I Can Feel Peace Again

    Note: This is a real experience shared from a survivor of abuse. Names and identifying information have been changed.

    My siblings and I were born into a dysfunctional family. From the time I was a young boy, I remember my parents fighting a lot. They disciplined us in ways I thought were normal but now recognize as abusive: blows, slaps, whippings, cold water baths, insults, threats, and hair and ear pulling. Sometimes they threw objects at us. Often they weren’t at home and my older brother was in charge. He followed my parents’ example in his treatment of us.

    I will never forget when Luis started to abuse me sexually when I was six years old. This happened usually when just the two of us were in the house. I thought I was the only one he sexually abused until I saw him with my sister when I was eight.

    Luis’s abuse grew worse over the years. He told me that if I did not cooperate, he would kill me. I believed him. Many times in my youth I lost all hope and felt completely traumatized, wishing I could disappear or die. I felt guilty and wondered what bad things I had done to be punished so harshly. I was always scared. I prayed many times to God; however, I thought He didn’t listen to me at all. I felt unprotected and abandoned.

    I was afraid to tell my parents about Luis’s actions. And Luis was always watchful. When my parents were present, he would use body language to threaten me and show me what would happen if I said something. I was constantly trying to hide from my brother and did not feel safe in my own home. I wanted to quit school and go to work so that I would be home less often. However, I was not allowed to do so.

    One day when I was 11, my father gave me money to buy beverages for the family. As I walked to the grocery store, Luis approached me from behind and demanded that I give him the money. He said, “If Father asks you where the drinks are, tell him that someone stole the money from you.”

    I was tired of this situation in my life and refused to obey him. He became angry and beat me until I fell to the ground. I got to my feet and stumbled back to my father. With tears streaming down my face, I told him what Luis had done. My father was furious with him.

    After that, I felt some relief. I didn’t tell my father about the sexual abuse though; I was embarrassed and almost felt at fault for the disgusting sexual things that Luis would make me do. After I spoke to my father, Luis stopped sexually abusing me, but he continued beating me up and hurting me. I learned to live with the pain. That was nothing compared to what he had done before.

    Later on, Luis decided to join the army. For us, that was the worst decision he could have made. My mother and father were relieved that Luis would be away from our home for a while, but Luis had a hard time in the army. He got crazier. Whatever he experienced in the army fueled his already violent nature. When he returned from his service, he acted worse than before.

    Eventually Luis started his own family. We hoped that maybe this would help him change. But that was not the case. He created more victims. His wife and children cried constantly. And he continued to fight with us and even with our neighbors.

    At age 18, I finally decided to leave my home. I was so tired of my life. I had scars and broken bones to remind me of the violence that Luis had put me through.

    After several years I met a young woman and got married, wishing to have a wonderful family that would be better than the one I grew up in. However, that didn’t work out well, and my marriage ended. I became depressed. I lost my job. I couldn’t study anymore. I broke the law of chastity and stopped going to church. Part of me felt disconnected from reality. I had no hope or motivation.

    I finally started praying hard for God to help me. I summoned up my courage and confessed my sins to the bishop. My bishop sent me to LDS Family Services to receive therapy. At first I thought my problems weren’t very big. However, I started sharing my background and facing my horrible issues. I learned to improve my relationship with my sisters. I also realized I had a sex addiction and started attending Addiction Recovery Program meetings. I discovered many things about myself in that process.

    It was a difficult road, but after some time, with encouragement from my friends from the recovery program, I decided to fully come back to the Church. I started working hard to be forgiven of the choices I made as a result of my pain and be worthy to go to the temple again.

    I have found answers in the recovery meetings. There I can freely share my thoughts and feelings. My friends in the program understand my problems and don’t judge me. They accept me for who I am and see the brightness of my future.

    My journey continues to require time, patience, love, service, open communication, and a humble heart. I take small steps one by one, gaining relief from the heavy weight on my shoulders. Through the power of Christ and His Atonement, I have gained more control in my life. God has changed my soul, and I can feel peace again. Now I have hope for the future.

    If you or someone you know has been abused, seek help immediately from civil authorities, child protective services, or adult protective services. You may also seek help from a victim advocate or counseling or medical professional. These services can help protect you and prevent further abuse. See the “In Crisis” page for more information.