Rob Porter, White House staff secretary, is a Mormon. He’s also been accused of domestic violence against his two ex-wives. The combination of those things triggered a panic attack for Jodi, a young Mormon woman who was encouraged to stay in her abusive marriage or suffer eternal consequences.
A recent Buzzfeed story chronicles how Jodi, and other Mormon women like her, have started speaking out about the abuse they suffered, and the threats from their pastors that kept them from leaving:
In the days since the Porter story broke, articles mentioning the alleged abuse have been shared widely among some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in private online groups, via email and text message, and publicly on Facebook. In some instances, the posts have elicited a long string of responses from Mormon women alleging similar things have happened to them.
BuzzFeed News spoke with more than 20 current and former female members of the LDS church from seven states for this story, all of whom said that they had experienced domestic abuse and then gone to their clergy for help. In most cases, those leaders were bishops, roughly the LDS equivalent of pastors who serve on a volunteer basis. Bishops are drawn from the church’s lay priesthood, are all men, and serve for several years while maintaining jobs, families, and any other personal commitments.
In response to their requests for guidance, the women said, they were told by their bishops to stay in abusive relationships, that their eternal salvation could be jeopardized by leaving violent partners, and that they were to blame for their marital problems. Though some reported positive experiences with church leaders, every woman who spoke with BuzzFeed News for this story said there are widespread inadequacies in the way local Mormon leaders handle reports of abuse and domestic violence.
Sadly, this is not a uniquely Mormon issue. Minimizing the effects of abuse happens all over Christianity, which is odd, considering that men are the ones who are trusted to lead their families spiritually. Yet somehow, the women are held responsible for keeping their tempers in check. Talk about double standards.
Gaslighting is a common tool of abusers to keep their victims in line. It’s even more powerful when victims are told that God will punish them for doing what’s necessary to save their lives.
(Screenshot via YouTube)