110: Abuse and the Forgiveness Dilemma

July 4, 2012
By

The April 2012 General Conference featured a terrific talk by President Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy,” that reinforces the importance of being forgiving and non-judgmental. He “bottom lines” his message with the following statement: “This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it! It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children.” Earlier in the talk, he cited D&C 64:9, “Forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not . . . [stands] condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.” For the vast majority of Latter-day Saints, such messages are wonderfully received. When it comes to judging and hating and resenting and holding grudges, yes, we should “stop it.” Most listeners would also hear in an earnest spirit of striving to do better the scriptural statement that those who fail to forgive others are sinful—perhaps condemned even more than the one who did the offending.

But what about abuse victims? What about those who have been physically, sexually, emotionally abused—sometimes relentlessly and violently? How would they hear such messages? Is a warning that they must forgive their abusers, rapists, torturers or else they are even worse sinners than them a good one to hear? Can certain messages that are wonderful in most cases (and no one is imagining that abuse victims were on President Uchtdorf’s mind when he gave his remarks) be heard in spiritually and emotionally damaging ways by those whose self image distorted by internalized shame over the abuse they received as a child or whose lives are in danger or souls are being warped by abuse even in the present? Can such messages actually re-victimize these people? Are there circumstances in which even the beautiful message of “Families Are Forever” be heard as a threat—heard in such a way that a person might express a deliberate choice to live in hell rather than be forced to associate with their abuser(s) in heaven? The answer is yes.

In this episode, LDS therapist Natasha Helfer Parker and blogger and abuse survivor Tresa Brown Edmunds share deep insights about how important it is for all of us, whether it is through official church capacities or friendships or other relationships, to understand and keep in mind the realities of abuse and all the ways it can affect its victims. Through sharing therapeutic tools, reflecting on gospel themes, recasting scriptural stories, and deep dives into ways the Atonement might provide healing for abuse victims, Parker and Edmunds both educate us and give practical advice about how we might help rather than harm. They discuss the mindset of victims that often includes deeply internalized shame and warped thinking about their own role in the abuse, the effects of trauma and helplessness on physiology and normal bodily responses that manifest in many and varied ways beyond the victim’s control yet somehow still get carelessly talked about (often in wrong-minded gospel frameworks) as if these “problems” are actually the victim’s fault, that if they were only stronger or a better person they would just suck it up and move on. In cases of deep victimization, if healing is the goal, should “forgiveness” of one’s abuser(s) even be on the therapeutic or spiritual agenda? Are there ways that the expectation that the victim will eventually forgive the perpetrator actually be an obstacle to their healing, to proper boundary setting, to their reclaiming their own lives and power? Might forgiveness better be seen as a possible result far, far down the line in the healing process, if it ever happens—always with a clear message being sent to this person that whether they are ever able to forgive or even associate with their abuser(s) again implies absolutely nothing about their strength, goodness, or worthiness to be loved? This discussion is a difficult one but powerful and very important. We encourage you to share it widely. Let’s learn better how to be healers.

We look forward to a good and deeply respectful discussion in the comments section below.

______

Links:

Exponent II issue (pdf) with Tresa Brown Edmund’s article on Abuse (see p. 32). Natasha Helfer Parker also has a short essay in this issue (see p. 18)

Amazon links to books mentioned in podcast by Natasha Helfer Parker:

How Can I Forgive You? by Janis A. Spring

Integrating the Shattered Self by Nicki Roth

 

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54 Responses to 110: Abuse and the Forgiveness Dilemma

  1. diane
    July 5, 2012 at 5:15 am

     You can’t forgive people who wont even accept the fact that they have abused you.  And the problem is further compounded by the people who are around you when they don’t want you to talk about the issue.  They would rather you just shut the hell up.   I find this to be true, not only with family relationships, but, with church relationships as well

  2. Guest
    July 5, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Christ knew that the fastest way to be able to forgive someone and heal from abuse is to love and serve the one who hurt us. Or if they are too dangerous to be around you can at least pray for them, realizing they are going to need help and mercy because of the severe eternal consequences that await them, especially if they do not fully repent in this life.  It is vital that we know that they are not going to get away with what they’ve done, at least not eternally, even if they escape consequences in this life.

    If we think they are never going to have severe consequences for their abuse, in this life or the next, then it is almost impossible to forgive them, for we may feel like we need to be the one to apply the consequences so they for sure happen, but that is usually not good.   Hopefully leaders will apply consequences that stop the abuse and help the person have remorse and make it up to you, but that rarely happens in this life with abusers, for they rarely repent fully until the next life.  So we must just protect ourselves as needed and wait for God to apply the consequences in the next life so the abuser can repent and make recompense to us.

    Forgiveness does not mean allowing someone to continue to hurt us or even to have to keep associating with them, especially if they haven’t truly repented.   We can love and forgive someone yet never want or have to be around them again because they have lost our trust.  We decide if they ever earn it back or not. but hopefully our heart will be filled with love so that if they are truly remorseful and want to make it up to us, we will let them.   Remember though, even those who don’t repent in this life will never be able to be around Heavenly Father and Christ again, for all eternity.  They will have lost that privilege and so can other’s lose the privilege of being around us if they will not treat us respectfully and repent from abuse.  This restriction can apply to abusive parents, grown children, spouses, siblings, church leaders, friends, or anyone else.

    True repentance cannot be missed, it is very genuine and the abuser’s remorse is so great that he/she wants to do anything it takes to make it up to us, on our terms, whatever we need or want.  Often people will say they’ve repented but really haven’t, they don’t feel deep remorse and they aren’t willing to give sustained long term recompense to the one they hurt and do whatever is needed to make up for what they did.  It can take years or even a lifetime to make recompense for some abuse.

    But Elder Uchtdorf’s talk was a little misguided and misleading, for we are not commanded to ‘not judge’, but we are actually commanded to judge others but use righteous judgment.  Joseph Smith changed that scripture to say ‘judge righteously’ not to not judge at all.  So I don’t understand why he didn’t use the appropriate and corrected scripture in his talk.  But we must make sure we have love in our hearts when we are judging others and do so in order to help them repent and for their best welfare and not want to inflict punishment or make them feel bad because of what they’ve done.  We only want to help them see their errors so they will stop what they are doing, have deep remorse and repent and make restitution and save themselves from greater punishment in the next life.

    We must have a healthy self-worth and self-respect in order to be able to forgive and love those who act like our enemy and to let God handle things.  If we don’t feel good about ourselves we may allow others to continue to abuse us, even though we can get away from them.  We can feel like we deserve the abuse, when in fact no one ever does.   

    If we can’t learn to forgive and love our enemies by taking our pain to Heavenly Father to help us with, then our pain can turn to bitterness and hurt and harden us even more.   But again, love and forgiveness does not mean we let someone keep abusing us if we can get away from them or help them stop it.  

    Love means protection, first and foremost, of ourselves or others.  When we love ourselves enough to protect ourselves we also help protect abusers from committing further abuse and hopefully we can help teach them how to respect and love us.

    Abuse is rampant today in some form or another, in almost every home and marriage, but at least one or both spouses. But we don’t usually see the abuse we do or that is being done to us, unless it is really severe, for we often think of many abuses as normal, for it often so accepted and common.  But abuse in any form or degree must be stopped, or it will almost always just get worse.    So we need to educate ourselves on what constitutes abuse and learn the basics of respect, love, equality and service in relationships.   

