I was sexually harassed while working at LDS Family Services #MormonMeToo

I worked at LDS Family Services in Ogden, Utah from 2007-2013 as an Adoption/Birth Parent caseworker. I first started there as a practicum student while earning my Bachelor’s degree at Weber State University in Social Work. I was hired two months after I graduated, and became licensed, because of the great work I did as an intern. I loved the work I did there and the clients I worked with.

In 2009 I was called into my Adoption supervisor’s office. I believe that he is a good man, but also a man who bought into the patriarchal modesty standards of the church. He let me know that a secretary (or a couple secretaries, I was never sure which) complained that when I folded my arms my cleavage would show. At the time I was an endowed member who wore her garments in the correct way. I also have a larger chest, which is nature-given, by the way.

LDS Family Services

I was shocked that this was being brought up. He told me that the secretary(ies?) were concerned about my modesty. I assured him that I was wearing my garments in the correct way and as long as I’m wearing garments then I am being modest, and professional in my dress and appearance. I was befuddled and confused that fellow women would care so much about my cleavage, and if they were that worried about it, that they didn’t speak to me directly. Bringing my supervisor into the conversation felt like I was being disciplined.

He then went on to tell me that even though we don’t work with them, a lot of men come to our agency for counseling for sexual issues. He said if one of those men caught sight of my shapely body or cleavage, were sexually stimulated, and then went and raped someone it would be my fault. He assured me that he knew I wouldn’t want that to happen.

I was stunned that a man who was licensed in marriage and family therapy actually believed that my body could entice another person to rape someone. I was so stunned I didn’t know how to respond.

Later the next week we were discussing in staff meeting an inappropriate comment the agency director made toward one of my fellow caseworkers. She had gone to Human Resources about it and it became “a thing.” I was so angry on her behalf and mentioned how inappropriate it is for anyone to talk about other people’s bodies in the workplace. I made mention that if anyone talked about my body or my breasts again I would go directly to Human Resources and talk to an attorney (who is my sister, but she’s still pretty amazing and qualified).

No one ever brought up my body, what I was wearing, or my breasts again and I continued to work there for another four years.

Now almost a decade later I regret not going to Human Resources about this incident. It was completely inappropriate to be talking about my breasts in the workplace, but the secretaries felt entitled to because we often discuss womens’s bodies in the church and how they do and do not measure up to our standards of modesty. It was inappropriate for those concerns to be brought to someone in charge of my employment and not to me directly. And it was completely morally and professionally unethical for my supervisor to say that my body or breasts could cause someone else to violate another person.

Discussing my breasts and saying that I would be responsible for rape because of them is sexual harassment. It happened to me while I was an employee of the church by other employees of the church. This is my #MormonMeToo moment.

Cross-posted as a guest post at The Exponent


Sex Abuse, the LDS church, and Utah

The month of April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month .

To say I think about child abuse on the daily wouldn’t be an exaggeration. Currently I am a social worker working on the macro level to prevent and educate against pediatric abusive head trauma. I also volunteer several hours a month as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) with foster children in my community.

As part of my ongoing continuing education as a CASA, I recently attended an in-service training at a local Children’s Justice Center. The CJC is a center were law enforcement officers interview children who have been abused in a safe environment. They use a multidisciplinary team approach to address individual cases in the most effective way possible.

I was at this training the day after the Elder Joseph Bishop scandal broke and rocked the LDS community. At least for those of us who believe victims. I don’t want to get into the specifics of this individual case, only because it’s been written about many times over and I don’t feel entitled to retell Jane Doe’s story without her consent (unlike Mormonleaks).

Every time I learn a new statistic about child abuse, I am shocked to the core. Which is pretty ironic considering I spend more than 40 hours a week immersed elbow-deep in horrific child abuse cases. During the CJC training, we learned that according to Prevent Child Abuse – Utah, nationally 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 and that Utah’s child sex abuse rate is 3 times the national average.

Yes, you read that correctly. Utah has the highest incidences reported of sexual abuse of children per capita than any other state in the United States.

sexual abuse

So, I am not shocked by this Joseph Bishop story at all. Sexual abuse, assault, and rape is an epidemic in Utah. This state claims an LDS church membership of about 60%. That means the majority of the citizens of Utah identify as LDS, so it’s not a hard extrapolation to assume that majority of children sexually abused in this state and the majority of their perpetrators are LDS.

