Why Didn’t the Mormon Church Protect This Child?

KendahlabusesurvivorThis is a picture of myself as a young child, smiling next to a piano at my Mormon grandparents’ house. At the time, I was living at home with my biological father who is a pedophile, and was visiting my grandparent’s house (on my mother’s side) where my biological grandfather lived, who was also a pedophile.

Why didn’t the Mormon church worry so much about my protection then? I was a young queer kid who was so closeted that I didn’t even know I was queer yet. And I was so injured by the abuse that I was unable to sleep at night for fear that I would be assaulted again. All I knew was that I was broken, and unsafe.

Fast forward a few years, when I told my bishop at BYU that I had been sexually abused by my father growing up, and he said “Don’t tell the police, they will just rip apart your family.”

Fast forward a few more years, when I was asking my bishop for support knowing whether or not I should call the police again, because I had just learned that my little sister was being currently sexually abused by my father. I was pregnant with my first son. This bishop, whom I will be forever grateful to, encouraged me to call the police.

And through no fault of his own, he demonstrated just how committed the church is to hiding abuse, and where their loyalties lie: MY BISHOP HAD A HOTLINE TO CALL, AND I HAD NOTHING. In fact, I had to ask several times just to get mental health services through LDS Family Services.

Fast forward a few more years, to 2 years ago. I am finally out of the closet, and partnered with a wonderful woman who loves my children like they are her own. I feel more whole than I have in my life.

Fast forward a few more years, and my two sons are 10 and 6. And the Mormon church wants to protect MY children from ME. A “lifestyle” I have clawed and scratched to fully embody and feel like I deserve. A life that was something I had to create out of my own power IN SPITE of the messages I got from my religious community and culture for my entire life. And now they insist that they are protecting my children.

What about me? What about the little girl that I was in that picture, 25+ years ago? What about her? What about all the other queer kids? What about all the other kids who are being abused? What about all the adults who have had to heal on their own without help from the Mormon church protecting them?

If any energy was to be spent by Mormon powers that be to make the church a better place, it could have been to create safety and resources for children to have help with real problems. It’s not a problem to have gay parents who love you.

Shame on you, Thomas S. Monson, Quorum of the Twelve, Church leaders, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have been patient and persistent waiting for you to be better than this. There are many members, both current and former who have called for clear better treatment of children, women, people of color, and gender and sexual minorities. Please listen.

Why didn’t the Mormon church protect me? Why doesn’t the Mormon church protect children now?

‪#‎sufferthechildren‬ ‪#‎protectthechildren‬ ‪#‎mormon‬ ‪#‎lds‬

Are there any more of you out there?  Take a photo from your childhood, and add the text.  Then, tell us your story.  Use the hashtag #sufferthechildren when you share it on social media.  I want this call to action to grow and be heard.  

Kendahl

kendahl is a queer fat left-handed INFJ synesthete mother warrior activist social worker abuse survivor unapologetically brilliant powerful witch

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13 Responses

  1. Genhy says:

    Kmillecam
    Think long term rather than the here and now.

  2. Marsha says:

    I am so sorry about what you went through and I am at a total loss of what to make of this bizarre policy change. It is causing so much hurt and absolutely begs the question you raise– If we are so concerned about protecting children, why aren’t we doing more to help children suffering actual harm?

    How have we allowed this worship of the hetero nuclear family to overtake our worship of Christ? This has to change.

    • Caroline says:

      Exactly, Marsha. Saying that this change in policy is to protect children rings hollow to me. If the church only spent 1/10 the energy on protecting children from abuse/trafficking/etc. that it spends on drawing boundaries between the church and LGBTQ people, we’d have saved a lot of children from suffering.

      Kmillecam, I’m so sorry about your horrible experiences and am disturbed that your first bishop told you to not report the abuse. Thank you for sharing your story here.

  3. Sara says:

    My heart breaks as I read this post, for I know yours is not an isolated case. I was sexually abused in the church by a former member of my Bishopric and told not to report this offender. I married a return missionary, who was abusive and committed adultry endless times. I divorced him and he took his mistress to the temple (not even a year later). This is common

  4. AngryE says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry for what you have been through and continue to go through.

    Your story really hit close to home. My wife is a survivor of incest. Her abusive father is a member in good standing with the church.

    A few years ago I did everything I could to inform his priesthood leaders about the vile, horrific things he did, but they just don’t care. I thought my brothers in the priesthood would excommunicate him, per the handbook, but they did nothing.

    By my count at least 15 priesthood leaders know what my wife suffered at his hands. 14 of those have either done nothing to help my wife or have exacerbated the abuse. At the same time they have done everything to support the abuser and help him avoid the consequences of his actions. Only our current bishop, who is a saint, has helped my wife.

    Whenever I hear about “protecting the family” I get angry because the church did not protected my family. They didn’t protect the OP’s family either.

  5. Ziff says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Kmillecam. It’s heartbreakingly awful that the Church spends its resources in ways that harm kids rather than helping them. Your situation really illustrates both ends of this problem perfectly. I’m so sorry about what you had to go through, but I’m happy to hear that you’re in a better situation now.

  6. Jenny says:

    Thank you for speaking up and sharing your story! So powerful!

  7. Nella says:

    There are many children need to protect. I was crying when I read your story.

  8. Mike H. says:

    My sister was sexually abused by my cousin, when they were both teens. He went on to get married, & later on have children, and served in a Bishopric, nothing about any kind of discipline for that. Did he do anything sexual to his children, or, youth in his care? Later on, he was killed in a work accident, so, I won’t know that, in my mortality.

    I don’t know why the mental health services of LDS Family Services is ignored by so many Church leaders in these cases. I had one Bishop, who was dubious that the depressive problems I had were “real”. How many other Leaders feel LDSFS counseling services are not needed?

    Kmillecam, I am at a loss to say why you mattered so little back then, but are considered such a hazard to the Church today. Now, I also wonder if members can get in trouble for just having LGBT acquaintances, from this new policy.

    I also wonder how many LDS youth who are LGBT have been thrown out of their homes. I’ve had at least one person tell me that’s just a myth that youth lose their homes over being LGBT.

    Sara’s comments above also bring to mind of how, for every gay marriage, there’s several dozen people looking to cheat on their spouse. Where’s the LDS outrage that Ashley Madison’s site has over 38,000,000 users looking to cheat?

  9. A Happy Hubby says:

    Your perspective on this sure puts this into perspective.

  1. December 14, 2015

    […] loudly and clearly about how I saw the policy change.  I put the post on Facebook, and later, here on The Exponent.  Many people responded with support, and shared their own stories.  Many people stood with me in […]

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