    Abuse from Church leaders is also rampant today, especially to women who are trying to get help with an abusive husband.  If a Church leader ignores or further disrespects or threatens you with discipline because of your claims and pain, you should not be around them or meet with them again, unless they repent and are willing to back you 100% if you are a woman.  For their #1 duty as a church leader, from the Prophet to the Bishop, is to protect the women of their ward or Church from any and all abuse, adultery or abandonment from men/husbands, and when needed they should protect men also from abuse, etc. from a wife.   

    Unfortunately today, most all church leaders from the top to the bottom, support, encourage, reward and ignore  men’s abuse, adultery and abandonment of women, by allowing men to keep or regain their membership and get right back in the temple to be sealed to a new wife and thus commit adultery with her, after he abuses or abandons the former wife.    For as Christ said, divorce and remarriage is adultery, unless for fornication, and no prophet who has ever walked the earth can dismiss or nullify Christ’s law on marriage.  It stands valid for us today, yet the Church is completely ignoring it and is thus supporting the abuse and adultery and abandonment of women and men.  

    Joseph Smith said that such leaders that allow such things to go on will come under condemnation.  

    • Anonymous
      July 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm

       I loved your comment. In regards to the last couple of paragraphs, I’ve always been amazed how Christ told The Woman at the Well he knew she’d be married five times and was currently living with someone AFTER he started talking to her and offered her living waters. The scripture you mentioned stands, but at the same time God is more forgiving I think than we give him credit for. And I say that as a child of abuse and several parental divorces that wreaked havoc on my life. I would rather give those remarrying folks you mentioned the benefit of the doubt. We don’t know the full level of their repentance and we must all…despite the pain…come to the point where we can forgive everyone. I wrote a long comment below about my father’s childhood abuse of me and my sister so I definitely know it’s not easy. But I’d rather see repentant men like the ones you mentioned above be allowed with God’s grace to move forward and rebuild their lives, just like the grace he extended The Woman at the Well.

  3. diane
    July 5, 2012 at 9:42 am

    guest

    Only someone who has never been abused, physically, emotionally, or sexually, would write a response telling someone who is abused to “serve” their abuser.     The very idea that you have expressed truly makes me want to vomit, as it is very dangerous

  4. Guest
    July 5, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Christ was abused, he knew what he was talking about.

    • Tresa Edmunds
      July 5, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Guest, this type of talk is extremely destructive to those who have suffered from abuse. Christ said to love and serve, but as we discussed throughout this podcast, applying general advice to abusive situations is dangerous. I think that creating firm boundaries and forcing the perpetrator to reap the consequences if their actions is as much service as any of us needs to be concerned about. Beyond that the abuse survivor is putting themselves in jeopardy and taking responsibility that only belongs to Jesus Christ.

      • Guest
        July 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm

        Creating firm boundaries and letting the perpetrator reap the consequences to help him repent is all part of loving and serving them, so I agree with you.  And I said that if the abuser is dangerous then of course you would protect yourself and all you may be able to do is pray for them.  

        But holding hate in our mind or heart or wanting revenge is not going to help us heal. Love is what heals us, even love for our enemies, though we must pray for that and then God can fill our souls with it and it will help heal us of our wounds over time.  That is why Christ instructed us to love and do good to those who abuse us.   

        But loving our enemies does not mean they get off the hook or we let them continue to abuse us or we trust them again if they haven’t truly repented.     

        Christ told us to love them, not so it necessarily helps them, it may or may not, but mostly so ‘we’ will feel better and heal, for that is the power of love.  It doesn’t feel good to have hate and grudges or revenge in our hearts, but if we replace it with love it heals, strengthens and lifts us so we can feel joy again, even if the abuser never repents.  We can be a big or loving person even if they choose to be evil. 

        That also does not mean we except the blame or guilt for the abuse, the abuser must come to accept that.   Loving the abuser as Christ does, also does not mean we support or put up with what they do.

        • Dan Wotherspoon
          July 5, 2012 at 4:08 pm

          Guest,

          I can’t think that you really “heard/are hearing” what this podcast is about. And you’re especially not hearing the part where Tresa stresses how important it is for anyone to NOT suggest things along the lines of: “Hey abuse victim, here’s the course of action you must pursue” or “here’s the way you should view your situation.” In being so definitive in tone and conclusions, you are conveying the opposite of what is vital in such cases. As Natasha reiterated time and again, any expectation of eventual forgiveness or coming to a point where you can love, associate with, pray for abuser must be OFF THE TABLE in the therapeutic agenda. It can harm the healing process. Ideally, all of that may happen down the road, but it is a mistake to assume the abuse victim will hear any message about forgiveness in a positive way before they are ready. That’s at least one of the huge takeaways I got from this discussion.

    • Natasha Helfer Parker
      July 6, 2012 at 10:14 am

      I believe the language guest is using of “love” and “service” is very normal language to use for all of us that are raised in Christian settings. And it can feel good and even make sense that you can “love” by creating boundaries and seeking justice. For some this language helps. I think the point of the podcast, however, is that often this type of language does not help. It is too difficult to hold the concepts of “love and service” in reconciliation towards those who have abused. It is even more complicated when you truly love your abuser (ie parent, spouse, relative, etc). I just want to tell guest that I believe he/she is well intentioned with what they stated. At the same time, those you are trying to help with these ideas will not always feel helped – in fact they may feel more hopeless than ever. And face to face, they probably won’t tell you that these thoughts make them feel worse. Instead, they will more than likely self-blame even further – hence the retraumatization. After all when Christ or god are mentioned, who can win an argument against them? This is why I think it’s also important to have open minds and hearts as to the context and time frames of different scriptures. Like the example of Christ throwing stuff around in the temple – interesting way to love and serve. :)

    • Stacey
      July 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      I agree that Christ knew what he was talking about, and I guess Christ must have dealt with sexual abuse personally since we are taught that he understands all that we endure in this life,…though it isn’t clear to me in the scriptures where this is referenced…. and I don’t believe Christ’s example teaches me that I should serve my abuser, at least not anytime soon if ever. I think the comments above aren’t specific enough. If our abuser is someone that is in our life still, like in my case my father, then after enough time of therapy and personal healing to the point of being capable of seeing past my pain and seeing his need for healing…then when the time is eventually right perhaps there is a place to serve the abuser in fair and appropriate ways. I have clear boundaries set with my abuser and call him out on it when he crosses those boundaries. It has taken decades to get to this place of courage and strength for me to even communicate boundaries to him. If he wasn’t the grandfather of my children I would honestly have less motivation to have any kind of relationship with him at all. But i am trying to work on rebuilding trust with him…not going so well yet but I’m hopeful.

