Domestic Violence: What Is It and What Can We Do about It?

Note from the author:  I want to especially thank Emerson Carter and Eve Petersen for their vast knowledge on the topic of domestic violence and their willingness to contribute to this post.

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

I used to think that society had moved beyond domestic violence* because I hadn’t ever seen it.  Isn’t that how it nearly always is?  We don’t believe something is really a problem until we experience it first hand or close to that?  You don’t believe ALS is a that big of a problem until your friend gets it; you don’t believe pornography is that big of a deal until your friend’s husband is addicted to it and it nearly destroys her marriage; you don’t believe suicide affects that many people until your brother commits it. You get the picture.  My first exposure to domestic violence happened when I was in my early 20s, doing my student teaching in the South Pacific.  On one of my first Sundays there, one of the ward leaders stood and said, “If a man beats his wife and children, he is not worthy of a temple recommend.”  Rather than thinking, “Well, of course!” my reaction was, “Who beats their wife and children anymore?”  I figured the problem was limited to that part of the world where I was then living.

I moved home, graduated from BYU, got married, bought a house, and then had another experience with domestic violence much closer to home.  I was a visiting teacher to my friend Emerson**.  We always had fun visiting and talking, plus we had so much in common. I felt she was the older sister I’d never had.  One day I received a call from the Relief Society president informing me that Emerson had left her husband and gone to a women’s domestic violence shelter. I was astounded!  I wondered how I had not noticed this problem in her home and why she had not confided in me.

More than a decade went by, and recently another friend, Eve*, shared her trauma from the same problem. I still figured domestic violence was fairly rare, but within just weeks of beginning to write this post, a third friend told me that domestic violence was the reason for the end of her marriage.  Then I remembered even two more friends inferring something about abusive husbands as reasons for their divorces, which I confirmed.

If you haven’t already had someone close to you experience domestic violence, you’re probably thinking, “This just wouldn’t happen to someone I know” and yet it does.  In the rest of this post I will address how common the problem is, what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ teachings are on it, some resources available to victims, the roles of bishops and friends, and what we can do to combat this problem.

This Does Happen in Your Ward

10734081_10152567912942515_8553581955686952379_n-1Current statistics state that in the United States 1 in 4 “women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.” The definition of domestic violence includes “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. . . .   [It] is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control.”  According to my friends Emerson and Eve, in the work they’ve now done helping others, they believe the statistics are also true for women within the Church.  You may wonder, “Well, where are these women?  They must not come to church.  This couldn’t be a problem among active members.”  In reality, all of the women I know who have left their abusive husbands, including Emerson and Eve, were active in the Church when they left, and I had no suspicions that this was happening to them.  I asked Eve about her activity in the Church when she was in her hardest times and she stated, “. . . I clung to church with a strong grip because it seemed to be the only way to survive how horrid I felt . . .”  Another interesting thing is that three of the five women lived approximately within a mile of me.  Indeed, domestic violence is a problem close to home, whether we know it or not.  I hope this bit of knowledge helps us all feel more compassion for the trials, spoken and unspoken, others face.

Church Teachings

So what are the Church’s policies concerning domestic violence?  The leader in the South Pacific who stated a man was not worthy to enter the temple if he beat his wife and children was correct.  In April 2002 in a talk entitled, Personal Worthiness to Exercise the Priesthood, President Hinckley stated,

Any man who engages in this practice [of spouse abuse] is unworthy to hold a temple recommend.

10736215_10152542438592515_46835890_nHe also said, “The wife you choose will be your equal. . . .  In the marriage companionship there is neither inferiority nor superiority. The woman does not walk ahead of the man; neither does the man walk ahead of the woman. They walk side by side as a son and daughter of God on an eternal journey.  She is not your servant, your chattel, nor anything of the kind.  How tragic and utterly disgusting a phenomenon is wife abuse. Any man in this Church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood. Though he may have been ordained, the heavens will withdraw, the Spirit of the Lord will be grieved, and it will be amen to the authority of the priesthood of that man. . . .  My brethren, if there be any within the sound of my voice who are guilty of such behavior, I call upon you to repent.”

As reported in The Young Woman’s Journal, Vol. 3, (1891-2) Joseph F. Smith stated,

I can not understand how a man can be unkind to any woman, much less to the wife of his bosom, and the mother of his children, and I am told that there are those who are absolutely brutal, but they are unworthy the name of men.

