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Guest Post: When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit – LDS Families and Physical Abuse

by Kelly Ann

“I have a family here on Earth, They have been so good to me …”

You know, it’s the first line of “Families can be Together Forever” that so many young Primary children love to sing.  That is all, I felt, except me …

I sung it.  I smiled.  Eternal families – that’s nice.  But I felt that shoe didn’t fit me.  I didn’t want one.  I could never really get past the first line of the song.

My family wasn’t so GOOD to me – so why would I want to be with them FOREVER!

And it wasn’t that I worried about fighting with my siblings in the here-after.  When I was young, my mother got divorced “for our protection.”

My biological father’s rage was mostly directed at my mother, I was never per say physically hurt by him, but I remember the screams, the chairs that were thrown, and the knife that nearly hit my brother.  And I remember not being allowed to go to pre-school because the world was “out to get us”.  After my mom left for work, and my biological father was in charge of getting us to school, he’d close all the doors, block the windows, and start ranting.  I remember my older brother crawling out the window and as I sat there crying, telling me that I’d be ok.

It wasn’t that my biological father was intentionally trying to hurt us – he was diagnosed in his late 20’s as Schizophrenic.  But 25 years ago, that diagnosis and medications weren’t so well understood (not that they really are now).  My mom had married in the Temple to a man she fell in love with at BYU, and she wanted it to last, to get better, to be ok.  But after my mother ended up in the battered woman’s shelter raped by her husband and my biological father ended up in the mental hospital after kidnapping my baby sister, she filed for divorce.  Our safety was more important than her “eternal marriage”.

And I am so grateful to her for that decision.

But here is the thing that has killed me – I remember comments as a much older child from members in our ward who didn’t understand why my mother had divorced and had the audacity to remarry a non-member.  Granted she hadn’t told them all details but they knew the general gist – and were incensed that she would give up so easily on a “Temple Marriage”, particularly when it wasn’t his fault (you know being sick and all …)

I admire my mother’s determination, her perseverance, and her tenacity to provide the best for her kids and to raise them in a church that didn’t seem to understand.  I can’t imagine if my mother had stayed with my biological father – because the stamp left on me from such a short exposure is unbelievable.  I feel so blessed that even though my mom’s second marriage was far from perfect, that I was able to have a dad who loved me and provide a sense or normality.  And even though my biological father’s condition has improved with medications over time, I don’t want to think about what else I could have been exposed to.  I read about some children who were thrown into the SF Bay a few years ago by a mentally ill parent, and that absolutely broke my heart.  I could relate.

So why am I bringing this up now?

I don’t usually talk about it – in a conversation to a trusted friend, in explaining my family, I might say “my mom got divorced for our protection” but I don’t generally talk about the abuse I witnessed.  That is, until last week, when in Jury Duty, I had to answer a question under oath, as to “did I know a child who had been victimized in a similar way (to the physical abuse being tried)?”

I said yes, “A, B, and my biological father was physically abusive.”  And as I sweated with nervousness and tears welled in my eyes, I removed my now-fogged glasses so I wouldn’t have to look at the judge.  Maybe it was because I was PMSing, but to admit this to a court room was hard.  And I didn’t want to serve on a jury where I’d have to hear similar atrocities directed at a child.  After a few more deeply personal questions, I said something to the effect of – “I am a sensitive person, I have experienced many crazy things in my life, and while I am a scientist, and try to look at things objectively, if you show me a piece of graphic evidence, it will make a much more indelible imprint on me – not only because of my experiences but because as a recourse, religion has brought me peace, and I don’t watch R-rated movies or many PG-13 movies nor seek violence as a source of entertainment.”  And I meant it.  The judge then asked me if it would be too emotionally hard to be a juror on the case and I said yes.  And I was dismissed.

It is a bit embarrassing to think that that court may think I’m a nut job.  I shocked myself by how much of a reaction I had.  How after so many years of living a good life and coming to terms that all families are a bit messed up even within the church, and maybe I am grateful for mine and want to be with them forever (although somewhat complicated I suppose given the implications of my mom’s second divorce) that these emotions would surface.  Because you see, I don’t get emotional until I do.

