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#Me Too and Mormons


bsjkki

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I had missed this newspaper article from the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/29/mormon-women-metoo-particular-challenge-sexual-abuse 

Tulley encourages people to seek healthy support. Often in the Mormon community, people’s first response is to talk to their local bishop, but Tulley says a bishop may not be educated about how to deal with sexual assault. Church leaders are instructed to work with the victim in ensuring the abuse is reported to authorities, and they have access to a 24-hour help line provided by the church, but Tulley says a well-meaning bishop can sometimes give psychologically damaging messages to a vulnerable person.

“If you’ve been abused, you’re often told you need to forgive,” Tulley said. “That’s putting the responsibility on the victim.”

This article also contains a copy of the letter an abuse victim received from a Stake President which included 3 options for the Stake to discipline her father. This is decades old. Have these options changed? https://www.scribd.com/document/365663572/Stake-president-letter  What else could the stake have done in this case? Anything?

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I'm pretty sure that things have changed, as in, the police would have been brought in.  This SP is obviously a very analytical kinda guy but sheesh. He had two women in that family making the complaint.  It is kind of creepy that "protect the innocent" was last on the 3 things leaders were counseled to do because that is obvious the woman was at the bottom of the SP's list to the point the perv father is told this won't be brought up again. However, the spelling is not American so it would be necessary to know the country's laws at that time. There was probably a snowball's chance in heck that this would have made it through the courts. 

But, it is obvious the SP was really struggling and wasn't equipped to deal with this and was following policy to the letter. I'm assuming he followed through with what he said he could do, support her.  It was obvious he believed her. That is huge considering how this stuff was swept under the rug. One really does, I think, need a legal judgment without a confession. But that still doesn't compute to giving the abuser any place to hide when it comes to church. 

 

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4 hours ago, bsjkki said:

“If you’ve been abused, you’re often told you need to forgive,” Tulley said. “That’s putting the responsibility on the victim.”

This article also contains a copy of the letter an abuse victim received from a Stake President which included 3 options for the Stake to discipline her father. This is decades old. Have these options changed? https://www.scribd.com/document/365663572/Stake-president-letter  What else could the stake have done in this case? Anything?

This situation seems always bring up the idea that forgiveness is bad or somehow unfulfilling to a victim.  The problem with that position is that the victim is always the one that forgive; when is that not true?  

I don't forgive to make someone else feel happy or relieved; I forgive others because I am not interested in carrying it around with me like some gigantic weight.  The Buddha said, "In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?"  Is there really a desire to hold onto these experiences rather than letting them go?  Doesn't letting them go require that we forgive?  

This complaint about counseling someone to forgive never has made much sense to me.  How is it not the same counsel that the Savior has given to each of us when we are abused by our enemies?  

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18 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

This situation seems always bring up the idea that forgiveness is bad or somehow unfulfilling to a victim.  The problem with that position is that the victim is always the one that forgive; when is that not true?  

I don't forgive to make someone else feel happy or relieved; I forgive others because I am not interested in carrying it around with me like some gigantic weight.  The Buddha said, "In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?"  Is there really a desire to hold onto these experiences rather than letting them go?  Doesn't letting them go require that we forgive?  

This complaint about counseling someone to forgive never has made much sense to me.  How is it not the same counsel that the Savior has given to each of us when we are abused by our enemies?  

When it comes to abuse...it depends on where the victim is in this process. Context matters in this discussion. In abusive situations, when a person is repeatedly told to forgive and take the high road, when perpetrators are walking around creating havoc...it's really just telling them to be quiet about this and go away so we can sweep it under the rug. 

There is a time and place to counsel an abuse victim to forgive but I've seen this counsel used to in a way that the victim feels blamed for reporting and that if they were truly, Christlike...they could let this go. Context.

