037: Surviving Sexual Assault within an LDS Community Part 1

525542_10150749597630636_1607548935_nNatasha Helfer Parker interviews Chelsea Weidmann regarding having been sexually assaulted on several occasions in her life – the youngest being during nursery at church.  They discuss openly some of her experiences – so please be aware that this interview may be triggering to some of those who may be going through their own sexual assault recovery process.  Please also be aware that every recovery process from sexual assault is unique and different.  Things that Chelsea experienced or found useful – may not be things that will apply to everyone in similar situations.  This interview is meant to be an open dialogue about a generally taboo topic in our culture in hopes of helping others who have been assaulted, as well as helping family members, friends and church leaders know better how to respond and support those in their circles.  Comments will be carefully moderated to protect the safe space we have attempted to create through this setting.

Chelsea has a BA from BYU in English Language and Literature.  She recently finished her certification in American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum and has been teaching ballet for 15 years as well as working as a guest artist with local dance companies.  She’s been married for 11 years and has two children.

The Courage to Heal 

The Courage to Heal Workbook

The Sexual Healing Journey

The Path to Wholeness by Carol Tuttle from an LDS Perspective that some have found helpful

National Sexual Assault Hotline – 1.800.656.HOPE

Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for audio production of this podcast.

5 comments for “037: Surviving Sexual Assault within an LDS Community Part 1

  1. Sherry
    May 6, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I just finished listening to this Podcast and it struck me to the core. Not only has one of my daughters been raped multiple times but I was raped by my LDX x over a 29 year temple marriage. It took me that long to articulate what x did to me was so wrong. He was slapped on the hand by church discipline, felt it was his right via the temple sealing ceremony. I’m happily married to a NOMO for eleven years, who is eons more respectful of me as a woman. I’ve gone to counselling over the years and have recently made the decision to stop attending church. X and his new temple-married wife reside in the same ward, which intensifies the lack of healing in my life. Being in the same ward with my rapist is too much for anyone to think is OK.I know what she means about not wanting to go to church, at LDS people who blame the victim, who don’t understand her turmoil and trauma, at the falseness of the modesty myth. I’m sending so many blessings to Chelsea for speaking out, speaking the truth, and sharing her story. It is so important to hear and tell her story so other little girls, young women and older women find strength from her courage and strength. Thank you Chelsea.

  2. Leslie
    May 13, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Chelsea was worried that she was wasting our time by telling her story in such detail, however I found it to be very genuine and interesting and instructive to hear the thought stream as it came out in a natural, emotional way. I feel that we got the idea of the confusion, despair, anger, hopelessness, bitterness and powerlessness that she was feeling. So if there was editing in the podcast, thank you for leaving in some of these parts of the discussion.

    I hope the journey of processing these experiences moves forward for Chelsea. I hope there can be a time when she remembers the events but not the trauma and pain. Good job for staying alive to tell your story!

    I would enjoy an update in several years so we can know how Chelsea is doing. She did an amazing job of sharing herself, and now we feel connected and bonded to her and we care how she is doing.

    I would like to know also from Chelsea if she has or will use dancing as part of the therapy; not as a public performance but using dancing as the outlet for expressing the deep emotions that are beyond words.

  3. natashaparker
    May 14, 2014 at 1:04 am

    I ended up not editing out any of the podcast interview.

  4. May 23, 2014 at 2:55 am

    Thank you for telling your story. You are inspiring and I love that you are a Dancer. Dance! 🙂

  5. Jessica Havican
    May 25, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts in such an open, raw and public way. It’s definitely an important topic to talk about and I applaud your bravery in doing so. There are women out there that need this and that I hope will draw strength from your story. I have had my own experiences with sexual assault and I find the more open I am about it, the less pain I feel from it.

    As far as the church culture and the negative response you have received, I am so sorry. That teacher in your ward was dead wrong. DEAD WRONG. You do have every right to set limits. I have had my own experiences with sexual assault and if you ever want to talk to someone else that can offer you validity and support, I am here for you. I truly, truly mean that.

    I have a HUGE problem with mormon culture. I have actually distanced myself from the church in the last 5 months and can honestly say I have found so much peace, clarity and freedom from pain, both emotionally and physically as a result. I wish you the same in your journey, wherever you decide to go with it. Whether it be in the church or out of it.I have always admired you and your willingness to speak up about hard issues. You are a strong woman to allow yourself to be so vulnerable in opening up to others and especially yourself. There is beauty and healing in vulnerability. I am grateful to know you even though we haven’t seen each other for a couple of years. I truly, truly am!

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