always feeling shameful and disgusted of who I am as a human. This has caused severe anxiety, depression, and struggles with my self worth, which has lead to suicidal ideation at times.
I wish I would had listened to my gut feeling when I was getting asked certain questions by my bishops, feeling like “this is too far, what does this information have to do with my repentance process, why does he need to know this? You shouldn’t be answering this. This feels to far.” But as a young woman growing up in the LDS church your taught to trust the priesthood holders, especially the bishop. No one walks you through what a interview is going to be like. No one tells you what questions are appropriate or not for the bishop to ask you. Nine year old me didn’t know it wasn’t appropriate for my bishop to ask me in detail how my babysitter sexually assaulted me when I was 5. He made me relive that trauma all over again, and for what?