Saturday, April 5, 2008

Healing from Abuse Through the Atonement

During this afternoon's session of General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott spoke on the the power of the atonement to heal abuse victims, as well as those who are guilty of perpetrating the abuse.

His opening words immediately brought to my mind the thoughts I've had recently about the church's responsibility to address some social ills. To be honest, his words got my hopes up that he would be specifically addressing the social ill that has been most salient to me in the last year. I was overwhelmed with emotion when I heard that he would be speaking to abuse victims, because he was speaking directly to me.

Elder Scott went on to describe the process of healing after abuse, which included counseling with priesthood authorities (bishop, stake president) praying for healing and forgiveness from the Lord, and sometimes meeting with trained professionals who are specialized in helping people overcome abuse.

He also explained the responsibility of priesthood holders when they hear of abuse. I was surprised to hear the Elder Hales recommended that bishops, in addition to assisting the victims, are to report the perpetrators to civil and ecclesiastical authorities. In the case of childhood sexual abuse, I understand that bishops are to act as mandated reporters, just as I would as a preschool teacher; however, I didn't know it would apply to other situations of abuse as well. In mine, I don't expect that my bishop will make any type of report, but I can't help but wish that he would.

In regards to those who perpetrate abuse, Elder Scott spoke strongly and truthfully to them, saying that they need to repent and can have hope in Christ through their willingness to be changed and forgiven, by both God and their victims.

The Apostle's words were comforting to me in that I was able to see that I have been succesful of employing his counsel for healing. I almost feel bad for Elder Scott because he was careful to say that he didn't want his words to bring up any past hurts or memories of abuse, and in my case, he has, even though I have been given greater hope and peace from his words.

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