Bio: Kylie lives in Colorado where she teaches junior high students and can quote extensively from The Office.
When I was 8 my mom remarried a man she met in a single’s ward. I don’t remember much about him before he became my step-father, but I do remember that they got married pretty quickly after they met. My dad was out of the picture and my mom needed help with her four girls.
I remember that we liked our step dad (I’ll call him Rick) and he was really funny and nice. I hadn’t grown up with a father so having Rick in the house was an adjustment. I sometimes struggled with sharing my mom with him but pretty soon he won me over.
The first time Rick was inappropriate with me was when I was 13. I had brought home my report card and he wanted to see it. He pulled me onto his lap as we went over my grades. I squirmed because I was too big to sit on someone’s lap and I felt uncomfortable. He just grabbed me tighter. When I tried to break free he told me it was a game and he liked to trap me and wanted to see if I could escape. I wiggled out of his arms feeling relieved. He began to do that more and more. At first the game was just silly but soon it turned into molestation.
When I attended Young Women’s we had a lesson on purity. A teacher had a glass vase full of water and dropped droplets of red food dye into the water. She told us the red dye was like sexual sin and every time we let someone touch us, kiss us, pet or neck, or we went too far sexually, we became dyed like the water. I remember my face burning red and feeling sick to my stomach. I knew that Rick had done far more than that with me and I felt dirty and so full of shame.
The sexual abuse became more frequent and I decided to confess to my bishop. At this point I was 15. I didn’t have the nerve to tell the bishop who I had “sinned” with but told him it was someone older and it was ongoing. The bishop gave me a lecture about purity and told me that I should consider not taking the sacrament for a few weeks. I felt so ashamed that the next sunday after, I went out to use the restroom before the sacrament came so my mom couldn’t see that I would pass the tray. I found ways to avoid taking the sacrament for the next few weeks.
I began engaging in self harm. When my mom noticed cuts on my legs and arms she freaked out and grounded me. She thought I was doing it to get attention so she told me I couldn’t spend any time with my friends and would have to come straight home after school. My mom worked until evening but Rick was always home after school so this meant more time with him.
I spent several years of hell with Rick and his games. When I was 17 he sat me and another sister down in my mom’s bedroom. He told us that God had been preparing us for something special and that when we turned 18 we were supposed to be married to him. He told us that his feelings for us had been preparing all of us to live polygamy. He said a lot of things about scriptures and Jesus having wives and many things I don’t remember. I just remember feeling so sad and sick that my sister had been abused by him too.
That night my sister and I decided we were going to run away. We worried for our other sisters so that changed our mind. We decided to tell our mom instead. Rick suspected something was up and became very paranoid, trying to make sure we were never with our mom alone. My older sister decided on a plan. We would call my mom’s work from our school. We told our teachers we had a dentist appointment but forgot our note. We met in the school office and called our mom. I think my sister blamed it on having her period so that my mom would want to come and not bring Rick.
When my mom came to get my sister, we both stood in front of the car and she seemed shocked. She knew something was really wrong. We got into the car and both burst into tears. Mom drove to a Wendy’s parking lot near the school and we sobbed and sobbed and each told her what had happened.
Sometimes I wonder if it hadn’t happened to both of us, if my mom wouldn’t have believed me. I always worried if I told her she would think I was lying or doing it for attention. Because there were two of us, she seemed to know right away. That night she drove us to one of her female friend’s home. A few hours later she showed up with my sisters. I still don’t know what all of that was like for her but I do know that she left Rick and we never had to see him again. She eventually divorced him. I don’t think he ever faced church discipline or legal discipline for what he did.
I’m only going into a fraction of the hell that Rick put us through but he used the Gospel of Jesus Christ to abuse us. I used the church to fuel my shame and it made me feel like such a whore. I’ve now had many years of therapy but I sometimes feel so much anger that Rick was allowed to use the doctrine of polygamy to justify what he did to us. It isn’t right. Sometimes I wonder if this is how women who were pioneers felt. Sometimes I wonder if they felt trapped and helpless with no one to believe them. It makes me heart ache to think that so many women have had to go through what me and my sister went through.
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