I could probably write a dissertation in which I analyze how our repressive sexual culture leads to sexual abuse, but I’m sure someone has already done it and done a better job.

But I will say, as still a member of record, I am disgusted that the LDS church claims on one hand to have “zero tolerance for abuse” and that they have the “gold standard for protecting against abuse” when for the last decade and a half I’ve been involved in the Mormon feminist movement I have read over 1,000 stories from (mostly) women about how they were abused either as children or adults and were not believed by their priesthood leader, or were abused BY their priesthood leader.

I hate to tell anyone’s story that’s not mine, but I feel like since this story was shared in public and there is no pending litigation regarding it, I’m going to share it here now.

In January 2007 I started my internship as an Adoption/Birth Parent caseworker at LDS Family Services in Ogden, Utah. As part of my internship my supervisor asked me to attend the Adoption Educations classes we were, by law, required to give to our potential adoptive couples. I enjoyed these classes immensely. On the 3rd or 4th week, the teachers of the class organized a birth parent panel, where 4 different young women shared their stories of relinquishing their baby for adoption.

One story especially stuck out to me and still sickens me to the core 11 years after hearing it. When Jane* was a 17-year-old Laurels President in her ward a returned missionary asked her on a date. Jane didn’t want to go, but felt obligated because LDS girls are conditioned never to say “no” to a priesthood holder. On that date, John* raped her. As any good LDS girl has been taught to do, she immediately went to her Bishop and recounted her story hoping that Joe would be punished. Instead the Bishop called her to repentance for being a liar and told her that a returned missionary would never RAPE someone and she must have seduced him. She was not allowed to take the Sacrament for several weeks. In that time she found out she was pregnant and went back to the Bishop. The Bishop parroted to her what it says in the Handbook, which is when an unwed pregnancy occurs every effort should be made for the couple to be married. So, essentially this Bishop encouraged Jane to marry her rapist. She and her parents were outraged and went to their Stake President. The Stake President backed up the Bishop and encouraged Jane and her parents to obey their priesthood leaders or else face eternal consequences.

At the behest of every adult Jane had been taught to trust her entire life, she married the 21-year-old man who raped her. When she was close to delivering her baby, her new rapist husband left her. I guess being a family man isn’t as much fun as raping underage girls. The stress of the situation put her into labor and she ended up delivering her baby. In the hospital she decided, because she had no visible means of support, to relinquish her child for adoption.

I sat there on that cold January night listening to Jane’s story with my jaw agape with total horror in my heart. I went to my supervisor with a total “wtf” look on my face and asked what do we do when as clinicians bishops give our clients completely wrong advice. Not just wrong advice, but damaging, abusive, gaslighting, spiritual detrimental, commands from a place of ecclesiastical authority? He told me he usually calls them and talks to them one-on-one. In my 6 1/2 years at LDS Family Services I talked with many Bishops and more than a few discounted any direction or training I tried to give them because I’m a woman and don’t hold the priesthood.

I actually ran into Jane just last year. We talked about how she is doing 12 years after relinquishing her child and how she’s dealt with the PTSD from both that and the rape. She’s doing well, but not as well as she could be if at any point in her life SHE WAS BELIEVED.

And this is just one in a thousand stories where a victim was not believed by their trusted ecclesiastical leader that I have heard in the last decade. I’ve heard so many that I’m not shocked anymore. I’m not shocked anymore by the patriarchy that covers up abuse and promotes predators within it’s priesthood ranks. I’m not shocked, but I feel so malignantly betrayed. I could tell you several more from people I know personally, but since they were not told in public, but just to me privately, I will not repeat them. But let’s just say, men can be victims of predatory priesthood leaders too.

Recently I had a Facebook friend post a #humblebrag about the “awesome” Bishop in her ward who requires the Young Men (ages 12-17) in his ward to text him every time they masturbate.

Excuse me, what?


Let me tell you right now, I have a 14-year-old son. If he had a Bishop who required him to text him every time he masturbated, right after I got through throat punching this man, I WOULD CALL THE POLICE. I would report him to child protective services for sexting with underage teenage boys.


