Sexual Abuse And Family Secrets

Question: “Six months ago, my grandpa passed away. Right before the viewing, I found out from my mom that he was not temple worthy and would not be in his temple clothes. I asked why, and was told that he had sexually abused someone and did not go through the repentance process appropriately. It sounds as though he had sexually abused more than one individual. Also, I found out from my younger sister that my younger brother had sexually abused her when he was a teen over a time period of five years. She was also sexually abused by a boss when she became a young adult. Through my sister, I found out that my mom had told her that she had been sexually abused by her brother (our Uncle). My problem (other than the obviously distraught way I feel) is, my parents are unhappy that my sister has been in (LDS Fam. Serv.) counseling for over a year. They feel she will bring anything and everything to the therapist – which will, in a sense make her (in their minds) incapable of dealing with the normal challenges of life by herself. I just told my parents that I have also been going to counseling also (LDS Fam. Serv.), and I know about my sister’s plight (I have been with her every step of the way – unlike the rest of my family). So, now they are afraid for us both. I don’t care, but then I do. I want them to know that both my sister and I are not getting brainwashed or something! They mentioned that in the Jan. 2010 Ensign that in “Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord’s Own Way”, it states, “We seem to be developing an epidemic of counselitis which drains spiritual strength from the Church much like the common cold drains more strength out of humanity than any other disease. Speaking figuratively, many a bishop keeps on the corner of his desk a large stack of order forms for emotional relief. When someone comes with a problem, the bishop, unfortunately, without a question, passes them out, without stopping to think what he is doing to his people. I want to know what I could do to let them see that sexual abuse has lasting effects. That the way I’ve learned to handle things in life is wrong and there are better ways that will benefit myself and others. Do you have any suggestions as to what to say or show to them (from the Ensign perhaps) to calm their fears?”

Answer: My sense from your post is that there is a lot of shame in your family. You mother likely is bearing a lot based on her own trauma and history. It is clear that the nature of the sexual abuse and the history in your family is indicative of a system in which abuse occurs and secrets are kept. My guess at this point with the details you offered is that your mother bears a huge sense of shame around her own abuse and the subsequent abuse in your own family of origin, the family of creation from your mother. She likely is minimizing the abuse in her own mind by saying that you guys need to deal with it.

I have an ensign index I created of scores and scores of articles by topic on mental health issues. The ensign index is located at http://www.ldsphonecounseling.com/ensign_articles.htm

The link for articles on sexual abuse is at http://www.ldsphonecounseling.com/ensign_articles.htm#abuse

Hope these help. Stay strong in you journey.