Edited by bsjkki
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Bsjkki, I think we are talking about two different things:  

  1. There is spiritual counsel about forgiveness that frees the individual from the power of another. This is an empowering process that involves that God of the universe standing beside the individual as the individual shucks off the hurt, harm, and pain that can so often shackle an individual with hate, pain, and a false sense of guilt for the dreadful actions of another.
  2. The second is when the counsel is not directed by the Spirit, inappropriately given, or given in a distorted manner.  It can also be given in an ill-timed manner.  However, this criticism is about the delivery of the counsel rather than the counsel itself.

For me it is vital not to conflate the two.  In doing so we destroy the opportunity for spiritual relief that the Spirit provides with the fumbling of humans.  To teach about the miracle of forgiveness - the freeing of oneself from the actions of others - is the salve that binds up all wounds.  There is a time and place for all things - and I am not saying that the first things our of anyone's mouth should be, "You should forgive your abuser!"  The healing process consists of more than one step.  When the person is ready they will listen to the counsel given and be uplifted.  

Also, to forgive an abuser does not mean or result in sweeping the abuse under the rug.  Though the individual may walk free of any anger, hatred, or any other demeaning emotion they can still confidently talk about their experience, witness against the abuser.   

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5 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

Bsjkki, I think we are talking about two different things:  

  1. There is spiritual counsel about forgiveness that frees the individual from the power of another. This is an empowering process that involves that God of the universe standing beside the individual as the individual shucks off the hurt, harm, and pain that can so often shackle an individual with hate, pain, and a false sense of guilt for the dreadful actions of another.
  2. The second is when the counsel is not directed by the Spirit, inappropriately given, or given in a distorted manner.  It can also be given in an ill-timed manner.  However, this criticism is about the delivery of the counsel rather than the counsel itself.

For me it is vital not to conflate the two.  In doing so we destroy the opportunity for spiritual relief that the Spirit provides with the fumbling of humans.  To teach about the miracle of forgiveness - the freeing of oneself from the actions of others - is the salve that binds up all wounds.  There is a time and place for all things - and I am not saying that the first things our of anyone's mouth should be, "You should forgive your abuser!"  The healing process consists of more than one step.  When the person is ready they will listen to the counsel given and be uplifted.  

Also, to forgive an abuser does not mean or result in sweeping the abuse under the rug.  Though the individual may walk free of any anger, hatred, or any other demeaning emotion they can still confidently talk about their experience, witness against the abuser.   

I agree with you. I was just explaining where the complaint against the “forgiveness counsel” comes from. It comes from it being used inappropriately. There is a point, real forgives must come in order to free yourself. 

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10 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

This situation seems always bring up the idea that forgiveness is bad or somehow unfulfilling to a victim.  The problem with that position is that the victim is always the one that forgive; when is that not true?  

I don't forgive to make someone else feel happy or relieved; I forgive others because I am not interested in carrying it around with me like some gigantic weight.  The Buddha said, "In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?"  Is there really a desire to hold onto these experiences rather than letting them go?  Doesn't letting them go require that we forgive?  

This complaint about counseling someone to forgive never has made much sense to me.  How is it not the same counsel that the Savior has given to each of us when we are abused by our enemies?  

Forgiveness definitely has a place (that cannot be overlooked) but I don't think it's always used appropriately by people who are trying to help.  

Sexual abuse victims have been injured, just like someone with a broken leg or a deep laceration, for example.  You don't sit down with that person in the ER and start off their care by telling them all about physical therapy and how they need to move on and get over whatever hurt them.  First, you stop the bleeding, fix the broken bones, put the patient back together again.  And then you work on long term healing and moving forward.  

I think too often victims are told they need to forgive right away.  Though it's true they will need to forgive, it's not usually appropriate or helpful to lead with that, especially when too often peoples' ideas of 'forgiving' someone are expressed as the victim staying in contact with the one who hurt them, not seeking a solution to the injury through the law, and/or pretending like the harm never happened.

