I was touched in the Idaho Falls temple on my right testicle when receiving my endowments prior to my mission in 2003. I was in the mission field only 4 months. Every prayer after that temple trip consisted of me wanting to die. I told my parents I’d been touched in there as I was rightfully shocked (and triggered I now know), the response to me telling them that I had been touched was replied to with, “that could never happen in there…”, well, it did.
I’d blocked out everything prior to the 5th grade, as one of my abusers was very, very close to me. Another of my abusers is currently in a bishopric in Idaho. I have to be cautious in everything I share here as there is an on-going investigation by the Idaho State Police into what happened to not only me, but others in my age group in the Egin Bench Ward, as part of the Saint Anthony, Idaho Stake.I was raped multiple times, and also hazed inside the Egin Bench Church house near St. Anthony, Idaho among other places in the ward boundaries. I was hazed with an American flag attached to a splintered flag pole.
This abuse began as early as 3 years old and continued until the 8th grade. I have asked multiple people in that ward for help to piece this thing all back together, the only answer I have repeatedly got is: “Why can’t you just leave it alone?”
I was not the only one this happened to as many of the kids my age also show the same signs of this abuse: alcoholism, “dry drunks”, black out rages, in-ability to hold down a relationship or job, people who just “can’t get their shit together”.
Having come back from a mission early, I learned the word “forsaken” as I lost every relationship I had whether that was friend or family member. I even had an older brother try and “kick my ass” the day I came home. I couldn’t explain what was wrong with me. I had never had sex (that I remembered), smoked pot one time, and had drank one “fuzzy naval” before going on a mission. By all accounts I was “worthy” to go on a mission.
No one asked me or cared why I came home. They just cast me out. I drank for the first time 3 months later, and smoked meth for the first time within 6 months of being home. I fell in with the wrong crowd because I had nowhere else to go.
I stumbled through relationships and eventually quit alcohol and drugs to go through my 3rd disciplinary counsel 4 years after that. In 2007. I spent a year “repenting” in “disfellowshipped” status (for the second time), and finally earned my temple recommend back. I was engaged, and went back to the temple with my cousin for his mission endowments. Anyone who understands trauma knows this triggered me again. I broke off the engagement that night and was drunk by 8:30 am the next morning.
I fell back into alcoholism and drugs for the next 10 years. 2 DUI’s. Multiple failed relationships. The underlying nagging question of “what’s wrong with me?” persisted. I left the church after reading into the early history of it in 2009. ( After seeing Joseph Smiths immorality surrounding polygamy it’s easy to see how this type of abuse continues in the church today. A 39 year old man, Joseph Smith, marrying a 14 year old girl, Helen Mar Kimble. Perhaps this is where the church feels it’s ok to continue to interrogate children about their sexuality.)
Last year I was high at a concert in Colorado. It’s where I was “called to repentance” so to speak. I quit cold turkey the next day. I have remained sober since.
As part of dealing with the withdrawals from alcohol I ran, and ran, and ran. (700 miles since July 2nd, and down 45lbs).
In October I’d run out of places to look for my problems. I made an earnest prayer at a Christian church in Idaho Falls, Idaho for the answer to my questions. “What is wrong with me God?”, that was my honest and humble prayer.
I received the answer I already knew, I just had blocked out. All those things my not so imaginary friend had told me.
Once I opened the door to those memories I was flooded with some pretty terrible things. Some of which I won’t share yet as an ongoing investigation is in play.
I tried to take my own life twice in November rather than face what I know will be a lifetime of recovery. It is only by God’s providence that I’m still here. Many still question “are you sure you’re not just making this up”? Well, two professionals have told me I know exactly what I’m dealing with, and as any survivor of sexual assault knows, many like to begin by blaming the victim.
I’m estranged from most of my family now, and many “friends”. I’ve also left Idaho in concern that two of my abusers are in elected office. You understand the risks of pointing a finger like that I’m sure.
What you’re doing is God’s work.
You’re giving voice to people like me. You’re preventing some pretty terrible tragedies.
I trust in His time and work. Not LDS, Inc.’s. To “The Brethren” and those who continue to allow abuse like this to continue as it’s buried in Bishop’s offices, Stake President’s offices, you church offices, and LDS Family Services offices: may God have mercy on your souls.
