#MormonMeToo: Why Didn’t She . . . ?
I have been sexually assaulted twice in my life. Both times by Mormon men. Both times on BYU’s campus. Unless you’ve gone through an event like this, it’s difficult to understand the mosaic of emotions that you encounter. “Well, I wasn’t *raped.*” “Am I just overreacting?” “It’s my fault for not getting him off me faster” “My friends will treat me differently” “Was it my fault?” “No one will believe me. . . .”
The first assault happened during work on BYU grounds. My coworker was someone who made me feel uncomfortable and nervous. He reached out while we were in the work truck with 3 other male coworkers present, looked me in the eye, and groped me. I was so stunned I barely reacted. I was surrounded by people! Maybe I’d misunderstood? Maybe it wasn’t so bad? The more I thought about it, I realized it was definitely intentional. His hands, his disgusting hands touched me, kneading in an invasion, a perversion of an intimate act.
I went to my boss, a female supervisor. I told her what had happened. “Oh it was probably an accident. I’ll talk to him.” I begged her not to; I was embarrassed and scared. He scared me. I didn’t know what he would do if he knew I’d gone to her. She talked to him anyway and told me that he’d said it was an accident, that he couldn’t avoid “brushing” my chest.
He was fired one week later for making a swastika in the snow in front of the Wilk.
The second assault occurred in the HFAC. I had a crush on a boy I’d met on a camping trip who was friends with my roommate’s coworkers. He was performing in a musical piece. I went with my roommate and her coworkers to the concert. Halfway through, I had to use the bathroom and went up to a different floor. One of my roommate’s coworkers was waiting outside of the bathroom. I joked about something and then he grabbed me in a weird hug, swung me into the wall, and started thrusting his hips into mine from behind while holding me down. I got him off me and yelled, “What the hell?!” He shook his head and said, “What are you upset about? I’m the one who has to go and talk to my bishop!”
I was so confused, embarrassed . . . guilty . . . and thought, “What the hell is wrong with me?” This was only 4 MONTHS after the last incident. I got through the rest of the night with tight smiles, trying not to act weird, but careful to put distance between him and me. On the drive home I told my roommate what happened. She invited him over to dinner that weekend. I told her that he made me feel uncomfortable. She invited him over to watch general conference the next week. He walked in the room and sat on top of me. He said I needed to lighten up.
Two years later when I told my mom, she cried. She too had been assaulted by a friend of her sister. He raped her in her living room.
A year into my marriage, I told my husband.
Seven years after the assaults, I wrote about it, without specifics, in a blog post. I shared it on Facebook, pleading with anyone who read it not to vote for someone who casually references sexual assault. Too many did anyway.
Believe women. Believe Mormon women. Believe women of color.
B Alvaraz is a lover of nature, otters, enchiladas, chocolate, science, and compassion. She has one master’s degree, one husband, and one baby.