At 3 years of age, I was sexually assaulted by an 18 year old man preparing to serve a mission while in a ward in Dixon, MO. At age 3, I had no knowledge of how serious what he had done was, I said something that triggered my parents to acknowledge that something very serious had occurred. After questioning me and getting enough information to get an idea of what had happened, my Dad drove to the offenders home and told him to get in his truck. The young man was hesitant, I'm sure he could tell by the look on Dad's face that he knew.
My father, doing the only thing he had been taught to do with this serious of situations, called the bishop. They drove to the building and the bishop met with them. The boy denied and denied until finally he was broken down to admitting. Instead of calling police the bishop promised to handle the situation secretly and my parents obeyed as they always have as obedient, devoted members. They told no one. The bishop did not report this knowledge of child sexual abuse. They moved almost immediately since it was too much for them to bare to see him at church on Sundays and they knew his family well also.
My parents tried to block it out of my memory and hoped I was young enough that the assault would not affect me long term. It seemed to be going well for me until at 13 or 14 years of age I began having flashbacks of the assault and it lead to me having nightmares and ultimately flat out asking my parents what had happened after months of traumatizing memories remained. They talked to me about it tearfully and said they did what they thought was best at the time which was talking to the bishop but that they had been extremely disappointed to learn that a few short months after the abuse that the offender had his priesthood restored and ended up serving a mission for the church.
I had a really rough few teenage years, with anger and rebellion and I hated the church. I was married at age 18, to someone who was not a member, but he joined for my parents peace of mind. I am still married today and love him dearly. In 2015, I began really struggling with the abuse again. It had reared up its ugliness several times in my life but this time it felt different, It wouldn't go away until I dealt with it fully. I had a 3 year old and I feel that was part of the timing of what felt so triggering...to see how little and innocent he was and to fully acknowledge what type of a monster could hurt a child like that cut deep into my soul.
I called my father. I let him know I wanted to press charges against my abuser and the church and I had to do this, my gut feeling was and still is that there were and are many other victims of ______ ___. So my parents sat down with me and agreed to help in any way they could to support me through this. Dad (who was in now the bishopric) was able to track down the bishop that handled the situation in Missouri, and he was now living in Idaho. He proceeded to tell my Dad that they chose informal disciplinary action, which meant that the abusers file was never permanently marked to warn others.
I was heartbroken....how could they be so negligent in their job to protect other ward members or be aware going forward of the threat that man could be to others? So next, I hired a private investigator to track down my abusers' whereabouts. After doing a background check on him and contacting a family that was in his ward with my parents back in Missouri, we found he had died 2 years prior to my search, shortly after moving in with a woman and her 2 young girls he died instantly and unexpectedly of a massive aneurysm at a young age too. My efforts stopped there.
I have since pursued counseling, and I am finding so many others with similar stories to mine as far as the abuse and churches negligence in dealing with it. This has provided me which the ability to begin to heal. I find healing has also come through advocating and helping others who have experienced abuse. My husband and I left the church in November after being told that I needed to forgive and let go when a registered sex offender moved in to the ward who was recently released from prison and had raped his own 4 year old daughter. The bishop felt I was being unreasonable to feel angered that he was allowed to attend with his wife and children (the victims).
My husband and I resigned immediately to our callings with the youth and notified others in the ward of the threat that is lingering in the ward. Many thanked me for my courage to talk openly and share his record with them. Some have said I am being un-Christlike to not forgive him. I know I am doing what I have to do to remain healthy mentally and to protect the children that mean more to me than life. I will continue to fight this fight, I do it because a child's innocence is so sacred. Just one child saved from the lifelong affects of abuse is a success in my mind.