  5. diane
    July 5, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Really, is this the best you can come up.  This where Religiosity on such a sensitive subject doesn’t help.    Your laying the blame and guilt on the person who was abused.   And if your going to bring Christ into this concept, I don’t think he would approve.   Your one of those people who fully support the perpetrator and this makes me sick

  6. Morrelltroy
    July 6, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Pulitzer Prize author Jared Diamond wrote a piece in the 21 April, 2008 New Yorker, called “Vengeance is ours” where he discusses what happens when our desire for vengeance goes unfulfilled.  He contrasts two people he knows who had the opportunity to avenge the death of family members and the lifelong torment experienced by the one who let the opportunity slip by.  I think psychologically it is necessary to see our tormentors punished and suffer for what they have done for us.  We see this need fulfilled over and over on the news stories showing victims and family members who testify at the parole hearings of their abusers/killers to ensure they continue getting “what they deserve” and in the need for family members to be present when a killer is executed.  This is another powerful aspect of religious belief, the idea of eternal justice that will come down on the heads of those who have hurt us or sinned against us.  I think this idea is as powerful or often even more powerful in a persons cosmology than the hope for their own afterlife and rich reward.  People need justice, in the form of retribution, whether it is administered by the state or later in the eternities by a deity.

  7. Morrelltroy
    July 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I will add that Diamond’s article is widely disputed and the New Yorker has pulled it because of a defamation lawsuit over the Paupa New Guinea vengeance tale.

  8. Jen
    July 7, 2012 at 12:02 am

     I haven’t listened to the podcast yet: Just the description of it was so awesome and spot on and hard for me to read, I haven’t been able to listen… yet.

    I had a strong reaction to Uchdorf’s talk. I’m sure you go into it in the podcast, but the thing about talks like that is that “Abusers” hear talks like that, and then use it to control other people. “You should serve me, love me, forgive me.” “Victims” hear talks like that and think, “Yes. I’m supposed to serve him. Love him. Forgive him. No matter how much he hurts me, it is my job to forgive and just keep taking it.”

    To the Guest that commented that Christ was abused, and that it’s okay to tell people to serve their abusers… Just a few thoughts from my own experiences: I tried so hard to be “like Christ”. Do you realize that Christ
    let people murder him? There was a time that I believed that I should
    stay with a man that hit me, threw me into walls, and threatened to kill
    me. If he killed me, that would be okay, because at least I was being
    like Christ. I am VERY lucky to still be alive, and very lucky that I
    got out of that relationship.

    I don’t hate any of the people that abused me. I don’t need them to be punished or face justice, but it is VERY dangerous and harmful to be around them… and not just because of the things they still say and do that could harm me, but the way their presence triggers old beliefs and thoughts that are harmful to me. I hope they are happy, and I won’t spend time with them. I definitely won’t be trying to serve them.

    • Natasha Helfer Parker
      July 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Thank you for sharing Jen…
      I’d love to hear your feedback once you’re able to listen. It’s voices like yours which are so important to listen to.

    • August 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      When it was time for Jesus to lay down his life, he chose to do so by delivering himself into the hands of those who would murder him. Before that time, he immediately left the presence of anyone who tried to abuse him, and since his resurrection he does not allow in his presence those who continue to wish him pain (by willfully sinning)—and this is compatible with his perfect love and forgiveness. He loves and forgives his abusers by supporting their efforts to repent, not by putting himself in a position to suffer at their hands again.

  9. NeedingLight
    July 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    I have a question for the panelists. Natasha mentioned that when a person is abused and can’t “fight or flee” that they learn to “freeze” instead. Can a pattern like that be set in a person after only two traumatic events when they were a child? So that years later they have the same reaction?

    • Natasha Parker
      July 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      Yes – this is often what we call PTSD – Post traumatic stress disorder.  Depending on the level of trauma, how the person interpreted and experienced the trauma, genetic dispositions, etc., etc.  
      Interesting link:
      http://www.jinshindo.org/healingaftertrauma.htm

  10. DCP the Lesser
    July 10, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Christ’s teachings on this matter are some of the hardest on the planet and in print to live, speaking from experience. Yet, one would be hard-pressed to find exception clauses in his rules on forgiveness of others. The one in the Bible about being angry was a late forgery. Like the older manuscript texts of Matthew the Book of Mormon omits the exception clause there.

    The fate of those unwilling to forgive is weighty indeed. See Matthew 18:23-35, particularly verse 35, which reads (at the end of the parable dealing with forgiving debts): “So shall my Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

    No one said it would be easy, only that it would be worth it. President Uchtdorf, like it or not, taught the same thing as Christ but in differing words. What to do? I myself have a huge amount of anger toward others whose actions have pretty much come close to absolutely ruining my life and harming my family, with the practical blessing and assistance of a bishop in a past ward. Yes, I, too, have a long way to go to get in line with this teaching…

    • PConlin
      September 9, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      And yet, the Savior is a personal Savior. He performed the Atonement for you. He performed the Atonement for me. He knew that you and I would not sin the same, we would not struggle the same, we would not have the same sickness, we would not have the same trials. The Atonement covers all of those things. The Atonement covers what we will each go through personally. It is because of this that I believe that the Savior will look at each of us individually. He will look at the effort that we put into becoming whole, healthy, and the best person we can become. Sometimes the trials we endure cannot be concluded or fixed in this life. We simply do not have the power, strength, or knowledge to do so. We need Him to help us bring our stories to conclusion. Yes, the Lord has commanded us to forgive. Thank heaven He never put a time frame on it!

      • DCP the Lesser
        September 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm

        The Lord expects us to put the effort into doing it. It is easy to see that this could lead one to put it off and not work as hard at forgiving others. Does he put a time frame upon it? I rather think that he might.

        My reason for thinking so is his teachings on repairing wrongs before coming to him (as in the Book of Mormon) or before coming to the altar to perform one’s duty (as in the Bible before the fulfillment of the Law of Moses). The Lord expects us to rely upon him for help when we cannot do it. He has promised to help us if we do as he teaches and wills.

        Nephi was abused horribly and beaten by his brothers, who also tried to kill him from time to time. His response was to frankly forgive them when they asked for it. Aside from this, we also have the Book of Mormon teaching that when we die we take with us the attitudes and habits that we had in life. If we don’t work it out here in this life, will it be any easier when we are in the next and lack our physical bodies or take with us the same hatreds and bad feelings that we had here in life when we die?

        If there is no time frame, can we wait ’til the last moment before we step into the pleading bar of God?

        • PConlin
          September 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm

          If there is no hope for change in the next life, why then are we baptized for the dead? Also, how many people do you know that have passed from this life, except Christ, who were perfect? We cannot enter the Celestial Kingdom, or God’s presence, unless we are perfect. There is growth and change that happens on the other side of the veil. Death does not bring damnation. It is a key part of our Eternal Progression. Progression = Growth. Yes, we need to do all we can while on this earth. It is impossible to do it all. We don’t use that as an excuse, just as I do not allow my children to use their disabilities as an excuse. Rather we work as hard as we can in spite of our circumstances and let God take care of the rest. Telling a person that they are not working hard enough at forgiving someone, especially not knowing the circumstances, details, and pain in their heart, is the exact thing that Elder Uchtdorf WAS talking about in his talk. That is why I say that the Savior is a personal Savior. He does know those things about me and about you.
          Many years after Nephi “frankly forgave” his brothers for trying to kill him in that instance, he wielded the sword of Laban against them to protect himself and his people. I know he did not enjoy it, but it was necessary.

          • DCP the Lesser
            September 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm

            Baptism for the dead is for those who never heard, not for those who did hear but messed up in varying ways. For those who have heard, this life is it if you want to end up in the Celestial Kingdom.