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.
I have been stripped of the blessings of the temple for breastfeeding my child at church.
Here is the full story:
My bishop told me some members have complained and he wants to protect the young men and porn addicts in the church from seeing my breast while nursing. (I don't cover or hide and most of my breast is exposed while nursing). I then told him only God himself could get me to back down. We ended it at that. This was 3 weeks ago.
Then, a few days ago, I received a request to meet with the Stake President and also get my Temple Recommend renewed.
At this meeting, the Stake President told me that in guidelines for the youth booklet, called The Strength of Youth, it talks about modesty and this means I need to cover or hide while nursing. I fought it and asked if it talked about breastfeeding in this specific booklet (which it doesn't). He again reverted to modesty. He said it is my fault and my problem if the men see me breastfeeding and think bad thoughts.
The whole meeting was very contentious and was not derived from the spirit but of the devil. He then said that since I am not heeding to his counsel as a Priesthood Leader, he was not going to renew my Temple recommend. He also said if I breastfeed without covering again in church that they would kick me out of the building.
He also turned to my husband and said "You choose. It's your wife or your religion."
He chose me. I left angry and upset with him, with my bishop and with my ward members.
Since then I have done quite a bit of research. I have also contacted an Elder from the Quorum of the 70 and he basically agreed with the Stake President and deferred the matter back to my local leaders. He is telling me to support him anyway, despite this obvious exercising of spiritual abuse and unrighteous dominion.
I have contacted an attorney who is pro-breastfeeding and knows the law. She seemed very interested in helping me, as these actions of these church leaders are unethical, immoral and inhumane.
I was a Mormon for 15 years, so was my mom. We went to an English-speaking ward, but little did I know that they were just being nice to us because a friend of my grandfather was protecting both of us from the living hell we went thru later on. When she past away, we were left all alone. We were discriminated against and víctimized in the most horrible ways possible. We were bullied to the point that both of us had to get out of the church. We both received threats for us "to leave or else" from the Bishop and the Elders Quroum President, who are both racists. I ended up leaving the church because of the trauma and spiritual abuse. I am in therapy, but I still cannot move on or forget all the horrible things they did to my mom and me.
My father was in church leadership as were all the males in my family dating back to Joseph Smith himself and are direct descendants of him. My maternal grandfather was a stake president, the first in the stake where I now live. He had a large family and every one of his children as well as his wife, were abused in horrible ways. Beaten, raped, tortured to the extent they had to have corrective surgeries as adults, etc. Local authorities both in the church and in law enforcement were well aware but to this day they call it a “family matter”. He is dead but his children will carry physical and emotional scars the rest of their lives, yet they remain faithful LDS members. My paternal grandfather was a serial adulterer, yet always a temple recommend holder. He is dead now too. I do not know the origins of my own biological father’s pedophilia but I can guess based on his father’s legacy and behaviors while living. Again, all the male leaders were well aware of my paternal grandfather’s proclivities and abuses.
Now, my father. He was born and raised in a tight knit 98% LDS small Arizona town community. He and his brothers all abused women and little girls. My father was given and alternative sentence at 18 to go to prison for his pedophelia or join the US Army. He Joined the Army. His behaviors attracted men of like proclivities and upon discharge he continued his association with these men, and his behaviors. My mother was my father’s oldest brother’s wife. Through sexual abuse and resultant pregnancy my mother was “counseled” by her bishop to marry her rapist, She did and had three children by him before he abandoned her and cheated on her. Her first husband’s brother (my bio-father) then raped impregnated my mother while she was still married to my biological uncle. My mother and uncle subsequently divorced. My parents married while my mother was pregnant with his child. The newly formed family bought a home and moved into a stable ward in Arizona in a much larger city. My mother continued to have children with my biological father and they married in the temple.
Never at any time did my father stop molesting children or cheating on my mother with both women, children, and men. He molested almost every child he came into contact with. Recently I was told by a male cousin of mine that my father molested him when he was about six years old. Also, I had a friend who was a boy in my neighborhood who used to come over regularly when we were about 7-10 years old. Recently I contacted him and then discovered he killed himself after going through horrible trials due to my father’s abuse of him when we were children. From the time I can remember at about three years old, I saw my father molest my siblings, friends, and neighbors.