Additionally in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, we read,

We warn that individuals who . . . abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.

Lastly, Howard W. Hunter said in his Conference Report in October 1994,

Any man who abuses or demeans his wife physically or spiritually is guilty of grievous sin and in need of sincere and serious repentance.

Clearly, domestic violence is unacceptable behavior, and unrepentant abusers will suffer the consequences.  There are many more Church talks and resources, including the full articles from which I quote above, with information that can bring comfort.  Of course, if you are in an abusive relationship, you are thinking this is what the abuser needs to hear, not me, but we have to remember we cannot help the abuser until he first desires to change himself.  He must get beyond denying he has a problem, justifying his behavior, and using his wife’s flaws as reason for his abuse.  But, indeed there is hope for the abuser. Emerson shared with me that “Many good, teachable men simply do not have the tools to behave appropriately in a relationship.  These men can make a choice to obtain these tools, and then change their trajectory.  I personally know men who fit this description.”  Eve adds, “Even an abuser who truly wants to change will find that it takes much more than a few weeks of dedication to change this destructive behavior, which is a symptom of a greater inner dysfunction.”  There is hope for the abuser, but until actual change happens, we must focus on helping the abused.  Even President Hinckley, in July 2002, quoted from the Church Handbook, “In instances of abuse, the first responsibility of the Church is to help those who have been abused and to protect those who may be vulnerable to future abuse.”

Help for Women

When a woman finds herself in an abuse situation, she likely needs counseling and support in several areas: financial, mental, emotional, spiritual, sexual, legal. Her bishop can be of tremendous support, and there are also helpful community resources that Emerson suggest I share.  For example, where I live in Utah:

Utah Domestic Violence Coalition: http://udvc.org/

Utah Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-897-5465

List of phone numbers by county in Utah: http://www.aardvarc.org/dv/states/utdv.shtml

Also some national resources: http://www.thehotline.org/ http://www.ncadv.org/ http://nnedv.org/

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or TTY 1-800-787-3224

Local police stations have confidential phone numbers of shelters, and Emerson adds that you will find excellent counselors and volunteers at women’s shelters across the nation who will help you.  If you just need a way to connect for now, you can find online support communities such as LDSDivorceVictims.blogspot.com or LDS Abuse Survivor Support (LASS), which also has a Facebook page.

Bishops

Bishops and other Church leaders are typically not professionals trained in how to treat abuse cases.  However, according to Emerson, “Many wonderful bishops react with genuinely respectful understanding and strong support.” Both Emerson and Eve agree that a bishop can offer wonderful spiritual counsel, blessings, reassurance of the Savior’s love, and access to resources.  In addition to general Church teachings which coincide with the principles shared above concerning abuse, President Hinckley in 2002 shared what training and resources Church leaders have. Knowing this may help a victim have realistic expectations of the help she can receive from her bishop.

I quote from our Church Handbook of Instructions: “The Church’s position is that abuse cannot be tolerated in any form. Those who abuse … are subject to Church discipline. They should not be given Church callings and may not have a temple recommend. . . .”

For a long period now we have worked on this problem. We have urged bishops, stake presidents, and others to reach out to victims, to comfort them, to strengthen them, to let them know that what happened was wrong, that the experience was not their fault, and that it need never happen again.

We have issued publications, established a telephone line where Church officers may receive counsel in handling cases, and offered professional help through LDS Family Services.

These acts are often criminal in their nature. They are punishable under the law. Professional counselors, including lawyers and social workers, are available on this help line to advise bishops and stake presidents concerning their obligations in these circumstances. Those in other nations should call their respective Area Presidents.

Now the work of the Church is a work of salvation. I want to emphasize that. It is a work of saving souls. We desire to help both the victim and the offender. Our hearts reach out to the victim, and we must act to assist him or her. Our hearts reach out to the offender, but we cannot tolerate the sin of which he may be guilty. Where there has been offense, there is a penalty. The process of the civil law will work its way. And the ecclesiastical process will work its way, often resulting in excommunication. This is both a delicate and a serious matter.

Nevertheless, we recognize, and must always recognize, that when the penalty has been paid and the demands of justice have been met, there will be a helpful and kindly hand reaching out to assist. There may be continuing restrictions, but there will also be kindness.

