#hearLDSwomen: When I Was Silenced and Spiritually Bullied
When I was 16 years-old my sexually abusive father left our family. This was a good thing, obviously. However, at the time, he was serving as the bishop of our ward. When he left, he moved in with his girlfriend. The stake president was alerted to this arrangement. There were claims from both my ***hole of a father and the stake president that even though the Bishop was living with his girlfriend, their relationship was chaste and above criticism. When people called our house looking for the Bishop, we were to take a name and number and then pass these messages along. The stake president said that it would damage too many testimonies of faithful members of our ward if they knew the reality of our family separation.
Months later, the Bishop was honorably released. During the sacrament meeting where this took place, each of his children was called upon to publicly bear testimony of the greatness and glory of the Bishop—of our love and admiration for him. Because I had lived under the threat of “tell, and I will kill your mother; it will kill your mother; I will make you watch me kill one of your siblings” for most of my life, I stood at the pulpit and mumbled something about his amazing service. Later, a church court was called to determine if I should be excommunicated . . . because I confronted the leadership with evidence that his relationship with his girlfriend was not chaste.
Pro-tip: When a child or woman provide evidence of wrongdoing by a priesthood leader, believe them. Do not punish the bearer of the bad news by scapegoating them in order to preserve the reputation of a church leader. Have confidence in church members to navigate their personal faith journeys despite church leaders fallibilities.
“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)