Abuse in the Church

Abuse is never an easy subject to talk about let alone try to stop. At first it seems like a black and white issue because nobody likes abuse and everybody thinks it is unacceptable behavior. The problems come in the ways we try to recognize and deal with abuse. In a patriarchal society, most victims of abuse are women and children and many of these victims have to deal with unintentional additional trauma on top of the primary abuse such as not being believed, not getting support, difficulty healing from the trauma of the abuse, etc... Sometimes we as family, friends, and community members can make the problems worse for the victim. When we don't believe them, we tell them that their experience is not real and we do not trust them. When we don't support them, we make people feel like they need to stay in abusive relationships longer because they cannot leave them without our support. When people need to talk to heal and we do not listen and empathize, we make healing a much harder thing for victims to do. Recognizing and dealing with abuse is a very complex subject indeed.

Currently, the LDS church is trying to find a way to deal with the allegations of abuse that have recently hit the national media. So far, I admit I do not find comfort and empathy in the way that the institutional church have reacted to the situation. Even when an accuser is heard on tape admitting to the abuse, the institutional church has tried to victim shame, support laws that would make recordings like the one recently released illegal, and downplay the situation as much as possible. While this is a way that most of us collectively and individually may instinctively deal with abuse... I hold the church of my heart to a higher standard and I confess to disappointment at the responses given. One of the reasons that I am so disappointed is that I've heard stories like this from people both in person and online from friends, family, and acquaintances for years. It is so clear that abuse happens and as a church, we react poorly. Some bishops tell women to stay in abusive situations, tell them the abuse is their fault, and punish them for the sins of their partners. I know of rape victims who have been disfellowshipped because they are considered to have fault in their rape. I know women who have been cheated on by their spouse and their church leaders have made it very clear that if they leave their spouse, they (the victim) are the one in the wrong. I'm not writing this to complain about the institutional church because plenty of people are doing that already and I don't think it will be of any help. However, I am concerned about some of the ways that we as members personally are dealing with abuse. As individuals I think we can do a lot better to combat abuse and one of the things that will help that goal is discussion. There are few reasons that discussion can help and change the situation for the better.

1. Open discussion on such a contentious topic makes it clear that the topic is of import and vital. If we are unwilling to discuss abuse then we are sending an unintentional but clear message. That message is that abuse does not matter and is something that is so rare that it is not necessary to discuss. That in itself can make victims keep their silence and hide their problems because they worry about how they will be treated.... by us. By opening discussing a contentious topic and ways to recognize and disavow abuse we are making it clear that not only is the topic important, but we want to help victims and we want to create an environment where abuse is not tolerated. It is not enough to say abuse is not tolerated... we must create an environment where all members know that abuse is not acceptable and will not be tolerated no matter what.

2. With discussions open, we must as individual members make it clear that we personally do not accept abuse and are open and willing to help the victims of abuse. We need to be trustworthy and hold ourselves and those around us to those high standards. We cannot change those standards based on who the abuser or victim is... For instance, if the abuser is our best friend we cannot change our mind on what the standards are. The standards of zero tolerance for abuse must be enforced no matter how trustworthy and kind-hearted the abuser may be seen in our community. Should we do research to try and confirm abuse? Absolutely. But we need to start with belief, empathy, and love. We need to offer support and whatever we have to offer to help the victim get the support and resources they need to heal. We need to work to become true disciples of Christ.. to be there for people in these situations. We also need to recognize that it is not easy to prove abuse and we need to do our best for the victims whether abuse is clearly proven or not.

3. In our communities and our wards, we need to make it clear with lessons and through the hierarchy (bishops, stake presidents, etc) that abuse is unacceptable. Lessons discussing abuse, the trauma caused, and local resources to help victims are key to helping our church community acknowledge and learn to recognize abuse and how to help those suffering from it. Teaching empathy, understanding, and instilling a desire to help victims is so important. I feel quite safe in saying that there is at least one person in every single ward/ church community who is struggling with this problem and that person does not necessarily believe that they will get help or even be believed... and this is a serious problem. We cannot mourn with those who mourn and comfort them if we will not even give them the benefit of the doubt. When victims need recommendations for treatment, it is so important the bishops and other ecclesiastical leaders do not make recommendations that they are not able to professionally make. Recognizing where your experience and talents leave you weak is very important for our church leaders and referring victims to people with more experience, depth of understanding, and knowledge of abuse is key.

