If you have been a victim of abuse, you may feel like you will never be able to fully trust anyone again. You may question whether you can ever depend on someone else, yourself, or even God to keep you safe. The feelings of betrayal from abuse can be especially difficult to overcome when the offender is someone close to you, and sometimes even more so when it is someone you depended on to protect you.
The seriousness of some offenses can explain why it may take you a long time to rebuild trust and restore a feeling of safety after abuse. Also, the destructive nature of your abuse may prevent you from ever being able to rebuild trust with an offender. Remember that forgiving someone does not mean you must trust him or her.
Building Trust in New or Existing Relationships
Healthy relationships, both new and existing, are built on trust. You can choose to trust others when they are willing to do things that build or rebuild trust with you. Learning to trust others requires time and constant nurturing.
Building trust is like a bank account that grows or lessens depending on the deposits or withdrawals that are made. As you build an account of trust with someone, remember the following principles:
- You are the owner of your account—you choose who will earn your trust.
- Build trust at your own pace—you should not feel pressured to trust someone before you’re ready.
- Determine what behaviors are deposits (such as being respectful and honest) and withdrawals (such as being dishonest and secretive or covering up mistakes).
- Clarify with others what behaviors add to or take away your trust.
- Have confidence in the accuracy of your own observations of others’ behaviors.
- Adapt the closeness of your relationships with others based on the level of trust that is built.
If you decide to build trust with someone, determine the limits that are necessary to keep you safe. Some people may choose not to do their part to build trust and are not deserving of your trust. The Lord counsels us to be as “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
While others may be untrustworthy, you can always trust that the Lord will love you and will help you heal. If you seek for God’s help, you will discover a “multitude of his tender mercies” (1 Nephi 8:8) that are evidence that you can trust Him. “His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Reason for Our Hope,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 7).
If you are still struggling in your ability to build trust, seek help from a mature and trusted individual, such as a parent, family member, friend, Church leader, teacher, or mentor. You can also seek help from a professional counselor.
Community and Church Resources
(Some of the resources listed below are not created, maintained, or controlled by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While these materials are intended to serve as additional resources, the Church does not endorse any content that is not in keeping with its doctrines and teachings.)
- “To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse,” Richard G. Scott, Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 40–43
- “The Atonement Covers All Pain,” Kent F. Richards, Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 15–17
- “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Russell M. Nelson, Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 39–42
- “Trust,” Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse (HAVOCA)
- “Trust,” The National Domestic Violence Hotline