Quotes on Abuse

I am satisfied that the more unkindly a wife is treated, the less attractive she becomes.  She loses pride in herself.  She develops a feeling of worthlessness.  Of course it shows. 

A husband who domineers his wife, who demeans and humiliates her, and who makes officious demands upon her not only injures her, but he also belittles himself.  And in many cases, he plants a pattern of future similar behavior in his sons. – President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, November 1991, p. 51

Some men who are evidently unable to gain respect by the goodness of their lives, use as justification for their actions the statement that Eve was told that Adam should rule over her.  How much sadness, how much tragedy, how much heartbreak has been caused through centuries of time by weak men who have used that as a scriptural warrant for atrocious behavior!  They do not recognize that the same account indicates that Eve was given as a helpmeet to Adam.  The facts are that they stood side by side in the garden.  They were expelled from the garden together, and they worked together, side by side, in gaining their bread by the sweat of their brows. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, November 1991, p. 51

It is not charity or kindness to endure any type of abuse or unrighteousness that may be inflicted on us by others.  God’s commandment that as we love him, we must respect ourselves, suggests we must not accept disrespect from others.  It is not charity to let another repeatedly deny our divine nature and agency.  It is not charity to bow down in despair and helplessness.  That kind of suffering should be ended. – Aileen H. Clyde, Ensign, November 1991, p. 77

Understand that healing can take considerable time.  Recovery generally comes in steps.  It is accelerated when gratitude is expressed to the Lord for every degree of improvement noted. – Elder Richard G. Scott, “Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse,” Ensign, May 1992, p. 32

We condemn most strongly abusive behavior in any form.  We denounce the physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse of one’s spouse or children.  Our proclamation on the family declares:  “Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. . . . Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs. . . . Husbands and wives – mothers and fathers – will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). 

We are doing all we know how to do to stamp out this terrible evil.  When there is recognition of equality between the husband and the wife, when there is acknowledgment that each child born into the world is a child of God, then there will follow a greater sense of responsibility to nurture, to help, to love with an enduring love those for whom we are responsible. 

No man who abuses his wife or children is worthy to hold the priesthood of God.  No man who abuses his wife or children is worthy to be a member in good standing in this church.  The abuse of one’s spouse and children is a most serious offense before God, and any who indulge in it may expect to be disciplined by the Church. President Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Are People Asking about Us?” Ensign, November 1998, p. 72

Any man in this church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood.  In the marriage companionship there is neither inferiority nor superiority.  The woman does not walk ahead of the man, neither does the man walk ahead of the woman.  They walk side by side as a son and daughter of God on an eternal journey. – President Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference Priesthood Session, April 6, 2002

In instances of abuse, the first responsibility of the Church is to help those who have been abused and to protect those who may be vulnerable to future abuse. . . . The work of the church is a work of salvation.  It is a work of saving souls.  We desire to help both the victim and the offender.  Our hearts reach out to the victim, and we must act to assist him or her. – President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Personal Worthiness to Exercise the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2002

Child abuse “cannot be countenanced or tolerated,” President Hinckley told men [Priesthood Session of General Conference, April 6, 2002] in the packed Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City. . . . 

“There is nothing in the scriptures, there is nothing in what we publish, there is nothing in what we believe or teach that gives license to parents or anyone to neglect or abuse or molest our own or anyone else’s children,” President Boyd K. Packer said.  “Among the strongest warnings and the severest penalties in the revelations are those relating to little children.” 

President Hinckley added that men who engage in abuse are unworthy to hold temple recommends that allow them access to the 107 temples. . . .

Quoting from the church’s Handbook of Instructions, Hinckley said that abusers are subject to church discipline, including excommunication.  The handbook states that even if an abuser repents, leaders should avoid placing the individual in a position working with children or youth unless the First Presidency has cleared his or her membership record. – Salt Lake Tribune, April 7, 2002, pp. 1, 8

Our behavior in public must be above reproach.  Our behavior in private is even more important.  It must clear the standard set by the Lord.  We cannot indulge in sin, let alone try to cover our sins.  We cannot gratify our pride.  We cannot partake of the vanity of unrighteous ambition.  We cannot exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion upon our wives or children, or any others in any degree of unrighteousness. 