I get it my fellow LDS peeps — we’ve been indoctrinated and told that it is perfectly normal for our Bishops to interview us about our worthiness, and part of that is if we are chaste. I’m here to tell you, it is never okay for an adult man to sit alone in a room with a CHILD and ask them about their sexual practices. What if that were their coach? What if that were their teacher? What if that was Bob from down the street (who is basically your Bishop – a random, every day Bob assigned to be your spiritual leader for 5 year)? In those instances you would be horrified and you should be horrified now.

I don’t know what the answers are. I know that sunlight is the best antiseptic and we need to expose the rampant child sex abuse and also sexual assault and rapes that happen to LDS people if we ever want to clean it up. For those of you who want me to just shut up about this I will tell you one thing – you are only as sick as your secrets (the church being the “you” in this scenario) and I refuse to be sick with anyone. And I will never shut up when a child needs protecting.

The last two weeks I have sat and reflected about Joseph Bishop and the coverup of him being a sexual predator by the LDS church and all the other stories I know, and the stories I don’t know, and am so glad that four years ago I made the decision to never to return as a practicing, believing member of the LDS church. And I’m debating about whether I will stay as a member of record lest I be complicit in this tolerance and acceptance of abuse. I can tell you that none of my children will ever have the experience of being sexually abused or assaulted and will go to a Bishop to be blamed, shamed, and not believed. THAT will never happen, and I’m so eternally grateful for that.

My dear LDS friends, you can no longer point fingers at Catholic Priests,

You can no longer point fingers at the FLDS,

You can no longer point fingers at the archaic notion of a rapist in the bushes,

You can no longer point fingers at any group as the one with the problem of sexual abuse in their ranks.

The LDS church is also the problem.

And it should end now.

It will end when you rise up and demand that your leaders act like the Men of God you believe they were called to be.

To report child abuse in the state of Utah please call 855-323-3237

To report child abuse in the United States please call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

*Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.


Favorite Quotes

“I’m not going to betray my heart and sacrifice myself on the fires of your expectation.” –C. Ara Campbell

Photo by Natalie Grono

C Ara Campbell

I’m back?

Last month The Huffington Post announced it was changing it’s contributor platform. I have been a contributor there since September 2013 when y’all helped make one of my posts viral. Since then I’ve been putting most of my writing there because everyone knows HuffPo and hardly anyone knows Iron Daisy.

But now I’m back to my roots. The HuffPo is no longer accepting contributor submissions. Any article ideas will have to be pitched to their editors. Before I would submit my posts, they would be edited by a small team of people, and then posted on the website. This has come to end for every contributor.

I’m a little disappointed because for 4 years HuffPo allowed me to reach an audience I wouldn’t have ever had otherwise. It was a great experience for me allowing me to expand my abilities as a writer.

I can’t totally understand their position with this new shift. With the current trend of #fakenews and our president inciting nazis and other hate groups to become more hateful, you don’t want to give a platform to just anybody these days. I think the move is smart on their part.

I’ve been hesitant to continue posting on my blog, not because the audience isn’t as large as HuffPo, but because of the audience my blog attracts. Actually the audience I attract. That audience is a mentally unstable person who uses my blog’s commenting section to send vile messages to me.

I get it. In this internet age any coward can sit behind a keyboard and say whatever they want about anyone else. I’m not naive to that.

But I know the people behind these pathetic attacks and I wonder sometimes when they’re going to get bored? Probably never. Just word to the wise, you can say anything you want about me – I’m fat, I’m a bad mother, I’m mentally unhealthy, blah blah blah. But if you use my children to hurt me, especially use the worst thing that ever happened to one of my children as a weapon against me, I just have to ask — what the fuck is wrong with you? Like, who wakes up and uses a crime against a child to hurt their mother? It’s absolutely so despicable and crosses such a huge line, just know there will never be forgiveness on my end. Never. You hurt me? Whatever. You betray one of my children? You’re dead to me.

All this to say I may be bringing this old chestnut back to life. Maybe. It depends on if I have anything to say that I can’t tweet in 280 characters.

