I recently posted Part 1: My Story (here)
Part 2: Preventing, Reporting and Supporting
Let's start off by defining abuse. "Abuse is the treatment of others or self in a way that causes injury or offense. It harms the mind and the spirit and often injures the body as well. It can cause confusion, doubt, mistrust, and fear... The Lord condemns abusive behavior in any form—physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional." LDS.org
Types of Abuse:
Abusive behaviors can be:
- Teasing a child unnecessarily
- Exposing a child to pornographic acts or literature
- Touching a child where he/ she doesn't want to be touched
- Forcing a child to touch you
- Breaking down the self-confidence of a child
- Hitting or hurting a child to relieve your own frustrations
- Manipulating a child
- Not taking care of a child's needs- food, clothing, medical, cleanliness.
- Leaving a child unsupervised
- Neglecting emotional needs of a child
- Using a child as a servant, depriving them of education/ leisure
I once had a bishop who didn't take my past sexual abuse seriously. He assumed since I had done counseling in the past I should be all healed. Never tell someone that they do not need counseling. Abuse can take years, if not a lifetime, to heal from. Triggers also come up.
What is a trigger? "A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma." -psychcentral.com
Anything can trigger memories of the trauma/ abuse. It can be a sight, smell, someone touching them, anything! Even member who have sought counseling and have gone years without it might experience a trigger and feel the need to seek additional counseling.
Preventing Abuse and being Accused of Abuse:
- If you teach the children or youth you are required to have at least 2 leaders/ teachers. Leaders need to be either the same sex, or a married couple.
- Never be alone, one on one with a child.
- If you suspect a child or youth in your ward is being abused report it to your Bishop ASAP.
Supporting those who have been Abused:
- Bishop's, if a member comes to you telling you about past abuse and requests counseling, they are NOT making it up or blowing it out of proportions!
- Do not force, but encourage, counseling and professional help.
- Let the victim know you are someone they can trust and turn to if they need help or someone to talk to.