4. Lastly, we -both individually and collectively- as church members need to learn how to deal with contention and ineffective communication patterns. There's so many things that cause contention between church members: personal differences in opinion, lifestyle choices, differing understanding of doctrine and church policy... yet so many of us have never learned how to deal with contention. Many of us have learned to do anything to avoid contention which causes passive aggressive behavior, gossip, "tattling" to authority figures instead of appropriate first-hand discussion, shunning, etc... Contention is not always a negative and can be used by people to gain empathy and understanding for different people and different viewpoints. I state this knowing that I struggle with some of these same problems and I too do not always how to best deal with contention.

I saw an example of some of this failure online today. I saw one member try to have a discussion about abuse in the church and then the conversation was shut down as contentious. The conversation deteriorated further into anger, name calling, and 'tattling' in the hopes of negative consequences for one of the parties. There was only one thing that I am sure of that probably resulted from this conversation- anybody who read it who is currently being abused is not going to say a word or feel comfortable asking for help. She is going to stay silent and hidden because she can easily see the trouble she will open up for herself. This is not the way things should be in the church. And this is why open and deep discussion is so desperately needed.

If each of us could work together to make some of former changes in our lives, we can become the change that we seek. For instance, creating a strong network of support that will exist for all church members where there is no expectation that a perfect personal facade needs to be maintained, victims can comfortably turn to others for support and relief without fear of condemnation or negative judgment. That allows victims to feel strong enough to be able to speak up and get the help that they need. By committing ourselves to practice patience, empathy, understanding, and love in our relationships with others, we create a positive and nurturing environment for ourselves and others. When we help others by having empathy for them, we invite empathy towards our own frailties. We can also work to become better communicators and resist polarizing passive aggressive word choices in our conversations with others. We can become more involved in community resources for abuse victims so that we have a better knowledge base of how best to support and help abuse victims of all ages. We can be introspective and fight to eradicate the seeds of abuse within our own actions and lives.

As church members, we are asked to participate in making the world better. We must do all we can to prevent abuse and then do everything possible to assist and heal the victims of abuse that does occur. In addition we must school ourselves so that we do not commit abuse and create victims of our own. These suggestions require a great deal of energy, humility, and commitment so I recognize but my suggestions are hard. However, if we do not protect and help heal those of trauma and abuse in our own communities... How can we end the cycle of abuse for anyone?

President Gordon B Hinckley (1985) once stated - "There appears to be a plague of child abuse spreading across the world. Perhaps it is always been with us but has not received the attention it presently receives. I'm glad there is a hue and cry going up against this terrible evil, too much of which is found among our own." Even though two decades have gone by since this statement, abuse is still happening... too much of which is found among our own. For many of us, the church is a safe place and we do not believe these things happen in it. We believe that the gospel makes us different from other people outside of our faith who abuse others and that therefore we are protected from the horrors of abuse. As long as we continue to ignore abuse in our midst or make it impossible for abuse to be dealt with... the specter of abuse will always be waiting for when we turn on the light.


Professional Participation Activity at the Birchwood Living Center

This is a paper I wrote on my experience last April of spending eight hours interviewing and learning about different ways of working to educate adult students with disabilities. It has been heavily edited for privacy concerns. I absolutely fell in love with this facility and I am grateful for the time I spent there. Without further ado, here it is. :)

Throughout this class we have discussed the many ways that education happens and how diverse challenges can be addressed to promote social parity and learning advancement in students. Our classwork has focused on school age individuals, public education, and uses and access to literature as many of us hope to work in the public education system. I was interested in how nursing or primarily medical facilities dealt with trying to stimulate and educate older individuals. After some research and discussion, I chose to observe and participate with teaching at the Birchwood Living Center located in Ellsworth, Maine. It is a program under the management of Yesterday’s Children, Inc. and is an inpatient nursing facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities and unique medical needs. The residential program can accept up to 15 clients at a time and the facility caters to all their medical, dietary, and educational needs. The clients that I observed in this facility were varied in diagnoses and medical needs, however, many were non-verbal and limited in many aspects of physical expression/ movement due to their specific disabilities.

