What it’s like to watch men like Roy Moore as a conservative and as a sex abuse survivor

I used to admire men like Roy Moore, because I loved everything about church — the off-key a cappella rendition of “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” the typos in the bulletin, the ladies who smelled like Aquanet with little round rouge circles on their cheeks, and — yes — men like Moore who said long prayers and ran the show.

This changed one hot summer day when I needed a ride home from Vacation Bible School. I was delighted when the preacher volunteered to drop me off. As we drove, I chatted incessantly, happy to have him all to myself without people trying to get his attention in the church parking lot. When we got to my house, I was shocked that he walked me inside my dark house, even more surprised when he lingered in conversation, and thunderstruck when he kissed me right on the lips.

At 12 years old, I swooned over my good luck. He picked me out of all the girls at church. But the relationship, especially after he moved on, reset my moral compass. If all the church conversation about morality and sexual purity was a lie, what else was fake? Now that the “family of God” felt incestuous, I rejected the church and myself. Didn’t I want the preacher’s attention? Didn’t I cause this?