I have thought quite a bit about my response, and the role that religion has played in my life as consequence to my experiences.  I am not entertained by stories of violence.  It’s not that I’m naïve to the world –I’m not – but I prefer to focus on the good.

But that got me thinking, why can’t I talk about what I have experienced more openly?  Why is it that the LDS world never seems to talk about their experiences with domestic violence or mental illness?

I have heard General Authorities acknowledge the problem but in popular culture, people don’t like to admit that they come from or don’t have the perfect “forever family”!  I am not saying that we should display all of our dirty laundry – but I know it exists.  In college, I had a good friend whose father who was Bishop was physically abusive.  I don’t think it is healthy to hide those facts.

I am grateful for the ideals that the church teaches – for the more normal families that it has exposed me to, for willing to address that problems exist.  But I would like to open a discussion of people’s experiences with physical abuse and mental illness and divorce and how they are perceived and how people deal with it within the church.  That’s a tall order but hopefully will bring some good discussion.  And maybe help me further process my own.

Because when it comes down to it, my experiences have shaped my faith, my dependence on God, and who I am today.  And if nothing else, it is good to express that.

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36 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    Thank you for such an honest and moving post. You are NOT alone (my husband cringes at that Primary song for similar reasons). The irony for me is that while on the one hand, most members shy away from sharing their most real and painful stories, when they do, the response is amazing. I’ve found people are so grateful when someone else is brave enough to veer from the sunshine and roses and talk about the storms and thorns. Thank you thank you.

  2. Nancy R. says:

    Thank you for your post. There are some serious mental health problems in my family too, though they do not involve physical abuse. My mother suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder and committed suicide when I was a teenager and my family was ALWAYS active in the church. I don’t use the word ‘suicide’ to describe my mother’s death (it really freaks people out) but I do sometimes mention in talks that she had severe mental illness and that she died when I was a teenager. Saying these things out loud helps me to accept them.

  3. Jessawhy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    Like you, it seems that topics like abuse and mental illness are taboo in the church, unfortunately.
    What I find most frustrating about this dichotomy (Christ saves us from sin and pain, but none of us really have much sin or pain!) is how it affects the people I am closest to.
    One of my family members is a faithful church goer. But in a recent conversation she disclosed to me that she has no hope for salvation. In addition to dealing with severe depression almost her entire life, she was sexually abused by her father and has experienced deep betrayal in her marriage.
    Sadly, she does not find comfort in the RS. She doesn’t reach out, I’m sure, but she doesn’t find people like her to reach out to. It’s a cycle, and it is hard to find someone willing to break their “church face” to admit that they struggle in these life-changing areas.
    I hope that forums like this make it possible for people who struggle to find kindred spirits and support from those who have traveled similar paths.

  4. Nancy R. says:

    Jessawhy – thanks for your comment. My most fulfilling moments in Relief Society have been when people dropped their plastic happy faces and shared a difficult experience or asked difficult questions. Doing this takes courage, but this is really what Relief Society is meant to be about.

  5. Caroline says:

    Kelly Ann,
    I really appreciate your honesty. It’s stories like these – ones with pain, grief, and betrayal – that make me feel close to the speaker. Like Jess and Nancy said, the best moments in RS are those when a woman takes a risk and allows herself to be vulnerable. Without those moments, I often feel like I’m witnessing inauthentic performances.

    I didn’t experience physical abuse in my family, but I can relate to feeling like an alien during those primary songs. My father was not a member, so I picked up pretty quickly that we wouldn’t be together forever.

    Thank you again.

  6. jks says:

    I think that every person has a different set of challenges and so it is easy to feel alone. A person can sit in church and wonder if anyone else is going through the same thing. Sometimes church has to refer to challenges generically simply because there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different kinds of sin and sorrow that people are facing.
    In my difficulties I find it gives me strength to talk to others in similar circumstances or who have in the past gone through similar things.