I visited this facility on two separate occasions and participated in a few different activities- I will focus on day treatment and on understanding how this facility addressed the educational needs of its clients as well as the individuals specific medical needs that impact educational success (occupational therapy, sensory integration), as well as physical health.
All inpatients attend the Day Treatment program in a nearby building and this is where most of the group activities happen. A ratio of four staff members to eleven clients is maintained and it is this that makes this particular facility very different from other facilities who might care only for immediate medical needs. Clients are removed at different times from the group to complete some forms of therapy. I watched as a large group of clients was seated around a table making some get well cards for missing staff members. Some members were in regular chairs and some in specialized chairs while one slouched forward nearby wearing a helmet for their protection from potential falls. The majority of the physical work- picking up stickers and sticking onto card paper, bending, folding etc.- was completed by support staff. I observed questions and choices of stickers and designs asked by staff to different members of the group and eventual choices were made based on feedback received from group members. I am not knowledgeable enough to recognize how each member’s level of attention was focused. What I did observe was that I could start a conversation with someone, give them a marker or a pen, and suggest drawing, and I would get appropriate physical responses to my requests- a name written, a picture scribbled together. I rarely got verbal responses; if I did they were not usually words, but laughs, shrieks, and other noises. It was very apparent that the staff members could interpret correctly what was being said even if it was not clear to me; I still feel a bit of awe and wonder from watching that. I saw no behavioral difficulties that were out of the norm for each person- for some clients, aggression or self-abuse are common to their diagnoses and it is watched and redirected when appropriate.

Each individual who was removed from the group for therapy was removed for only a short time to a side room with a worker. Therapy available includes occupational and physical therapy to help promote functionality, mobility, and fitness for these individuals- many of whom are confined to specialized chairs due to poor physical independence. I watched therapy given to promote relaxation and encourage muscle use and development as well as sensory processing. Sometimes it was obvious that the person didn’t have any interest in participating in their therapy that day and they would make that abundantly clear in both physical and verbal ways. Redirection was kind and thoughtful and modifications in materials were sometimes made to achieve compliance without complaint. It is not required that all individuals must be in the group the whole time and I observed some patients removing themselves from the group for periods of time for their own comfort or privacy. Even with these wanderings (which were quietly supervised), it seemed that full inclusion was achieved to the best of each individual’s ability to participate.

As a potential future educator, I found this facility to be well- organized and primed to do the very best they can to help their clients progress in all aspects of their lives. Aspects of successful classroom activities were easily discernible in most parts of the facility: student pictures, artwork, and statements of patient rights were hanging on all public walls; teaching and therapy aids were easily seen and accessed; the day treatment facility has lots of natural light and appropriate ambient temperatures. There are areas for individual and group meetings, instruction, or medical or physical needs that are easily accessible. I also appreciated the other modifications that I saw all over the facility – such as color and areas for personal belongings- to attempt to soften the harshness and institutional flavor of what is an inpatient, residential facility- a difficult feat to achieve and not one that the center fully accomplished as evidenced by the obvious signs of institutional care and not home living. I look forward to learning more about this facility and its role in my community through future interactions.


