How To Help Those Who Have Been Abused
• Be a friend. Many people who have been abused feel distant from others. Don’t feel that you have to solve their problems; just be willing to listen empathetically.
• Be trustworthy and dependable. Many abusers held a position of trust and then violated that trust. It can help survivors immeasurably when they are able to consistently count on others.
• Facilitate their activity in the Church. Be sensitive to the possibility that survivors of abuse may feel unworthy and uncomfortable in Church settings. Let them know that the scriptures which describe God’s love for His children apply to them. Provide opportunities for them to serve others, and show them that righteous living can bring joy and happiness.
• Withhold judgment. Unfortunately, some people who have been abused may turn to questionable activities to dull their pain. Without condoning their behavior, realize that as they work through their pain they will be better able to keep their bodies and minds free of things that are harmful to them.
• Don’t expect them to quickly “forgive and forget” or “just get over it.” Until the issues have been worked through, the effects of the abuse may still be an ongoing and painful part of the person’s everyday life. Genuine forgiveness may take time, and it does not happen by merely denying one’s feelings and avoiding the issues.
• Be sensitive to the needs and feelings of the abused when teaching, speaking in sacrament meeting, or giving comments in Church classes. For example, when talking about families, be aware that not every person has a family he or she wants to be with. Holidays may be especially difficult for those who have been abused, particularly Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
• When talking about enduring trials, recognize that the Lord never intended anyone to experience abuse so that they could learn lessons from it. Abuse is always wrong and is condemned in the strongest terms by the Lord’s prophets and by the Savior.
• Help survivors of abuse understand that they are not bad because bad things were done to them. Appropriately place responsibility on the perpetrator. Don’t imply that being abused was the victim’s fault. People do not have to repent of evil that was done to them; in fact, they cannot do so.
It can be painful for abused children to hear about divine intervention for the righteous. Although Daniel was saved from the lions, does that occur all the time for all of us? Clarify the truth so that any who have been abused and not rescued will understand that they are still worthy individuals.
• Teach the importance of respecting others’ bodies. Emphasize that all have the right to keep their bodies private, regardless of another person’s status or authority.
• Never give up in bearing testimony of the power of the Savior. Lovingly testify that we can access His marvelous power and love again and again.