 

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It is the same in of idea with gratitude. Too often someone will share their painful struggles and someone who is trying to help says if they will be grateful they will feel better. Usually what that means is that the person is really not listening to the heart. Not mourning with one who mourns. 

When we talk in church about gratitude someone may be touched by it just at the right time. Other times that particular talk or lesson may come to mind later when the person is ready. Or the person may have an experience of seeing some else's needs that helps her be grateful. We don't need to tell specific people they should be grateful.

Even if the Spirit prompts us to help another forgive or have gratitude I find it is more effective to ask questions than to tell someone what to do. Asking what they need now. If they have ideas of what will help them get through it. If they have considered this or that. If the Spirit has prompted them to do any specific thing. Then really listen to what their answers are.

Edited by Rain
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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

Forgiveness definitely has a place (that cannot be overlooked) but I don't think it's always used appropriately by people who are trying to help.  

Sexual abuse victims have been injured, just like someone with a broken leg or a deep laceration, for example.  You don't sit down with that person in the ER and start off their care by telling them all about physical therapy and how they need to move on and get over whatever hurt them.  First, you stop the bleeding, fix the broken bones, put the patient back together again.  And then you work on long term healing and moving forward.  

I think too often victims are told they need to forgive right away.  Though it's true they will need to forgive, it's not usually appropriate or helpful to lead with that, especially when too often peoples' ideas of 'forgiving' someone are expressed as the victim staying in contact with the one who hurt them, not seeking a solution to the injury through the law, and/or pretending like the harm never happened.

In 2006 there was a horrible event that took place among the Amish people in a small community in Pennsylvania.   What has always impressed me is that these young girls immediately responded with forgiveness.  No one "told" them to forgive, but they reacted first with forgiveness to a situation where they were threatened with being molested at school by a 32 year old man.  This is the lesson of forgiveness that I am trying to talk about and doing a poor job.  

Here we have an example that young girls between the ages of 6 and 13 being segregated from everyone else in the school; being targeted specifically to be raped; and their response was immediately to forgive.  How did these children learn the value of forgiveness so completely that they would volunteer to be killed first (read the short article - a 13 year old girl tried to direct the man to be compassionate rather than molest/rape the girls) rather than first seek to strike out in hatred?  I stand amazed at such a example.

In the article I linked to it quotes what an individual wrote about the event, "I would have liked it better if the Amish girls had died trying to wrestle the gun away from the madman rather than sweetly volunteering to be shot next while the others watched – in what way was this sparing the others? Maybe she thought he might run out of ammunition?"  

The actual response of very young girls and the response of this individual juxtapose some of the conflict I see within the entire conversation here and in the public square.  What is the value of a human life - the life of a sinner most foul and base?  Should the life of this type of sinner have value?  If so, how do we teach that to the membership.  Does the lesson change based upon the gender of the member?  Why?

We each have a long way to go, I suspect, before we could or even would respond to an event in such a Christ-like manner as these young girls.  The public does not even begin to fathom that there is another way to respond to terrible, vile events. 

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24 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

In 2006 there was a horrible event that took place among the Amish people in a small community in Pennsylvania.   What has always impressed me is that these young girls immediately responded with forgiveness.  No one "told" them to forgive, but they reacted first with forgiveness to a situation where they were threatened with being molested at school by a 32 year old man.  This is the lesson of forgiveness that I am trying to talk about and doing a poor job.  

Here we have an example that young girls between the ages of 6 and 13 being segregated from everyone else in the school; being targeted specifically to be raped; and their response was immediately to forgive.  How did these children learn the value of forgiveness so completely that they would volunteer to be killed first (read the short article - a 13 year old girl tried to direct the man to be compassionate rather than molest/rape the girls) rather than first seek to strike out in hatred?  I stand amazed at such a example.

