This all started for me when I was 7 and went on for over a year.
When I was 8, I finally spoke up to my parents about what had been happening to me in spite of the threats of violence if I told. I endured rape and what would classify as sexual torture at the hands of two guys, 14 and 16 at the time the abuse began.
My parents, instead of contacting law enforcement, went to bishop [name] of the [place in] Georgia ward for guidance. The bishop advised my parents that the LDS church had policy for handling these issues, and said that it will be the stake that handles a case like this. He forwarded my case to the stake presidency, who included the case in the next Court of Love session. I was given an account of what transpired at that Court of Love regarding my case.
As it goes with the Court of Love, I was labeled as an “accuser” and was not allowed to attend the hearing. These two men however, were. The men who raped me were allowed to plead their defense to the Court.
Furthermore, the burden of proof was placed on me as the accuser- the court mandating that there must be two witnesses in order for my accusations to be taken seriously by the LDS church. There weren’t two people who witnessed me being raped those many times throughout that year, so my accusations were not taken seriously and to them I had no case.
For my lack of witnesses, I was labeled a liar. I was told that the stake presidency prayed on my case to draw divine judgement on my case. I was then told by Bishop [name] that the guidance from the stake presidency is God’s word as they prayed to him and received guidance directly from god about me, implying that I was not to speak of this again to anyone, as judgement had already been delivered, and doing so would be an affront to His judgement.
As a child born in the church, I understood that going against God’s word came with punishments, so I agreed. Not very long afterwards, I was pulled out of public school entirely.
At 14 I was a camp counselor in training at a summer camp. We had mandatory meetings in onboarding as it was a workplace environment. We had to watch the videos on how to handle sexual harassment, and I think that combined with the remoteness of being so far away from my parents, it became too overwhelming to stay quiet.
I told the camp counselors about what happened to me, and each of them listened caringly and brought me to the head of camp operations. I told him what had happened and he called out law enforcement. They all comforted me as we waited for the police to show up.
The law enforcement officer from [a local] PD eventually showed up to make a police report. I remember he opened his notebook and never sat down before he started asking me a few questions and I began retelling my survival story.
Not long after I began recounting my story, he cut me off, asking me to repeat the age this all began. After repeating that it happened 7 years ago, the officer closed his notebook, said “it was too long ago, you have no proof, there’s nothing I can do for you” and abruptly left.
With the failure to report to law enforcement, running interference on preventing me from going to law enforcement, and the threats of punishment for reporting to law enforcement, the cover-up sanctioned by the LDS church had delayed my reporting long enough so nobody would believe me. The cover-up ensured that the statute of limitations would pass, which for the state of Georgia was 7 years. Just 7 short years.
In the end, my parents did as they were directed to by LDS leadership, though I suspect that what drove them to the church for guidance initially was the fact that both of my rapists, the offenders in my survival story, are my older brothers.
The bishop and stake presidency all had chances to save me from that abusive home. They had 7 years, in fact. They decided to save my brothers instead.
Earlier this year , I discovered from my younger sister that they’d raped her as well. Together we contacted friends that were close to/ spent a lot of time around our home throughout our childhood and teenage years. So far we’ve identified 3 other survivors who were minors at the time, making 5 of us in total.
The other 4 of those took place after my rape was covered up. 4 more rapes that could have been prevented if the LDS church had just intervened. Presently, the offenders work for the Florida Department of Corrections and Legoland respectively.
By 30, I had physically moved far enough away from the sphere of influence of my family and the LDS church to report what had happened to me and had stable enough income to begin therapy. I was recently diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and CPTSD, which has been severe enough as to be recognized as a disability by my therapist. I need a service dog to assist me in navigating life when I’m alone. I’m still in therapy today and probably will be for coming years, if not decades.
My life has been forever impacted by the actions of some, and the inaction of others.