Agency, Accountability, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ: Application to Sexual AssaultDean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences January 30, 2018 • Devotional
Being “an example of the believers,” living a life of kindness and compassion, keeping your covenant “to mourn with those that mourn,” and serving others can all have powerful effects on those around you.
As President Worthen mentioned, I earned two degrees at BYU. I also met my wife, Maureen, in a family home evening group while we were both students here. Returning to BYU after twenty-one years in Ohio felt like coming home. We love being a part of this great university.
In 2017 many stories were published regarding sexual harassment and assault. Celebrities, politicians, and corporate executives were among those accused of being perpetrators.1 The #MeToo campaign in social media2 and Time magazine’s selection of “the silence breakers” as the Person of the Year3 highlighted the increasing, sometimes controversial, focus on this issue. The Chronicle of Higher Education, a newspaper for university faculty and administrators, recently started tracking sexual harassment stories as they came to light at universities across the nation.4 I watched these stories and others in the new year with particular interest, given two university responsibilities I have had over the last two years that focused on the issue of sexual assault.
First, President Worthen asked me to serve on the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault. This council focused on examining the university’s response to incidents of sexual misconduct.5 Our charge was to determine how to better handle the reporting process for victims6 of sexual assault. To gather information, we set up a website where more than 3,100 people submitted feedback. Though it took many hours, we read every response, some of which described personal, heartbreaking experiences. Our work resulted in twenty-three recommendations, all of which have been or are being implemented at BYU, including developing an amnesty policy, changing organizational structure, creating a victim advocate position, and conducting a survey of BYU students regarding sexual assault.7 The second committee I served on surveyed all full-time students during the 2017 winter semester.8 Again we learned of some BYU students’ painful and distressing experiences with sexual assault.
These committees were not my first encounter with the issue of sexual assault. As a stake president, I prayerfully strive to be a source of comfort and healing for victims seeking assistance. As a psychologist, I sometimes counsel those who suffer the consequences of abuse or assault. When I worked at Ohio University, I reviewed research on sexual assault while serving on dozens of thesis and dissertation committees for the graduate students of my colleague Dr. Christine Gidycz. Even with this background, my service on the Advisory Council and Campus Climate Survey Committee made me all the more keenly aware of the suffering that is associated with sexual assault. What added to my sorrow was the fact that here at BYU, even though we have high standards for our conduct, there are individuals who perpetrate or experience unwanted sexual contact. This was discouraging.
Sexual assault is a difficult, highly charged, and sometimes political topic not easily discussed in any setting. I felt anxious and at times overwhelmed as I prepared this address. I did not volunteer to participate on the advisory council and certainly never imagined that I would deliver a devotional focused on the gospel doctrines associated with sexual assault. Yet my experiences led me to this moment, in which I feel an urgency to address this delicate topic. I pray that as I continue, the Spirit of the Lord will attend us and help communicate the intent of my remarks.
First, I want to address some doctrinal foundations before applying them to the specific issue of sexual assault.
During the Council in Heaven, we were given the opportunity to sustain Heavenly Father’s plan. Our very presence here today confirms our premortal decision to trust in the Savior and His Atonement rather than joining the father of all lies in his rebellious attempt “to destroy the agency of man.”9 The Lord later reaffirmed human agency when He told Adam and Eve that they could choose to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for it was given unto them.10
So now we find ourselves here in mortality having been given physical bodies and the opportunity to progress and demonstrate we have the faith to “do all things whatsoever the Lord” commands.11
The ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves [continue to be] essential in the plan of salvation. Without agency, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).12
With agency, we have the opportunity to become like God; however, progression is only possible in a context that is rich with a variety of real choices, including between good and evil.13 Life on earth is brimming with experiences that will help us progress: it brings with it a physical body, valuable mortal struggles, and the opportunity to live and learn by faith.
Accountability and Atonement
Implicit with this freedom to choose is the reality that we all make mistakes. Sometimes we do not have all of the information we need to make a good decision. Other times we make mistakes, transgress, or sin, which can bring painful consequences for ourselves and others. Agency is inextricably bound to accountability: for every decision and action, we remain answerable to God. Without Jesus Christ’s role in the plan of salvation, this accountability would mean a dead end for us in our progression. Because of the power of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, we can find peace, cleansing from sin, and ultimately eternal life in God’s presence.