In the article I linked to it quotes what an individual wrote about the event, "I would have liked it better if the Amish girls had died trying to wrestle the gun away from the madman rather than sweetly volunteering to be shot next while the others watched – in what way was this sparing the others? Maybe she thought he might run out of ammunition?"  

The actual response of very young girls and the response of this individual juxtapose some of the conflict I see within the entire conversation here and in the public square.  What is the value of a human life - the life of a sinner most foul and base?  Should the life of this type of sinner have value?  If so, how do we teach that to the membership.  Does the lesson change based upon the gender of the member?  Why?

We each have a long way to go, I suspect, before we could or even would respond to an event in such a Christ-like manner as these young girls.  The public does not even begin to fathom that there is another way to respond to terrible, vile events. 

No, I get what you are saying and what you are trying to talk about and I don't know anyone who would disagree with it.  Like bsjkkl said though, when people get upset with pushing forgiveness on sexual abuse victims, it's because they aren't doing it appropriately.  That is the kind of forgiveness-teaching that people bristle at.  

Like you said earlier, you are talking about the first kind of forgiveness teaching but the rest of us are talking about the second kind.  

I do think the story about the Amish community is a great example though.  When people are able to forgive on their own accord it is a huge thing and it comes about through the Spirit.  If the story had instead been about others telling the Amish families that they had a duty to forgive and judging their reactions as unchristian and inappropriate if they were not able to forgive yet, it would not have been a positive story.  

It would have been a story about heaping more hurt upon those families rather than helping them.  Too often, that is what happens to sexual abuse victims.  Call/demands for forgiveness that do not come through the Spirit just heap more hurt onto them and cause more harm.

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58 minutes ago, bluebell said:

No, I get what you are saying and what you are trying to talk about and I don't know anyone who would disagree with it.  Like bsjkkl said though, when people get upset with pushing forgiveness on sexual abuse victims, it's because they aren't doing it appropriately.  That is the kind of forgiveness-teaching that people bristle at.  

Like you said earlier, you are talking about the first kind of forgiveness teaching but the rest of us are talking about the second kind.  

I do think the story about the Amish community is a great example though.  When people are able to forgive on their own accord it is a huge thing and it comes about through the Spirit.  If the story had instead been about others telling the Amish families that they had a duty to forgive and judging their reactions as unchristian and inappropriate if they were not able to forgive yet, it would not have been a positive story.  

It would have been a story about heaping more hurt upon those families rather than helping them.  Too often, that is what happens to sexual abuse victims.  Call/demands for forgiveness that do not come through the Spirit just heap more hurt onto them and cause more harm.

The Amish people have had other experiences where they have reacted with such outstanding degrees of forgiveness of others.  As I recall even the parents of the girls that were killed in that event immediately responded with forgiveness.  I am always stunned by their example.

Agreed, the complaint is about that those who try to counsel individuals to forgive and do it poorly.  

I guess the lesson for me is that we need to teach our members more completely about forgiveness; its merits, its fruits, and its healing grace before the bad things happen.  It would be wonderful if we, as a people, could consistently set a similar example or an equal example to that of the Amish people.  I fully recognize how far short I fall when compared to them.  I am certain that if anyone touched my granddaughter my initial emotion would be to pick up a gun and remove them from this mortal existence.  I certainly would not be thinking about forgiveness.  

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6 hours ago, Storm Rider said:

The Amish people have had other experiences where they have reacted with such outstanding degrees of forgiveness of others.  As I recall even the parents of the girls that were killed in that event immediately responded with forgiveness.  I am always stunned by their example.

Agreed, the complaint is about that those who try to counsel individuals to forgive and do it poorly.  

I guess the lesson for me is that we need to teach our members more completely about forgiveness; its merits, its fruits, and its healing grace before the bad things happen.  It would be wonderful if we, as a people, could consistently set a similar example or an equal example to that of the Amish people.  I fully recognize how far short I fall when compared to them.  I am certain that if anyone touched my granddaughter my initial emotion would be to pick up a gun and remove them from this mortal existence.  I certainly would not be thinking about forgiveness.  