Repeatedly my mother went to bishops and stake presidents for help. These pleas should be in my parent’s church records. Repeatedly she was sent home to be a better wife and mother. She was told we children were to be clean, quiet, and respectful to our father due to his “priesthood authority” in our home. My father from time to time would be called into a bishop or stake president’s office and asked about these allegations and he had plenty of ready-made excuses, mostly that my mother was lying. On one occasion the Bishop in a Mesa, Arizona ward was audience to my mother’s cries for help. She was made out to be the typical hysterical female and liar again. Even though she was the Relief Society president! So, one by one each of us children in the family were brought into the bishop’s office while the other’s waited in the foyer. Our mother was in there with Bishop. We were made to stand in the middle of the room and tell the “forbidden” secrets of our father’s sexual abuse, then summarily dismissed as another sibling was called in for the same testimony. Again… nothing was ever done either about my father’s membership status, with law enforcement, or to protect us children from ongoing abuse. We even had LDS Social Services place foster children in our home with my parent’s protests!
Bishop became our family’s next bishop. He was also told of the exploitations happening. One specific incident I recall well was my father being caught once again by my mother, molesting us kids. A fight between parents ensued. My father left the home and stayed with those army buddies of his who were also molesters of the lowest form. It was a Daddy-Daughter party time for me in Primary. Bishop was counseling my mother and since my father was out of the home for a few days, he was my escort for that important “date”. It was very humiliating for me. But, even at that young age I knew very, very, well that out big family secret of our father’s pedophilia, homosexuality, and adultery were to be kept “sacred” between church leaders and my mother.
After I married in the Mesa AZ. temple and was pregnant with my first child my father would bring his pervert friends to my home and coach them to fondle me and try to seduce me sexually. While growing up in my father’s house there was never any privacy. He was always a voyeur and the house’s wall is/was full of peep holes. Now, after my marriage, he was back and encouraging his friends to continue his abuse. My husband did nothing to stop it, nor my siblings or their spouses.
I later moved out of state. My father would visit. After one visit in my home specifically he insisted my then, four year old daughter, sleep with him. I also caught him peeking in my two young son’s bedroom window as they dressed for bed. I did not allow him to return for any more visits. A few months later over the phone from Mesa, Arizona, he bragged that he had just renewed his temple recommend. My brother in law (sister’s husband) was his bishop. As one may guess… this bragging infuriated me. I did some research and contacted my father’s stake president.
I told this President about my father and his history. He returned my call two successive nights for a total of three calls. He explained to me my father’s usual excuses and I asked him to look into the records the church keeps. On the third and final call he told me it is all “confidential” but my father would not hold a recommend as long as this man is Stake President. He said he had caught my father in a lie but was not specific. One short year later I discovered my father had been re-baptized and made a high priest by my/ his brother/son in law, the Bishop. To top it off, my brother in law… my father’s bishop… gave my father a calling to teach Primary children!
During the time my family and I lived in Provo, a recommended young woman babysat for my husband and I while we went to our weekly temple visit. She molested our two young sons while we were gone. We immediately went to our bishop. He shook his head in sadness and told us that her family had so many problems that he could not even tell her parents. Later, that girl’s father went to prison for fathering to children with her sister (his own daughter).
Fast forward a few years: We moved even further away from AZ. and to another state. I had to go through a divorce. My husband was jealous of me pursuing my education after our children were all in school and he refused to work. He was physically abusive as well as habitually abandoned the family. We finally had to divorce. My bishop told me to return to the abuse and I refused. I finally left the church over, mostly, these wrong “inspired” leader’s counsel. The lack of support for the many women, like myself, who were not believed is sickening.