Importantly, not all suffering or adversity in life is the result of our mistakes, transgressions, or sins. Adversity, frailty, weakness, disappointment, and suffering are inherent to the mortal experience. These challenging aspects of life are part of the plan of redemption. Some difficulties, such as sicknesses, accidents, natural disasters, and eventually death, occur because we live in a fallen world, and they give us opportunities to develop patience, humility, and compassion. The Atonement of Jesus Christ provides help for this type of heartache as well.14
In addition, some of the most complicated problems in life are the direct result of injuries caused when our fellow human beings unrighteously exercise their agency to hurt, control, coerce, or use others. Unfortunately, people around us—even those closest to us, such as our family, dating partners, and friends—sometimes use their agency to act in ways that injure us. While our Heavenly Father recognizes and cares about the evil and pain we experience in this world at the hands of others, He will not remove their agency, because doing so would violate the boundaries that promote our progression. “To preserve moral agency, the Lord does not restrain individuals from improper use of that agency.”15 “He understood that some of His spirit children would use that agency improperly, causing serious problems to others.” But God did not leave us to suffer at the hands of others without providing “a way of overcoming the tragic consequences of such damaging use of agency.”16 The Savior’s atoning sacrifice can heal us from the hurt and abuse of others.17 Even so, it is upsetting and sometimes agonizing to experience the evil, ignorant, or naïve acts of some people that harm us or our loved ones.
The last doctrinal foundation I would like to highlight is connected to sexual intimacy.
Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of Their creative power. Specific guidelines for the proper use of the ability to create life are vital elements in the Father’s plan. How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity.18
When used inappropriately through dehumanizing objectification of others, for selfish gratification, or as a tool to subjugate and manipulate another person, sexual contact becomes an act of aggression that lacks respect for agency, affection, and God’s standards. On the other hand, sexual intimacy can be a healthy, positive experience when it is mutually expressed under the right circumstances, within healthy contexts, and with the full consent of both individuals.
How does this doctrinal background apply to the issue of sexual assault? I will discuss this relative to perpetrators, victims, and others.
Within this doctrinal context, it is easy to see why committing sexual assault is such a grievous sin. The perpetrator exerts power over another person, disregards that person’s agency by depriving them of their right to control their own physical body, and treats them as an object to satisfy their selfish desires. Individuals who force or coerce sexual contact engage in one of the most personal and invasive forms of aggression. The very definition of sexual assault underscores the idea that the perpetrator is denying the agency of the victim.
For example, the definition of a sexual offense in Utah criminal code includes sexual acts committed when “the victim expresses lack of consent through words or conduct.”19 If the other person does not agree to—or does not willingly and freely agree to—touching, kissing, or other sexual behavior, they have not given consent. Consent cannot be given when the person is asleep, unconscious, intoxicated, or does not have the intellectual capacity to agree, including when they are minors. Similarly, just because a person stops resisting or freezes20 in response to pressure, manipulation, or coercion does not mean that they have consented to sexual contact.
Some may mistakenly believe I am describing situations that only occur when strangers suddenly assault unknowing victims. The data from the BYU campus climate survey, similar to national data,21 illustrate a very different reality. Of the 12,602 students who completed the survey, 475 reported 730 separate incidents of unwanted sexual contact.22 Fifty-two percent of the incidents were perpetrated by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse. A combined 37 percent were perpetrated by an acquaintance, friend, or former friend. Only 6 percent were perpetrated by a stranger.23 These findings suggest that some men—and I use men because the data clearly indicate that men are far more likely to be the perpetrator than women24—either misunderstand the nature of consent in a relationship, misinterpret their partner’s wishes, or understand their partner’s wishes and directly ignore them as they force their own will upon their partner.
I believe some instances of unwanted sexual contact at BYU occur because one person assumes the other is interested and “goes for it” without ever checking to see if their perception of the other person’s wishes is accurate. They then may stop when explicitly asked, but only after having kissed or touched without permission. Although this situation is different from one in which a perpetrator deliberately ignores the other’s wishes and forces sexual contact, it is still without consent and is prone to result in significant negative consequences for the other person.
Accordingly, I wish that all people knew how to ask first. Instead of guessing or assuming, we can rely on direct information.25 For example, one possibility is to ask first, and if consent is given, then you kiss. It might go something like this: “I like you. I really enjoy being with you and getting to know you. Would it be alright if I kissed you?” Then you wait to hear the response before acting.
I realize this is very different from the movie scene in which the good-looking and charming hero grabs the leading lady in spite of her physical resistance and kisses her forcefully. Typically, this fictional scene then portrays her melting in the heat of the moment and eventually returning the affection. You are bombarded with these types of unrealistic scenarios in many formats. Please learn to discern between reality and fantasy.26 These are fake relationships that sometimes romanticize assault, and though some may swoon from their appeal, the most respectful approach in real life is to honor the personal space and physical autonomy of others and only kiss or touch when you are sure you have consent. Remember, sexual contact without consent is assault.
