I was born into a strong LDS family. Both of my parents had pioneer ancestors. My father and mother respected one another, worked together, supported one another and raised our family in the gospel. My dad would open doors for my mother, his daughters and all women and taught my brother to do the same thing. I had been taught to keep the commandments, honor the priesthood, to keep the covenants that we make, and that temple marriage is sacred and eternal.
When I was 19, I was set up on a blind date. I had a lot of fun and felt a connection. He was a gentleman, and he came from a strong LDS family. We dated, went to church activities together, studied the scriptures together, and grew fond of each other. We were in love. We got engaged and were married in the Temple.
Unfortunately, as soon as we were leaving the temple, the same level of respect was not there. It was as if a switch had been flipped. At first I thought that it was normal newlywed excitement as he touched me. It was not what I had expected. He was very hands on at our reception, which made me a little uncomfortable.
He would tease me about my cooking, my housework, the way I dressed etc. It took me awhile to acknowledge that this was not normal teasing, he was breaking me down. Then he become sexually and physically abusive.
Fast forward about 15 months; I was sitting between my older and younger sisters in a Sunday School Class in my older sister’s Ward. The only people who knew why I started attending there were my family, the Bishop, and the Relief Society President. The lesson covered D&C 121. As the discussion turned to verse 37-39 we read:
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” For the first time I truly understood what it meant and it was an answer to my prayers.
Then a gentlemen 2 rows back commented. He said something to the effect of, “We don’t have unrighteous dominion in our church because we are priesthood holders.” I felt my temperature rise, as I raised my hand and waited to be called upon. What happened next shocked my family and silenced the room.
When I was called upon, my secret was out. I can still remember what I shared that day. I said “The whole reason I am attending your Ward is because of unrighteous dominion. I was married in the temple, my husband served a mission, he served in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency. And he was abusive. He came after me at church and my Bishop counseled me to attend another Ward for my safety and the safety of the other Ward members.”
In the months leading up to this point we had been separated, counseling with our Bishop and going to Marriage Counseling through LDS Family Services. So when my Bishop asked me to come in on my own, I was scared and relieved. We had given permission for our counselor and Bishop to work together. The Bishop counseled me to prayerfully consider my marriage and instructed me to continue counseling on my own but not as a couple.
I had been taught that marriage is a partnership with love and respect, that temple marriages were eternal and that you do everything in your power, and prayerfully with Heavenly Father, make them work. But for me that meant enduring emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
It was during that Sunday School class that I decided it was okay to get divorced. It was okay for people to know that I had been abused. I received an outpouring of support. People reached out to my sister and asked if I would be open to new friends — several that I have maintained to this day.
My prayers had been answered, but it did not get any easier once the decision was made. Where would I fit in a church that is so focused on family? I not only felt unworthy to go to the temple, but struggled with the covenants I had made to my abusive husband. I also struggled with fear of being alone and not having a family. What “worthy” man would want to be with a broken, used woman?
That was over 15 years ago. A lot has changed, and I have seen Heavenly Father’s guidance and hand in my life. I still fear my ex-husband. I still have nightmares and go to counseling. But I am married to an amazing “worthy” man who loves, supports, and understands me. We are true partners in what I thought marriage would be, and even better.
Abuse shows up in many forms. Verbal, Sexual, Physical abuse, and/or Neglect; all of which leave emotional scars. Abuse happens in EVERY religion, and culture. Abuse happens to MEN, WOMEN, and CHILDREN. If you are being abused there is help. There are people to support you. Don’t go through it ALONE. Be prayerful as you look for help, as getting out of an abusive relationship can be dangerous. If you need immediate assistance or have already been hurt, call 911 or your country’s emergency service number. For a list of resources visit: beyondabuseessentialhealing.com.
Please remember everyone has his or her own journey here on earth. No one experiences abuse exactly the same. We each have our own triggers, and my intent is to aid in the healing process, to add awareness to a growing problem, not cause anxiety or pain. Our experiences may be similar but they are each unique. Even though many people could have been at the same event each person experiences and remembers those events through our own eyes and will recall the event differently.
My blogs will be from my perspective of my life. I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend. I am not a Doctor, Counselor or Therapist. I believe it is important to pray and study the scriptures daily, to trust the guidance of the Holy Ghost, to work with Doctors, Counselors, and Therapists along with alternative and natural methods to find health, healing and balance.