    One thing that is important for children is to talk about
    a) Families are not perfect
    b) We grow up and create new families and we should try to be kind and loving to our children
    c) The important thing is that when we die we don’t lose our relationships with the people who we love dearly
    d) Heaven is a wonderful place where you will be with people who act in a good and loving way because we will be in the presence of our Heavenly Father

  7. AnaCA says:

    I knew a family where the father had mental illness that had resulted in the end of his first marriage. I knew them during his second marriage – a wife and a stepchild didn’t understand at first what had happened to the first marriage, and neither did the ward – he really was able to put a good face on. After the second marriage began to hit problems everyone started to realize there was another side to the story. Fortunately for the second wife and stepchild, he was more able (or ready?) to get treatment by that time and I believe that marriage is still together.

    Kelly, I hope this helps – to realize that often people do see the truth, eventually.

    I’m sorry for the challenges you’ve experienced, and I really admire your ability to write about and share them!

  8. Kelly Ann says:

    I am glad this has been well received. Thank you everybody for your comments and experiences. I consider it is a blessing that I found this forum …

    I do believe that sharing stories is incredibly important – the thorns and all. Because I think in telling, people learn how to overcome and increase fellowship and empathy.

    I have noticed that people seem to do it more than when I was younger (particularly the new converts who aren’t so familiar with social taboo).

    However, I get weary of comments like one I heard recently from a teacher (not in response to my story, but to someone’s far less dramatic). “Yours is a blessing to overcome – and strive for a more blessed life like mine …”

    She meant well and while I understand the need to teach correct principles, it bugs me that culturally sometimes it seems we strive for a 1950’s idealism.

    The questions is how do people overcome and/or live with their unique experiences.

    Everyone can’t and shouldn’t fit the same mold. The principles JKS mentions are the foundation but we need to realize that people build their houses of all shapes and sizes.

  9. m&m says:

    I agree that we need more openness. But we need more acceptance for that to happen. But the only way to have more compassion and acceptance is for people to have experience with others’ trials, which requires people being more open. …It’s a vicious cycle.

    Elder Marlin Jensen talked along these lines in our regional conference — that the ideals exist for a reason, but that most lives in one way or another don’t meet that ideal, and that we in our culture need to be better about accepting this and being sensitive and compassionate and caring.

    It was a fabulous talk. I think the more that people are willing to risk and share, the more likely it is that the culture will change. So bravo to you for bravely sharing your story.

  10. Douglas Hunter says:

    One of the things I see as a challenge is that we are supposed to bear one another’s burdens but as several folks have already pointed out the social norms of church can provide a serious obstacle to admitting that we have burdens that we need to share.

    I am prepping to teach lesson 19 from the JS manual in a few weeks, and its interesting because it calls attention to how we create narratives of suffering. It does seem that there is an urge to say that all suffering has purpose or utility. Certainly when talking about JS getting tarred and feathered for his beliefs and leadership of the Church, its easy to say that such events are trials that need to be endured for the sake of the Church generally or individual faith in particular. But what about child abuse? What about depression? etc. Do we want to create the same kind of narratives for these types of trials? It seems that there are ethical, spiritual, and most of all pragmatic reasons not to.

  11. Zenaida says:

    I think the best way I have found to be supportive in bearing others’ burdens is simply to listen. I can’t change what they’ve been through, and I can’t give them answers that will heal it. I can be there, and I can try to feel a little bit with them. I sometimes look for common experience and things that helped me, but sometimes, I just don’t have any. Then, I can only offer to be there when they need me.

  12. Deborah says:

    Thanks for this, Kelly Ann.

  13. Kelly Ann says:

    Zenaida – thank you for your comment.

    Listening is important and sometimes that is all I find I can do for others. Especially for a friend who struggles with depression – because there really isn’t much I can say or do to help.

    And Douglass I really like the comment on narratives. I think it is very easy to say that something happens because “it is God’s will”. But I have heard more, within the church, that bad things happen to good people as consequence of sin, other’s decisions, as a proving ground, and well just because. I personally like focusing on the reaction of an individual vs. the action.

    But sometimes it is hard to process and just seems unfair.

