My story starts outside of bishops interviews. When I was in preschool on a play date, I was raped by two boys a few years older than me while their grandfather watched. They threw me on a bunk bed, covered my face with a pillow, and removed the bottom half of my clothes. I had no idea what what happening to me, but I remember feeling shocked and like something bad had happened. I told my mother when she picked me up and we were walking back to the car that the boys “kissed my bum area” among other things. I’m not sure what happened once I told her, but I never saw those boys again.
I started going to church when I was 12 since my family was inactive most of the time, and went by myself more often than not. In my young women’s class I learned for the first time what the law of chastity was.
At age 13, I fought my way out of an attempted rape by one of my neighbor boys who was a really good friend of mine. The next week or so at church my young women’s teacher brought around a mirror and showed the girls how short their clothing was, and in the lesson someone talked about how our clothes should reflect our respect for ourselves and that boys will feel a certain way about us by what we wear. I left church that day feeling that the boy must have attacked me because my shorts were not long enough and that I must have not had enough respect for myself to prevent this from happening.
I started dating a few months after this, and my adult boyfriend was not LDS. We were together for a while, but things were getting sexual quickly. I was raped in every way you can imagine when I just barely turned 14. We broke up shortly after. I tried to tell my parents what happened, but they started crying when I just told them a fraction of what occurred. I felt like I did something wrong, so I made an appointment to talk to my bishop.
I hadn’t spoken to this man even once before I sat in his office. I told him that I had done something bad, and that I’d had sex. He asked me a series of questions beginning with who was this person? When? Where? How many times? What were you wearing? Did he touch your breast? How did he touch you? What positions did you have sex in? Did you orgasm? How many times did he orgasm? Did he put it in your mouth? In your [bum]? Were you wet? When did he get hard? Did you take off your shirt? Your bra? Who took off your clothes? Where were they? What color were your underwear? Where were his fingers? What were you doing up until then? What were you doing to arouse him? Did it feel good when he did this and that? Did you like it? When was the first time you did this activity?
This went on for about an hour or so, each question more probing than the next and further traumatizing me. I told him I had done these types of things before when I was younger. This man told a 14 year old, repeated rape victim, that I was chewed gum. Men would have to decide if I was worth marrying, and that I couldn’t blame them for not wanting to be with a used woman. God would forgive me this time, but if this ever happened again the sin would be on my own head.
I left that meeting wanting to kill myself. I tried to hang myself a few weeks later. I was disfellowshiped for a time, and regularly met with this man. He asked me if I slipped up or masturbated each week. I felt more ostracized at church than I had before, and anytime the topic of chastity came up shame and self-loathing took over my mind. I fully believed it was my fault that I got raped so many times. I must have brought this on myself since I kissed him and wore a short skirt.
Eventually I completed the “repentance” process, and felt like I was new again. Unfortunately for me, the same boy was about to leave the state/country for a while. I was raped again after agreeing to see him one last time before he left. I tried to fight it, but to no avail. As it was happening I felt like God wouldn’t forgive me again so it was all over for my eternal happiness. I couldn’t be forgiven again. I read so many scriptures on repentance and sexual sins, and I even asked questions to my YW teachers and seminary teacher about repentance. I understood that I had now rejected the spirit and was definitely going to be sent to outer darkness. I’d never find an LDS man who would want me because I was a lost cause. I was more damaged than not, and every good man deserved better than me.
I made an emergency appointment with the bishop and he was extremely angry with me. He said it was all my fault for going over there in the first place. I deserved all the abuse that came to me.
In the subsequent worthiness interviews I was questioned in the same manner as before. These questions were not limited to a repentance/confessional interview.
Meeting one-on-one with my bishop to talk about chastity matters as a minor left me with a deep sense of self-hatred and led to attempted suicide. I was never sexually abused by my bishop, but the way this untrained man handled my childhood rape is just as horrific. I still struggle with the self-loathing that this bishop inflicted on me. He was probably a good man, husband, and father, and he might have been doing his best in his calling.
No one should question a minor about their rape unless they are trained to deal with sexual trauma and childhood interviews. No one should be asked what positions they had sex in. No one should feel like they can’t say no to answering an inappropriate question about sex by an older man.
The LDS culture of telling children that those who are in power are chosen by God and you should never question or criticize them is extremely dangerous.
I was never asked if I wanted an adult in the room with me. I didn’t know that I could refuse to answer questions my bishop asked me.