• Quote of the Day

    “Surely the reason Christ said, ‘Father, forgive them,’ was because even in that terrible hour He knew that this was the message He had come through all eternity to deliver.”
    —Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
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Hope and Healing in Recovering from Abuse

In something of a follow-up to Elder Richard G. Scott’s last general conference address, the Ensign has published an article called “Hope and Healing in Recovering from Abuse.”

Written by Sister Sarah E. Miller, a psychotherapist in the United Kingdom, this article centers around the hope and healing to be found in the Savior’s Atonement. However, it also casts an unflinching eye on the hurt and suffering that result from abuse, and it offers some practical suggestions for overcoming them. Sister Miller has advice for both the abused and those who care about them. For instance, she says:

“To help the abused person forgive, leaders, friends, and family members can acknowledge the gravity of the offense, allowing the innocent person to work through his or her anger and pain. Much abuse involves the denial of feelings and truth, so people who have been abused need to be heard and have their feelings validated if they are to truly recover and regain self-worth. When the person who has been abused is pressured to forgive, he or she may feel an added measure of guilt, taking the blame not only for the abuse itself but also for being unable to forgive. Allowing the person time to forgive can be a lengthy process, but it is critical to healing.”

The article presents a realistic but hopeful outlook on the situation faced by victims of abuse. For them, it offers ways of understanding how they can see God’s love and be healed through Christ’s Atonement. For those who know a victim of abuse, it offers ways of understanding their difficulties and giving them the support they need in order to eventually be healed.


4 Responses

  1. I think two things that should be added to these points are that we have to make sure that the victim didn’t contribute to the crime at all (that is in any way, shape or form). Otherwise they can’t move on either. It is no use telling a person they had no blame if inside they know this isn’t entirely true.

    Secondly the director for a victims of crime organisation once told me that one of the biggest blocks to moving on that victims have is often secondary victims (ie parents, friends and professionals). They don’t let go. Those surrounding the victim must also learn to forgive and move on. If they keep the hatred alive the victim will have trouble forgiving also.

    One other thing is that we really must learn is to trust that God knows the things we are going through and that we would survive them. The question really is, what do we gain from the experience? I have been the victim of physical abuse under two sets of long term circumstances. And what I learnt from it was a greater love by the forgiveness I chose to have toward the repeat, unrepentant offender, even during the process. Rather than seeing these as negative I see the benefits that came from them. Victims can become beneficiaries if they so choose. Its your mind. And family, friends and professionals should promote this thinking, IMO.

  2. Thank you for your comment, DougT. You’re right; there is a balance that both victims and their families and friends must strike in these situations. I appreciate your perspective.

  3. I was verbally, emotionally, and physically abused most of life (until I could get out of my house) and have found it extremely difficult to forgive my father for having such an incredibly negative effect on every aspect of my life. Things I hadn’t even realized were the direct result of being abused; lack of trust, fear of authority, loneliness, unbearable guilt, social anxiety, depression/anxiety, and (until recently) unexplainable anger and pessimism. When I hear people say “forgive and move on” I almost can’t believe how naive they sound.

    This was one of the first articles written in a church publication that I have read that actually says pressuring victims of abuse to forgive may not be such a great idea right away. I have felt enough guilt for no reason, and am so relieved that someone out there understands that I don’t deserve more guilt for not being able to forgive. Thank you to the author of this article, forgive me the rant…

  4. Thank you for your comment, mormonguy. I appreciate your sharing your story and your feelings on this topic. I, too, was impressed by the article’s candor and message regarding forgiveness. It’s an extremely difficult thing, and people like myself who have not been abused should not set expectations for and inadvertently cause guilt in those who have been abused. As the article says, we should give them the time they need to heal.

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