Confronting Abuse

Abuse—it’s the psychological buzzword of the 1990s. We encounter an avalanche of information about abuse on television talk shows and sitcoms, in movies, magazines, children’s books, and at the office (sexual harassment). So many celebrities, neighbors, and family members are “coming out” about their abuse, that a national organization has been formed to fight this trend—the False Memory Syndrome Association, dedicated to disproving accusations of abuse. Thus the 1993 release of a book on abuse just for LDS audiences is no surprise. What may be a surprise, however, is that the book is very good. Typically, difficult or sensitive material in books for LDS readers is watered down or even misleading. While religious topics are thoroughly addressed, psychological topics (other than those in a few good marriage enrichment books) are generally done very poorly. Thus, finding a book that addresses both scholarly and sensitive material and that is written specifically for the LDS population is a rare treat.

As we proceed through the book, we may well find ourselves asking with Susan Paxman in chapter 1, “Why do God’s children treat each other so cruelly?” (4) and “Why does violence occur in a Latter-day Saint home?” (6). Some members of the Church may find their thoughts echoed by a passage from her chapter:

Some people in the Church will accept a story of abuse from a woman if the abuse has ended or if the woman’s husband is inactive or a nonmember; however, if her husband is an active priesthood-holder, many Mormons simply cannot hear her when she tells them that he abuses her or their children. I have even heard that there are people in the Church who think that the issue of the abuse of women is a “fad,” that a lot of women think they are abused because it’s the “in” thing to be, and that the fad will soon pass. (5)

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 33:4
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