It is important to remember that each bishop, as Emerson shared, has “different experiences, knowledge, strengths, and limitations.“ Some may “simply not know what to do or may have experiences that are not helpful to a victim.”  John Nelson, in a 1999 Ensign article entitled A Conversation on Spouse Abuse stated, “There are times when bishops may not know how to deal with the problem. In those cases bishops most likely would seek professional guidance, possibly from LDS Family Services. Instructions on dealing with abuse are found in The Church Handbook of Instructions, which is available to local leaders. There are many avenues. It is not incumbent upon bishops to be trained counselors to provide help.”

From that same article, Brent Bartholomew adds,

I think most bishops realize their own limitations. They can give spiritual guidance and spiritual help, but additional assistance may be required. . . . [Victims] may need counseling that is more intensive and more frequent than the bishop can provide.  . . . A bishop can let them know where to go for the type of help they need. .

Eve also suggests that if a victim goes to see her bishop and the visit doesn’t go as she had hoped, she may feel like she wants to run; however, Eve reminds women that “this is your bishop, he cares about you and wants to help.” She suggests being open with your bishop about your feelings regarding the feedback he gives you, and if you feel you need additional guidance beyond that of your bishop, don’t hesitate to seek outside counseling.

Below, Emerson shares her view of positive interactions with the bishop:

A wise bishop can help guide you to these resources, but do not expect him to make important decisions for you. These decisions are between you and the Lord. If you put it in the Lord’s hands and ask for His direction, He will lovingly and clearly give it to you, but you must be truly willing to follow his directions. The Lord knows whether or not your husband is truly willing to change, or whether he is a life-threatening danger to you. A bishop is an inspired man called of God and full of love for you, but it is chiefly the Lord who must and will guide you in these crucial decisions. The bishop will then support you in that decision.

The day after I left a situation in which I had very nearly lost my life, I was devastated by the feeling that I was somehow breaking my covenants. My wise bishop counseled me: “You have kept your covenants with God. When a husband breaks his covenants, you have no obligation to follow him. You have a sacred obligation to your child to protect her and to protect your own spirit. God wants you to be safe and cherished.”

What a woman can do before and when she goes to see her bishop

It can be very uncomfortable for a woman to take that step to visit with her bishop.  When making that choice, Eve and Emerson offer some tips that may be helpful.

  • A victim can take a woman confidant with her.
  • She can email, text, or write if it is too difficult to say these things aloud.
  • She can pray for her bishop—that the Spirit will prompt him to give the counsel she needs.
  • She can ask for a blessing.
  • She can go to the temple in advance, if it’s not too painful.
  • She can write down what she wants to talk about so that nothing is left out and so she can make the best use of everyone’s time.
  • She can give the bishop enough advanced notice of temporal needs that arrangements can be made to get her the help she needs in a timely manner.
  • She can seek help from public agencies, if available, in advance. If her bishop sees her making even little efforts towards her well-being he is likely to be more motivated to help her.  The Church is likely not enough on its own to help a woman through this challenging time.  Enlist all the resources you can.
  • She can interact with men she trusts who have earned her trust. They will help her regain her belief in the goodness of men, which will improve her relationship with her Heavenly Father and bishop.

Ideas bishops might consider when counseling abuse victims

A concern I’ve noticed from women in domestic violence situations involves how bishops respond when a woman comes to him for help. As is mentioned above, bishops do have some training and access to resources, but they may still be limited in help they can offer as marital counseling is likely not their profession.  I don’t want to give unsolicited advice, but I can imagine some Church leaders may be interested to know what support a woman wants.  So, I asked Emerson and Eve what women in abuse situations desire from their bishops.  They responded with some ideas they hope leaders will consider when counseling the abused.