  14. gladtobeamom says:

    Yeah this is a hard one. I have seen much of this. I use to share my struggles only to find no one wanted to hear them I was pushed away and ignored. It is like because they don’t know what to say or because they pass judgment it is easier to pretend as if I don’t exist. I lead a very lonely life at church. It is frustrating. I just try to keep to myself and not let people know about my problems and serve others. It works most of the time but their are times when I feel like I need someone and there is no one. I wish we could all be more open and accepting. I wonder how many others there are out there like me. Maybe it will be my new mission to try and noticed these people and reach out to them so they are not alone.

    As far as abuse I have seen my dear brother be the one who was looked upon strangely after turning in a school teacher who had been abusing kids for years only no one was willing to put a stop to it. The mans bishop even had the audacity to bring that man to our home so get some forgiveness. It was extremely painful for my brother. People avoided and shunned him while this man was felt sorry for. It still makes me sick. The gospel has helped my brother as has a few good people but boy there are a lot that were extremely unChristlike. They all pretended like it never happened when he really need help.

    Again if we pretend it is not there maybe it will just go away. Sigh!

  15. sarah says:

    I think, if anything, those people in the courtroom would think of you as stable and intelligent, for knowing and admitting your reactions to violence, rather than trying to bluff your way through it and having an extreme reaction (as would surely happen to me) at an inopportune moment. Your self-awareness exhibits humility that I admire.

    As to the discussion of physical abuse and mental illness, I don’t really have anything to add.

  16. Caroline says:

    gladtobeamom, what a terrible situation for your brother. And for you, feeling so alone in your ward. It’s awful your ward culture prevents you from being open about your problems. This kind of situation completely defeats the goal of bearing each other’s burdens. What a shame.

  17. Angel C. says:

    I too have been in a very abusive life. My thoughts and prayers are with you.I was married to a military man and thought my life had improved until… I realized he was more intested in my two young sons. He decided we wrer to convert to LDS and he threatened to kill my sons if i did not obey him in all things. I did as told and for 17 years the only peace found was in a religion I had not orginally chosen. I am still a member and think God daily for the true Church as it finally gave me the courage to leave him and start life anew. I am now married to a non member and have been happy for over 20 years.I had alcoholic abusive parents and was a widow in my early 20’s. I have not felt worthy to ever attend a Temple and now at 60 years of age am going to ask for a Temple recommend so I can have my children and husband sealed to me before I die. I feel so alone in my Ward no one speaks other than to shake my hand and then they all get together and socialize. I just sit and speak in classes and attempt to be respectful to all. I offer my services anywhere they will help and pray someone will show a need I can help with. I never speak of my life and keep it to myself. Yes I am lonely in church but I feel Gods presence and know I am not alone and he understands. I have MS and suffer from Depression. I take my meds and am thankful for my past training as a counselor. This helps me understand people are just afraid that if they acknowlege my difficulties they might have to face that they also do not have perfect families. Please remember you are not alone in this struggle to make others aware that there are silent needs not being met in the church families. In my ward in Idaho I could speak to my sisters in RS and never felt shame or alone. since then I have been in 7 or6 wards and never felt comfortable in other than just saying hello. I open myself to all and try to listen as I know how much that means to someone in need even if it is just listening to the everyday humdrum of life they can feel someone cares. Society within our church has changed and some of the changes have not been for the good. We often feel pressured to do everything by the book and only by the book. Sometimes instead of teaching the home teaching lesson we should try to listen to the unspoken words and just do something for the needs of our sister. I hope that folding the laundry while she sits and catches her breath as the little one sleeps or offering to help with the baby while she starts supper for her family is as much a blessing as hearing a lesson is still a part of home teaching as it was when I was assigned sisters to visit. I know time is of importance and all visits must be met but sometimes takeing a few extra minutes means a blessing that really is a blessing and not just another home vistit to be gooten through. I am sorry for my long comment but I seem to be getting a blessing from just being able to say I have suffered and feel your suffering outloud . God Bless You for writing your story so we can all share our stories. Verbal,physical,sexual abuse is very hard to get through but sometimes the abuse of shunning is harder to live with and to forgive. Forgive all of us who lack the courage to accept that we can not fix things for others so we blindly ignore them so we will not feel inadaquite. Again Bless You

  18. Kelly Ann says:

    Wow, it is incredible to hear the pain shared so far. My heart reaches out to everyone who feels like they don’t fit.

