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funshyne328

Question about Bishops and confession?

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I have a problem, and I'm not quite sure what to do. A friend came to me in confidence today and told me she needed to confess to her bishop (though I'm not so sure she needs to?). She has been sexually abused by a man for the past year and a half. (I believe he is in his early 30's, and now divorced). She says she needs to confess to her bishop, because she originally told him it was okay. However, she became uncomfortable with the situation, and tried to ask him to stop, but he threatened to stop "dating" her (dating was okay with her parents). She asked what she should tell her bishop, and is wondering what his confidentiality rules are? She's terrified he'll tell someone...she doesn't want to ruin the man's life or reputation, she feels it isn't her place to bring out, its his. What do I tell her?? I'm so lost on this one.

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If she's interested in cleansing her soul and removing the stain of sin of her choices, she should go to her bishop.

If she's interested in getting protection from this guy and dealing with nasty abusive manipulative (possibly dangerous) guys, she should go to her bishop, and also probably to a rape crisis center or abused women's shelter (not like move in, but to receive advice and learn about resources).

Offer to go with her to the bishop's office. Hold her hand while she cries. Being terrified about telling someone is natural. Telling you was a great first step - support her and be worthy of her trust - urge her to do what's right, but don't pressure or force or go behind her back.

Edited by Loudmouth_Mormon

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From what you posted, there is no reason for the Bishop to tell anyone this without her permission. As a minister, he is bound to keep things in confidence and I haven't had a Bishop who didn't take this very, very seriously.

However, along with the Bishop, your friend needs to get some serious counseling. Abuse victims often blame themselves for allowing such things to happen. In reality, they were preyed upon and manipulated to make it seem they agreed to it. It's the perpetrator's way of gaining control and justification. Even adults can be victims of abuse.

It sounds like she's at a tipping point of facing her proverbial demons or not. I truly hope she faces her issues. There is going to be pain either way but the road to facing her demons and driving them out of her life leads to a relief and peace that is so sweet. The other way only prolongs the pain.

So tell her that her Bishop is a Minister and that he has to keep things in confidence and that she should really look at also getting professional counseling. Also tell her that the promise of the Atonement is to not just help us deal with our weakness, but to take the pain away.

Good luck and God bless her.

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Funshyne, your profile says that you are 16 and in Layton. If that is Layton, Utah, and your friend is also under 18, she is a victim of sexual abuse. She needs help. If she is 16, like you, and her parents were OK with her dating a 30-year-old in the first place, then . . . Suffice it to say, she's not going to get the help she needs from them.

Moreover, Utah state law requires anyone who becomes aware of sexual abuse, to report it to law enforcement or to DCFS. That includes the bishop, and it technically could be interpreted as including you.

And, given how damaging sexual abuse is, I would argue that you have a moral as well as a legal duty to report this - or convince her to report it herself. It may cost you her friendship - maybe forever. But frankly, your friend getting the resources she needs to heal properly - even if she doesn't think she wants them - is more important than her liking you right now.

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Yes, she's a minor. It began happening when she was 15, and she's now 16. She has also broken up with him and is no longer in contact with him.

That's why she's so worried that the bishop will tell someone, because it was an illegal act.

Edited by funshyne328

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The nature of this is serious enough that I would suggest that she does go get help from her bishop. There are resources with L.D.S family services that the bishop can recommend her too to help with the emotional healing of the Abuse. If the man is a member of the church there are things that he must do to over come and heal form his own sins. This can only happen if the mans sins are exposed and brought to light. Her keeping the mans secret is detrimental to the mans eternal salvation and to her emotional well being. If she is not emotionally well it can affect her spiritual well being and then affect her salvation as well. Her letting others know of the problem not only helps in her salvation but in hopes that the man will repent and turn unto the Lord himself.

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Her biggest concern is ruining her reputation (as well as his). She's the Laurel's class president, constantly serving on committees to better her community, and she excels in school. She's worried that if it "gets out", she'll be known as the "scarlet letter".

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Oh, what a terrible terrible weight to carry around. Youth should be spent on much better things than this situation. The bishop needs to know not so he can punish her or make her life miserable. He is there to care for her in a way that the Lord would care for her.

Having been a victim of some things myself, I know that the name of a victim is protected (especially in the case of a minor) from being put in newspapers, etc. Outside of the family, etc, I don't see why anyone in her social circle would need to know. Since you are her best friend she obviously has one person who cares for her well being. Remember how terrible you felt when you found out her situation, well, anyone who does find out somehow will feel that same way.

She needs to get better from this so that this does not get carried around on her shoulders for the rest of her life. She will have completely different friends in college, don't worry about the other kids, they will move on to the next thing soon enough, she will not.

Wondering if he has moved on to abusing another girl.

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Well, good news! She has decided to meet with the bishop tomorrow...but she's not sure what to say. How to open up the conversation? Any suggestions?

I know she's also concerned about her parents finding out...she's terrified that they'll hate her for allowing it to happen, and keeping it from them for so long. Would she (or they) be required to testify against him?

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I know she's also concerned about her parents finding out...she's terrified that they'll hate her for allowing it to happen, and keeping it from them for so long. Would she (or they) be required to testify against him?

Honestly, the parents will probably find out through the DCFS investigation.

Friend doesn't have to talk to DCFS, but a person who told her NOT to talk to DCFS or law enforcement could be committing obstruction of justice.

Friend can hypothetically be subpoenaed to testify in court against her will, but most prosecutors are sensitive to this kind of situation and won't go that far if she makes it clear she doesn't want to testify.

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Well, good news! She has decided to meet with the bishop tomorrow...but she's not sure what to say. How to open up the conversation? Any suggestions?