            It is true that the Lord knows our hearts. But, at the same time he says, “If you love me keep my commandments.” See his teachings as relayed by John, in 1 John, about love and hate of our brothers. He makes no exceptions for circumstances in any text where he teaches about forgiveness.

            It is not true that you cannot enter God’s presence without first being perfect. This is a misreading of the text. What will happen at judgment? We all will be brought directly into the presence of God. The scriptures say that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. That is true. But, what does “dwell” mean? There is a time element and implies more or less permanence of the condition.

            But, here is where the atonement comes in. The atonement covers our imperfections so long as we are doing as we have covenanted with God. That means doing our best to keep the commandments. Sure, we will have failings here and there, but we are expected to do as Jesus commanded. We prove our love for him by doing and show our lack of love for him by not doing. The Bible is clear that we cannot say we love God and yet hate our brother at the same time.

            Yet, God can help us. It is empowering to forgive. Where we acknowledge our weakness he strengthens us with his grace and it becomes sufficient for us. But we still are expected to do and not just to say.

            My thought on it is that if you are of the attitude that you really are working toward forgiveness of others who have wronged you and were to die while in that state of truly working on it, you will take that mindset with you and continue. If you die with hate in your heart, it will be much more difficult to overcome this because you will also take this attitude with you and more likely will fail to change. That agrees with the overall teaching of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the teachings of President Uchtdorf that agrees with all of these.

            Read his remarks very carefully and learn what he was teaching before flying off the handle about what you think he was teaching but misunderstand.

          • PConlin
            September 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm

            Wow! I guess all that time the missionaries have spent with my ancestors in the Spirit World has been wasted then, huh? I suppose that I should just stop doing their work, even though I’ve received strong impressions to do it. Because according to you, even though they knew about the church and received the discussions and rejected it, there’s no hope of them accepting in the afterlife. I feel really sorry for you having such a narrow view of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He gave us commandments to live by, but He also gives us EVERY chance to turn and repent. In this life, in the next, and yes, I believe at the very judgement bar if our repentance is sincere. His Work and His Glory is to bring about the immortality and Eternal Life of man. I can see that you are convinced of the correctness of your position as I am convinced of the correctness of mine, so I won’t be trying to persuade you further. So I’ll just leave you with this.
            The whole reason that I responded to your post in the first place is because said post was exactly what this pod cast is talking about. People in the church take their narrow definition of what the scriptures say (as with your Nephi example) and try to fit everyone into that same peg. AND WHEN YOU DO THAT YOU HURT THE VERY PEOPLE YOU ARE TRYING TO HELP. When you do that, you turn them off, and eventually you will lose them. The God I worship is a generous, caring, warm and loving God. He loves me and accepts me for me. He knows I am doing my best. Thank heaven he doesn’t allow other people to judge me. I’d be cast into outer darkness along with Satan and his followers if some other people I know had their say. Maybe you could try loving instead of trying to tell people what to do or how they are living their lives long. I promise you will derive more satisfaction out of it.

          • DCP the Lesser
            September 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm

            I am sorry that what happened to you did. I have had a lot happen to me, too, things that would make your skin crawl and give you nightmares even though none of it ever happened to you. There are those who have been through a lot–heinous and disgusting things and worse. I understand why you would think as you do.

            I have not told anyone what to do. I have only presented what Jesus and his apostles and prophets have taught. It is up to you. As other scriptures say: Are you angry with me because I tell you the truth? Do you take the truth to be hard?

            However, nowhere did I or would I condemn you at all. God is judge but the scriptures say what the scriptures say. It is not our purview to interpret them any way we see fit to prolong our agony and suffering that God wants to take from us–if we will do as he asks in this life as well as the next while there is time.

            God indeed is generous, caring, warm and loving. But, he also judges according to what we have done as well as the thoughts and intents of our hearts. If your heart is filled with hate and you claim to love God, you lie. It really is that simple. There is no need to try to reinterpret ourselves into a comfort zone that is only fleeting and imaginary.

            You might allow Satan to convince you that it is alright to think only as you do and end up having more serious problems down the line but that will ultimately be your choice to run away from anything that might remind you of your responsibilities before God. It is you who will succumb and be hurt. Satan will laugh. He will have gotten what he originally wanted when he tried to destroy you using others who were not doing as they ought. And you will have handed him the victory.

            If you have hate in your heart for anyone, you will have to answer to God for it at that great and last day when we all will stand before his pleading bar. So will I and so will anyone and everyone else who does not forgive from their hearts those who have trespassed against us.

            I’ll leave you with the following for your consideration (you can try to reinterpret it as you will but your spirit will not let you get away with it for long, and it will eat you alive–unless you sear your conscience against the Spirit of the Lord and give yourself to him who seeks to destroy your soul):

            If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21)

          • DCP the Lesser
            September 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm

            One other thing I should have inserted after the third paragraph of the above last post I posted: I also cannot judge your ancestors about what they will or won’t do, or what they can or can’t do. Only they and God know how much they knew when they rejected the gospel the first time around. God alone will determine what they merit in the resurrection and judgment. I would hope that you would continue to do their work for them as the Spirit of the Lord directs.

  11. Guy
    July 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    This is such an interesting discussion.  I am a professional therapist myself and have often struggled with wording the powerful principle of forgiveness in the right way and at the right time to assist my clients in the healing process.  There is no question that you can not start with a discussion on forgiveness.  It would be like teaching calculus to a first grader (and make no mistake, abuse can set you that far back in your emotional development).  Let me share my own experience with abuse and forgiveness.  I suffered a very abusive childhood at the hands of my older brother.  For years I denied that it affected me, then for years I blamed him for the problems in my life and let him know about it.  The next step was to hold some harsh emotional boundaries with him. But now, some 40 years later, I am so grateful to him because he contributed so much to what I am today, and I know that I would not have the gift for counseling that I do had it not been for him, and I love him for it. Forgiveness is not even a question.

  12. Drewskione
    July 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Wow, this has been very enlightening.  I, like many others, loved the talk that this podcast is commenting on.  But man, this really is great food for thought.  It opened up a can of worms well worth opening.  

  13. SEA
    July 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I really enjoyed this podcast. It offers a new perspective that was healthy for me to hear. There were a few parts that made me emotional. Like when Natasha was talking toward the end about the kind of God she worships and how that influences her in her life, like as a mother. When she sends her children out into the world and if they come back bruised, or battered, or raped…she wants to wrap them in her loving arms and just hold them and love them. Wow that made me cry. Made me think about how I anticipated that kind of reception from my parents when I went to each of them separately to tell about being raped. But I never was wrapped in their loving arms and held and offered comfort. Neither of them ever said to me, I’m so sorry that happened to you. They didn’t suggest therapy or any kind of help. My father, who was my bishop, told me that I got what I asked for. My mother and I never spoke of it again until about 13 years later when I brought it up. It was many years before I had meaningful therapy. After the first rape experience, I was raped again three more times over the next 15 months. I understand it is common to be victimized again if you do not get emotional support/help. It wasn’t until I was in therapy that I realized my fathers comment was probably a reaction to the sexual abuse I received from him and was his effort to put blame on me instead of on himself.
    Thank you again for the messages in this podcast!

