One memory I have in particular was when I was only 19 years old and engaged to a returned missionary at BYU. He had repeatedly sexually assaulted me and even raped me, but I didn’t understand that it was rape. The only context Mormonism gave me up to that point was that it was my fault, and that I was now unworthy. So I confessed my sins to my Stake President, who was also my father. He told me to repent and encouraged that I move forward with the wedding.
A few years later, I was in the trenches with a tiny baby and an abusive husband. Sexual, emotional, mental, verbal, financial, and physical abuse were a part of my daily life. It was normal enough compared to my own childhood experiences that I had a hard time understanding that what was happening was abuse. I knew he was addicted to pornography, and I was convinced that if we could get him to stop looking at it, he would start being nicer to me. We spoke with our Bishop, and I was clearly in a lot of distress. I was really emotionally overwhelmed and clearly struggling. He focused mostly on helping my husband find resources to help him, and would simply speak to me as an afterthought. He just encouraged me to keep being supportive of him while he kept working through his issues.
I stuck around and tried to make it work for far too long. We had a second child, and my emotional health and self confidence continued to deteriorate. It wasn’t until I sought proper help from a therapist that I realized what was happening was abuse, and that I needed to get out. I’ll be forever grateful for that therapist. I still carry a great deal of pain from the responses that I had from my poorly trained (and even malicious) ecclesiastical leaders. They should never have been given that power in the first place.