READER POST: I don’t really have any good memories of our relationship. I assume we had them, but I can’t remember any examples.
I was a high school freshman and wouldn’t turn 16 until after the end of the school year. He was a senior and just a few months shy of 18. We met in and LDS seminary class. I remember when “Have lunch with me?” turned into “Where were you?” and I abandoned my girlfriends to spend my lunch period watching him and his friends play basketball.
I remember the parking lot of the bowling alley and how I cried in the front passenger seat of his car, hurt and humiliated, while his friend sat in the back seat. When he ran into the bowling alley to see if there was a free lane, I remember the way his friend’s voice sounded when he asked me, “Are you okay?” But I lied and said yes. I remember the way something in my brain shifted when that friend said, “I think you could do better.”
Continue reading “What Sexual Assault Looked Like in My LDS Youth”
TW: rape, disciplinary council
Continue reading “Female Sexual Trauma and the Problem of Patriarchal Religion”
READER POST: She is 15. Braces in her mouth, knees bruised from play, barely a year past puberty. She still resembles a girl. He is 19. Jaded by struggle, lined by dysfunction. He resembles a man. He sweet talks in her ear, leaves flowers and secret poems; she sneaks out to see him. He drives down a dark road. She is not prepared. This isn’t what she’s seen in movies. No violence. No screams. “I want to go home,” she quietly repeats, staring out at the darkness. She is frozen, rooted as firmly as the trees outside the car window. In a moment, she is changed. Her innocence scarred by someone she put her trust in. But the details of the dark road are not this story. I know because her story is mine.
READER POST: In June of 1985, I had just graduated from nursing school and was working in a nursing home. I had become friendly with a coworker, a guy who flirted with all the girls, and I ended up at his apartment, alone, late one night. This is a difficult story to tell, and I’ll leave out many details, but the gist of it is, sex happened. In retrospect, I came to the realization, I’d been raped. I’d said, “No” and resisted. I didn’t want to have sex. I was 24 years old, a temple-endowed returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and had planned on remaining a virgin until marriage. In my mind, I had to have been complicit, and I got what I deserved. Therefore, I reasoned a visit to the bishop of my single’s ward and a confession were in order.
Continue reading “Sexual Assault, Discipline, and Overcoming Church Sexism”
READER POST: I once served as the Ward Executive Secretary in my small-town, Texas ward. During this time my bishop openly groomed me for future leadership roles. “Someday when you’re a bishop or stake president…” As such, I was invited to participate in almost everything the bishopric did. While this boosted my ego at first, the more I saw of the inner machinery of administering the gospel, the less I wanted to ever have any part in the realm of church leadership. I saw many things that turned my stomach but just happened to follow the Handbook perfectly. This story is about just such a time: the time I saw a disciplinary council.
Continue reading “The Only Church Disciplinary Council I Ever Saw”
READER POST: Every year when she comes back from Arizona for the summer, my neighbor puts out an American flag. She grew up in Germany at the end of World War II, and her family had nothing when she was little.
“We tried to eat the grass, but Russian soldiers pointed their guns and told us to leave,” she said once, her blue eyes moving away from mine. I sat there, my neighbor’s hand in mine, while she cried. What does one say, when told that a little girl with one dress, a dead father, and no food, had guns pointed at her so she wouldn’t eat grass? I have a lot of words in my head, but I have no words for that. Still. I had a hand, and that hand held hers for as long as it was needed.
Continue reading “A Psalm of Women in Times of Sorrow”
Trigger Warning: Death of a child
READER POST: October 28, 2017 marked the one-year date of the death of my 10-year-old son Sawyer. It was obviously traumatic and shattered everything I knew about what was right and true and good In the world.
I sat in the piercing parlor that evening, looking around at the clientele, realizing how out of place I looked. I worried getting my nose pierced at age 41 would seem silly to everyone. I had to convince myself over and over it wasn’t about what others would think, it was about what I wanted.
Continue reading “Mourning Sawyer”
TW: Domestic violence, language
Continue reading “Abroad and Abused: One Woman’s Journey toward Empowerment”
READER POST: The spring after I turned 21, I took on the task of teaching myself Polish by listening to language cassette tapes, writing down terms, and practicing. My husband and I were moving to Poland for a month, where he had served an LDS mission. Because he spoke fluent Polish, he helped me with vocabulary. I made sure to ask him how to say, “Help me.” He quickly answered, “Jestem kurwa.” I added it to my list. Learning Polish and traveling back to his mission area were efforts to strengthen my marriage. I wanted a healthy marriage so badly and the truth was that my marriage was in distress.
Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin. ~ Bonnie L. Oscarson
READER POST: I was in a toxic, abusive marriage. I felt profoundly alone because no one knew about my struggles as a betrayed and abused wife. I’d been thrown into murky waters without a life raft, so I clung to Brene Brown’s challenge to dare greatly. I forced myself to be truer to what I was feeling, experiencing, and thinking. I knew I needed human connection even though it’d require a vulnerability I feared, so I looked to the safest place I knew: the sisterhood in my Relief Society. Surely my sisters would lift me if I mustered enough courage to tell them I was being abused. I was wrong.
Continue reading “A Betrayal in My Religious Sisterhood”
TW: racism against black children
READER POST: My husband, Jeff, and I are white and two of our daughters are black, both teenagers. Until recently, we’ve lived in St. Anthony in southern Idaho. My girls have been quiet sometimes, feisty sometimes. They’ve argued sometimes and stayed silent sometimes. They’ve told their school teachers, administrators, church leaders, and therapists about the racism that has happened to them in their school and community. Without exception, every single one of those they have gone to (all white) about the racism they were experiencing—including their therapists—has told them that they are making too big a deal of: Continue reading “Mother of Mixed Race Family Decries Racism in her Town”
TW: transphobia, brief mention of self harm
READER POST: I file into the restaurant with my beautiful (and often difficult) children. I gave birth to several boys—all gangly limbs, misplaced aggression, anxieties, and intense grudges. But they’re mine, and I love them, though maybe I regret this particular dinner decision. As we wait beside the Christmas tree, I notice the host is staring at my oldest with a puzzled look, one that feels judgmental and borders on disgust. For my oldest child holds a deep secret that only we know: a hard, life-changing, devastating, and beautiful secret. With this look my firstborn is receiving from a stranger, I realize his secret is becoming less so. For my oldest “son” is a girl. Continue reading “Love and Respect My Trans Child as if Your Own”