One summer evening, my mission companion and I were in the plaza near our apartment attempting to do some street contacting. A woman approached us and asked “do you think you can you help me?” I looked up at her and noticed that she had a black eye, a bandaged nose, and bruises down one arm. A man was holding her by the elbow, glowering at both of us. My heart sank–I hoped she had recently been in a car accident, but feared that something much worse was going on. I had no idea how I should respond, especially as a missionary in a foreign country working in a language and culture that weren’t my own. My companion and I briefly talked with the woman and exchanged phone numbers with her before the man guided her away and she disappeared into the crowd. When we tried the phone number she had given us, we found that it had been disconnected. This woman and her face still pop up in my mind from time to time, and fifteen years later I wonder if there really was anything I could have done to help her.
A few weeks ago, By Common Consent published a post about the recent Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, asking what we can do about domestic violence and abuse within our Church congregations. Some who commented expressed surprise that the author of the post implied that every ward of the Church has at least one “Ray Rice” in it; I agree that this particular extrapolation of statistics may not be fully correct and hope that there isn’t someone in every ward who regularly beats their spouse into unconsciousness. However, I’ve also seen enough situations to know that abuse takes many forms and Church members are not immune. Think about the following scenarios for a moment: Continue reading
The Boy who was Raised as a Dog
When our youngest was born (it’ll be 27 years ago on April 18th), my husband held Chase in his arms and cooed, “We love you so much, and you haven’t done anything cute yet!”
Fast forward a few years. We lived in a lovely little home with exposed beams and stucco walls. On the landing of the stairway, there was a significant crack from the settling of the house over time. Along that fissure the stucco jutted out – a mini tectonic plate shift. If one were inclined to pick at things, this provided great temptation. Three-year-old Chase didn’t see it as temptation but an opportunity suited to his curiosity. He plucked away at the stucco until there were shards of plaster on the carpet and lath exposed in the wall.
Within minutes I saw the mess and damage and bellowed an annoyed and mighty “Arrrgghhhhh!”
Chase heard this and absorbed it into his tender heart. “You broke my feelings!” he wailed.
Immediately I saw that it wasn’t Chase’s stucco plucking what was the problem. It was that my umbrage bruised his little psyche.
Quick intervention with hugs and cuddles seemed to salve his emotional wounds and eventually spackle and plaster took care of the wall. Chase has no memory of this encounter so he has either suppressed it admirably, or he successfully shook it off at the time. Continue reading
Today’s guest post comes from Theressa Schroeder, who has been writing since she was six years old. Originally a Northeasterner, she spent five interesting years in Utah picking up a B.A. in English. In the two years after that, she somehow found herself falling in love with a submariner in the U.S. Navy and now finds herself on a quiet island in the Bahamas with their two little boys. Luckily, she enjoys traveling nearly as much as writing, so this life is working out just fine.
Catching the news one night, I found myself captivated by the latest on the Elizabeth Smart trial. Her perpetrator had been recently sentenced, and she and her family were appearing at a news conference. I felt great sympathy as I watched this now grown-up, tall blonde young woman bravely face the on-going scrutiny into her very public past trauma. I wondered how difficult it must be to be unable to hide her past. Then, as her parents looked on proudly, and admiring reporters commented on how she’d taken her tragedy and turned it into something strong, I found myself rethinking her situation. By being unable to hide her past, this clearly courageous young woman could only grow into it, while those watching couldn’t help but see all that she’d become because of her struggle. I found myself wishing I could be just a little more like her.
Because I know some of what she’s been through. As a very young girl, I was molested by my father. I don’t think I’m that different in how I’ve taken my own experience and grown from it. Yet, I only rarely tell people even a small fraction of my true past. I carefully talk around the darker stories that color my childhood and often end up creating a picture of something that isn’t quite true. When people try to fill in the blanks, I let them do so. Continue reading