The Perfect Mom

You know that mom you see at school drop-off every morning? The mom whose hair is perfectly coiffed, her makeup is always done, her clothes are stylish and expensive, she may or may not work outside the home, her children are always perfectly dressed and perfectly behaved, and she volunteers at every school function? She never shows up to school drop-off in her sweats, messy bun, yesterday’s makeup, the baby’s spit-up on her stretched-out and holey t-shirt, while slugging down as much coffee as her system can take. Nope, not the Perfect Mom. Her life seems perfect and she makes it seem so effortless, and you wonder why you’re not that mom.

I’m not that mom either. I don’t even think that mom is that mom.

Parenting is hard. Full stop. End of sentence. It’s hard. I often think of the slogan that the Peace Corps © uses about how they are the toughest job you’ll ever love and it relates to how I feel about parenting. It’s so hard, and overwhelming, and exhausting, and taken me to the limit of all my extremes, and yet I fiercely love all of my children so much that I would die for them.

Perfect mom

I’ve been there in the trenches with my kids fighting to ensure them the best future possible. I’ve been there at 2:00 a.m. when they were sick and throwing up on me and sleep was an elusive fantasy. I’ve been there when my child struggled to read and I had to fight for her to get all the educational help she was entitled to. I was in the trenches when my kids were bullied by the neighbor kid whose parents took no responsibility nor tried to correct their child’s behavior. I’ve been in the trenches when my kids struggled with school assignments, friendships, Scouting, sports, music lessons, growing pains, sibling rivalry, on and on, ad infinitum.

Sometimes I’ve fought those battles with a dirty t-shirt, underwear I’ve worn for days, and stained sweatpants on. Sometimes I’ve fought those battles in a pantsuit and power heels. And sometimes I’ve fought them with a sweatshirt with the school’s mascot and a simple pair of jeans on.

The point is, as a mother I was willing to fight those battles for and with my kids no matter how I looked, felt, or was perceived by the other parents at school.

That mom who we think is so perfect and must have a problem-free life, is fighting those battles for and with her kids too.

We can never know the inner workings of anyone else’s life. I do know that everyone else that I see on the street, in the grocery store, in line at the Post Office, and at school drop off has a life that is as vivid as mine. They all have people they love deeply, worries that weigh on their heart, and hurts so deep it’s amazing they got out of bed and participated in life that day. Their lives are just as real and important as mine.

So when I see the Perfect Mom with her perfect hair, makeup, clothes, children, and life at school drop-off I try to remember that her life is just as hard as mine. Maybe some things in her life are easier for her than they are in mine. And maybe in some ways my life is easier than hers. I’ll never know. We’ll never know.

So in the meantime I’m cutting my fellow moms, wearing a power suit or a pair of sweatpants, some well-deserved slack. Including myself.

Thoughts on Winter

I have a love/hate relationship with winter.

I love looking out my windows to the snowcapped mountains in the distance, especially when the sun is rising over the ones in the east and casting pink streaks of light across the snow. And when the sun is setting over the mountains on Antelope Island over the Great Salt Lake and the orange/hot pink bursts of light make the whole lake look like it is made of fire. I’m lucky enough to get a beautiful view of both where I live.

I love that in winter nature takes a break from creating to rest. I love the stillness of winter. Everything in nature hibernates for a while, and winter is just mother nature’s slumber. I love the peace I feel in the winter especially while just sitting at a window watching the snow fall.

I love watching people playing in the snow and making snowpeople. Especially since it inspired Bill Watterson’s best strips for Calvin & Hobbes.

I love winter because I have a lot of beautiful sweaters and cute boots and this appeals to the fashionista in me.

I hate commuting during snowstorms. I hate being cold. I hate that my asthma is cold weather induced and it’s harder to breathe. I hate that I have to find everyone’s coats, scarves, gloves and boots just to leave the house when in summer I can throw on a pair of flip flops and run out of the door. I hate plowing through my driveway and scraping off my car.

But however much I hate certain aspects of winter, I am grateful for this time of rest, of slumber, to let nature be quiet for a while. In two months growing things will wake up and sprout new life. I’m willing to wait for it.

Echo Chamber?

Recently I was accused of living in a liberal, social justice warrior, feminist bubble – an echo chamber surrounded by only people who agree with me.

Cool story, bro?

Let me tell you a little bit about my echo chamber.