  • Please don’t encourage a woman to tolerate or endure the abuse.
  • Please counsel in spiritual matters, acknowledge your own limitations in mental health training, and refer the husband and wife to each seek professional counseling.
  • Please don’t tell a woman to leave or stay in her marriage because she needs to make that decision for herself.  She likely has a husband who tries to make all her choices for her, but this one needs to be hers.  If a bishop feels the children are in danger, he is counseled to report it to proper authorities. Keeping a marriage together on the surface is never as important as a sister’s physical and spiritual safety and her own eternal progression, which is arrested when she is being victimized to an extent that all she can do is think of how to survive each day.
  • Please don’t tell an abused woman to forgive and forget.  Forgiveness comes a long way out in the healing process, and forgetting is harmful. She needs to retain a remembrance of what has happened to keep herself safe and to allow her to heal the wounds of the past, enabling her to find a healthy relationship in the future.  In fact, in the October 1999 Ensign the article, A Conversation on Spouse Abuse, Anne Horton stated, “Just as repentance is a process, so is forgiveness. Unfortunately many people think that forgiving equals forgetting and, therefore, are afraid forgiveness makes them vulnerable. But while the Lord commands us to forgive, He doesn’t tell us to forget any lessons we have learned or demand that we trust an abuser. We can forgive someone without putting ourselves in the position to be victimized again. Love can be achieved and so can forgiveness, but we still must protect ourselves.”
  • A woman is probably already worried about being single. When she chooses to leave her abuser, she is choosing to be single, and if she has children, then she becomes a single mother. It is difficult to be single in the Church, to be divorced, to be a child from a broken marriage, to be a single mother recovering from abuse. If we can support women and children through these difficult things, the other victims in our wards and branches will see that if they leave they will be supported and will find some courage.  Provide financial help and other resources without undue stress.  The victim already feels beaten down and unworthy because of the abuse, and by not alleviating financial or other obstacles that could be minimized could send her back to the abuser.  Sadly, in 2010 the poverty rate for single mothers was 42%.  It is likely that a single mother will have long term financial stress, and is, therefore, worried about the loss of financial support that will occur if she leaves her abusive spouse.
  • Please counsel the husband and wife separately, keeping those confidences. The abuse, including manipulation and intimidation, can continue in the bishop’s office if they are counseled together.
  • Please don’t counsel the abused to attend the temple with her abuser. The temple should be a refuge, a place of comfort and peace. When a victim of abuse attends the temple with her abuser it changes the nature of that place for her, and can cause additional spiritual wounds.
  • If the bishop uses the North America abuse hotline, which is the one mentioned above in the President Hinckley quote, please use wisdom in sharing the information you get from the hotline. It is not necessarily to be repeated verbatim to the abuser and victim.
  • When a woman claims she is abused, believe her.  The incidence of false reporting is extremely low.10751939_10152558082552515_1867487000_n
  • Call her back as soon as you can and let her know that you care about her safety and well-being because it is possible that she has no one else to turn to. Abusers alienate their victims as a way to keep them trapped, and she may not have friends or family support because of the controlling nature of abuse.
  • Assign the most effective home teachers, as soon as the sister leaves the abuser. Ask her if her needs are being met by her current visiting teachers and if not, assign new ones. Visit her in her home, minister to her children, give them blessings and unconditional love. Ask the youth and Primary leaders to give special attention to the children.
  • Respect her privacy. Do not speak to her friends to get inside information; build up your own trusted relationship with her to minister to her needs. Keep phone numbers and addresses private if the woman desires it. Again, her very life may be at stake in keeping this information confidential.

What can friends do?

After Emerson left her husband, I was in a position to offer help—especially as her visiting teacher.  I remember visiting her at the shelter, and later going to visitation with her as she worried over her daughter’s interactions with her father; I remember keeping an eye on Emerson’s house, visiting with the attorney, meeting her family, and lots and lots of phone calls.  I tried to be available and to do what I could, and hopefully it was helpful.  If you are a friend of someone caught in a domestic violence situation and want to help, but don’t know how, Eve and Emerson shared some advice.

Eve suggests showing real love, understanding, lack of judgment, and “even long-suffering mourning with those that mourn” because it leads to hope. “It may not remove them from danger, but it will help them see that they are worthy of love and care and may encourage them to take the steps necessary to keep themselves and their children safe.”  She admits that it can be hard to know how to serve a domestic violence survivor because she may be “a contradictory mess of emotions.”  Sometimes she wants to be left alone, but other times wonders why a friend hasn’t come by.  Probably the most important thing to do is to be patient, to listen, and to ask what help might be acceptable, and that may change from day to day.

Emerson said another helpful thing a friend can do is to respect the decisions of the abused, “even if you do not agree with them.”  She shared that once when she expressed to her counselor how she wanted to make her marriage work, the counselor replied, “You know him better than I do, and you are the best judge of whether he is ready or willing to make the necessary changes so your home will be a safe place for you and your baby.”  Because of this response, Emerson felt empowered to respect herself, her judgment, and to make a wise decision.

