#hearLDSwomen: Bishops Overstep Bounds When Counseling Women

My parents “adopted” my teen sister’s baby just to get the Bishop/LDS Family Services/the baby’s father off their back. The father was told he could go on a mission if he could convince my sister to have the baby adopted out. (My sister remained the baby’s mother in all but name, and she adopted her back officially a few years later.)
– Anonymous


A bishop (who is still currently serving) told me I needed to be a better Mormon wife so my husband wouldn’t abuse me. Then he asked me sexually explicit questions about things I did as a teenager right after I disclosed that I was being abused in my home. I was 34.
– Lesley


My absolute worst was a previous bishop telling me if I’d hearken to my husband he would feel better about himself and stop abusing me. And I believed him. It almost cost me my life until I finally had enough. Enough. The culture I came from will not be the one I give to my daughters. #NotOnMyWatch
– Rachel Coleman


Pro Tip: Listen to and empathize with the women in your care. Do not give marriage/family advice you are unqualified to give or ask prying questions about sexuality.

Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)

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5 Responses

  1. SC says:

    These incidents are all very familiar and relatable. In recent years I have stopped telling my branch president anything personal. I refuse to counsel with anybody who is not a credentialed professional. For example, when he heard my husband and I were having some difficulty with a child and he called us in to talk about it, i bristled and said, “that is personal. It is our business. I appreciate your concern, but it is not something I am not comfortable sharing outside my family with somebody who is not a family member. My husband and I are getting help for our family but even that is OUR private family business—the church doesn’t need to be concerned with this.” The mega corporation in SLC that already dictates every little thing we do and takes up almost every day of our week should not have access to the private moments of our personal home lives too IMO; my family’s joint emotional growth efforts are none of this man’s business—he, an untrained, uncredentialed, non-professional church leader who I had no say in electing has no right to private medical details about me and my family. (And as the McKenna Denson case taught us: the church will release private medical and pastoral details about their members to the press if we ever lock horns with church leadership, so we are better off NEVER counseling with church leadership).

  2. Ziff says:

    Oh, wow, these are all awful. I wonder if part of the problem is that bishops don’t know what they don’t know. They hear all this talk about how once they’re set apart and get the “mantle,” then they’ll be inspired to know what to say or do in any situation. When clearly it doesn’t work that way.

  3. Hat trick says:

    Post divorce, my bishop counseled me to get counseling. I asked, “Does it need to be LDS Social Services?” “No,” he answered, “Go find someone you are comfortable with, and I will pay for it.” Two sessions were sufficient.

    Some bishops know that they don’t know, he was one of them. He saved my life.

    • Caiti Hunting says:

      My current bishop is like that. He offers LDS services if people can’t afford counseling, but doesn’t push it .Just overall recommends going to professionals for counseling of any sort because he knows he’s not qualified. He’s a good bishop.

  4. Britt says:

    “Shame Shifting: where a survivor of abuse is deemed to be the problem, for not forgiving the abuser. This is further emotional and psychological abuse. Ignore such people.” —Lilly Hope Lucario

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