Little girls who grow up in Mormon-dominated Utah in a part-member Mormon family where the only parent who is LDS (mom) does not attend church until she is 14, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who attend their LDS ward alone growing up, with just her siblings, without parents but with their support, and were subjected to lessons about how every other child was born in the covenant, therefore more blessed, and members of eternal families, whereas she was not, through no fault of her own, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who have kids in the neighborhood tell them they’re not allowed to play with them because her aforementioned parents don’t go to church and will probably make them drink beer (my parents rarely, if ever, drank alcohol) and watch R-rated movies, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who are made fun of for having a father who did “un-masculine” household chores like laundry and didn’t go hunting or own guns because he’s a pacifist, don’t live in echo chambers.

Little girls who are raised by strong female role models and who are taught from birth they need to grow up to support themselves, despite being a member of a patriarchal religion where she was taught her only goal should be motherhood, and career and education “just in case,” don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who try to start a Young Democrats club in their High School in Republican dominated Utah, who had her posters ripped down and not a single teacher would agree to sponsor the club, letting it die before it began, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who are told by the Student Body President their sophomore year of high school that they should be excommunicated from their shared church and humiliated in front of their entire Human Biology class, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who are made fun of in front of an almost entire classroom full of boys in her AP American History class for being a feminist and bringing up the point that the foremothers of our state of Utah were suffragists, don’t live in echo chambers.

Teenage girls who excitedly register to vote during their senior year of High School only to have the woman registering her give a disgusted grunt when she asked if she would like to register for a party and she proudly proclaims, “yes! Democrat!”, don’t live in echo chambers.

Young college co-eds who attend one of the most liberal Universities in her state only to attend a Young Democrats meeting with 4 attendees on a campus of over 20,000 students, don’t live in echo chambers.

Young married females who are shamed for hyphenating their married last names (17+ years and counting), don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have their gynecologist tell them that the very real physical negative side affects of their birth control are all in their head, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are pressured by their church leaders to have a testimony of a President and a war they don’t support, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have news articles written about the good work they’re doing in their career and are met with comments about how awful it is that a mother would dare to work, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are shunned from being in the cool mommy group in the neighborhood for not being a stay-at-home-mother, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have to constantly fight the culture of sexism and misogyny that permeates modern day America so she can raise her daughters in strength and sons with respect for all of humanity, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are told by their supervisor that the quarter inch of cleavage that shows when they fold their arms at work, even though they are dressed perfectly modestly and their garments are covered, might entice a clinical male client to rape someone, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are censored at work for having a feminist voice and threatened with the loss of job and income, not to mention their covenants since they work for their church, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who vote their conscience and then are shamed for not voting for members of their faith and told they are being deceived by Satan, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are glared at for wearing pants to church by so-called loving members of their religion, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are asked  by their church leaders to gain a testimony of exclusion of LGBTQIA members, their children from baby blessings and baptism, when it goes against everything she knows is right and Christ-like, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who want more authority in their church than their 12-year-old son who can perform one of the most sacred rituals, passing the sacrament, and she can’t despite being an adult and temple recommend holder, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who break their own hearts and walk out of the church that informed their entire spirituality and into a church where they feel peace and no cognitive dissonance and aren’t asked to compromise their values and conscience, and can just worship the Christ that they love found in the New Testament, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who have half of their neighborhood no longer talk or wave to her or unfriend her on Facebook because of her changing and evolving religious convictions, don’t live in echo chambers.

Women who are feminist liberals living, working, and raising their children every day in Utah, don’t live in echo chambers.

So, please consider the reason why you’re having a strong, negative reaction to my opinions is perhaps because you live in an echo chamber? You’ve grown up and lived in a conservative state, surrounded by conservative people, and a conservative religion, where the people in your life (friends, family, and neighbors) all share your conservative opinions. I might be the first person who has ever disagreed with you and offered a different perspective. Perhaps I do it in an assertive and strong voice, which makes you uncomfortable because you’re used to women deferring to men, backing down from confrontation, speaking to you in dulcet tones, and when they do disagree, keeping it to themselves.

Well, that ain’t me. I’m not a shrinking violet, I’m a damn iron daisy, and if you condescend to me, cast aspersion on my character, shame me, insult my intelligence, or question my spirituality, you will hear from me and it WON’T be in my Relief Society voice, but the strong, clear, voice of the strong, independent, proud woman my parents raised me to be.