    And Sarah, thank you so much for your comment – I would have never linked self-awareness with humility.

    I really appreciate this thought.

  19. Kelly says:

    I just wanted to add a tidbit about the Primary song. I grew up in a tumultuous household, but I still loved the song and that first line. Although my family certainly was not ideal, or even close to ideal, I loved the idea of a happy family. Now I have a family of my own. I had absolutely no control over the fighting, chaos, and discord as a child, but I certainly do now. I try my best to be the mother to my kids that I would have wanted out of my mother. So, now when I sing that song, it really applies directly to my little family: husband and 3 boys.
    btw…I love all of these comments. You can NEVER assume anything about anyone, because you just don’t know what life experiences they have had…that’s for darn sure.

  20. Jim Donaldson says:

    Speaking as a former bishop, more goes on than you think. I had lots of people come to me to talk about such issues and I believe they felt much more comfortable doing so in a private confidential setting. Sometimes I recommended they seek professional help, sometimes we just talked over a period hoping to resolve some issues that way. Certainly HF is a part of that process, often the most important part. Most often, progress was made.

    People who feel very reticent to discuss abuse and its consequences in a RS class often are more comfortable with bishops, and that is a good thing usually.

    I hope that every church member can have at least one friend in the church, in addition to a bishop, who can listen and understand with a gospel-based perspective. For most of us, that is enough. I know that I encourage other church leaders, to the degree possible, to foster those relationships.

    I will say that I used to look over the congregation during sacrament meeting and realize that every family–regardless of what they may publicly portray–struggles with something. Everyone. It is what unites us, though we frequently pretend otherwise.

  21. M says:

    Thanks for your story. My dad was abusive too. It affected me deeply, but my siblings get angry when I bring it up because it happened so long ago, and I should have gotten over it by now. Actually, those abusive patterns continue into adulthood, especially if they aren’t very obvious.

    Like in my situation, my dad yelled at my mom for being a bad mother if I did things wrong. He never hit me, and he never hit my mom, but I knew if I didn’t toe his line (total perfection), he’d make my mother cry. That continued clear into my adult years.

    Some days I envy my brothers. They got beaten occasionally, but they never had to be perfect under threat of having mom attacked verbally.

    I liked the comment about how the eternal family that matters is the one I have now with my husband and kids. I don’t want to be with my parents for eternity. Dad can’t even blame his problems on mental illness. He’s just an angry, demanding, unhappy man.

  22. Kelly Ann says:

    I definitely don’t envy the position of a Bishop.

    Such a sacred responsibility to help everyone spiritually and physically.

    Jim, I like the idea that everyone should have a friend within the church.

    A non-member friend of mine recently commented on the fact that even though I may struggle with things, it is good that there are people within the church who can relate, and how lucky members are to have personal relationships with clergy.

    And I do like the emphasis on what I can make of my own family. But the problem is that I don’t have one yet.

    The Mormon dating thing still baffles me. But that would be worthy of another entry.

    Anyhow, thanks again for all your thoughts.

  23. Chuck says:

    I was doing some research on a book I’m writing about anger, and came across your post. I’ve come to realize there is an unhealthiness about our relationship with certain emotions within the church. I am a former bishop and very active in the church. I also suffered sexual abuse by my father when I was small. I have found that in the healing process, it is necessary to pass through anger. However, the prevailing teaching (not supported by scripture) is that anger is a sin. I hope to change that. Attitudes about discussing abuse in the church need to change. Ever thought of writing a book?

  24. Jim Donaldson says:

    >>However, the prevailing teaching (not
    >>supported by scripture) is that anger is a sin.

    How about Matthew 5:22?

    But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    The “without cause” phrase, no doubt added by some ‘helpful’ scribe who couldn’t believe that Jesus meant what he said, is not included in the Third Nephi version of the same sermon, was eliminated by Joseph Smith in his translation, and is not present in the earliest best manuscripts (I’m told by those who study these things).

