I was taught for years in church that I was responsible for the thoughts in a man’s head. That if a guy was turned on, it had to be caused by something that I did- whether it was my choice of clothes, something I said, or whatever. I was also told that men lose control after a point, so anything that happens is the woman’s fault.
My senior year of high school, I was targeted by a classmate who I hardly knew. He said that he needed my help with depression and “the Spirit” had told him to reach out to me. I obliged at first because I felt bad that he was struggling. He made us pray together often, read scriptures together, talk about the priesthood, mostly while parked in a church parking lot.
I was feeling really uncomfortable as this was happening more and more often and he was being very controlling and manipulative…. Every time I said that I wasn’t available or that I didn’t want to do this anymore, he told me that he would kill himself and it would be my fault. He sent me photos of himself holding a knife to his wrist and of handfuls of pills.
When he realized he had hold over me because I was gullible, he started demanding sexual things… The first was a topless photo that he blackmailed me with into doing more. I wish I had never done that but I was just scared. He reinforced what I had been taught earlier about how anything that he felt sexually was my fault, and told me that it was “bitchy” and dishonest to start something that I wasn’t going to finish. At the same time he was ruining my rapport with mutual friends to make sure I had no one to turn to.
Five months in, he raped me on a school trip. This was not two-sided. It was painful and humiliating. He said “look what you’ve done” and made us pray together for peace when he was still sweaty and naked, and I was still crying and bleeding with my hands belted behind my back. He held me and told me to be quiet for the prayer, and prayed out loud for forgiveness. He had just put on his mission papers.
He attended my grandma’s ward that I occasionally attended, so when we got back to town I went and talked to his bishop. I told the bishop that I haven’t been able to get this boy to leave me alone for 5 months, that he raped me, and that I want to kill myself because I can’t get away. I told him this boy has no business going on a mission. The bishop told me that D—– is a righteous man of God, everybody makes mistakes, and that his gut told him that D—– needs to go on this mission and he had faith that D—– would have told him anything that needed to be said. He asked me why I continued to put myself in a position of tempting a boy who’s trying to go on a mission.
I talked to my own bishop next. He told me that he has no jurisdiction over D—– so all he can do is help me to find peace. He gave me the book The Miracle of Forgiveness and said that I should not report to the police because I would ruin D—–‘s life, and that he was too young and full of potential for that. That God would sort it all out while he was a serving as a faithful missionary. And of course, he said that I put myself into the position by being alone with the boy and by sending that first photo. He asked me to think of what I could have said or done wrong that would have caused D—– to think that was okay. I was not to take the sacrament or pray/speak in church until I felt like I had forgiven myself and the boy and had faith enough in God’s plan. I believed it and blamed myself. I felt like a piece of trash.
I hardly spoke to anybody my last semester of high school. I just finished my classes quietly and made a change of plans to go to an out-of-state college. I started dating someone who was kind of known as a dirtbag just because he was big and strong and he said he would beat the guy up if he talked to me again. At this point, I was already chewed gum so I went along with it.
For college, I decided to move to Utah… Seemed safest. I tried again to talk to a bishop because I still felt awful, and felt like I had lost control over my life. He was oddly interested in my confession and asked explicit details. What positions, how many times, if he had climaxed, if I had, what we did for protection, if I was ever a dominator, whether or not foreplay was involved, over or under panties, what kind of panties, whether or not there were more people involved. I laughed nervously because it was awkward and I asked him if all the stuff needed to be answered. He said it was all part of the healing process and that any professional counselor would tell me the same… that I need to relive it and dissect the memories/feelings in order to be forgiven.