Growing up, my mother and I were the only ethnic people in the ward. I generally blended in since my skin is fair but that changed when I hit puberty. Suddenly I had wide hips and was the only girl wearing a real bra. I got a lot of comments from adults and I guess that made me a concern for the bishop. My interview at 12 was as thorough as possible, so much that I’ve struggled to recall the blocked memories.
He started with teaching me sexual terms, like how women masturbate and how a man and woman have sex. Then we moved on to modesty. We discussed the low rise jean trend and if I shaved my pubic area, what kind and color of underwear I owned, what parts of my body were most “distracting and temping to men” and how to appropriately cover them. Every bit of me was scrutinized for possible sinful thoughts it could stir in others. I left feeling even more self conscious and uncomfortable in my new body than ever. I felt ashamed for not having a more modest figure. “A lot of women with your body fall into the trap of seeking mens attention by whoring.”
Every once in a while I would get called in to the bishop’s office for something “inappropriate” I was wearing. Once it was a jean skirt with a slit, another was a skirt that hugged my butt in a scandalous way, shirts that hugged my figure, button on the front of shirts were too suggestive, the hint of cleavage, etc. I struggled to stay in the walls of modesty while my body continued to grow. I tried wearing men’s clothes for a while but it couldn’t make me as invisible as I wanted to be.
I cut my arms all through high school, hoping that I’d accidentally cut too deep one day. I obviously wanted to live but the constraints on my life was making it impossible. After leaving I continued to struggle with my body image, even now 10 years later. I was robbed of a special time in my life when I should have been learning to love myself and explore my body in a healthy way. I was robbed of the protection children need in order to become confident adults.
My step father physically and emotionally abused my mother, sister, and I and the bishop knew. Every time my mom got the courage to kick him out we were brought into the bishops office to “save our family”.
After 12 I was met with alone and told to accept my part of the blame. I was allowing Satan to tear our family apart and being a bad daughter. I was pushed until they could bring my step father in to hear me beg him to come home.
So when I was raped by a boyfriend at 18, I did not report or tell a soul for a year. Because I was trained to accept blame for my abuse. I was groomed as a child to not speak up when someone hurt me. I spiraled for that year until I had a mental breakdown and became agoraphobic for a summer. These are only two examples of how the Mormon church has hurt me.