As I have said before, this blog is 1. for my kids, 2. a way to keep in touch with my mom, 3. a journal of sorts.
My visiting teacher and I were discussing my being sexually abused when I was younger, and it occurred to me that I have never written down anything related to that. I speak often to all sorts of groups of strangers, but my own children have no record of it. That seems a little odd, huh?
So, I thought I would write a little here and there. It's a very difficult subject for me so writing only a little at a time makes it seem easier.
First, here is a very small history. When I was 7 we moved in next door to the Nielsens who had 2 sons and 6 daughters and another daughter was born shortly thereafter. My age put me right in the middle of the oldest 4. I had 4 yucky brothers (who really are wonderful, but try telling that to a 7 rear old) and one sister, 8 years my senior so the Nielsen home seemed like a dreamland of girl toys. I was constantly there.
When I was 12, their dad, skip (I know it should be capitalized but...), started sexually abusing me.It went on until by chance, it stopped over a year later. More on that to follow. During this time, he was my parent's friend, a community leader, my friends dad, my dentist, and the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric of my ward.
I never told anyone.
When I was 19, my parents moved to San Antonio, Texas and I followed a few short months later. I was living there when the police called to inform me that skip had been arrested for abusing others and I had been named as a victim. That was honestly the first time I had ever heard that word in reference to me.
He plead no contest to the charges and I testified at the sentencing hearing. He got 6 months in jail with work release time, and 6 months in a halfway house. After some time and intervening of the Attorney General of Utah, he did lose his license to practice dentistry. And he was immediately excommunicated from the church.
For now I have chosen to discuss two very different reactions by two men/groups.
skip had long ago been released from his calling in the Bishopric but remained good friends with the Bishop. When the abuse came to light, that Bishop called my dad and told him that I had a lot of repenting to do and he would be very happy to work with me on that. Um, repenting? For having been victimized by his friend? Seriously??
The ward in Utah that skip was still attending, was also the ward of one of his other victims. She had the very sad luck of moving into my old house so she also happened to be his next door neighbor. This poor girl had to attend church along with him and the stupid (nice word for him) Bishop. But it wasn't just the Bishop who was falling for the lies that skip was spreading. Approximately half the ward listened to his fantasies and lies and blamed that victim, and when my name got added to the list of victims, they blamed me also! Still more people chose to keep quiet and choose no side, treating skip as they always had and pretty much ignoring the girl. So without making a choice, they had one made for them and the poor girl felt betrayed by their quiet non-support. Some, though, were smart enough to see the truth and both she and I found fierce allies and protectors there.
In contrast, my experience with my ward in San Antonio could not have been more supportive. On the very day that the police called us, my parents and I met with our Bishop. He spoke of Gods love for me and his love a well. He quoted Matthew 18:6 and told me that although he would help me spiritually, he was not trained as a therapist and needed help on this one. He referred me to a wonderful therapist who I still cherish to this day. He continued to talk to me whenever we saw each other at church and always made me feel happy and important.
Those in the ward who knew were also very supportive. There were hugs from the women, handshakes from the men, smiles, kind words, and even the occasional joking, "Has nobody killed him yet?!"
And my little group of friends, mostly my brother's friends, were my protectors, my listeners, my jokesters when I needed them, and always just there. They may have just met me in church but they quickly became my extended family.
The lesson I learned from this is that there are good and bad people everywhere, in every situation, place, or religion. I try to seek out the good. Admittedly, the bad people will chip away at you, but hang on! You will beat them in the end.
My testimony of God has grown and been shaped by countless answered prayers, spiritual confirmations, and miracles I have seen. It may be fed by but does not rely upon others. God is perfect. Men are not.