If we do any of these things, the powers of heaven are withdrawn. The Spirit of the Lord is grieved. The very virtue of our priesthood is nullified.  Its authority is lost. . . .

How tragic and utterly disgusting a phenomenon is wife abuse. Any man in this Church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood.  Though he may have been ordained, the heavens will withdraw, the Spirit of the Lord will be grieved, and it will be amen to the authority of the priesthood of that man. – President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Personal Worthiness to Exercise the Priesthood,” General Conference, April 2002

Unless healed by the Lord, mental, physical, or sexual abuse can cause you serious, enduring consequences.  As a victim you have experienced some of them.  They include fear, depression, guilt, self-hatred, destruction of self-esteem, and alienation from normal human relationships.  When aggravated by continued abuse, powerful emotions of rebellion, anger, and hatred are generated.  These feelings often are focused against oneself, others, life itself, and even Heavenly Father.  Frustrated efforts to fight back can degenerate into drug abuse, immorality, abandonment of home, and, tragically in extreme cases, suicide.  Unless corrected, these feelings lead to despondent lives, discordant marriages, and even the transition from victim to abuser.  One awful result is a deepening lack of trust in others which becomes a barrier to healing. . . .

I solemnly testify that when another’s acts of violence, perversion, or incest hurt you terribly, against your will, you are not responsible and you must not feel guilty. . . . – Elder Richard G. Scott, “Healing Tragic Scars of Abuse,” Ensign, May 1992, p. 31

Healing best begins with your sincere prayer asking your Father in Heaven for help.  That use of your agency allows divine intervention.  When you permit it, the love of the Savior will soften your heart and break the cycle of abuse that can transform a victim into an aggressor.  Adversity, even when caused willfully by others’ unrestrained appetite, can be a source of growth when viewed from the perspective of eternal principle (see D&C 122:7). – Elder Richard G. Scott, “Healing Tragic Scars of Abuse,” Ensign, May 1992, p. 32

Now I wish to mention another form of abuse that has been much publicized in the media.  It is the sordid and evil abuse of children by adults, usually men.  Such abuse is not new.  There is evidence to indicate that it goes back through the ages.  It is a most despicable and tragic and terrible thing.  I regret to say that there has been some very limited expression of this monstrous evil among us. It is something that cannot be countenanced or tolerated.  The Lord Himself said, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). – President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Personal Worthiness to Exercise the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2002, p. 54

It was the Master himself who said, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).  How could he have spoken in stronger terms? 

If there be any within the sound of my voice who may be guilty of such practice, I urge you with all of the capacity of which I am capable to stop it, to run from it, to get help, to plead with the Lord for forgiveness and make amends to those whom you have offended. God will not be mocked concerning the abuse of his little ones.  President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Save the Children,” Nov. 1994, p. 54

Among the strongest warnings and the severest penalties in the revelations are those relating to little children.  – Elder Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 2002, p. 8

There appears to be a plague of child abuse spreading across the world.  Perhaps it has always been with us but has not received the attention it presently receives.  I am glad there is a hue and cry going up against this terrible evil, too much of which is found among our own.  Fathers, you cannot abuse your little ones without offending God.  Any man involved in an incestuous relationship is unworthy to hold the priesthood.  He is unworthy to hold membership in the Church and should be dealt with accordingly.  Any man who beats or in other ways abuses his children will be held accountable before the great judge of us all.  If there be any within the sound of my voice who are guilty of such practices, let them repent forthwith, make amends where possible, develop within themselves that discipline which can curb such evil practices, plead with the Lord for forgiveness, and resolve within their hearts henceforth to walk with clean hands. – President Gordon B. Hinckley, “To Please Our Heavenly Father,” Ensign, May 1985, p. 50

