Beaten And Made To Carry Bags Of Rocks For 18 Hours A Day: Lesbian Ex-Mormon Tells Of Shocking Abuse Her PARENTS Subjected Her To In 'Conversion Therapy To Make Her Straight'

Suffering: Alex Cooper (pictured) came out as gay to her Mormon parents at 15. They sent her to a couple who abused her mentally and physically in order to 'cure' her. Now 21, she has turned her experiences into a book

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  • Alex Cooper came out as gay in 2009 when she was 15, but was sent for 'conversion therapy' by her Mormon parents to 'make her straight'
  • That 'therapy' involved beatings, verbal abuse and mental torture
  • At one point she attempted suicide 'as a 16th birthday present to herself' 
  • Now she has written a book, revealing the dangers of the 'therapy'
  • She is also fighting to get states to ban gay conversion therapy

Coming out can be a frightening time for any teenager, but for Alex Cooper the fallout was unimaginable - she was taken from her parents' home and put in the 'care' of a sadistic couple who tortured for eight months in order to 'make her straight'.

It was in 2009 that Cooper, then just 15 years old, announced to her Mormon parents that she was gay - something their church teaches is immoral. 

Fearing for her soul, they sent her away from the family home in California to Utah, where she would undergo 'gay conversion therapy' with Mormon couple Tiana and Johnny Siale. And that's when her agony began.

Reforming: Cooper, who was beaten and made to carry rocks for hours, and attempted suicide once, is now trying to get states such as Utah to ban so-called 'gay conversion therapy'

'They were total strangers,' Alex said, according to Religion News. 'My parents just signed over custody to them in front of me. And I knew that my parents had never met these people before.'

Writing in her new book, Saving Alex, Cooper - now 21 - says that the couple, neither of whom had any therapy qualifications, made her carry around a backpack full of rocks for 18 hours a day, supposedly to symbolize 'the burden she was carrying by choosing to be gay.' 

In the book - extracts from which Cooper read out to KUTV - she recalls one time in which they made her stand while wearing the heavy backpack for so long that she lost track of time.

As she tried 'to manage the pain by shifting my weight from foot to foot,' the couple told her: 'Your family doesn't want you. God has no place for people like you in His plan.'

She tried unsuccessfully to escape multiple times, and attempted suicide once, as 'a sixteenth birthday present' - only leading to further punishment. 

'I came to my feet in front of him,' Cooper wrote. 'He made a fist and punched me in the gut, knocking the wind out of me. I doubled over and choked for breath.'

The couple also called her abusive names like 'dyke.' 

Visitors to the Siales' home saw the abuse she was undergoing but neither them nor the wider community made any movement to stop it, Publishers Weekly wrote. 

Eventually, KUTV reported, she was allowed to go to school, where she made friends with other gay teens, who told her to contact Salt Lake attorney Paul C. Burke.

Burke, who says he was 'floored' by her story, helped her land a court ruling allowing her to live as an openly gay teen - and now the duo are battling to get states to outlaw gay conversion therapy.

'It's like sending you to therapy to change your eye color,' Cooper told KUTV.

'It's not going to work. What it's going to do is damage you.'


Help: Cooper hopes her book (right), which reveals her awful experiences undergoing 'therapy' for being gay and her subsequent escape, will persuade people not to use the services of supposed 'therapists'

She is also calling out to religious communities to be more tolerant. 

'No one should be beaten, or be told that God doesn’t want them, or be sent to dangerous so-called "conversion therapy" because they are gay,' she wrote in the book. 

'No family should feel they have to choose between their faith and their child.'

Cooper, who is no longer a Mormon, says she holds no ill will against her parents, and that her mother recently apologized for what she'd put her through. 

'They thought they were doing the best thing for me,' Cooper said to KUTV. 'I think that's what a lot of parents are under the impression of, that they're doing the best thing for their child.'

And she told Publishers Weekly that she didn't press charges against the couple who abused her.

'As long as I was sitting in a courtroom looking at them I couldn’t move on with my life,' she said, 'and that’s what I needed to do,' 

Eric Hawkins, a spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told the channel: 'The Church denounces any therapy that subjects an individual to abusive practices.

'We hope those who experience the complex realities of same-sex attraction find compassion and understanding from family members, professional counselors and church members.'

Saving Alex is available in stores now.





By Bradley Hayes 18/03/2016 10:41:00