When Alex Cooper was 15 years previous, she got here house with a hickey. The teenager, who was raised Mormon, didn’t plan on telling her mother and father that she was homosexual simply but, however the apparent mark on her neck pressured the dialog.
“I instructed my mother it was from a woman,” Cooper, now 23, tells PEOPLE on this week’s difficulty. “I didn’t match into the faith being homosexual, however I didn’t count on my mother and father’ response to be as drastic because it was.”
Her mom kicked her out of their Southern California house. She stayed with a pal for 2 weeks and was then instructed she could be going to her grandparents’ home in Utah.
“I figured they wanted time to chill off and are available to phrases with it,” she says, “however once we bought to the neighborhood my grandparents’ lived in, it wasn’t their home.”
Cooper walked in together with her mother and father and inside minutes they have been signing over their parental rights to a few she had by no means met earlier than.
“I used to be so shocked. I used to be crying and simply begging my mother and father to not depart me there,” she says.
She shortly realized that her mother and father have been forcing her into homosexual conversion remedy.
“I attempted to slot in to start with as a result of I believed I used to be a lot smarter than these individuals and there was completely no approach I used to be going to remain there for longer than every week,” she says.
It ended up being an eight-month ordeal. Throughout that point, Cooper says she endured bodily and emotional abuse in an try to show her straight.
“I needed to face a wall for generally as much as 18 hours a day, relying on what kind of temper the couple was in,” she says.
She says she would additionally obtain beatings and was pressured to put on a backpack stuffed with rocks “to really feel the bodily burden of being homosexual.”
“I awoke within the morning and simply tried to placed on as many layers as potential so the straps didn’t dig into my shoulders,” she provides. “It was so exhausting to do mentally.”
In December 2016 — three months after she had arrived — Cooper turned 16 and “as a present to myself,” she took each tablet in the home, she says.
“I wished to kill myself,” she says of the incident which resulted in her changing into unwell. “Even just some extra days of being there was insufferable.”
To start with of Cooper’s horrendous ordeal, she wasn’t allowed to go to highschool, however she did depart the home with the household occasionally. Throughout these excursions — which included journeys to McDonald’s — she tried to flee.
“I might scream, ‘Please assist me’ and ‘These persons are not my mother and father,’ however nobody listened,” she recollects, “and I used to be at all times punished.”
She realized that the one approach she would ultimately be capable of depart was if she “performed alongside” and behaved.
For extra on Alex Cooper and different conversion remedy survivors tales, choose up this week’s difficulty of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
Being on her “finest conduct” gave her the chance to go to highschool. It was there that she ended up telling a boy who sat subsequent to her in school what was occurring to her.
“He was additionally the president of the gay-straight alliance and he put me in contact with Salt Lake Metropolis legal professional Paul Burke,” she says.
Then one evening a couple of month later, Cooper was in a position to escape the house at three a.m. when the couple was sleeping.
After staying at a disaster heart for a month, she returned to her mother and father.
“I wished to return to them,” she says, “however I didn’t wish to return to a spot the place I couldn’t be myself.”
A choose allowed her to go house, however ordered her mother and father to permit her thus far ladies, attend dances and be a part of her college’s gay-straight alliance.
“My mother and father have been completely happy to have me again,” she says. “They are saying having me of their lives is healthier than not.”
An estimated 700,000 Individuals have undergone conversion remedy — a controversial follow that’s nonetheless promoted inside sure conservative non secular teams.
“The concept that homosexuality must be cured or fastened within the first place is misrepresentation,” says Scott McCoy of the Southern Poverty Regulation Heart. “Each main medical and mental-health group says that conversion remedy is nonsense and psychologically dangerous.”
Cooper, who now lives in Portland, Oregon, and works for the Human Rights Marketing campaign, says that she by no means blamed her mother and father for what they did, and immediately they’ve an ideal relationship. A pair years in the past, they even spent Christmas with Cooper and her girlfriend.
“I feel my mother and father’ despatched me to conversion remedy as a result of they have been involved for my soul,” she says. “They wished me to get into heaven in order that they although they have been doing what was finest for me.”
She provides: “I do hate this faith, however I’ve by no means hated my mother and father.”
In case you or somebody you recognize is contemplating suicide, please contact the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), textual content “assist” to the Disaster Textual content Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.