Husbands, you have been entrusted with the most sacred gift God can give you – a wife, a daughter of God, the mother of your children who has voluntarily given herself to you for love and joyful companionship.  Think of the kind things you said when you were courting, think of the blessings you have given with hands placed lovingly upon her head, think of yourself and of her as the god and goddess you both inherently are, and then reflect on other moments characterized by cold, caustic, unbridled words. Given the damage that can be done with our tongues, little wonder the Savior said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”  (Matthew 15:11.)  A husband who would never dream of striking his wife physically can break, if not her bones, then certainly her heart by the brutality of thoughtless or unkind speech.  Physical abuse is uniformly and unequivocally condemned in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  If it is possible to be more condemning than that, we speak even more vigorously against all forms of sexual abuse.  Today, I speak against verbal and emotional abuse of anyone against anyone, but especially of husbands against wives.  Brethren, these things ought not to be. 

In that same spirit we speak to the sisters as well, for the sin of verbal abuse knows no gender.  Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in your mouth, of the power for good or ill in your words?  How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed?  A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined.  Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks.  Let it never be said of our home or our ward or our neighborhood that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity … [burning] among our members.” 

May I expand this counsel to make it a full family matter.  We must be so careful in speaking to a child.  What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself.  But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God.  Be constructive in your comments to a child – always.  Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely.  You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget – and to forgive.  And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it.  You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty.  Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough.” 

In all of this, I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves.  We see our own faults, we speak – or at least think – critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything.  No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable. – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Tongue of Angels,” Ensign, April 2007

I speak from the depths of my heart to each one of you who have been scarred by the ugly sin of abuse, whether you are a member or nonmember of the Church.  I would prefer a private setting to discuss this sensitive subject and ask that the Holy Spirit help us both that you may receive the relief of the Lord from the cruelty that has scarred your life. 

Unless healed by the Lord, mental, physical, or sexual abuse can cause you serious, enduring consequences.  As a victim you have experienced some of them.  They include fear, depression, guilt, self-hatred, destruction of self-esteem, and alienation from normal human relationships.  When aggravated by continued abuse, powerful emotions of rebellion, anger, and hatred are generated.  These feelings often are focused against oneself, others, life itself, and even Heavenly Father.  Frustrated efforts to fight back can degenerate into drug abuse, immorality, abandonment of home, and, tragically in extreme cases, suicide.  Unless corrected, these feelings lead to despondent lives, discordant marriages, and even the transition from victim to abuser.  One awful result is a deepening lack of trust in others which becomes a barrier to healing. 

To be helped, you must understand some things about eternal law.  Your abuse results from another’s unrighteous attack on your freedom. Since all of Father in Heaven’s children enjoy agency, there can be some who choose willfully to violate the commandments and harm you. Such acts temporarily restrict your freedom.  In justice, and to compensate, the Lord has provided a way for you to overcome the destructive results of others’ acts against your will.  That relief comes by applying eternal truths with priesthood assistance. 

Know that the wicked choice of others cannot completely destroy your agency unless you permit it.  Their acts may cause pain, anguish, even physical harm, but they cannot destroy your eternal possibilities in this brief but crucial life on earth.  You must understand that you are free to determine to overcome the harmful results of abuse. Your attitude can control the change for good in your life. It allows you to have the help the Lord intends you to receive. No one can take away your ultimate opportunities when you understand and live eternal law.  The laws of your Heavenly Father and the atonement of the Lord have made it possible that you will not be robbed of the opportunities which come to the children of God. 

You may feel threatened by one who is in a position of power or control over you. You may feel trapped and see no escape.  Please believe that your Heavenly Father does not want you to be held captive by unrighteous influence, by threats of reprisal, or by fear of repercussion to the family member who abuses you.  Trust that the Lord will lead you to a solution.  Ask in faith, nothing doubting.  (See James 1:6; Enos 1:15; Moro. 7:26; D&C 8:10; D&C 18:18.)  

I solemnly testify that when another’s acts of violence, perversion, or incest hurt you terribly, against your will, you are not responsible and you must not feel guilty.  You may be left scarred by abuse, but those scars need not be permanent.  In the eternal plan, in the Lord’s timetable, those injuries can be made right as you do your part. Elder Richard G. Scott, “Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse,” Ensign, May 1992