    • Natasha Helfer Parker
      July 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm

      Goodness Stacey,
      What a nightmare experience you describe – not only what happened to you but how your supposed support network reacted to the trauma you endured.  I am incredibly sorry you have had to endure so much pain.  I’m so glad to hear you were able to muster the courage to seek help and to hopefully begin the healing process you will journey through.  
      Thank you for sharing such personal details of your life.  

  14. anon
    July 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I’m very careful to whom I share my family abuse with because of lack of empathy from others for what the abused go through.  Like mentioned in the podcast, I only share with those that I trust-but I also only share when I know the person enough to know they won’t judge me.

    Distancing yourself from family because of abuse is very very hard, and it takes a lot of courage, especially if your family is in denial, because you can be labeled as the person with the problem, etc., when really everyone else is walking around in their candyland. You have to trust your own thoughts and feelings rather than what loved ones tell you that you should feel. You have to stay away from abusers, which will usually mean that you don’t get to see other family members, whom you miss dearly, because you can’t see one “safe” family member without seeing the abuser. It’s also hard when you realize what it means to be completely alone, with no support. 

    I add my voice to this podcast that it is more than worth it. So what makes it worth it?
    The chance to heal. 
    The chance to change your life so you can LIVE your life. 
    The chance to figure out who you are and be yourself. 
    The chance to live without fear for yourself or your children. 
    The chance to start over.

    I write this in case someone is thinking of getting out. I’ve been there. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Make a game plan, get some counseling, and follow through—BUT, no one can make that decision but you. It IS your own choice.

  15. Anonymous
    July 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I was raised Mormon and was sexually exploited by my father. When I brought it to the attention of my family (parents were divorced, joint custody) my paternal grandparents and stepmother took his word over mine.

    At one point he had his business partner, his Stake President, tell me, a crying child, that I needed to return to visiting my father.

    It’s hard to put into words how much that damaged not only my sense of self, but my concept of God, since God is male. I have recently gotten divorced and some of the issues in the marriage-my long-term depression and anxiety-stem directly from these childhood events.

    I struggled to forgive, and forgive, and started revisiting the family at 18, assuming things had somehow been my fault.

    Only a few years back, I found out the shock of my life-that my younger sister had been seriously molested by him, abused far worse than me.  If the family had taken what happened to me seriously, that would not have happened.

    It took me years-YEARS- to forgive my father (now out of the country)- and my grandparents–and my stepmother. The latter two were harder and only recently and it has taken a lot of grace and strength through the Lord. Now I can genuinely say I have. If I was to show up in heaven and my father was to be my next door neighbor, I would be completely happy with it because I know if he was there, it was because he had repented and was healed.

    To me, forgiveness means a hope that the person can somehow someday change. With abuse, you may have to completely cut them out of your life. You may have to completely cut family members out of your life, or accept

    But I admonish people, who have never experienced serious abuse, to listen carefully to the words of the podcast as well as those comments written here. It is a dark, hellish road that if you have never walked down you will not fully grasp and understand. I testify forgiveness is possible-and I strive to truly love everyone. But I cannot serve my father in any way except to pray that the Lord forgive him and heal him.

    Ironically, I STILL find myself feeling condemned when I do not forgive others for smaller slights, such the daily cruelties and backbitings or life. So I think D&C 64:9 applies to MOST situations in life.

    But abuse is so serious that it may damage the ability of someone to have a normal life. Permanently. I am in many ways a barely-functioning person. I am not certain if I will be able to marry again or if a man will be able to deal with how I am broken. I am actually not that worried about it. God will take care of me.

    To me this is what Christ meant about placing millstones around the necks of those who offended his little ones and casting them into the sea. That is also why the church MUST exercise compassion in regards to the abused and the lashing-out behavior that comes along with it as they struggle to survive. I thank God I have compassionate, understanding Bishops for the most part. Pray that this issue is one that we will all learn about, and that we all can not judge those around us who may have heavy burdens on their hearts unseen.

    I HAVE seen lives destroyed from the bitterness of not forgiving, as well. People turned into caricatures of their former selves; bitter wells. But I think that is why it is best to leave ultimate judgement to God since you never know what they have been through.

    But never tell someone abused that they must forgive or are under greater condemnation. They and the Lord will reach that point in their own time, line upon line, precept upon precept. The abused need love, a place to feel safe, and need to feel they are not permanently broken, dirty, evil, or shunned.

  16. Amy
    July 18, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Forgive me, but I need to vomit out some feelings on this blog and feel it is a good and safe place to do so.

    Today I made the decision to no longer attend church… a very painful choice that took 22 years to make. When I was a teenager every morning my father would swear at me and told me he wished I was dead. At that time, he was also in a student ward bishopric. Being very depressed and nearly suicidal, I made an appointment with my home ward bishop to discuss what was happening to me and my younger siblings. I was unsure how to even frame the discussion, but ended up telling him my dad was very emotionally abusive (sometimes physically as well) and that I needed help….that my entire family needed help. I made a tearful plea for any assistance and intervention. The bishop was a very good friend of my father’s and questioned what I had told him. I was immediately invalidated after being so desperate for help. The bishop’s advise was for me to go home and be a good example to my father and help him by being patient and kind. Remember I’m so depressed I’m ready to harm myself. I left the office feeling abandoned in my time of need and somehow weak because I didn’t know how I could take one more day of abuse.

    Within the week I had moved out of my home at 17 years old. I worked a fast food job and was trying to finish high school. I tried for several months to make it on my own, but being so young and not having a stable income I ended up back at home. It didn’t take long for my father to start mistreating me again. I felt more defeated than ever.

    I searched very hard for more work and a way to finally make the break from my troubled home. With the loving help from my Grandfather I was able to get enough money to move into a little studio apartment. I was finally free from my painful past…at least I thought I was.

    A few months after starting my new life, I was raped. I fell into a depression I had never known before. I started doing things I would have never dreamt of doing. I was a good Mormon girl and good girls do not drink a 5th of Southern Comfort whiskey and sleeping with 50 year old men. Well, I did. I realized what a huge mistake I had made and knew I needed to repent. I felt just miserable. I returned to the same home bishop that told me to “save my dad”. I know…BIG MISTAKE! He ordered a court and I was placed on bishop’s probation and could not take the sacrament for a year. I think I had reached an entire new low and was really starting to numb out, I diligently went to church and tried to repair my broken self. Never feeling good enough to be in the presence of all these wonderful ward members with smiles on their faces.

    It was about 9 months after this that I met my husband. He was for all intents and purposes my dream Mormon guy. I told him all about my past and he loved me in spite of it all. I wanted a temple marriage more than anything, but my home ward bishop refused to shorten the probation dashing my dream of being married and sealed to my husband on the same day. My husband and I opted to have a civil ceremony and set a goal for a temple sealing a year later. For several months after our marriage, I still could not partake of the sacrament because I needed to complete my year of probation. It was very awkward sitting next to my temple card hold husband in church and having to see the sacrament try passed over me each week. I felt a lot of embarrassment, shame, and guilt every week and really hated being there under those circumstances, but kept the faith and persevered every Sunday. At last my one year was up, and I asked the my new bishop for an interview so I could put this entire trauma behind me. I would still have to wait a few more months to go through the temple, but at least I would be off probation and could take the sacrament with my husband. I prayed so hard for the spirit to be with me and with the bishopric that day. I had already felt the atonement working in my life and knew my Savior loved me. This final meeting was just one of the formalities to close the case and move on to happier days……

    Life throws you curve balls I had a wicked one through at me in the that court. One of the counselors ask me if I had gone back to the 50 year old man and asked for forgiveness? I was confused by the question. I told him of course not! My bishop told me to never talk to him again. He expressed to me that he thought it would be appropriate for me to apologize to the man I had an improper relationship with. My head was spinning. I don’t recall any more of the conversation. The bishopric dismissed me to the hall while they determined my eternal fate. My husband was there and I burst into tears and told him I was going home. It didn’t take long for my husband to knock down the door of the bishopric office and ask, “What the hell just happened”? The bishop told my husband the counselor’s questioning was out of line and he had talked to him about it once I left the room. My husband told them that they may have destroyed any chance I had in coming back to the church. I sat at home feeling violated spiritually and emotionally. I wasn’t sure where my path would lead at that point. The bishop did come to the house and apologized and told me the probation was lifted, but I felt no peace or closure over the situation. Only more guilt, confusion, and pain.

