On the outside and even in everyday interactions, I’m just a regular person. While I’ve fallen in and out of activity, I’ve never spoken out against the church and I’ve only shared my story of abuse with very few close people.
Internally I fight a raging battle as to where I stand with my faith in the church and what I believe. I’m afraid not to believe and am terrified to share I have doubts due to family repercussions. However, I have fought an even greater battle due to the shame and abuse I have endured through the years. At a young age, approximately 3, I was molested. I don’t remember it in detail, it only comes in flashes. I do remember reenacting the abuse in the form of masturbation not long after and being shamed and chastised for it after being caught by my mother. This act, ‘the m word’ as well as the shame carried on with me through childhood and my teens. When the bishop asked about it, I lied, creating even more guilt and shame. No man would ever want me and I was surely going to the telestial kingdom as I could never confess such a horrible crime.
Fast forward to college, I was a young 18 year old girl away on her own for the first time. I had dated a boy and while we didn’t have sex, I did give into doing some things with him. Not long after someone broke into my college apartment. Terrified, my parents called the college ward bishop and asked him to check on me. Little did I know that interview would do more damage than the break in ever would.
I met with the bishop and briefly talked about if I had any ideas on who would break in and steal my underwear only. I didn’t know. He then started quizzing me personally and asked him if there where things I needed to confess to him. I told him I didn’t feel ready to do that but assured him I hadn’t been sexually active.
Then the questions began, terribly embarrassing detailed questions. I won’t go into the gory details as its still to painful to relive, but words like ejaculate were used and he wanted details step by step on each intimate act and whether or not I enjoyed it. I felt stripped down and degraded. He informed me how terribly wrong the decisions I made were and told me I may as well had just as well had sex and I would have to meet with him weekly.
He then said he didn’t think I was safe at my apartment and should move in with him and his family. I politely declined, left his office, and never went back. Never once did I think he had ill intentions inviting me to his home, and never once did I think his questions were wrong. I only thought I was a bad disgusting out of control person. It took me another ten years to even kiss a man again for fear I would get in trouble again and add to my lists of sins.
Many issues have arisen from my past, the most prominent being a 20 year eating disorder. While I’ve made great strides and refuse to be a victim of my past, moments of shame and guilt still hit me at times. I often still feel not worthy of love and feel guilty. I don’t blame my past bishops totally for what has happened, but I do know the system needs to change. I can’t imagine any other child who has been molested feeling how I felt about masturbation being reprimanded by a bishop when professional counseling is needed. I can’t imagine another young woman being shamed by a grown man behind closed doors only to possibly try and victimize her further by inviting her into his home. These situations are real, and I have to believe mine is not an isolated incident.