When I was 4 my sisters encountered a boy whom converted and was baptized into the LDS Church. I will refer to him as Charlie to protect his real name. At this point I was 5, Charlie was about aged 10 or 11. If I recall correctly, Charlie’s parents were divorced and had separate homes. He came over to visit a few times and me, him and my sisters had fun together.
Everything changed one night, which I believe was Friday December 14th, 1990; my 5th birthday party. My mom invited friends from Church to my birthday party and Charlie was one of them. She even invited a few kids I didn’t know that well. We played games, ate cake, and everything else you do at a party. Eventually everyone left except Charlie. Charlie gave me a gift. It was a toy Ninja turtle that you could morph from a normal turtle into one of the ninja turtles like one of the transformer toys. I thought the toy was kind of neat and little did I know it would be responsible for recalling this entire memory almost 30 years later.
For some reason, Charlie spent the night at our house. I do not recall why. It may have been because he wanted to or some other unknown reason. Since I did not have a room, I slept on the couch in the living room. Charlie wasn’t allowed to sleep in the same room as either of my sisters nor with my parents. He instead had to sleep on the floor of our living room with a pillow and a blanket. I fell asleep and Charlie must have fell asleep shortly after.
However, during the night, I was woken up and in a semi-conscious state. I felt a hand tugging at my pants and sliding my pants down to my feet. For some reason, I started to feel afraid, but I wasn’t sure why; nor did I open my eyes immediately. Then, whoever it was, bent over. I could feel their hot breath between my legs and they started to lick my genitals. Both fear and curiosity overwhelmed me until I opened my eyes. I could see the outline of the person, but barely. There wasn’t enough moon light coming through the window in the living room to clearly see who it was.
I laid still frozen for a few seconds before finally lifting my head and saying something. It shocked whoever it was. We began to talk, and here is part of the dialogue I remember:
Me:’Why are my pants wet?’
Person:’What do you mean? Your pants aren’t wet.’
Me:’I mean why are my legs wet?’[I didn’t have a word for penis.]
Person:’It’s something adults do. Does it feel good?’
Me:’No. How do you know that?’
I CAN’T RECALL DIALOGUE RESPONSE HERE, BUT THEY HAD A DELAYED RESPONSE
Me:’How come you don’t sound like Charlie?’
His voice sounded funny to me, but it was for sure a male voice. At this point I attempted to reach up to the lamp that was next to the couch where my head had been laying. Whoever it was reached with an astonishing reaction first and grabbed the switch covering it with their entire hand so I couldn’t turn it. I recall feeling this person’s hand and having the thought that if it really was Charlie, his hand was ALOT bigger then I remembered. I tried to push his fingers back and eventually gave up. I didn’t have the strength. The persons sounded angry now and told me to not turn the light on. There was more dialogue, but I don’t recall it exactly. The person simply made me promise not to turn the light on when they pulled their hand away. So, I made the promise because I was too scared and confused at this point as to what was happening. Then they instructed me to pull my own pants back up and to lay back down and go to sleep.
They said they would lay down next to me. I did as they asked laying back down after pulling my pants back up and closed my eyes, pretending to be asleep. I just grew more terrified as I laid still and I couldn’t sleep at all. I recall being afraid that once I fell back asleep, they would just start licking me again or perhaps hurt me somehow. After some unknown amount of time simply laying frozen not knowing what was going to happen, I heard some movement and the door to the living room leading to the hallway opened and closed. I then peeked by opening one eye, only to not see any difference at first since it was still too dark to see much of anything. Then something in me caused me to reach up and flip the light back on.
When I turned the light on, I could see Charlie laying on the ground covered by a blanket, but he was much farther away from the couch AND his head was not laying the same direction as I saw the shadow figure lay. He had flipped around without me hearing him-or so I thought. But I sat up and dangled my legs over the edge of the couch looking at the window, and down at him again, some unknown amount of time, but it felt like an eternity. Charlie then started talking telling me to turn the light back off. I asked him some questions, but I don’t recall what I asked and if he answered or not. He kept telling me to shut the light off so I could sleep. In the end of this night, he made me turn the light back off and eventually the fear subsided and I fell asleep. I woke up the next day.
I don’t recall all the morning events, but Charlie and I started eating cereal in the kitchen. I didn’t talk about the night before until we were finished eating. I don’t recall what I said to Charlie, but I do remember convincing him to put his hand around the light switch in the living room, which was directly around the corner next to the kitchen entrance. When he did, I felt his hand. He acted like it was some kind of trick or something. We started to argue about it. Eventually my dad came downstairs. Charlie went out and used the bathroom upstairs. While he did, I told my dad what had happened the night before. He looked confused at first. Then his facial expression became fearful and then changed to very angry. But at this point, I thought Charlie had licked me.
When Charlie came back down, my dad had me go into the living room and wait while he talked to Charlie in the kitchen. They talked loud at first, but I don’t recall what about. I tried to get a little closer, because they suddenly started to whisper to each other for some reason. Eventually, my dad called me back over. He said that he was punishing us. Our punishment was for me and Charlie to go outside and to run up to our pear trees and run back and forth behind them a certain number of times. We did so. But when we were done, we stopped out of breath. I don’t recall the exact dialogue between me and Charlie but essentially, I was getting the idea that Charlie was just as confused as I was about the whole situation.