    Fast forward a few years. I am active in the church and have a six year old son. Life seemed pretty good until the day I found pornography on my home computer. I was very confused about seeing it there. I knew my little boy could not have accessed it and I surely didn’t. With a very heavy heart I approached my husband. He denied that he had ever looked at anything online. I let it go thinking it was just a fluke. A few weeks later, I found it again. This time I was more insistent with my husband and demanded to know how it was getting on our computer. After about a month of me asking and him denying, he finally admitted to me that he was looking at pornography and had been since he was a teenager. I felt so betrayed. Again, in a lot of pain and very high emotions I sought out assistance from a bishop to help me navigate this issue. At the time I went into his office I was pretty angry and used the example of Christ and the money changers in the temple. Christ cleared them out. I wanted to pornography and possibly my husband out of my house. I just wanted someone to validate me and my feelings. Instead, I received a message I had heard from a former bishop when my father was abusing me….”be kind and patient”, “you can help save him”. I left feeling like I was the one with the problem. The problem of being angry and non-forgiving.

    At that point, I started to attend church less and less. I found it to be a traumatic place. The important men in my life (my father, my husband, my bishops) were all hurting me in some way and I was made to feel that it was all my fault. I felt deeply flawed and that there was no hope for me.

    After being semi-active for the last year and struggling to make it through the church meetings, I made the decision to get all in or all out. I started attending every week, paying my tithing, and amping up scripture study and prayer. I would become very sick Saturday night just thinking about gong to church the next day. I was afraid to interact with anyone there. I made one last plea to the bishop that he keep me and my husband together if he wanted to give us a calling. Two weeks after this request, my husband was called to teach young men and I was called to the library. I think it was the last straw and a blessing in disguise. I realized this church is not working for me at this time. Through this pod cast I have realized that it is OK to focus on my healing without the trauma of going to church every week.

    • Anonymous
      July 20, 2012 at 2:36 am

       Amy I am so sorry about what you went through. Best of luck to you. I think you are doing the right thing, for sure. I wish you peace and happiness and although I don’t wish ill on them I sincerely hope someday all those who hurt you have an understanding of why it was wrong to “counsel” you the way they did and treat you so unkindly when you were humbly seeking to do the right thing. I am sure God will be right there with you in your home and in your life and completely understands why the church is not a safe place for your spiritually and emotionally, after what you have been through. Your story broke my heart and I wish happiness, harmony and joy for you and all your loved ones.

      • Amy
        July 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        Thank you very much for your kind comments. They have helped me in this process of healing.  I know God is very watchful over me and loves me.  Wishing you love and peace.

    • Tresa
      July 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Amy, I am so sorry for what you’ve been through. I’m so grateful to have helped in some way your path to healing. I’m proud of you for making such powerful decisions. May peace and blessings and love rain down upon you.

  17. Orson
    July 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Terminology gets us humans into so much trouble.  I am on the victims side, I want to see justice done.  Nothing can make it “okay.”  I do not believe in forgive and forget.  The victim needs safety and distance.  At the same time I have seen great power in the ability of a victim after some time to say to the abuser “I am done with you, I will no longer allow you residence in my head.  You certainly don’t pay rent and I am kicking you out!  I am also throwing out everything related to you, it is not my burden anymore.  You take the responsibility, the weight, the anger, the pain, the hatred, …it is all poison to me and I’m giving it back to you.  Go on your way, you have been evicted.”

    I don’t have a good word for what all that means to me, it is a complete and total release or letting go …and I have learned to call it forgiveness.  That is why this podcast was so confusing from my point of view.

    • Anonymous guest
      July 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      I appreciate your comments, but don’t follow why the podcast was confusing. I thought it was supportive of the ideas you mention. That distance is sometimes necessary to be safe, like Nephi fleeing from his brothers to save his own life.

  18. Orson
    July 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Another way to say what I was trying to communicate is “forgiveness can be the greatest revenge.”  There may be a better word to put in there than forgiveness but I can’t come up with is.

  19. Anonymous guest
    July 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Amy, 
    I am so sorry to hear what you have been through. I know your pain and have had many similar experiences in my past. I posted a couple of comments in here and then felt too raw and exposed to leave them up and asked for my comments to be removed. I don’t know if you got to read them while they were up. I wish I could hear more about your experiences and share mine with you if you are interested. It helps me to know that I am not the only one who has survived these kind of experiences. We are survivors Amy. I had failed attempts at suicide. I was raped and had a bishop tell me I got what I asked for… the bishop was my dad. My dad sexually abused me too. I am still dealing with the impact of so many of his transgressions toward me. 
    I believe that our fathers, as well as priesthood leaders throughout the church who have caused more harm than good, will have justice to face. But that does little for us. We deserve to be safe.
    I really benefited in healthy ways from listening to this podcast and reading the article by Tresa linked at the end of the podcast description. It has taken my healing path to a new level. Amy, I don’t know you but I feel so much compassion toward you. 
    Early in my soul searching journey (about 8 yrs ago) I didn’t have the clarity to connect the dots in my past and recognize why I was an emotional mess that I hated and carried so much confusion about my self worth… I didn’t know if I’d ever understand myself.  At that point I had married, returned to activity in the church, and had a new baby. Then I  had an experience where in my mind I could see puzzle pieces falling into place. These pieces lined up into two columns. One column was a list titled “Emotionally Damaging Experiences”. The other was a list of all the aftermath. There were lines connecting the two lists. For the first time I understood that all the stuff in the second list was a direct result of my experiences in the first list. It was so liberating and emotional weight relieving. I realized that anybody who had been through similar experiences as I had been, would also have similar outcomes that I’d experienced. It wasn’t that I was bad and wanting to make bad choices, I was in survival mode and suffering the consequences of other peoples actions… primarily my father. This experience was so signifiant for me because I felt that I had credibility with myself for the first time and didn’t need it from others as much as before.
    Amy, I just want you to know that you are not alone. So much of our suffering is silent and lonely, but it is known. If you are interested to receive a private email from me, either give your email address to the host, Dan via mormonmatters@gmail.com, or request my email from him. I will give him my consent. 
    Cheesy as it sounds, I am sending you a virtual hug. You deserve to have your pain and suffering acknowledged and resolved. It may not happen for us in this life, at least not from our offenders. But part of my healing has come from sharing my past with trusted friends and benefiting from their love and support. It has taken me until recently, over half my life, to feel the courage to transition past the shame and embarrassment I’ve carried and let myself be vulnerable in taking the risk of sharing my past with others. My trust issues have compromised all my relationships but I’m making progress. I used to feel like I had to protect him, defend him, and keep his secret. But I’m done with looking out for his interest more than my healing needs. He doesn’t deserve that and I deserve better.
    We have the opportunity to be cycle breakers, like Natasha and Tresa talked about in the podcast. As mothers, we don’t have to pass down the crap that we received from our parents. We can change that pattern and protect our dear children from that filth. We can experience love from them. I went through postpartum depression after my second child and finally got help. I’ve now been participating in meaningful therapy off and on for five years. I can’t imagine my life right now without the help of that therapy. 
    Hang in there Amy. You are worth it!

