“Moving toward Brighter Days,” For the Strength of Youth, Jan. 2023.
Once I flew out of an area filled with smoke from a nearby wildfire. As the airplane took off, we broke through the ashy haze into a clear, sunny sky. I realized that the bright sun and clean air had been there all along, but my ability to enjoy them had been blocked by something out of my control. The wildfire was not my fault, but it had still affected my life.
Abuse is like that. Those who experience abuse are never to blame, but they must still deal with the aftermath. Abuse can cloud our sense of self-worth and make it hard to feel God’s love. It may take a while for survivors to break through the cloud of Satan’s lies to reconnect with eternal truths. But hope, help, and healing are available every step of the way!
Stacie’s1 dad was abusive. He told her she wouldn’t be good at anything when she grew up. He made her feel worthless.
When Stacie moved away for college, she was able to think more clearly. She started going to church again and felt God’s love for her and her family. Over time, she found increasing peace in the gospel and her relationship with the Savior.
An estimated one billion children worldwide will experience some form of abuse this year.2 Maybe you or others you know are going through an experience like Stacie’s. The following resources can help.
If you’re being hurt, please tell someone about what is happening to you. Know that God loves you! And the righteous family members, friends, and Church members in your life do too. They’ll stand by you and help you get through this.
And please remember, “The abuse was not, is not, and never will be your fault. … You are not the one who needs to repent; you are not responsible.”3
Dr. Sheldon Martin, a therapist, says it can be helpful for survivors to focus on eternal truths of their past, present, and future.
Past: “More people than you know care about you,” Dr. Martin says, pointing out that you are first and foremost a child of heavenly parents. Your eternal family stretches far beyond your earthly relationships. And in addition to the strength and comfort from Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, you have loving ancestors on the other side of the veil who care about you and may minister to you.
Present: “It’s OK to love your current self,” Dr. Martin says, no matter where you’re at in the healing process. It’s normal to feel angry, broken, or confused. Be patient with yourself.
Future: “Things will get better,” Dr. Martin says. “I know this because I know the Savior. He cares about you.” Do what you can to stay close to Him. As you do so, you will become able to distance yourself from toxic relationships and increasingly able to feel His peace and love.
Ask them directly, “Is someone hurting you?”
Listen carefully to what they say. Show them kindness and compassion.
Tell someone who can help, like a teacher, parent, school counselor, or Church leader.
Continue being their friend. Treat them normally. Help them make other healthy friendships.
Today, Stacie is a successful professional with a loving family of her own. Some days are still hard, but she feels a lot of happiness and forgiveness of others.
“I know that Jesus Christ can heal all our wounds,” Stacie says. If there’s one thing she would share with other survivors, it’s to stay hopeful.
“There is always hope in Christ,” she says, “even in the middle of trials that seem like they will never end.”
No matter what challenges you are going through, keep moving forward. Fill your life with goodness and faith in whatever ways you can. Brighter days are ahead of you!