Hi, my Name is Charmaine. I was born into the Covenant in Sydney Australia. I come from a large mixed family. I am now a mother of 2 girls, wife, student, homeschooling mum, animal lover, book reader, and many other things which define me, and many more things yet to come.
I recently have stepped away from church attendance as the Primary President of a small branch. I was at that time, trying to encourage a less active friend to come back to church, but she had endured tragic sexual abuse at the hands of a ward clerk when she was 8-12 yeas old, and as a result, had an understandable fear of primary doors and other closed doors. I had recently read a press release by the Church which stated the things that they have done/are doing to prevent child abuse – one of which was to install windows to primary doors in older meetinghouses. In an effort to help my friend, in addition to keeping my daughters and future children safe, I began to ask for windows in the doors. My Branch President called our church headquarters in Australia and was told “No, it’s not a policy, and you can’t have windows”. My Branch President was happy enough with that answer, I was not. It was then left to me to go over his head and email someone in Utah. Then I had a conference call with a couple of men and had to basically explain, and ask in a very kind, humble, gentle way, for windows in the doors. I felt ridiculous, but I knew how things work at church, and how to get even basic things done – prostrate yourself, and ask sweetly. The windows were installed within the fortnight.
Next, I tried to tackle a ward in Sydney, in which a man who molested several of us as young primary children, was attending while seeing to his court trial (for child sexual assault). While he had convinced his leaders of his innocence, I knew (because I was actually following the court trial) the facts, and tried to let the leaders know those facts, but no-one wanted to know. No-one called or emailed me. They had decided he had “repented”. He is currently in prison and will be out any week now. The leaders have no intention of telling the congregation. I am devastated.
I too am a victim of child sexual abuse (separate from the current situation just described) by my Young Men’s President growing up in Sydney, but from start to finish, I have been victim blamed by everyone, except my kind husband.
Two years ago, a sexual predator in our new Branch was grooming and coercing me into a sexual relationship while I was very vulnerable (grieving from a miscarriage (5th consecutive), and grieving my fathers cancer diagnosis, while husband was stressed at work and not communicating with me). When I told my branch president, he deemed it as mistakes on both sides and to just move on. Again, my trust in my priesthood leaders took a serious blow. When would I be listened to? I know these things do not only affect women, but I do know how difficult it is to get anyone to listen BECAUSE I am a woman.
Yesterday I listened to Kristy Money’s experience where she just wanted to hold her baby during a baby blessing, and was told no. My husband says these things take time, but as Kristy explained, women have been fighting/kindly asking for more involvement for over 30 years!!
I feel now that my only recourse is to distance myself from church attendance. It is too painful as a woman, and as a mother of two girls, to be a part of an organisation in which I feel we are so far from equal. The “brethren” say we are equal, but the “fruits” say otherwise (“by their fruits ye shall know them”, “actions speak louder than words”).
I say to our church leaders – we love you, but you are losing us. And when you lose the women, you lose the whole family.
I believe women should be ordained.