    Sisters, connected by our painful past

    • Amy
      July 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your story and support.  It is very comforting to know I am not alone and that we share common experiences and feelings…and that there is healing from all of this.  I would love to discuss more with you.  I sent Dan my information.  Look forward to chating with you soon.

  20. andrew2001
    July 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    News Story about a victim in the Colorado Theater Shooting who is struggling with the idea of forgiving his shooter:

    “I’m a man of faith, but it gets tried in times like this,” Weaver told
    Yahoo News. “I’m not saying I’m forgiving him today, I’m not saying I’m
    not mad, but at some point I’m going to have to let it go.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/victims-families-struggle-emotions-toward-denver-movie-theater-145110826.html

  21. Caring
    August 7, 2012 at 12:02 am

    I like the podcast.  I wish tipical Bishop’s would have this training.  The past few months it has been on my mind how mental illness doesn’t seem to have a place in “General” church settings.   Everyone is on the same playing field.  It is like evil and mental illness doesn’t exist at church.  We focus on perfecting ourselves but not protecting. 
    I LOVE LOVE their comment about forgiveness being not wishing the other person harm.  I feel just moving towards that goal and doing that is all I can do.  . As the victom, I don’t have the power to take away the punishment of what they did to me. That is part of free agency for the sinner.  All I can do is let go of my anger towards them.  Justice is Gods job. 
    I wish every victom could hear this message.  It really comfirmed my personal revelations that I have felt from God. 

    • Still in pain
      August 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      Had to echo your comment about mental illness. I was married to a man we now know was mentally ill, but did not know during my marriage or his marriage to his second wife or third wife. Once I finally figured it out, I was extremely upset and tried to get some help with the matter at Church. What a mistake that was. My bishop was nasty, even going so far as to attack my testimony for questioning how this matter had been so seriously mishandled (my husband’s excommunication and all the misjudgements the priesthood leadership, including at least four General Authorities, had made in the matter). I have been seriously depressed about the matter and extremely angry at the response I have received from some of the priesthood.  It seems to me they like to teach the members that the leaders will not lead them astray and are inspired. But when it turns out that they were not inspired and I pointed that out, I was told that I had no right to assume that men without training in mental health could not be expected to recognize mental illness. I am okay with that but only if these same men will get out of the business of judging others and injecting their ill-informed counseling into other people’s lives and  marriages. Either train these men or release them.

  22. August 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    The abuser I had to deal with portrayed himself along the same lines as Christ “cleansing the temple.”  If I dared to express myself in contradiction to him, however mildly, I was likened to “the father of contention” or  upbraided for being in defiance of his “priesthood authority.”   At the beginning, he would apologize for things he did and I forgave him, but then came a time that he was tired of “being the ‘only’ one to apologize; “after all, it takes two to fight” he said, so then there were no more apologies.  Not that anybody was fighting with him. We were just there when in his determination we fell afoul of “the law” and needed “correction”.  Laws like coming into a room only through one door and out only through the other.  Of course, that could be reversed without warning and elicit the same immediate negative response. I was frequently reminded that if I were to be forgiven of my sins, that I must forgive him; not that he ever asked for forgiveness or admitted to wrongdoing anymore; he thought it unnecessary to detail his transgressions,  let alone make up for them.  It was only requisite that he be proferred a blanket forgiveness, so that he could carry on as usual. 

    I fell back on D&C 98 to help me with the forgiveness issue, and now place the matter in the Lord’s hands.

     23 Now, I speak unto you concerning your families—if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek revenge, ye shall be rewarded;
     24 But if ye bear it not patiently, it shall be accounted unto you as being meted out as a just measure unto you.
     25 And again, if your enemy shall smite you the second time, and you revile not against your enemy, and bear it patiently, your reward shall be an hundred fold.
     26 And again, if he shall smite you the third time, and ye bear it patiently, your reward shall be doubled unto you four-fold;
     27 And these three testimonies shall stand against your enemy if he repent not, and shall not be blotted out.
     28 And now, verily I say unto you, if that enemy shall escape my vengeance, that he be not brought into judgment before me, then ye shall see to it that ye warn him in my name, that he come no more upon you, neither upon your family, even your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.
     29 And then, if he shall come upon you or your children, or your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation, I have delivered thine enemy into thine hands;
     30 And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.

     39 And again, verily I say unto you, if after thine enemy has come upon thee the first time, he repent and come unto thee praying thy forgiveness, thou shalt forgive him, and shalt hold it no more as a testimony against thine enemy—
     40 And so on unto the second and third time; and as oft as thine enemy repenteth of the trespass wherewith he has trespassed against thee, thou shalt forgive him, until seventy times seven.
     41 And if he trespass against thee and repent not the first time, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him.
     42 And if he trespass against thee the second time, and repent not, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him.
     43 And if he trespass against thee the third time, and repent not, thou shalt also forgive him.
     44 But if he trespass against thee the fourth time thou shalt not forgive him, but shalt bring these testimonies before the Lord; and they shall not be blotted out until he repent and reward thee four-fold in all things wherewith he has trespassed against thee.
     45 And if he do this, thou shalt forgive him with all thine heart; and if he do not this, I, the Lord, will avenge thee of thine enemy an hundred-fold;

    Sometimes you are sleeping with the enemy and it takes a few nightmares to wake up and realize it.

  23. Ness
    August 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I am so glad you did this podcast. Thank you! I had a similar reaction to this talk. I know these talks and lessons on forgiveness are great for those thinking of a sibling who yelled at them or a neighbor who didn’t return a pot. But every time I hear it, I think of my step-father who sexually abused sisters and friends. Who also inappropriately touched me.  I just could not believe that when someone says “don’t judge me because I sin differently that you” applied to him.
    My step-father had been accused of child molestation and even was convicted on a lesser charge of exposure before my mother married him. He had been forgiven by the church and re-baptized. That was enough for my mom. She had five daughters and two sons. We moved in with him and his kids not knowing of his past. For years after the abuse on us was discovered I followed my mom’s lead of trying to be forgiving and Christ-like. She stayed with him and worked on helping him. We have had so many difficulties in our family relations as everyone struggled with how to be around him and be forgiving. It all reared its ugly head again when he was going to be baptized again a few months ago. We finally looked at what really happened while we were younger and with adult eyes realized how awful and unhealthy it was. He was helped and protected much more than us. He has never fully admitted what he had done.