    This verse fits into an analogy where Jesus is explaining that anger is to murder as lust is to adultery, all sins. There really isn’t much doubt here that anger is a sin in the context of this verse. How do you read it otherwise? Certainly that’s the basis for the ‘prevailing teaching.’

    I don’t disagree a bit about the horror of abuse in its many incarnations, and the almost insurmountable difficulties in dealing with it, but it seems to me the doctrine that anger is sin is clearly supported by scripture.

  25. Beekeeper says:

    Chuck,
    I’m glad you are addressing this topic. I had an unusual (at least I hope) experience in which the majority of roomates I had between ’92 and’03 had experienced abuse in thier lives, primarily sexual abuse. What horrified me most is how these cases (including my own) were handled by bishops and other leaders. Almost all were told to forgive and forget and move on in life etc. etc., never giving them/I the opportunity to get angry and I can’t begin to describe the destructive effects this has had in their/my recovery and well being, but I sense you know.
    It was even worse when I served as an R.S. Pres. I couldn’t believe how expansive this problem was, and how poorly handled it was. I think the most painful part for me was when the women who came to me suffering because they had been beaten and/or molested and needed spiritual nurturing but hated the idea of working through a male bishop because thier trust in men was so damaged (or sometimes even connecting to a male God seemed impossible)I’ve never felt so powerless or aware of my limitations as a woman in the church. Often these women would not share thier pain for such reasons with thier leaders. In some ways I am glad they chose not to go to thier leaders, I continue to fear that like my roomates (and myself) their recovery and growth would be limited without the healing experience of anger…
    There weren’t any helpful books about anger at that time and I look forward to your work. A book I love which has helped me that was not specifically about “anger” but similar in spirit was Reckoning with Aggression: Theology, violence and vitality by Kathleen Greider.

  26. Douglas Hunter says:

    Jim,

    While I agree with your reading of Matthew, we still have to acknowledge that anger is, psychologically & cognitively speaking, a central element of the normal human response to abuse. Or better put, it is a central part of recovery from such abuse.

    But as such it is a phase, and its often very long after the fact that such anger stops being repressed and is allowed to come forth. I’m not sure that Jesus was addressing the structure of repression in the Sermon on the Mount. And I’m not sure that there is a problem with anger as part of a healing process, that ultimately allows for that anger to be addressed and dissipated.

  27. Kelly Ann says:

    Thank you for broaching the subject of anger. I agree that there are many types of anger and some can be healthy.

    But I can’t say that I have gotten angry in my own experience. Jealous, yes – that others families were more normal … And sometimes just mad that I had to experience what I did. I also have had times when I am relatively at peace.

    But I think a big problem is what does it mean to forgive and forget. I always knew my biological father was sick, so never really held him accountable. The emotions I feel are a continual process so I am sorry to say that I wouldn’t contribute much to a book on overcoming one – let alone anger.

    I do occasionally think of compiling my stories and experiences into some form – but I do admire those who can craft everything into a book.

    I am a scientist and the problem is I have no conclusion.

    But thank you again for tackling the subject of anger and healing, it has been an interesting perspective and I hope it continues.

  28. Chuck says:

    To all who responded about my comment on Anger: I’m sorry that I tried to keep my comment so brief as to allow misunderstanding. I certainly think anger can be a sin. A careful reading of Matthew 5: 22, however, DOES equate anger to killing, ie – there are justified reasons for killing someone (self defense, military action, to name a few). I subscribe to reading just what was written. It says we would be in danger of judgement. It does not say it is a sin. What I have encountered in some who teach in the church is an inability to allow for any kind of anger. We are flatly told that to experience anger is a sin – no ifs, ands or buts. In the book I’m writing, I lay out the whole argument that some anger is completely justified, just like some killing is completely justified. We don’t go about setting out to be angry, just like we don’t go about trying to kill. But in the case of trying to heal from serious abuse, for instance, we must pass through anger. Many who are trying to heal, and cannot pass through anger or let it pass through them, get stuck in it; becoming bitter and preventing the healing they seek. I’ve experienced this myself. I have studied anger for the past 12 years, and the average member’s understanding of it does not allow for healing and forgiveness to take place. Do you recall the one person in the Book of Mormon who is mentioned as being so grounded in the gospel that if we were all like him, Satan’s kingdom would be shaken? It is Capt. Moroni. At one point, Captain Moroni’s very soul was filled with anger. This wasn’t “indignation” or frustration. It was deep anger. Yet, if we were like him, we would shake Satan! Certainly, we’re missing something when we simply shut off this God-given emotion from our lives.

