When I was a little girl, I was sexually abused by my older brothers and an older cousin. I was 3 when the abuse started. It happened almost daily until I was 9 years old. When my parents found out what happened, they took my brothers and I all to see our bishop. In an interview, all on my own at just 9 years old, I was asked to relive the 6 years of sexual abuse I went through with my untrained and unlicensed bishop. I was told I needed to repent for what happened to me. I NEEDED TO REPENT FOR BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED AT 3 YEARS OLD?!?! I was told that I was just too pretty and I needed to be careful because boys would always be knocking down my front door to get to me.
Fast forward several years. I was a teenager, 15 I believe, and I was back in the bishops office, repenting for kissing a boy. My mom had always taught me that French kissing was a sin because it was just like having sex. You were putting a part of your body into someone else’s, so that was equated to sex. During that interview, the bishop asked me pressing questions about whether or not the boy had touched me inappropriately. I said he had grabbed my breasts (without my consent, btw) and the bishop told me to touch myself on my body where the boy had touched me and to imitate the way he had massaged them. I felt sooo uncomfortable, but had always been taught that I had to be open and honest with my bishop and do what he told me to do.
I had several encounters like that with bishops. They always wanted me to touch myself on my body where a boy had touched me so that they could see how badly I had sinned and know what the appropriate consequence was for me. I was also asked questions about what I was wearing or doing that would tempt these boys so much. I was told that if I didn’t dress modestly, then I was pornography for men and inviting them to act inappropriately with me.
Fast forward again, several years. I went on to serve a mission and marry in the temple. After I had my first son, and before I re engaged in sexual activity with my husband, postpartum, I masturbated. I wanted to make sure I could still work down there and that I wasn’t in too much pain to be intimate with my husband. I didn’t want to make him feel bad by screaming out in pain during sex. I came clean to my husband about it, and he suggested that I go and repent to our bishop. During that bishops interview, he told me how disgusting I was for masturbating. I explained that it was something I’ve struggled with on and off since my sexual abuse as a little girl. I then pleaded with him to help me get into a therapist to help me work through it all and heal. My husband and I were struggling financially, and couldn’t afford a therapist on our own. The bishop disregarded my pleas and I left his office feeling worse than I had going in. I still wish I never would have let myself be guilt tripped into going to that interview.
Fast forward again to when I was 33 years old. I was finally brave enough to start seeking help and healing again from my childhood abuse. I never got the professional help I so badly needed when I was younger, and was determined to get help this time. We had just gotten a new bishop and I was hopeful that he’d help me. Instead, he asked me to tell him all about what I went through. I was once again asked to relive my horrors by an untrained, unprofessional, and unlicensed man. He agreed to help with a quarter of the costs of my therapy, $35 each session, as long as my therapist and I kept him in the loop about what I was talking about and how my healing was going. He only helped with 3 sessions, and then just stopped without any warning and I had to come up with the money on my own.
I was always a full tithe payer, always gave generously to fast offerings, served in so many callings, and served a full time mission, yet I was only worth a little over $100 to the church. Soon after that last bishops interview, my husband and I had learned the truth about church history, the truth about how the church uses its donations from its members, and the truth about how it protects and supports sexual abuse and sexual predators. We removed our names along with our children’s names from the church’s records and have never felt happier or more relieved to have left such a corrupt organization.
I am now getting the much needed help I’ve been looking for for years through a foundation that isn’t affiliated with the church at all. I’ve had more validation and healing than I ever could have gotten from the church. And one of the first things I was told from this Foundation, is that what happened to me as a child was NOT MY FAULT. That’s something I was never told by the church I loved and served wholeheartedly for so many years.