Thoughts on Globalization, Education, and Interdisciplinarity

I think that globalization is affecting not only my education, but almost all aspects of the world that I live in. My grandparents spoke of a time where the world was ‘small’- people didn’t move very far away, family was close by, and most everyone works jobs that were common to the area or available where they were living in. They spoke of people moving around and the exodus of the nuclear family in regards to several generations living close by. The world described by them seemed quite compact and finite. I look at the world as I live in it and also see it as ‘small’, but not for the same aspects. A person can live in Salt Lake City and telecommute to complete their work in Tokyo, or can work at home with an internet connection that brings business and money directly to them in their home. In that perspective, I see the world as potentially small because communities and border no longer hold people into a few options for financial success. That said, I see the world as a vast global community with only a small percentage of people having the opportunities I mentioned above and for the majority the opportunities of financial success are stagnant no matter where they live. Globalization has affected my college as the faculty look to provide educations that will give their graduates an advantage in global market places- the positive effects of their efforts provide more options to students for future career paths… the negative is that higher education is still only truly available to a small percentage of the people in my communities (as well as the global population as a whole.) Globalization has created more options; different degrees, different career paths, pathways to success, etc… However, globalization both in education and life come with costs. The larger the picture, the easier it is to lose the value that is found in diversity, the desire to understand global problems, and the apathy to ignore the social justice and consequences inherent in globalization.

“...one aspect of my complex identity”

I liked this quote because it reminds me of how each of us prepares for our lives and actions every day. I am white and female… but I am also a mother, a student, an ex-wife, a Mormon, a lover, a friend, a mentor, a political activist, an animal welfare provider, a pharmacy technician, a BLS educator, and I could go on as I think most of us could. We all live within the labels that we create for ourselves or are thrust upon us. In some ways, life after university doesn’t feel that different to me than my current daily life. Only one of those labels will change- from student to graduate- and while I can obtain a different job and change or modify another label or two- everything else will stay the same. What I feel like my education has provided me that will continue to make a difference in my future after schooling is how I think and respond to information and behavior both around me and concerning me. I no longer take all information at face value and tend to analyze more. I think I recognize more often when engagement isn’t a great idea, how to respond to negative people and situations, and what to reasonably expect when I advocate for positions that are unpopular both in my community and culture. The ability to analyze, question, and look for better ways of understanding and empathy will serve me well in whatever economic or personal job choices I make.

The ability to understand the needs of interdisciplinary connections and underpinnings in discovering and understanding new forms of knowledge is pretty crucial. A fact held alone by itself is a bit like a toothpick- almost any other fact can make the first look suspect and sometimes can be used to disabuse it of its ‘fact’ status. Making decisions on the basis on one fact tends to cause significant problems in explanation and implementation creating outcomes that are rarely the ones anticipated. I would also argue that can a fact be a ‘fact’ if it cannot be proven on its own merits? Can it only be considered a fact if other knowledge helps sustain its truthful countenance? I would be interested in other’s ideas on that concept. True knowledge can be supported by facts surrounding it and about it- I tend to think of knowledge as the nucleus of the cell which can not live on its own, but needs the support of its ‘interdisciplinary team’ to survive and express itself as needed in its environment. Or put another way; we know what a nucleus does because of how it interacts with the other parts of the cell… and we know how the other parts of the cell work and express themselves due to their responses to the nucleus. A study of one must necessitate a study and recognition of all parts for a true, deep understanding.

What are your thoughts? How do you use interdisciplinary thinking in your life?



I have a lot on my mind today. I had a wonderful day with Brock and some great food. I'm so grateful for the time that I have to spend with family and I loved listening to Brock tell me about the things that interest him. My heart is full of so many things and I don't know how to articulate very many of them nor should I share all of them. What I wouldn't give for a pensieve some days... to just siphon off the extra thoughts and emotions and to be able to look for the patterns and the understanding in them and I'm more detached and unbiased manner. I bet all of us could use that every once in awhile.

I had got to spend a little bit of time today going through paperwork and old school assignments and over the next few months I'm going to post a lot of that stuff here. Some of it is very scholarly stuff such as history essays, lesson plans, etc... some of it is thoughts on assignments and things that I read for classes... and some of it is just research and other information that I think I'd like to keep for future use and perusal. So this is your warning that I'm going to start posting a bunch of mismatched sort of stuff in the next few weeks. I really have taken so many varied classes over the years....

I got as much rest as I could today and I'm looking forward to work tomorrow. Here's to a peaceful evening with a few episodes of Mrs Brown's Boys.