During my divorce trial for custody of my children my now X-husband, procured a typed and signed declaration from my father and one sister (whose husband is the bishop to my father) saying I am a liar, unfit parent, etc. It was 100% in retaliation for my testimony concerning my father’s pedophilia. At that point I had not seen or spoken to my father nor siblings in at least 15 years due to my father’s pedophilia and their denial. My sister typed this dirty letter and she and my father were the only signers yet put my other siblings, their spouses, and their demographic information typed on the letter for the court. I have not spoken to any of these family members since. In fact, with the exception of one sister who is now recently deceased, I have not spoken to any of them in about 25 years or so. All due to the enabling of the pedophilia and cover ups.
During my divorce a child of fellow ward members came forward. He is an adult now. He told law enforcement authorities about my husband wrestling him to the ground when he was 8-10 years old (during two years) and pulling his genitals and kicking him while calling him sexist slurs. He told law enforcement of my X isolating him away from others and sexually abusing him. He also went with his mother and told the same consistent story to our bishop. Due to the divorce my X’s lawyer was able to snuff out those very credible accusations. At one point my X stalked this young boy during his scout meeting at the church and that this man's mother and that this man had to take my X to court and get a protection order against my X. Nothing happened as far as my X’s church membership was concerned. Not even after he beat me with his belt leaving welts and the bishop was provided by my Dr. with photos of my welts. Nothing! On another occasion my daughter was molested my a family friend who was an elder. My daughter told the Bishop and the bishop “called” a local Mormon lawyer (stake high council member) to represent the molester pro-bono. Again, after law enforcement was involved, the Mormon lawyer got that man’s charged dismissed.
After my divorce was finalized my children had visitation with their father. When his parenting time was over I went to his residence to pick up my minor children (the two oldest had aged out of the system) and my X had abducted and secreted the children. Mormon families my X was home teacher to, had purchased our community property from my X illegally. The church leaders with the monies illegally obtained from the sales, helped secret them for two years at a rural location in Utah. I had to hire a private detective agency, have my X found, legally served, and taken to court…then found in contempt on SIX counts, He was then court ordered to return my children to me! He was ordered to pay fines of which are still outstanding. And after years, has yet to pay me any court-ordered child support. And of course, he is still a member in good standing. He is remarried to another Mormon woman. She is another foolish victim of Mormonism’s “sacred-secrets”.
Upon closing, and in retrospect… I really wonder something… When my father was a mere bishop it was discovered his counselor in the bishopric was abusing his daughters and the children in his wife’s daycare. My father counselled him to turn himself in to law enforcement. The man did, a part of the “repentance process”. Priesthood men showed up in force to court on behalf of that man. They gave him glowing references. The judge knew the demands of justice and he is in prison to this day. Yet his crimes were much less than my grandfathers’, my father’s, and even my X’s. Since the LDS is “true” and these men have been called, set apart, and are inspired to be the Lord’s representatives, what is the church’s next round of excuses? Are their corporate assets really this valuable? These pedophilia cover ups and harboring of perpetrators are enhanced and enabled by one on one “worthiness interviews” of children and vulnerable women. When, if ever, will there be accountability? Stop them!
How do I even begin to try and explain the damage being abused as a child has caused me? I was 6, we had been friends with this family for a few years, our families did a preschool co-op together. My friend was the same age as me. We had play dates, saw each other at school, at church, eventually we had sleep overs as well.
The problem was her father. He went to church, he had been a visiting teacher at our home, he played basketball with my dad. He was also a monster. He had a game he played with his daughter, where he would pick her up and swing her high in the air. I can still remember being in the foyer of their two story home, at the bottom of the stairs, where this happened. He was molesting her, and then myself. Then there’s the time I was sleeping on my friends bedroom floor, and woke up to him on the floor next to me. This is probably the same night that my parents got a call close to midnight to come pick me up from this friends house, because I was hysterical and they couldn’t get me to calm down. My dad came to pick me up. I ran away and hid from him. I wouldn’t calm down until I had returned home to my mom. The monster had called my dad, told him I had been fine until after “bath time” then I started acting very strange.
I know I have blocked some of the details of these incidents, I’m sure in a six or seven year olds way to try and cope. His daughter used to tell me stories when we had sleepovers. Stories about a mans car, going into a woman’s garage, and scenes of rain, and being in the shower. I never told anyone what happened. This still makes me sick to think about today, the abuse my friend was suffering.