Along with that, John Nelson from the 1999 Ensign article on abuse stated, “One of the most important things a person can do to help an abuse victim is to listen. When we offer counsel for problems we do not fully understand, we may only exacerbate the problem. But when we listen, the very fact that someone is acknowledging that what is going on is wrong may be the first step in the victim’s realizing that the abuse must be stopped. We need to listen carefully, we need to listen non-judgmentally.”

Emerson suggests that it is not helpful for a friend to ask, “Why do you stay with him?”  or “Why did it take you this long to get help?” even if you are asking out of love because it only adds to the confusion and shame she is feeling.  Emerson states, “It is critical that an abuse victim be given the choice and the control to make these decisions.  Trust her to do the right thing.”  A victim may not be ready to receive help due to “financial, emotional, or even physical reasons . . . [and] she may sense that she will be in more danger when she reaches out for assistance.”

I’ve seen that it is also not helpful for a so-called friend of the abused to date the ex-husband, nor is it appropriate to keep up on your friend’s domestic violence situation due to the mere drama of it.  If she wants to tell you details, let her, but allow her the respect of keeping information private if she wishes.  If she shares with you, please keep it confidential, as gossiping about her situation can make it worse.

Before I end this section, I want to share one bit of advice on what to do even before you are aware of any abuse:  Do your visiting teaching.  I feel funny writing about this since I was the visiting teacher in this case, but Emerson told me, “the way you continued to leave me notes or little plates of brownies every single month even though I was unreliable, how we would make appointments and then I would not keep them, or I’d open the door a crack and say it wasn’t a good time for me, etc. You had no way of knowing what my situation was. I could have just as easily been a total flake. But you were incredibly consistent in the face of my inconsistency and your kindness to me is what helped me feel that I had a slender thread of connection to humanity, to love, and to the Church, which I had otherwise become cut off from because [my husband] did not want me to attend. Your gentle faithfulness as my visiting teacher is the reason I called on you immediately for help and felt safe accepting it. What you did for me greatly influenced my life.”  I had no idea until later that I was this type of lifeline to Emerson in her hour of need, and it’s all because of consistent visiting teaching.

How Do We Prevent Domestic Violence?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence fact sheet, “Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.” Additionally, “Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.” So what can we do to stop this vicious cycle?

While talking to Emerson, she suggested we need to learn to recognize and have healthy relationships, and when we see good qualities point them out to our children, friends, siblings, and sisters in the Gospel.  She wrote, “healthy relationships always have the same characteristics, whether they are romantic in nature or not. If you wouldn’t let a friend, a child, or a sibling treat you in a certain way, it is not right for you husband to treat you in that way.”

I began to ponder, do we need specific Church lessons on domestic violence?  Then I prepared lesson 20 in the Joseph Fielding Smith lesson manual: Love and Concern for All Our Father’s Children, and thought at least according to the title, we do have lessons on this, it is just that we often don’t recognize them as such because we don’t typically point out that these are the principles we need to live to prevent domestic violence.  Because this issue has been on my mind, I actually began my lesson talking about domestic violence and applying the principles from the lesson in our lives, which was well taken.

The 2011 Joseph F. Smith priesthood and Relief Society manual, Chapter 28, specifically addresses abuse. To prevent it, President Smith encourages parents “to instill into the hearts of their children not only love for their fathers and their mothers, . . . but love and courtesy and deference between the children at home. The little brothers will respect their little sisters. The little boys will respect one another. The little girls will respect one another and the girls and boys will respect one another, and treat one another with that love, that deference and respect that should be observed in the home on the part of the little children. Then … the foundation of a correct education has been laid in the heart and mind of the child at home.” This is the type of behavior that will end the abuse cycle.

Returning to A Conversation on Spouse Abuse, Brent Bartholomew agrees that youth and adults “need to be taught correct principles on which to base their relationships” and they need positive role models.  He also states that if a couple is best friends before they marry, their chances of an abuse-free home are increased.  A possible clue from a potential marriage partner is if he or she encourages the setting aside standards of personal worthiness.  “Abuse is a selfish act.  People who invite someone they profess to love to participate in spiritually destructive behavior are acting out of selfishness, not love.”  He encourages people to learn to effectively communicate and problem solve because hitting, belittling, and controlling a spouse is never acceptable.  John Nelson, from the same article, encourages young people, while dating, to carefully observe how the other person “reacts to children, other family members, pets, frustrations, and so forth.  These actions often reflect the way a person will treat the spouse or other family members.”