Forced Rest

I'm a bit tired and wrung out today... a bone deep exhaustion that I am struggling to deal with. I need to rest this weekend so that I have the strength to work all next week and even the thought of moving my body right now seems so painful that I have been sitting and reading or watching films for the majority of the afternoon... except when I have napped. I worry that I am letting my friends and my co-workers down with my inability to continue to push myself in ways that I could in the past, but am unable to do now for long periods of time. I feel like I'm letting myself down too. This problem is something that I think I am going to learn to accept
it and stop being so hard on myself for it. I am trying to look at the positive side of the health problem; I have been able to take the time to read and watch some movies which I rarely have taken time to do in years. Some of the films that I have watched recently I have held onto for years to watch when I had the time. I am slowly winnowing through those piles of films including the massive collection that my Uncle Rick gave me years ago in a large stack. Because of that gift, I am enjoying films that I would never have gone out of my way to see if he hadn't given them to me. (Don't get me wrong- there are some serious duds in the collection, but I have found a few gems. And this package used to be full to the top... it was an amazing gift.)

So today and tomorrow I will rest and see what energy I can pull up out of the recesses of my muscles for the week and what will be will be. I am grateful for the day of rest that I have and a day to spend with family.


Disposable Paperbacks

I don't head to the dump very often, but when I do I always have a good look at the 'free' room. I have found some wonderful things there, but I particularly enjoy the fact that I can get books there. Many of the books there are in bad condition and most are onces that do not interest me, but every so often I manage to find a few from favorite authors or books that look intriguing enough to peak my interest. I had a trunk full of recycling so when I clocked out from work and had a no show to my CPR class I headed up to drop it off. My trunk is empty and ready to fill up again at work tomorrow... and the free room was pretty generous today.

I have never heard of most of these books or authors,but they certainly look interesting. I even got an audiobook... I can never have enough audiobooks. I tend to call the books disposable because after I have finished with them I usually pass them on... unless they are so great that I decide to keep them. I even managed to find one for Bug.

I'm ending the day with some rest and family... what more can a girl ask for. :)


Snow Day

What a wonderful snowy day it has been!

I love the look and feel of snow on trees in winter...

... the quiet and stillness as the snow falls

The depth of deep and thick snow...

...except for the shoveling out part. :)



It's funny how a movie can just make you feel so confused and so many different emotions that you just don't feel like you can even think because you're having to try to figure out what everything means.

For fun tonight I thought I would listen to a movie while I did other work and I soon found drawn to the couch and there I huddled- tired and hungry, but unwilling to go to bed until the film finished. What I had thought was going to be a very light-hearted and silly movie was something a lot more serious and a lot more thought-provoking. Most of the films I've seen with Adam Sandler have not been serious films. In fact, if anyone had asked me that question, I would have would have told you that Sandler really didn't make them. All the films that I can think of that he was in are ridiculous, silly, flighty, and fusty stuff. Films that you might watch once to enjoy the terrible humor and then never watch again. The only film I've ever watched of his before now that didn't feel that way was "The Wedding Singer." I will admit it's one of my favorites. I find myself not really interested when I see a movie advertisement that Adam Sandler is in not really interested in because it didn't occur to me that he would have another film that was anywhere like The Wedding Singer... It seems like most of his film sound like "Click", "Happy Gilmore" or "Billy Madison." I'm climbing into bed after this film and I feel torn between the couple who is trying to stay together and isn't sure that they should and Adam Sandler's character; a steadfast hard-working man who's trying desperately to keep his relationship together even as he can see someone who would treat him better in his peripheral vision. Watching the way that the wife manipulates and destroys so many pieces of her whole family and pets and needs the entire world to revolve around her and then says things like "why doesn't anybody care about my feelings"... and all I could do is sit there and watch the train wreck in action. I regret watching this film right now as the reason I put it in was to have something that would make me laugh, but I don't regret watching the film. It was very thought-provoking and I go to bed thinking many things and a brain awash in multitudes of emotion. If that was the director's goal then he succeeded.