I sit here today, as a 36 year old woman, my eyes still filing with tears trying to share this. I now know more details of what happened in my life, because almost two years ago, I called his now ex-wife. I needed to know what else had happened in my own life. I had too many blanks that I and my family couldn’t fill in. So she told me. Her then husband had molested her nieces as well. They came forward and told what happened. They divorced, she re-married, but the monster stayed. She had gone to my parents and told them something had happened, and she couldn’t be sure if I was involved.
My dad had gone to the bishop. He was told NOT to go to the police, it would be too hard on me, and “who would believe a 7 years old anyway”. She told me she had gone to the bishop, she had sought help from the time her daughter was 18 months old. They didn’t believe her. Counselors, bishops, nobody helped her. I feel bad for her, but I feel worse for the children she let into their home, and her daughter. The monster had to serve house arrest, and probation. The bishop and his cronies, threw the monster a party after he served his “time”. Throughout this time, the bishop and others continued to pressure my dad to baptize me. I was terrified of my own father. I wouldn’t go near him. I refused to be baptized, and I never was. I was terrified of water. I had attended that same friends baptism, where the monster baptized her. He was welcomed back at church though. He then attended the singles ward, where he met the mom of another one of his victims. That child came forward as a young teen, a trial was held for her abuse, and he was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
I buried this secret for as long as I could. I always felt like something was wrong with me, why did I feel the way I felt, ashamed of the way I felt, maybe I had done something wrong. Why did I have so many stomach aches, and so much anxiety. Why did I feel sick every time I saw that house, or a car like theirs, or someone who looked like him. I was 33 when I finally couldn’t cope anymore. Kill myself or try and get some kind of help. My panic attacks were keeping me from leaving the house for a good part of 2 years. I couldn’t do that to my husband anymore. I found a therapist, and she helped save my life. I was finally, after so many years, able to even begin talking about this with my parents. It has taken years from me, taken my childhood from me, taken a relationship with my father from me, taken my trust in people from me.
I am working constantly to try and rebuild myself, but it is not an easy task. I have tried to contact the current bishop about getting help paying for the cost of all the therapy I’ve paid for. He wouldn’t return my calls. NOBODY has said a word to me about any of this. People who were around at the time, just claim they didn’t know anything. I was invisible. I contacted a lawyer and tried to pursue a case against the church for covering up for this monster. The statute of limitations may have come into play in my case, so I accepted a small settlement. It covers the cost of therapy for the last 3 years, and not much more.
I am dedicated to trying to spread the truth about what happens, even in small towns, with “good people” who you think you can trust. Many days are still a battle. Depression and anxiety are hard to deal with, and I feel I will deal with it for a long time to come. Something has to change.
We have a Mormon neighbor who lives a few houses down from us in Virginia. Her son recently went on a mission. We were talking to her one day around the time he was getting ready to come home. What I heard was very troubling and very strange.
She stated her son would be home from his mission soon. But when he got back, he had to go to the leaders and do a ritual in order to be complete and fulfilled. This would signify the end of his mission as a capstone. She went into how he was not allowed to take off his underwear (she called them garments) until he came home to see his leader and do this. She also stated that it involved the bishop kissing his underwear or garments.
It was weird to hear of her speak of this as though it was nothing of any concern. It has really troubled me since having this conversation with her.
So it isn’t a topic I reflect on too much these days because it doesn’t bring with it anything much more than sadness. It becomes even more difficult to share to a Mormon-centric audience where one is almost constantly being assessed and judged in different forms whether internal and/or more commonly external ways within the church structure.
But I think this is a helpful forum where we can all get vulnerable and share our collective voices on spiritual abuse and unrighteousness dominion. I hope someday enough voices will matter to leadership so that those still within can have a much healthier experience within Mormonism.
As a young 18 year old who converted on my own, I came into the church a shy, naive and trusting person but who was already rather fragile and struggling in my own ways, especially in Mormon terms, but sincerely felt I had found my spiritual and religious home. Once within the church I had hoped God would provide me with strength in areas I felt I needed to overcome but it didn’t quite work that way.
