Protect LDS Children has a petition going around that has recently gained traction among my believing friends. I didn't really feel like I had a dog in the fight - I don't have children, I no longer have anything to do with bishop's interviews, and I don't feel like it's my place to try to change a church I don't believe in.
Then this morning, I was reading my friend's comments about it. She is a strong, believing, active member of the church. She has told her bishop that he can't be alone with her children, and the bishop has told her it isn't possible for her (or any adult) to be in the interview with him and her child.
I suddenly felt sick inside. (Can I blame that I've been doing EMDR therapy, and it makes things seem bigger and stronger emotionally than they use to?)
I distinctly remember my mom begging me to go to a temple recommend interview when I was fifteen. The Mount Timpanogos temple dedication was coming up, and I needed a recommend. I couldn't explain to her why I couldn't go, but I just could not go into that room alone with the bishop. It seemed stupid to me, since I'd been in interviews my whole life. I'd been walking in those rooms alone since I was seven years old.
As I thought about it this morning, I also remembered feeling anxious and afraid going in the bishop's office when I was seven. I didn't want to be there alone, but I wanted to be good. I don't know if I said anything to my parents or not. I do remember the fear sitting in the room alone with Bishop K and eventually getting over the fear because he was nice.
At fifteen, I was going through puberty, which was bringing up all kinds of shit and generalized anxiety over men most likely because of past sexual abuse. It could also be the fear I had of my own father. Whatever it was, I was terrified of men. The thought of going in there and having him ask me questions made me want to die. (I was already very self-destructive, deep in an eating disorder, deep in shame and self-loathing, and deeply hated who I was. Worthiness questions could have also added to my fear. It's hard to say since I was fifteen and confused as hell about what was going on for me. It was a lot easier to starve myself, cut a little, and just flat out refuse to go to the temple dedication with my family.)
I started talking to Todd about it, and my strongest objection to bishop's interviews was the way it grooms little kids into trusting men of authority and ignoring their own discomfort.
I think it is pretty rare that a bishop abuses a child. VERY RARE. I think damage is more likely to come by sending a child into the room where an adult man that is almost a stranger asks them questions about themselves, and the kids are just supposed to answer because he's the bishop. It's teaching a child a lack of boundaries that isn't healthy to learn.
As an adult, I went to the bishops for help. I trusted that they were the ones that could help me. They couldn't. Most didn't. Most caused me more harm than anything. One fought for my life like no one ever has before or since. One listened to me and tried to do right and help me. Every single other one made things worse for me, because I thought they knew what they were talking about. They had no fucking clue. They didn't mean to cause harm, but they did.
I shared some of this with Todd, and I said it was just so upsetting, and he responsed, "because it taught you who you were in relation to men in authority," (or something like that. I wish I could remember exactly, because it was perfect.)
I sobbed. Hard. For a good thirty minutes.
Then I went and signed the petition on Protect LDS Children. I wrote about it here. I commented on my friend's post. For my own sanity, I have to do something. I want to change things for other little kids.
I didn't have a good relationship with my parents, so as a teen, I would not have wanted them to come with me. (Though actually, I remember the bishop coming to the house, and I felt more comfortable with him there when my parents were there than when I thought about going to an interview... so maybe I would have been better off.) I love the idea of the child choosing an advocate. I would have chosen one of my young women leaders. I had several that I felt comfortable with, and I would have been totally fine with them sitting there in the room. Even if they didn't say a word, I could have handled an interview if I wasn't alone. (I think.)
I don't know if that would have made a difference in my life - my life is pretty fraught with a lot of shitty things - but maybe?
Anyway, I don't have time to go back and edit this or make it sound smart... I just needed to get it all out of my head.