Have you ever seen the film? What are your thoughts?

Image from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371246/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt


Out of the Pile - Eugenics and North Carolina

Tonight I spent a few hours after work sitting on my tail and sorting through piles and piles of school paperwork. I have stacks of completed assignments, essays, research papers, and more that have been stacked up waiting for me to figure out what I should do with them. Quite a few of them are probably going to be posted here over time so that other people can read them, but I suspect most will be thrown away. While I was combing through the pile, I found this little gem. It is a copy of a pamphlet produced by the North Carolinian state government back in the 1950s. I did some research a few years ago on eugenics in the United States after I discovered the subject and jumped down that rabbit hole of awfulness for a few months. I still struggle to understand why this happened so many years ago, but why is still happening *now* in areas of our country. There are not only people still living who are dealing with the trauma of their involuntary sterilizations from the 1950s, but today some medical providers also use their position of power to force sterilizations onto women in their charge- in prisons, on reservations, or in hospitals. I found myself looking over this pamphlet and thinking of our current political situation and I can't help but wince. I am also bothered by the fact that so many people who believe in eugenics are also Christian and can worship and practice their faith and see no friction between Christian ideology and eugenics... whereas I can't see that eugenics can ever fit into any true Christian faith journey.

Without further ado, here is the pamphlet in its entirety. I will spend the rest of my evening continuing to shuffle through the copious quantity of paperwork at my disposal. I wonder what else I will find...

Here are links to previous blogposts on the subject: One, Two, Three.


Gratitude - 3/4/18

Its been a busy few weeks and I have found myself interested in writing, but the thought slides to the back of my mind each time as I have found other distractions. Many of the distractions were minor and I have accomplished a lot of my list of backlogged items - CPR paperwork, housework, etc... but I had a few nice things happen over the last weeks and I was able to get through a few interviews as well as other needful appointments without too many problems. I get so much anxiety when appointments do not go as well as planed and it was a relief to find a way to fix some of the problems without the anxiety overwhelming me for days. Lots to be thankful for.

1. I am warm and dry. My rental home is small and with all my pets it is seriously full, but it is comfortable and I weathered the most recent wind storm and weather. The wind was strong enough that I needed to keep the house a little warmer, but I never lost power and my feline companions seemed comfortable even with the lower temps in the house.

2. I got a great meal of zucchini spaghetti and meatballs that my ex cooked up for Bug and I today and I watched the Muppet Movie with Bug while we ate. Just a nice snuggle with films and food. It was lovely. I am way too lazy to make my own meat balls and I must confess, Rob makes excellent ones.

3. I made a cake that was really good today. Making a good cake that is gluten free in NOT my strong suit and the recipe that a friend gave me was too awesome for words. It took the cake longer to cook than it did for all three of us to consume it. It was awesome.

4. I got to see an old episode of the "The Simpsons" and my mind smiled when I heard some of the fun phrases from my childhood- "Don't have a cow man!" and "Ow... quit it. Ow... quit it. Ow... quit it" While it was never my favorite show, hearing those phrases brought a smile to my face. I got to see the episode when they got their dog and remembering that they 'rescued' the dog made me smile too. It's been a long time since I have heard the bastardized versions of Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Reindeer that I used to sing. (Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history... like Attila the Hun.) I found myself smiling and singing along.

5. Cyril and Footie both went out of their way to ask for attention from me today. That isn't a common thing in my house and I loved it. They are shy spuds and I love the fact that they are slowly becoming more sociable.

6. I got a great shirt for the Turnstyle this week for work. You can never have too many awesome work shirts. It really changes the tone of my day if I feel like I look good at work. So I can't wait to show it off!

7. I got to chat with my nephews for a few minutes the last few Sunday evenings which is a great blessing. I have some amazing family and I love to speak to them. I hope to do it more in the future. :)

8. It's been a great Sabbath. I'm going to end the day with a friend helping to care for one of her pets and after my day with Bug, I feel content. Tomorrow work commences, but for tonight, I can still rest.

What are you grateful for today?