This is the story of my experience in the Baha'i community:

I started participating as a JY facilitator after looking for extracurricular activities that would look good on my college applications. I was 15 turning 16 and never heard of the faith but was intrigued by their values and actions. I cared that they were part of the community, mainly working within a Latiné neighborhood. Everyone was extremely caring and hospitable. We worked out of a community house where 5 women in their late 20s lived but anyone could come and go and utilize the space. I soon started going more often than once a week outside of the weekly JY meetings. They cooked food for everyone, held gatherings where I could meet new people and I was invited to their fully paid overnight camps. Of course, I wanted to participate more in everything they offered, I was an impressionable teenager from a complicated home life. So I began working almost every day of the week volunteering my hours and practically living in the house. I should say that I have never been religious, even through my Catholic childhood and all the bahai propaganda I was subjected to, I will remain an atheist.

Eventually, I met a 20-year-old woman who had just left college and couldn't return to her family home, so she moved into the house. Soon after she moved in our relationship became flirtatious and romantic. She knew I was still in high school and 15 at the time. We were left alone in the house and it became obvious to the other women in the house that a romantic relationship had sparked between us. Today, I do not refer to this situation as a mutual, romantic relationship. I was groomed by an older person and used when I was new to my sexuality and to sex. The older women in charge of the house knew about this and never spoke with me. They spoke with the groomer but she continued to hurt me after they spoke with her. It wasn't until much later that I understood what happened to me and the reaction and abuse of power by the people caring for underage kids.

Before I left for college, one of the women living in the house, who was also a trusted friend (a bahai but not active in the faith), explained that she was raped by another bahai in the house around the same time I was groomed. She was younger than most of the other women living in the house so she asked for advice from another, older roommate. Her response was for my friend to forgive the rapist. Nothing ever came out of the situation, charges were never pressed against him and he continued to work with women and children.

I do not tolerate anyone condoning or refusing to hold a rapist accountable. As a woman, I will never understand how another person, especially another woman, could excuse any sexual abuse. She was raped around the same time I came into the faith and I was only discovering this by the end of my participation. After she told me, I completely ghosted every person in the bahai community without explaining to anyone why I left.

Throughout 3 years I was involved with the bahai community, I witness clear proselytization, abuse of power, cult-like actions (bahais only associating themselves with other bahais, manipulation, the emphasis on global unity through the faith), grooming, SA, hypocrisy, etc.

The reason for this post is to share with people my experience. Even if a couple of years have passed since I was in the community, all of their actions still haunt me and I feel for anyone else hurt by the reckless and contradicting behavior of the people who call themselves "bahais". The people who were meant to protect and care for children and teens still contact me today and have not owned up to their cruelty.

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