I know she's also concerned about her parents finding out...she's terrified that they'll hate her for allowing it to happen, and keeping it from them for so long. Would she (or they) be required to testify against him?

Well her parents are idiots for letting their daughter "date" a 30-year-old man! What on earth are they thinking?! Doesn't matter if they were OK with it. He broke the law.

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Well, good news! She has decided to meet with the bishop tomorrow...but she's not sure what to say. How to open up the conversation? Any suggestions?

I know she's also concerned about her parents finding out...she's terrified that they'll hate her for allowing it to happen, and keeping it from them for so long. Would she (or they) be required to testify against him?

The parents ought to share in some of the responsibility for letting their 15 year old daughter date a 30 year old divorcee. If they're angry at her for what happened, they ought to be labelled as imbeciles.

I know that's harsh, and you probably don't like people talking about your friend's parents that way. But to any rational adult, this was a disaster waiting to happen.

Also, if this guy isn't reported to authorities now, he's likely going to seek out other victims. Your friend may be worried about his reputation, but remember, he used his age and influence to emotionally manipulate a girl into a sexual relationship. He deserves for his reputation to carry that fact.

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I know of a young girl who was molested by an older man. The legal court took her statement, but did not require her to testify against him. Also, her name was never mentioned in any of the legal proceedings. Also, the church disciplinary council did not require her to testify against him, because they had the records from the legal proceedings.

Funshine, you are an important person in this girl's life. She confided in you, and that is big. This is all going to take a long time, and everybody and their dog will have different opinions about what to do next, and how fast, and everything else. You are doing her a huge favor by just being her friend - a safe place she can turn to talk (and probably cry). You do great good by quietly discussing options with her, but not pushing too much.

How old are you, by the way?

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How old are you, by the way?

I am also 16, turning 17 in March. We are the same age. In my opinion, the biggest reason she needs to talk to her bishop is for help. She blames it all on herself since she originally told him okay. She's worried she'll never find a good man who loves her.

How should she start the conversation with her bishop? Should she call it abuse, since she consented? Maybe write him a letter?

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I would tell her to take a deep breath and start at the beginning. Make sure the Bishop is aware of the huge age difference. He will know what to do.

That's what she's concerned about...He's a brand new bishop (under two weeks) and she's worried he won't know what to do.

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Should she call it abuse, since she consented?

It's abuse. It was illegal. He is a criminal. He should count himself lucky that it is the law knocking on the door. If it was my daughter, he might have to deal with me...that would be much less pleasant.

-RM

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That's what she's concerned about...He's a brand new bishop (under two weeks) and she's worried he won't know what to do.

Nobody ever knows how to deal with these things. The response has to be unique to the person. You'll notice that there has been a lot of advice of "get your friend talking to someone so they can get help," but no one is willing to really define what that help should be. It will be the people she confides in and works with that will determine the best way to address her needs. You shouldn't expect anyone to know what to do right from the start. All you can do is put her in the hands of trustworthy, honest, and caring people who are willing to take the time to discover her needs and lead her on the path to recovery.

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How should she start the conversation with her bishop? Should she call it abuse, since she consented? Maybe write him a letter?

I don't think that she needs to call it anything. She just needs to describe what happened. She's got a meeting scheduled with the bishop, right? I guess she could write the letter and send it to him, or bring it in with her and ask him to read it, or just start talking. Any of those would be fine.

"Bishop, I need help. Horrible things have happened, and I'm scared."

How about that?

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I don't think that she needs to call it anything. She just needs to describe what happened. She's got a meeting scheduled with the bishop, right? I guess she could write the letter and send it to him, or bring it in with her and ask him to read it, or just start talking. Any of those would be fine.

"Bishop, I need help. Horrible things have happened, and I'm scared."

How about that?

So should she take responsibility for it? Or say something horrible has happened (which seems like its removing responsibility from her). She blames herself for it, not the man. She says that if she had just been a little morally stronger, it never would have happened.

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So should she take responsibility for it? Or say something horrible has happened (which seems like its removing responsibility from her). She blames herself for it, not the man. She says that if she had just been a little morally stronger, it never would have happened.

There's very little doubt that at some level she will share in the fault. But it certainly isn't her fault. She was a 15 year old girl faced with pressure from a 30 year old man who knew that what he was doing was wrong both morally and legally.

One of the things that the adults here are considering is that a 15 year old girl has a different viewpoint on the world. Her brain literally isn't fully developed yet...most notably, that part of the brain that evaluates risk and long term consequences isn't fully developed yet. The parts that are most active are the parts that measure the need to fit in and gain acceptance from those she associates with.

Simply put--at 15 years old, girls (and boys) are not fully rational human beings.

The man in this situation, at 30 years old, has a fully developed brain and I suspect he knew fully well what he was doing. He knew what he did was wrong, but he manipulated the natural state of her emotional development to suit his physical desires. Plain and simple, he took advantage of her.

It is, in my opinion, a small share of the blame that she will shoulder (especially considering her parents approved of the relationship). You say that the phrase "something horrible has happened to me" is side-stepping responsibility, but I'd suggest that going to her bishop to talk about it is taking the responsibility head on.

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It can take a long time for her to resolve and figure out her part. It's ok to go into a meeting with the bishop unsure of what that part actually is.

She will be very, very sensitive to words like blame and fault. We here on an anonymous discussion board can't really use those words with any certainty regarding her. We would be exercising unrighteous judgement if we tried.

We can, however, say a few things about the blame and fault this guy bears. Because it doesn't matter what she did or didn't do, what she consented to or what she regrets - a 30 yr old guy who has sex with a 15 yr old girl is not exactly a sterling upstanding example of righteousness.

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