Louise had struggled for years with feelings of despair and anger towards God. She experienced physical and emotional abuse by her father, sexual abuse by her uncle and foster brother, and later at the age of fourteen, she was raped by a family acquaintance. After a period of drug abuse and school and church truancy, this brilliant young woman began to work valiantly to pull her life back together. She excelled in school, served a mission, learned six languages, and served others with great compassion. Still, she experienced pain and self-doubt so deep that she felt she would never be a whole and happy person- never acceptable to God as the innocent child she had once been. Often, the desolation, pain, and anger were so great that she would reject God and suffer immense feelings of guilt because she felt she could not trust him. Efforts by caring family members, loving friends, therapists, and Church leaders were not sufficient to totally heal this recurrent suffering. Some of these individuals actually contributed to her pain unwittingly through lack of understanding. One night Louise experienced the following dream, which she describes:
"I was standing in a beautiful home that I knew was mine. It was perfect in every way-filled with light, my special treasures, gifts, and love. I experienced happiness and peace as I abided there. Without warning, someone broke into my home and destroyed my treasures and gifts. Complete desolation was left. Loneliness, pain, and fear dwelt in my house. I wanted to repair my home, but the damage was so great that I did not know where to start.
"My parents came to my home. They told me that they had heard some commotion, perhaps an explosion, at my home so they had come to check on me. I wanted them to help me, but they only glanced quickly around and said, 'We see that there is nothing wrong here, so we will return to what we were doing.'
"I then sought help from a professional to help me secure my home. As I tried to explain my fears and how him the damage needing repair, he quickly focused on the shattered, large picture window at the front of my home. He told me to watch him place a new pane of glass into the broken window and then my home would be secure again. I called out to him, 'Please help me here at this back window! There is a gang of men trying to break in and ransack my home. Please help me repair this problem so that I will be safe again.' He seemed not to hear me. When he completed the repairs to the front window he departed, announcing that he had completed his work.
"I was confused and frightened. There was a knock at my door. It was my bishop, and again I hoped that this was someone who would help me. I asked him to please come in and help me. He looked around in disgust at the appearance of my home. 'Why did this happen?' he asked. 'How could you allow someone to do this to your home? Why didn't you stop this" This mess needs to be cleaned up. I will check on the condition of your home periodically to make certain that you have corrected this problem.'
"Each sentence struck another blow to my soul. When he left, I sat down in the rubble and wept. The pain was so great that I wished my heart would burst and end my very existence.
"As I sat in the midst of the destruction, a man came to my house and knocked on the door. softly he tapped. Fear, pain and guilt welled up in my soul. No one could see my house this way! What would he think? Then anger raged. What if it is he who destroyed my home coming back to bring further pain and destruction? 'Go away,' I screamed. 'I will let no one in again!' Another knock softly came. Now came the feelings of shame and helplessness-utter hopelessness. I again sat down in the middle of the debris and tears streamed down my checks and fell upon my hands and my clothes. Eventually I saw the man was leaving my door. He walked to the sidewalk outside my window and turned towards me as he sat upon a marble bench. He opened his arms to me and my heart heard him say, 'I will be here when you are ready to receive me."
"As I gazed outside I saw him weeping, and on his outstretched hands were the prints of the nails and also upon his feet. His whole being was filled with radiant light. I felt his sorrow, and I felt that this man knew my pain. I ran to the door to open it for him. he came into my home and held me in his arms and we wept together. I was filled to the depths of my soul with a pure love and acceptance of me. Although he saw the horrible destruction of my house, he did not pull back from me. While he held me cradled in his arms, my house was renewed. The peace and Love and joy returned and the destruction and garbage dissolved into a more glorious temple of light and beauty than was there before. The dream closed, and I awakened with peace in my heart."
This dream eloquently depicts many of the stages that abused individuals go through before healing is possible. Though they desire to feel the Savior's love and warmth and acceptance in their lives, many survivors find it difficult to open their hearts to Christ's healing power. For them life's journey to complete faith and healing through Christ can be very long and very difficult. Many setbacks and obstacles may be in their path. As Louise's dream reveals, parents, spouses, and others can make the process more difficult by denying that victimization has occurred. These ignored victims may spend a lifetime trying to validate their experiences by finding someone who will believe them and accept them as persons of value.
When the significance of a survivor's personal experience is denied or minimized, the individual feels that he or she is unimportant. Survivors need to be heard. Louise's plea in an angry protest against a system that would not heed her cried.