A Mormon woman shares of the heartbreak of abuse, and how she was able to find healing.

~Name withheld

It is over a decade later. I have finally come to the realization that I am an abused woman. No, I never received a bruise, a cut or a strike of the hand, but the words that berated me daily broke my spirit, cut into my confidence and beat me into a silent depressed ghost of myself. I no longer laughed, I no longer made goals or plans and I never ventured out of my little cell of allowable actions.

I had the perfect life, from the outside. Many women envied my world. They couldn’t see into the shaded windows and the tinted glass of my prison. The man they respected and honored was not the man that I lived with. The even-tempered loving demeanor changed instantly when he walked through the door. I became a whore in the bedroom and a housekeeper outside of it. My own views, desires and needs meant nothing.

How does a strong, self-assured woman turn into a cowering child? Day by day; Choice by choice. Criticism by criticism, a person is bludgeoned into believing that they are the ones at fault, that no matter what they do, it isn’t right. No amount of change matters, for when one thing changes, it is no longer interesting and the next fault is the focus. Criticism kills. The abuser would be appalled to hear that they are being abusive. It isn’t intended, it isn’t what they believe they are doing. Usually they believe they are “helping.” They are in the right! They are trying to make things “better” after all!

Taking away money, resources, the ability to go out alone, connection with friends, time to explore individual talents, all are necessary to remain human and productive. A slave has little agency, and little ability to progress.

I am divorced. Now, I hear continually, “You are so funny!” – “You are always so happy!” – “I never wanted to be around you before, now you are fun!” – “You used to cry all the time.” – “I didn’t think you knew how to smile!”

There are lingering echoes of pain.

Healing didn’t come quickly, but it did come. Through the loving Atonement of the Savior of the world, I have forgiven my abuser, for I know that he will never find happiness for himself with these behaviors. I have forgiven myself for allowing him, and me, to make me disappear.

Through the blessed and loving counsel of priesthood leaders, I have cried away the bitterness, prayed away the anger and laughed away the despair.

Sometimes I still doubt my ability, my worth, my contribution to the world, but now I know that it is temporary. That I have much to give, I have an open and willing heart, and I am good, just the way I am. I know because the warmth and acceptance of the infinite has burrowed deeper into my soul than the pain ever could.

There is healing from abuse, but the abuse must be distanced before healing can begin. Sometimes there are worse things than a “broken home.” A home that is broken on the inside while appearing “intact” on the outside is one of the worst. Fix it or leave it, but do NOT continue to die daily because you are unwilling to let others see what is broken. Turn to the Savior; the Atonement isn’t only for sin, but for comfort, solace and healing. It is the only way.