    My sister who got the worst of his abuse tried to tell his Stake President what really happened. All of us did. Even past babysitters had come forward with abuse that had never been validated. Well, he still got baptized. I feel all of us had the band aid ripped off what was really a bleeding open would. My sister (who has been struggling in the Church since the Stake President allowed the step-father to be baptized) called me a few days ago to tell me she went in to her Stake President for a temple recommend interview. When asked if she sustains her local authorities she admitted that she did not think that the other Stake President had used the spirit when he let step-dad be baptized. He then proceeded to give her a 20 minute lecture on forgiveness and even told her to REPENT!!!!!!!!! He used the scripture in D&C that the greater sin would be on her. That she would be judged harsher than a man who sexually molested her and several other girls and would never admit to all of it. GRRRR She came out of there so upset and was ready to rip up that temple recommend. I felt so sad for her. It was the next day that I found this podcast and I can not wait for her to listen to it! I want my whole family to hear but especially my mom.

    Some of my siblings have cut both parents off. I set boundaries with them I had never before. It has been 18 years since the abuse. But it is needed. Especially because we all have children.  I made the choice to never see him again. As have other siblings. It has been liberating. I finally realized forgiveness does not have to mean being in that persons life, treating them with respect and kindness, serving them, etc as my mother had taught me. All of us brothers and sisters have much better relationships now that we all respect how the other has handled the abuse even if it is different than our own reaction. We can get together without being forced to see him. No one is excluded from family gatherings! I wish I had this podcast years ago to open my eyes, especially on how to treat the sisters that always seemed in my mind then the “angriest” or “unforgiving”. I could have done more for them. I could have helped myself sooner as well had we had professional help sooner.

    Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experience in the “trenches” to help the rest of us.

  24. L
    August 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

    One time I had an awesome bishop who would ask the most intense questions in Sunday school to spark discussions. One question he asked was: “Is it ok to be angry?” which sounds kind of simple but when you think about how it plays out in what we teach and how many of us live day to day—it seems like many LDS people are very uncomfortable with anger. We talked about why that might be, some said it didn’t seem Christlike to be angry/hold a grudge/not forgive. But we know that Christ did get angry at times and so when is it ok–or even good/healthy–to be angry? The bishop said that he felt anger was good on some level because it often is evidence that we feel self worth because we are often angry when we feel like we didn’t deserve some type of treatment. I loved that take on it and it seems especially pertinent to this discussion because abuse is definitely something to feel angry about because no one deserves to be abused. Do the panelists feel like anger always needs to be part of the healing process (esp since abuse victims are so prone to feel like it was their fault), unlike forgiveness which may or may not happen for everyone?

    Thanks for this podcast, it was very good for me to hear.

    • PConlin
      September 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      I don’t know about the panelists, but as anger is a step in the grieving process, I would say that it is an essential step in healing from abuse. Anger is a powerful emotion so we must keep it reigned in. However it is an important emotion as well. Those who have had to break off unhealthy relationships would not have been able to do so without anger coming into play at some point.

  25. PConlin
    September 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    I found this article from the June 2012 Ensign very helpful in reconciling my issues with Elder Uchtdorf’s talk. The Author references a talk given by Elder James E. Faust, another one that could be damaging to victims of abuse. Especially with the examples he used. She pulls out several key points in the talk that helped me to feel like “not such a terrible daughter”. I hope that it helps some of you who are ready for that step as much as it did me.
    https://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/06/finding-peace-through-forgiveness?lang=eng&query=forgiveness

    I had not spoken to my mother in over two years when Elder Uchtdorf gave his talk. I was immediately wracked with guilt and pain and didn’t even get to listen to the rest of the session because the emotion made me so sick. I had suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my mother for decades. I even feel that she significantly contributed to the many situations I was placed in that resulted in sexual abuse. I always got in trouble when I revealed an instance, mostly for not coming forward sooner. It took me about a decade to come forward with all of them. The last time I came forward was the absolute worst. I was screamed at and yelled at for hours about how hurt she was that I hadn’t trusted her with the information before. I was 14 at the time. Whenever I tried to discuss physical or emotional abuse with my mother, she would always turn the tables on me. The classic example was when I tried to discuss with her the time that she pointed a loaded gun at me. I was 10 years old. Through a series of misunderstandings, she had thought I was a utility man come to rape her. I walked into her bedroom and she was pointing a loaded gun at me. I heard the click as she cocked it. I am so lucky she didn’t shoot me. When I first relayed the experience to her, she had no recollection. After I reminded her, she said, “Did you ever stop to consider how that traumatized me? I was never able to handle a gun again!” There was no apology for traumatizing me. What made it worse was that I had been shooting with her and my father several years later. I had seen her target practice with the same gun. Not only was her response not an apology or an effort to reconcile how deeply she had hurt me over the years, it was a “recreation of history that puts her in the best light” as I have come to term it.
    Fast forward to the talk and I received a call from my mother after Conference ended. I returned it and resolved that I would be a good daughter again, that I would be the bigger person and forgive, and that I would call her once a week in order to try to repair the relationship. By the end of April I was having severe panic attacks every time the time was getting close for me to talk to her again, or when she would call me. At that point I decided that I could not handle it.
    I love my mother. I know that it is hurting her that I will no longer return her phone calls. It makes me very sad that she is hurting. But I just can’t subject myself to her. It is too damaging to me. I have tried and tried and begged and pleaded for the Lord’s help. I have had several members of my extended family tell me how much of a happier and better person I am without my mother’s influence in my life. Can the Lord really want me to let her in if it is so physically and emotionally damaging to me? Though I agonize over the answer, I honestly don’t think that He does.

  26. Anonymous
    September 27, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Thank you so, so very much for discussing this. My situation was a little different in two ways. First, my experience with abuse happened when I was 11years old. The differences are first that I am a boy, and I often feel that boys are the forgotten victims of abuse, especially sexual, for various societal reasons. I spent the next 31 years believing it was my fault. Secondly, my abuse was perpetrated by a member of the bishopric, and I actually had to sit through worthiness interviews with this man after the event, because boys aren’t encouraged to tell when they are abused. For the record, I was physically assaulted and sodomized by this man, and am only now dealing with it with professional help. I would love to see these two special circumstances addressed in a future Mormon matters podcast. Especially with Natasha. Thanks for all the goodness Mormon matters have done.

    • Jen
      October 8, 2012 at 11:29 am

      How awful! to have to sit in worthiness interviews with your abuser… that makes me feel sad and sick inside. I can only imagine how much that must of screwed with your brain and your emotions. I am glad you are dealing with it now. I was molested as a little girl, and believed it was my fault, but I think you are right… There are issues specific to being a male and being sodomized that need to be talked about. (Sending love. Dealing with my abuse was the worst hell I have ever been through.)

  27. Rolly polly
    November 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Forgiveness is one of the LAST steps in overcoming abuse. Before that point, an abuse victim (if it started young) may not understand how to establish a healthy relationship. But it takes getting out of the situation, honesty about what happened and then ownership of your own life and current choices. When a person has been honest with themselves, has taken responsibility for achieving their own emotional health and well being, then forgiveness is a must. And all that means is that we put hatred aside, and let God judge them, and let God punish them in His time. That is what forgiveness is. At the right time, it is right. A person can not fully leave it all behind, until they let go of the hatred. And sometimes that takes an act of God, but isn’t that what the atonement is – an act of God.