    I believe we have this emotion so that we can learn to use it in a way that God would have us use it. I know this sounds wrong in a lot of members’ ears. But coming to terms and “owning” my own anger has meant all the difference in my own process of healing from abuse. Sorry for the long explanation.

  29. Laraine says:

    I’m so happy to see this website and see this conversation going on. I believe this is a huge problem with so many families and in so many churches. It is not just in the mormon church. The only way it will change is to keep talking about it.

  30. Tanya says:

    I have to agree with Chuch here. Anger is a normal part of the grief process, and people who have been abused still will feel anger at sometime in the process of healing. Anger doesn’t have to be at a person, or an object, but anger can be part of feeling helpless, and hopeless, unable to do anything to fix or change the situation. Anger in of itself is not a sin, no emotion is sin, it is what we do with that emotion that can become sin. If I feel angry, but go to my room to settle down, that is good. If I feel angry and reach out to hit my child that is the sin. Not the anger, but the reacation, or action to the anger.
    All emotion is that way.
    My sister is divorced from a man that was abusive. She has found that the church population where she lives is not tolerant or understanding of her situation. That is sadly a common problem. Mostly because people do not see what happens in the home that it becomes difficult to see tha behavior. My father makes excuses for the man, because he is epilptic and has some problems with his emotion and mental capabilites that has become more apparent as he has gotten older. While I agree with my dad in someways, it still doesn’t excuse that fact that this man knows right from wrong, he knows better. I am more than happy to let God be the judge in this case, and he may be judged the way my dad thinks. I on the other hand do not think my sister needs or needed to stay in that situation, no one, should have to put up with abuse in this life, for the “promised blessings in the next”.

  31. Chuck says:

    Tanya, you are right on.
    I often think of my experiences with people in the church this way: I have a daughter who lives in Philadelphia and I live in Atlanta. If I give her instructions to drive from Philadelphia to Atlanta, she would pass through Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and finally into Georgia. If, however, she mentions to someone living in Texas that she had to spend $8 in tolls while driving to Delaware on her way to Georgia, they might say to her, “You do NOT have to go through Delaware to get to Georgia. I’ve never had to do it and I’ve been to Georgia many times.” They might not have an appreciation that she was coming from a different place. With regard to anger, people in the church have little appreciation for those who are coming from a “different place” ie, healing from abuse, etc. When I hear someone talk about the sin of anger in such black and white terms, I just have to remind myself of this, so that I recognize they are just trying their best to impart the wisdom of their own journey. I appreciate those rare souls who can rise above their own experience to recognize that some of the “pat answers” of their own journey may not apply to all situations. I am truly sorry about the abuse your sister has experienced, and that she has not found any of those rare souls in the aftermath of abuse. But they are out there. Keep talking about it – and educate those who need to be educated about abuse issues.

  32. shantelle says:

    Thank-you. I am divorcing my husband for years of physical abuse. There are times when I have thought it would be easier to just stay with him and pray for him to change–he really wants to change. His rages are infrequent, but have been increasing in intensity. Your words brought me the courage that I need to finalize the divorce for the Protection of my two little girls who have seen a little of his anger. Thank-you again for this post.

  33. Kelly Ann says:

    Thank you Shantelle and good luck.

  34. kmillecam says:

    It is so heartbreaking to hear of your family’s treatment when people didn’t know the whole story of why your mother divorced your father. It was absolutely the right thing to do, and thank goodness she did. My mother is still married to my abuser and that sends the irrefutable message of “I pick my husband over you and your abuse, pain, and healing.” Blech.

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  1. October 6, 2008

    […] useless or part of theodiean narrative I am reminded of some of the posts I read last week on the Exponent II blog.  Where a number of brave women described the profound suffering in their own lives, physical and […]

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