Thursday, October 30, 2008

our wounds and scars can heal

everyone should check out my latest post at modern molly mormon. it's the lastest installment in my feature "surviving life's experiences." it's called our wounds and scars can heal.

In the April General Conference of 1985, President Gordon B. Hinckley said,

"There appears to be a plague of abuse spreading across the world. Perhaps it has always been with us but has not received the attention it presently receives. I am glad there is a hue and cry going up against this terrible evil, too much of which is found among our own."

Anytime abuse occurs it is an awful tragedy. For the victims, the devastating wounds and scars may be long lasting, which can impact all areas of our lives. Our relationships with our families, leaders, and even our Heavenly Father may suffer as a result of this evil.

The good news is that those wounds and scars can heal. It can take years, upon years, for the wounds to turn to scars. and even years beyond that for the scars to fade. It has been nearly 15 years since the abuse I endured ended. 15 years, and I am still struggling. Every day I encounter a trial that is a direct result of the horror I endured. But in looking over the past 15 years, I am amazed at how far I have come. And I was unable to make so much progress alone.

Elder RichardG. Scott said,

"I solemnly testify that when another's acts of violence, perversion, or incest hurt you terribly, against your will, you are not responsible and you must not feel guilty. You may be left scarred by abuse, but those scars need not be permanent. in the eternal plan, in the Lord's timetable, those injuries can be made right as you do your part."

Some of the things common for abuse survivors to feel is anger and guilt. I have felt, and continue to feel, both of these. Anger that this person hurt me, has changed me and my life forever. Anger that I am left dealing with this on a daily basis. Anger that very little was done in the realm of justice. Anger that I have been invalidated and pushed aside, treated as if i am overreacting. I am not overreacting. And neither is anyone who has been abused. I have felt an incredible amount of guilt. Guilt in thinking I should have been able to stop it. Sometimes that I must have done something to deserve it. Guilt in the fact that had I done something, I could have spared my perpetrator's other victims from going through what I had. This guilt has been the hardest for me to overcome, because his other victims include people that I love, that I hold dear, other members of my family. And the whole time I knew what was happening to at least one of them.

But here is the thing. I was a child. I was 6, 7 years old. I was scared, I felt threatened, I felt alone. There is no way that I could have cognitively been able to understand what was going on. I am not to blame. As victims, we did not have control over the abuse perpetrated on us. however, as survivors, we can now take the necessary actions to put our lives in order, and move forward making our homes a safe haven for those who reside there.

This is so hard. It is so hard to move on, to heal. By far the hardest thing I have ever been through, as I am sure it is for many who have been abused. Why should we have to work so hard for something that wasn't our fault in the first place? Why should we be forced to put forth so much effort, and go through so much pain, because of the actions of another person?

The answer is this: it is not fair. It is not right. But it is necessary. If we don't work hard, and put forth the effort, not only do we suffer, but those who love us will suffer. Our families, our friends, will hurt as they watch us. And we can, and probably will, hurt them by lashing out. I know that throughout my life I took my anger and my pain out on my family. My parents, my siblings, and even now my husband. They have all dealt with so much because of my actions. That is why I am working on recognizing my behavioral issues that stem from the abuse. That is why I am working to correct this. I know where my hurt comes from, and I can change it.

The other thing that we can do to further our healing is to do our best to protect those around us. This is part of the reason why I am choosing to share my experiences with others. Not only to help those who have been abused to heal, but to help everyone recognize that there are some things we can do to help protect our loved ones. Of course it is impossible to eliminate all abuse. Of course it is impossible to completely protect our loved ones. My parents have endured an incredible amount of guilt for believing they should have known, they could have prevented it. The truth is that they did their best. And the abuse I endured is not their fault.

President Monson said in the November 1991 Ensign that, "There is an alarming increase of reported physical, psychological, and sexual abuse of children. Our courts are becoming inundated with this repulsive behavior. The church does not condone such heinous and vile conduct. Rather, we condemn in the harshest terms such treatment of God's precious children. Let the child be rescued, nurtured, loved, and healed. Let the offender be brought to justice, to accountability for his (or her) actions, and receive professional treatment to curtail such wicked and devilish conduct. When you and I know of such conduct and fail to take action to eradicate it, we become part of the problem. We share part of the guilt. we experience part of the punishment."

It is possible to move on. It is possible to heal. it is possible to help others who have been abused. We can, and we should, love and support survivors of abuse. If we ourselves are survivors, we can and should turn to the Lord, to our families (if possible) for help.

Throughout this feature, "Surviving Life's Experiences,"I will talk about how we can heal from abuse. I will discuss my own experiences as well as scriptures and things from leaders of our Church. These lessons don't need to apply just to abuse--they can apply to any struggle we experience. Much of my information will come from the "Survivors of Life's Experiences" (or SOLE) manual published by LDS Social Services. (For more information on this class, look at my previous post in this series.) If you would like to participate, I would suggest studying the scriptures and talks I refer to. Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Doing this can be very therapeutic, and open your eyes to ideas and inspiration you may have not considered before. This can help immensely in the healing process.

I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us. We are His children. I believe that He weeps for our pain. He wants to help us. He will support us in our healing process.

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