I wrote a post over a week ago that I have discussed some with my therapist and my husband. It is a pretty vulnerable post that lays bare some stuff from my past that may bring some repercussions back on me. Before I post it, I want to be emotionally prepared for the choices some people may make that will hurt me.
Eighteen years ago this month, I married a wonderful man in the Salt Lake Temple. I knew a little of the problems within his family of origin when I bound my fate with his that day, but I had no idea the many challenges that would lie ahead for us and the tremendous courage and determination I would have to have to survive; to protect myself, my husband, and my children from the web of deception and victimization I entered into.
First of all, I want to say that if I had it to do over again, I would still marry my husband. He has many good qualities and when horrible choices had to be made, he has done the right thing. I don’t blame him for the situation, I only admire him for the courage and loyalty he has shown to me as we have worked together to forge a better family for our own children.
This three part series of posts is about abuse, particularly abuse within the LDS community. By this I am not talking directly about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The church itself is one facet of a much more complex social system that has arisen around it. My observations have been that abuse within our membership is not systematic. It is not like Warren Jeffs or David Koresh where the leadership is abusing the congregations. It is more like the abusers are like parasites that live and profit from church structures while disguising themselves as faithful members. They create and thrive within a culture of silence and manage to deceive and foster sympathy from leadership and get access to victims. Because of vulnerabilities within our system that make it easier for them to operate, they thrive and often receive inadequate consequences if any at all. The Lord is not pleased. We can do better.
This is not to say that the church is bad or that the doctrines are incorrect. I am mindful of the man who tried to steady the ark in the Old Testament, and I pray that my Savior will have mercy on me as I tell my story in an effort not to fix His church, but to help the fallen souls who bare His name in this world. There is a difference between doctrine, ordinance, and authority, and our poor efforts to put them into practice in a fallen world. If we can help one another purge sin that has taken root within our society, we will all be blessed.
Much like the Jews at the time of the Savior, it wasn’t the law of Moses that Jesus Christ rejected and criticized, it was the cultural traditions and practices that were sinful and harmful that he confronted. In the end, the law of Moses was fulfilled and new ordinances and practices were put in place. Similarly, we believe that Joseph Smith, the American prophet of our time, was sent to restore sacred truth, confront harmful interpretations, and lay the foundation for a better society that would eventually become Zion, the New Jerusalem. One of our mandates as members is to work toward the “perfection of the saints,” and the realization of that Zion society in which we live in perfect harmony with God’s law. In order to bring Zion to reality, we must confront uncomfortable truths. We must bring sins from the darkness into the light. We must reject the culture of silence.
So that is why I am writing this post. Abusers create webs of lies and entrap their victims with confusion and helplessness. There are victims within our membership that have been willing to share their stories. Patrick Risk is one of them. Jan Broberg is another. I am now sharing my story. I am a relatively minor character in this drama. The predator that I became entangled with revealed himself to me early and that protected me from his manipulations. I watched him for years feeling helpless to protect myself or others from him. I have many regrets about what I didn’t say or do and that is part of why I want to tell my story. I want some relief from the guilt I feel. Hopefully as we share our stories we can embolden present and future victims and give them courage to fight abuse. It is much harder to do than you might think.
My second post in this three part series is mostly about Jan Broberg and the documentary I watched on Netflix. It has created a lot of emotional turmoil as I have processed through the experiences I have had in my husband’s family and the trauma I have experienced both directly and vicariously through the suffering of those I love and have considered family for the past eighteen years. This post has several practical principles that if applied correctly, can help us cleanse the church of the predators that live among us.
The third post is a detailed account of the predator in my life and his activities from my viewpoint. I have tried to avoid the use of names to identify individuals. This post is not intended to shame anyone. Even the predator himself was part of a larger system in which he himself was victimized. What I was told and what I saw is what is written in the third post as accurately as I can remember it. It’s purpose is to inform the reader of one example of an abusive predatory system that was protected and enabled within an LDS family.