Finally, me and Charlie came back down and we went inside only to have my dad tell us we were taking Charlie home. We got into the car with my dad driving, Charlie was in the front passenger side, and I was behind Charlie in the back. We buckled up and my dad started talking to Charlie. My dad kept asking Charlie questions, but didn’t talk to me almost the whole way to Charlie’s mother’s home. When I tried to intervene into the conversation at one point, my dad told me he was trying to get to know Charlie better and that he wanted to talk to me, but it would only be after we dropped Charlie off at his mom’s home in town. So, I was silent the rest of the drive there.
We parked on the curb and my dad told me to stay inside the car. Meanwhile, he and Charlie got out and they went up to the house. The mother came out. They exchanged some dialogue, which I couldn’t hear at all because I was still in the car. They talked for a few minutes while I waited anxiously. Finally, Charlie and his mother went inside their house and my dad returned to the car. He instructed me to get out and get back into the front passenger side where Charlie had been sitting.
He starts to explain that we can’t tell anyone what had happened the night before. I asked him why. He gave a reason, but it didn’t satisfy me, and again asked why. He gave a second reason, but again it didn’t make any sense to me. He got mad at this point. He then started telling me something about God and the LDS church trying to turn it into some kind of reason I couldn’t say anything.
For the last time I said I didn’t see how that was a reason, he threatened me at this point, using words that I don’t recall exactly that although it didn’t include the phrase ‘I’ll kill you if you say anything’ it was heavily implied. The phrase ‘I’ll make sure you disappear forever’ keeps coming back to memory, but for some reason it doesn’t strike a chord very well. The one phrase I do recall almost exactly was ‘We can’t lose Charlie. He just joined the Church, and the Church is more important than you.’
Regardless of exactly what his other words were, I was beyond terrified. I was so terrified; I was frozen in my seat even more so then then night before on that couch staring straight ahead and slightly downward. We drove all the way back with my dad essentially dead silent. When the car finally came to a stop back at our home, he stormed out of the car slamming the door in a wild animal-like frenzy and walked very fast back inside.
I don’t know how long I sat, but it must have been about 2-3 minutes just sitting in the car frozen, because I couldn’t think. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I was afraid to get out of the car, yet afraid to stay in the car. I felt frozen and trapped. Then dad came back out yelling at me to get out of the car. I eventually did so, but my dad was the one who closed the car door. He yelled incoherently and went back into the house once more. I walked up to the side of the north part of the house and sat against it just sitting there under the same window I had been staring out of the night before. I sat there for probably 10 minutes or more in shock and confusion trying to piece what was really going on, but nothing made sense to me. After another short span of time, dad came back out one last time. He was far calmer, and calmed more as he convinced me to come back in the house and watch TV. Which I finally decided to do. I recall my mother eventually coming up from the basement, but that was all. I have no recollection of the rest of that day.
* Long term effects *
The wildest part is I just forgot about the whole incident and moved on in life as if it never happened. I think I just learned to stuff it down so far that I simply didn’t focus on it. However, I did tell at least one adult about the incident either in kindergarten or 1st grade, but I do not recall their full reaction except that they denied it which confused me and as far as I can remember I never told anyone else about it until I recalled the entire experience sometime in 2018. I saw a ninja turtle toy at a local Walmart and for whatever reason that what the spark that it took to reignite the whole experience. I went home and say thinking when I suddenly re-lived the whole event. It is nearly impossible to explain to others how that experience really was.
From that day forward, I had trouble falling asleep in the dark. I would leave the light on until I feel asleep. This lasted for years. Both my mom and dad got mad at me for driving the electric bill up. It caused a lot of contention. What eventually happened is I would have to fall asleep first on the couch, and then my parents would come to the room and turn the lights back off and then go to sleep themselves. However, if I ever woke up in the middle of the night, I would sometimes have to turn the light back on just to fall back asleep. I tried several times to fall asleep in the dark, but it almost never happened for many years. I did turn the lights off more often as I aged into my teenage years however. It wasn’t until around age 19 could I fall asleep consistently with the lights off.
I also went through periods where I didn’t like people touching me. Other times I didn’t care. This didn’t go totally away until I was about 25. This was of course covertly hidden since in the LDS Church they teach you not to touch in a sexual manner at all so I thought it was a ‘holy’ thing to do. My own mother even made this worse, because she was a born narcissist and for whatever reason she taught me hugging was evil. Her excuse was when a man hugs a woman, he is touching her breast and that was against God’s desire. In hindsight it is totally ridiculous, yet this is how I grew up. I learned to hug in my 20’s at some point as well realizing naturally that it made no sense. My abusive mother also cheated several times as did my father. I caught them several times, but they used the Mormon religion to cover its tracks. Just as an example, when I saw a man in our house that I didn’t know once, but heard his footsteps on the upper floor, my mother claimed it was the devil walking in our home. But I knew better. I just didn’t have proof.
It is hard enough for a woman to be molested or sexual assaulted in any society, but I have learned the hard way it is in some ways worse for the men. Women get listened to more often. Men do not. As a man, there are many harmful myths perpetuated by society that make it worse for recovery. Some people view you as either a potential threat (the term pedophile is often used), a weak man, or automatically gay. None of these things are true. Things have been changing in that arena, but we have a long way to go and Mormonism in its current form of extreme purity culture will never help with it as it amplifies the already existing problems in our society.
I am straight and happy to be. If I somehow ever have children I would absolutely never want to copy or repeat the sexually abusive behaviors that were done to me. The fact that this has happened in the LDS Church and been perpetuated for so long is beyond unacceptable. Even though I left the church I will do my best to protect those still inside it regardless of weather they stay in the church or not. I will not be a coward, nor stand by and let this continue.
– Stephen William Chase