Another thing Emerson pointed out to prevent domestic violence is to talk about it.  She shared that some people believe that if we talk about domestic violence it will somehow infect or “contaminate them, not realizing that silence is actually what feeds the disease.” Talking about this problem will help, not hurt.  She hopes that there could be an “appropriate and subtle poster on every Church bulletin board, listing . . . resources. This would save lives, spiritually as well as physically.  It would help end the culture of silence that is an abuser’s best friend.  It would help emphasize the truth of our LDS doctrine that women are precious daughters of God and that abuse is not tolerated.” Eve hopes that every woman could be educated “about the characteristics of abuse so that they can recognize it in their relationships and maybe even in the relationships of those close to them.”  Relief Society can be a place where women can learn “healthy self care, self esteem and a proper understanding of boundaries can help women become ‘abuse proof,’ putting a stop to abuse before it ever starts.”

Words of encouragement and advice from women who have been there: Closing thoughts from Emerson and Eve

Remember that the abuse is the sole responsibility of the perpetrator, not the victim.  You are not helping your husband or showing kindness to him by putting up with abuse. It is your responsibility to care for yourself and your children and to let God and his helpers care for you. Whether your husband changes or not, it is not your responsibility. Once you feel safe, healing can begin. Until then, you are stuck in a black hole that you didn’t dig. – Emerson

Remember that you are not less worthy if you feel angry or afraid or unhappy. The best thing you can do is get help for yourself. If your husband is willing to change, he will be happy you are getting help. If he’s threatened or angered by this, he may have no real interest in changing—only controlling. – Emerson

When you reach out for help, you will discover that angels surround you, and you will be amazed at the miracles that will occur on your behalf. – Emerson

As a survivor of abuse, you will come to understand the true nature of free agency and that you are in no way responsible for someone hurting you. No blame is laid at your feet. As you come to understand this over time, your joy in life will grow more than you ever thought possible. The most crucial step is to give yourself to the Savior and let His infinite atonement work miracles in your heart, body, mind, and soul. – Emerson

10665163_10152544280422515_1851092250547934450_n

Cultivate patience with yourself. Learn to gently nourish yourself. It is especially helpful to have the guidance of a trained therapist or counselor. Understand that there will be many ways in which you will need to heal, and many people who will help you, over time, to go through the healing process. The pain doesn’t go away quickly, and the truth is that it’s difficult to go through this process. – Emerson

Once you start feeling like you have it all together, you may realize you have a whole new level of healing to do. So instead of thinking, I’m going to be broken forever, try, “What a blessing that I never have to stop healing!  I’ll always get to feel that growth and joy.” This doesn’t mean you won’t find tremendous peace and happiness while you are continually healing. – Emerson

Remember that God loves you and does not want any of his daughters to be abused. That includes you. He will help you as you make good choices and try to move forward. It is a scary and difficult time, as if you are always standing on the edge of the cliff, but he is there, always ready to catch you. Be brave, sweet girl, good times are coming for you. – Eve

544927_10152544283602515_6992578058035447596_n Conclusion

Because of this post, I feel like an ambassador with a commission to be a voice for women suffering from domestic violence.  By listening and striving to understand the feelings and experiences of women who have suffered abuse, priesthood leaders, family, friends, and neighbors can better minister to those experiencing abuse or those working through the healing process.  I hope your heart, as mine, has greater compassion toward the unseen trials people face, and I hope we will each evaluate our own actions toward others and change to better reflect the teachings and life of the Savior.

Relevant LDS Articles A Conversation on Spouse Abuse Church Program Helps Victims of Domestic Violence Personal Worthiness to Exercise the Priesthood, Hinckley LDS.org Topics: Abuse Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse, Scott The Wrongful Road of Abuse, Smith Keeping the Temple Holy, Hinckley

*This article primarily addresses domestic abuse from husband to wife, not wife to husband nor adult to child, which are equally as disturbing.

**Names have been changed.

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Emily Barker Farrer

Emily Barker Farrer

Emily Barker Farrer is a busy mom of four who lives in Utah. She went to Ricks and BYU and has a BS in Health Science and minors in History and International Development. When she has time, she enjoys blogging and sewing (particularly Mormon pioneer reenactment clothing), but usually she’s just trying to find time to cook, exercise, and clean the house.She aspires to remodel and once again enter the world of historical research.
Emily Barker Farrer

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