Soon after my baptism, literally within a couple months, my Bishop called me in and told me he felt I was to be called on a mission. I now faced the prospect of serving a mission even as it felt like I had just joined. It felt over-whelming but I had a hint of confidence from the fact that the Bishop and his spirit of discernment had deemed me worthy enough to go out and teach the gospel. So within 15 months of my baptism I left for the MTC and then it was on to Southern California for my mission.
I really thought God would strengthen me and I’d overcome my continued weaknesses by giving sincere diligent service to the Lord. Once again it didn’t quite work out that way and it was devastating to me. I saw it as more confirmation of how broken I was. So around a year into my mission I went to my Mission President in agony and confided in him. And although he tried to offer options to stay, I was convinced I was not worthy to be out there teaching people especially if I ruin the chance of an investigator feeling the spirit because of my shortcomings. I knew I had already in multiple instances tried to rely on the Lord for strength to overcome and didn’t want to continue on that same cycle.
So after confessing, in extremely exact detail, to my Mission President and going home I then learned I had to now re-confess to my Bishop and after that I was sent to my Stake President who was the third to want every detail. And after that my Stake President sent me to a church therapist for multiple visits rehashing again the same things. It became completely demoralizing and I felt no forgiveness or relief or spirit involved but rather even worse self image, shame and depression even while following their every instruction.
Having grown up outside Mormonism but within the Christian faith I was always taught that working out sin is between an individual and their God and no one else. That always felt hard enough as a kid. So for me interviews in the Mormon church from day one felt extremely uncomfortable on even rather benign inquiries. So when I finally did pour it all out to the Mission President, without any knowledge or frame of reference as a convert of how invasive and layered and specific the repentance process would be it devastated me. In this same time frame my dad passed away unexpectedly at 53 years old which was devastating on its own but it was exacerbated because I immediately felt like it was a direct consequence of my unworthiness and having dishonorably come home from my mission. The stakes were raised and I felt doomed to more tragedy if I didn’t become the perfect Mormon.
The spiritual abuse I received ultimately got so ingrained in me and created a dark cloud of sexual and personal shame that had effects on so many proceeding events in my life including the eventual demise of my marriage.
I was never able to turn that switch on once I was married that tells someone, “Ok, sex and sexuality is now permitted and no longer dirty and shameful”. I was never able to connect on that physically intimate level that is such an important component in a committed relationship. Eventually it made for a sad and unhappy marriage for both of us which ended in divorce even though we were best friends.
This cloud of shame and inability to connect with a partner has lived on past the end of my marriage. I am still unable to engage in sexually intimate connection that isn’t immediately and consistently damaging to myself or a partner due to my complicated relationship with sexual shame. I’ve since decided that at least for now I’m going to forgo pursuing relationships for the protection of myself and others. I’ll be 41 soon and that decision to not pursue any romantic relationships was made almost 7 years ago at 34 years old. I don’t see an end to that in sight. Even though I’ve done so much work over those 7 years with therapists, psychologists, DBT, mindfulness, medications and also discontinuing any religious affiliations there’s been no substantial progression in my subconscious and conscious reactions when it comes to having a healthy sexual outlook or connection.
I stopped participating in church generally by the time I was about 26 but sadly like a kicked puppy always still thought I’d return once I got my life together all the way until just a few years ago. I finally had my name removed from the church in March of this year.
I will continue to chip away at this from as many angles as I can until hopefully I find a meaningful bit of healing in this area. I remind myself of the friends I made, the many different meaningful service opportunities I was able to give and receive benefits from and even miss and still long for a decent amount of the Mormon culture, but I will always regret joining the church. I stayed too long, believed too hard, put trust in the wrong institution and leaders and almost like an abused spouse I felt like I had to go back to it after each instance of abuse long enough for it to have severely warped my perceptions on some key components of relationships.
Thanks for letting me share.
I received one of the PNG, no trespassing letters you have linked to. It bans me from church property forever. To this day, I am still very confused as to why this happened to me and disturbed by the use of legal intimidation to coerce and threaten me.
I was a sunbeam teacher for the last few years. I had children of my own who had special needs and really tried as their mother to advocate for them within the church and their youth programs. I had heard some ward members did not care for some of my opinions and took their complaints to the Stake President. They had relations with him that went back years and years and some were related to him.