I think this is a good thought, but we have to tread very lightly with it because no matter how well we teach there will be some in some situations that will not be able to do it quickly and we don't want them to feel the guilt of not being able to do it immediately. 

And there is more to the Amish story:  

Quote

Despite the Amish’s legendary powers of forgiveness, he said, it was a struggle to stay constant. “You have to fight the bitter thoughts,” he said.

Quote

Marian should not be thought of as more special than any other child caught up in the events of that day, the Fishers said. They also said the decision by the community to forgive the killer and his family was not as simple as it has been seen to be.

“It’s not a once and done thing,” said Linda Fisher. “It is a lifelong process.”

As a principle, forgiveness is closely adhered to by the Amish. But it takes a while for each person’s emotions to catch up with such an outward decision, John Fisher said. When he saw the wounded girls fighting for their lives in the hospital, he was angry.

“That’s when it hit me,” he said. “As a father, I felt helpless.”

Both parents agreed it was “a huge relief” that Roberts did not go through with his planned sexual assaults. If he had lived, they said, they would have wanted justice served – though not the death penalty.

Steven Nolt, a professor of history and Anabaptist studies at the region’s Elizabethtown College and co-author of the book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, said the decision to forgive the killer would have been collective and about “giving up the right to revenge and grudges”.

“The essence of Amish life is about giving up,” he said. “Giving up self to the group, to God. From how one dresses to the kind of work one does, Amish life is shaped by rituals of self-surrender.” The Amish did not want to be thought of as saintly, he said, nor as “stoically stuffing their feelings into a box”.

On the day of the killings, members of the Nickel Mines community took food to Roberts’ widow. Six days after the shooting, families who had just buried their daughters attended Roberts’ funeral. Money from funds that poured in from around the world was diverted to the killer’s family, even though many victims faced huge medical bills.

Aaron Esh Sr said the bereaved parents started to look at forgiveness as “the one good thing that can come out of this tragedy”. With Roberts dead, he said, there was nowhere for the anger to go. There had been no foreshadowing of his ghastly act. He was known only as a loving husband and father, a good neighbor.Hondros/Getty Images

The Amish believe that harboring anger and resentment is corrosive. “It will eat you up,” Esh Sr said. Forgiveness, he said, “is so ingrained in our heritage that it’s part of our character”.

Terri Roberts, the gunman’s mother, has become a friend to many of the Nickel Mines families who were affected by what her son did. She is invited to gatherings and often visits Rosanna King, who was six when Charles Roberts shot her. She is confined to a wheelchair, unable to talk and fed through a tube. She has seizures.

Esh Sr and others met with families bereaved at Virginia Tech and at Sandy Hook, where 20 children and six staff were killed in 2012.

“Terri Roberts rode in a bus with us to Sandy Hook and the families and teachers there could not believe that we would even associate with her, let alone that she would come up there with us,” he said.

Christ Stoltzfus recalled the shock of the day 10 years ago when he, like the Fishers, had to deal with the news that one of his daughters was dead and one wounded. He too chose to forgive.

“But you see,” he said, “it’s a journey. I still made that immediate choice in principle. But it took me a few years until I could feel that I really meant it inside me, to forgive Charlie.”

At the point when he did find the compassion, he said, “I felt a great weight falling off me. I felt lighter.”

That feeling does not arrive if you forgive merely out of obligation, he said.

Aaron Esh Jr said that for many months after the shooting, he was “not even able to think straight”.

“I was struggling with a lot of things,” he said. Forgiveness was just one of them.

Now, he described Terri Roberts as “a friend”. The week of the anniversary had been stressful, but he wanted to make a point of thanking “the whole world” for its support, not just in 2006 but the decade since.

“Without that,” he said, “there is no way I would have made it through.”

