Sitting on my kitchen window ledge is a plaque, and on it is written a quote. I bought it on clearance at Home Goods a couple of years ago. I decided a long time ago that I would put nothing in my house unless it meant something to me. I would never put up decor just for the sake of decorating, it had to speak to me in some way. And this little plaque spoke to me. It spoke to my soul. Everyday, as I do dishes, I read it. On my robotic, get-things-done-in-a-hurry kind of days, the words don't sink in. They don't compute, as I'm running through my mental to-do list and talking to the kids. But there are days when I read it, ponder it, and my imagination takes flight on what it means for me. It reads,
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead to where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have always loved Emerson, and right now, this quote speaks to me more than ever.
I've started this new blog to write about deeply personal thoughts and experiences in dealing with my childhood sexual abuse and what I'm about to embark on. I've wanted to do this for awhile now, to write freely and openly about these things, but I have always been held back by the fear of what my family would think and how other members of my church would respond. I disagree with a lot of decisions my family has made and the actions my church has taken. When you're Mormon, it is frowned upon to disagree or question decisions of the leadership, and I very much disagree with how they handled my abuser and how they've handled my concerns. I also think that my family has taken a lot of the gospel principles and twisted them to justify their decisions.
I am writing this as an active member in the Mormon church. I love the gospel, but am disappointed in how certain things are handled and I disagree with a lot of the culture of the church. Things should be changed. I have received countless emails from people just like me, who have endured sexual abuse by other members of the church, and who have been treated poorly, ignored, and even ostracized, while they watch the circle of fellowship and love surround their abusers. I really hope some reform will be done soon and I need to express my voice and my beliefs on this matter.
I’ve seen, first-hand, in my church culture and in my family that they believe if a child molester has “repented” then we have no right to judge him. We should treat him as if nothing has happened. We have no right to keep our kids from him because that is saying that we don’t believe he has repented and is better now. No matter that he is an admitted pedophile.
In the Mormon culture, we make monsters of those who express anger and outrage, when sometimes anger and outrage is exactly what is needed. Don’t believe me? Then read the Bible. There is a concept called righteous indignation and Christ expressed it when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and made his anger known. I believe that a pedophile, who has never answered for his crimes and who may have more victims, is deserving of some outrage.
I know the path expected of me. It is that I get over my abuse, let my abuser live his life without penalty, and to forgive by their definition of forgiveness. I have tried their way. But now I am going where there is no path and leave a trail.
I have forgiven my abuser. I have a great life with a supportive husband and amazing kids. I live in a beautiful place and live in a home I adore. I feel like my life is magical and wonderful. I do not walk around, all of my days, in anger. I live in peace. I forgive, but believe justice is called for and reform needs to be made.
I am taking my next step. My journey is now what can the state of California do after all this time? And if they can do nothing, what do I need to do to pursue civil litigation. I know this leaves me exposed to people in my family and my church to vilify, but I refuse to take any of the critisim for the steps I now take.
And so I start this blog…to chart my journey through this process. I am now leaving a trail.