The Stake President immediately called a new bishop and within a week, the new bishop had call the church hotline to instigate the process to ban me from church. No one had discussed with me what the problems were, and I've come to find out, there are several erroneous and false stories and accusations involving me from people who had issues with me one way or another.
I was teaching sunbeams one Sunday, and the next I was banned from church property for no reason. The bishop told my husband he needed to keep me in line and that he had the power to fix me if my husband brought me to him. It was all very disturbing and traumatizing.
I have come to learn that the hotline is used for other purposes to investigate members without even telling them or talking to them. They gather intel and then have the church attorneys write a PNG letter, banning the member from church if the bishop wants this to happen. The local leaders are given a lot of freedom and power that is unchecked. I had no one to turn to when this happened to me. I was lost and thought it must have been a mistake. But I have learned, this is a process they use to silence members and intimidate them into leaving, especially if the local leaders want you gone.
I have missed several funerals, baptisms, wedding receptions, and baby blessings because of this abuse. I have reached out to the church headquarters in order to explain this mistake and exonerate myself, but they cover and protect the local leaders at all costs. My life has changed dramatically because of the ecclesiastical abuse I went through. My bishop made me feel that I had no right to be who I am and there was something wrong with me. It was traumatizing for our whole family.
At BYU, I decided to take a Mission Prep course from the most popular Mission Prep teacher at BYU. He was extremely popular, and I believe he had tenure....not sure.
Anyway, While taking the course, I was dating a guy who I then got engaged to.
I don't enjoy drawing attention to myself...it makes me feel really awkward and overly self-aware, and at this point in time I didn't have the highest self esteem.
Well, when someone got engaged, pregnant, their mission call, they were encouraged to stand up at the beginning of class and express their bit of exciting news.
So, out of excitement (I guess), I decided to do it, too. I stood up at the same time another girl did, so I allowed her to go before me.
Girl: "Hi! Yes I got engaged!"
Professor: Oh congratulations! When did it happen?
Girl: "Friday night!" (Same as me)
Professor: When's the wedding?
Girl: "Six weeks!!"
::Big gasps and sounds from the class::
Professor: Well, sounds like you have your hands full til then! Wonderful!
She sits down and the professor looks at me:
Professor: Stand up! Tell us your news!
Me: "Oh, well I got engaged." ::Sits back down::
Professor: Stand up! What else? Who's the guy? (This professor doesn't know me. I felt really weird and DUMB to answer that question considering no one in the room knew me, so why would he care who the guy was?)
Me: "He's alright."
::snickering or other weird sounds from the class:: (I guess I was supposed to say I'm so madly in love with him...)
Professor: Alrighty. When's the wedding?
Me: "We are thinking the first week of July!" - This whole scenario took place the last week of November, meaning 7-8 months until the wedding
-And the professor continued to speak, for a literal FIVE MINUTES about how what my fiance and I were doing was wrong. How us waiting "so long" to get married was a mistake and that we would mess up and have sex before getting married and most likely not have a temple marriage. Perhaps not in those exact terms, but the words "do not do this" and "you will mess up" were used. Tthe message was clear: Do not wait so long to get married because as young little Mormons, we can't control our hormonal impulses and will have sex, even if we never had before in our 20 some years of life.
I was also STANDING throughout the entire 5 minutes...so I was basically the poster on the wall for his lecture.
I eventually slid down into my seat and felt the awkwardness of the two kids sitting beside me. The girl to my left usually talked to me during class, and she didn't say a word the entire time.
I wanted to burst into tears and run out of the class, but that would make it more dramatic, and I still needed to take notes for finals in 2 or so weeks. I skipped the rest of the day of school and cried off the embarrassment. I actually don't even know how I was able to go back to that class after that.
I'm not an emotional person, nor do I allow my emotions to be seen in public. I'm also not one to blow something out of proportion. My husband wanted to email him, but I said I would do it. I never did.
BTW, I'm still active. I realize this man was very wrong, but I thought he knew so much due to his reputation at the school.
Well he made a bad decision 1-2 years later on behalf of the church when he didn't have the permission, so I believe he was forced into retirement.