How I read this is that the people immediately made the choice to forgive. Everyone understood that to mean that they forgave and then that was over with, but like one of the family members say, it is a life-long process. That choice is a huge thing.  That choice takes years and decades and more than a life time for some people so I don't think that this story makes any less of what the Amish did.  I just think we need to be realistic. When they say it is a constant process to keep away the bitter thoughts I find that even more something to admire. 

 

 

Edited by Rain
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About forgiveness in sexual assault cases:

"Forgiveness" does not mean 'hold still and keep letting you attack me' -- no, a person as the right (and responsibility) to move out of harms way and protect themselves.  That includes legal and medical protection.  

"Forgiveness" does not mean that the other person 'gets away with it' -- no, an attacker is still subject to the consequences of their actions- natural, legal, and divine consequences.  The attacked person can't make those consequences go away.  

"Forgiveness" DOES mean "Dear ever just God, I know you love me and I know you love those that hurt me.  We both know what they did was sinful, and I know that you will make sure the attacker is met with you perfect justice and grace.  You divine will be done with them- I surrender that to your just will.  As to me... I know you are the master healer.  Please, let me be filled with your healing."

Edited by Jane_Doe
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1 hour ago, Storm Rider said:

The Amish people have had other experiences where they have reacted with such outstanding degrees of forgiveness of others.  As I recall even the parents of the girls that were killed in that event immediately responded with forgiveness.  I am always stunned by their example.

Agreed, the complaint is about that those who try to counsel individuals to forgive and do it poorly.  

I guess the lesson for me is that we need to teach our members more completely about forgiveness; its merits, its fruits, and its healing grace before the bad things happen.  It would be wonderful if we, as a people, could consistently set a similar example or an equal example to that of the Amish people.  I fully recognize how far short I fall when compared to them.  I am certain that if anyone touched my granddaughter my initial emotion would be to pick up a gun and remove them from this mortal existence.  I certainly would not be thinking about forgiveness.  

I guess in some ways, I disagree with you. I think if your expectation is that if you are a perfect Christ-like Mormon, your forgiveness for others should be instantaneous no matter how great the trauma...that is setting up victims to feel more shame and guilt and that they are not good enough. This could be very dangerous. Forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is a commandment. I feel many of us understand what you are saying, but that you do not seem to understand how some of this counsel could be used inappropriately by members and Bishops alike. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/is-psychology-making-us-sick/201409/6-reasons-not-forgive-not-yet

However, I must speak out when the advice from blogs, articles, books, and spiritual one-liners treats forgiveness as a panacea for hurt, pain, and “moving on” to a happier life—with nary a thought given to the many situations, people, and stages of injury where this counsel is not helpful. Worse, much of the counsel is downright offensive, suggesting that if we can’t forgive we are dwelling on the past, focusing on negative emotions, holding on to grudges, filled with retribution and revenge, addicted to adrenaline, marrying our victimhood, recoiling in self-protection rather than mercy, or poisoning ourselves with non-forgiveness.

These assumptions and judgments not only dismiss the real pain many people suffer; they discourage intelligent analysis of the traumas many people and groups experience. Further, the attitude behind these statements can shame people, making them think that something is wrong with going through a natural process of healing after injury or betrayal where forgiveness may not be the first (or second or third) step. The truth is that many people don’t forgive because it is not time to forgive—and taking the time to proceed at their own pace can be empowering, intelligent, and worthy. Simply put, it is alarming how un-psychological many psychologists can be; forgiveness is not the best medicine for all people all the time.

I really liked this article too but it is difficult to copy passages from. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287126993_The_Psychology_of_Interpersonal_Forgiveness_and_Guidelines_for_Forgiveness_Therapy_What_Therapists_Need_to_Know_to_Help_Their_Clients_Forgive#pfb It talks of the benefits of forgiveness therapy but also it's dangers. Articles like this should be read by Bishops so they avoid pitfalls in their discourse. 

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