When talking with students as I prepared this devotional, some were skeptical of the idea of seeking consent. They worried that asking for permission might “ruin the moment” or feel awkward and embarrassing. It would be convenient if consent for every attempt at physical expression of affection was intuitively known by both parties. The problem is that not every kiss is wanted. Wouldn’t it ruin the moment if a person does not know how to read nonverbal signals well or simply believes that the other person is interested when in reality they are not? The pain of being physically violated is much worse than the brief and potentially awkward moment when someone lets you know that they would like to be more physically intimate. Besides, I believe it is possible to find creative, fun, and romantic ways to ask for permission that may even improve the moment.
Covenant Marriage and Consent
As Latter-day Saints, we understand that a sexual relationship is sacred and only sanctioned by God within marriage, where spouses freely give themselves to one another emotionally and physically. When transformed by a sealing covenant within holy temples, this marital union becomes eternally sanctified.
When we understand that physical intimacy is a profound expression of love, trust, and creative powers within covenant marriage, then the issue of consent becomes even more vital. Marriage itself is not consent to intimacy. Spouses have the same obligation to respect one another’s agency and physical and personal space, just as in any other relationship. What joy could possibly accompany a sexual relationship in which only one spouse is freely and willingly engaged? Or, spoken more positively, what an incredible opportunity for affection and joy when covenant-making husband and wife willingly and mutually consent to use God-given creative powers as a way to express their love and devotion to one another.
Agency and Personal Space
Through my service on the Advisory Council and Campus Climate Survey Committee, I have also gained insights about consent and agency in everyday nonsexual, interpersonal interactions. For example, I realized that I sometimes roughhoused with my grandchildren in a way that disregarded their right to choose how to manage their personal space. While playing together, I sometimes chased and grabbed one of my grandchildren and then tickled them while ignoring their protests.
In the middle of the summer of 2016, while reading first-person accounts of sexual assault, I realized that tickling my grandchildren in this way was potentially problematic. Although it was innocent and all in good fun, perhaps it was not okay for me to tickle them in spite of their objections. I wondered, “What am I teaching them about agency, their voice, and their personal space? Will these early learning experiences influence their perceptions about what is and is not okay in future relationships?” My study of sexual assault changed my ideas and behavior concerning personal space and respect for another’s agency.
Accountability and Repentance
Those who violate another’s agency through force or coercion or by ignoring or naïvely guessing about their wishes regarding sexual contact will stand accountable for their actions. President Gordon B. Hinckley said it this way:
And then there is the terrible, vicious practice of sexual abuse. It is beyond understanding. It is an affront to the decency that ought to exist in every man and woman. It is a violation of that which is sacred and divine. It is destructive in the lives of children. It is reprehensible and worthy of the most severe condemnation.27
If you are one who has committed this sin, I encourage you to see your bishop, to repent, to cooperate with legal authorities when necessary, and to seek professional help. “The seriousness of your acts may require you to face civil and Church discipline. But full repentance will bring the sweet relief of forgiveness, peace of conscience, and a renewed life.”28
On the other side of the incidents of unwanted sexual contact are the victims. Of the BYU students we surveyed, 6.5 percent of female students and 1.2 percent of male students were victims of sexual assault at BYU in the twelve months prior to the survey.29 These children of God experienced intimate, personal violations to which they did not consent. In addition, 1,692 students (21 percent of surveyed women and 6 percent of surveyed men) experienced sexual assault or abuse as a child or adolescent prior to coming to BYU.30
To those who have had traumatic experiences, please know there are people—many people—who are concerned for your welfare and many people who have experienced on a personal level what you have experienced. You are not alone. We know that you were unjustly harmed and that you may continue to have negative thoughts and feelings. We know that your view of your own safety and the predictability of the world and people in the world has likely changed.31 You may feel frightened, damaged, unworthy, ashamed, or helpless at times. Some of you are already on the road to recovery and are beginning to understand that you were not responsible when someone violated your agency and that you are not damaged or worth less because of the incident. You are children of God, and He stands ready to assist you. You are certainly deserving of the title “survivor.” Your healing can occur either with or without professional help, depending on your circumstances. Yet we know the road you now travel is often filled with suffering and doubt, and we are ready to help.
Through my professional interactions and church interviews with victims of sexual abuse and assault, I know that sometimes victims try to figure out why these bad things happened to them. Some wonder if they did something wrong to deserve this circumstance.32 Some question their own behavior and wonder if they did something to encourage the other person to ignore their wishes—as if they somehow invited this behavior.33 Especially if they made other decisions around the time of the incident that they now see as questionable, they may think they are somehow partially responsible for what happened to them.34 But you are not responsible for that to which you did not consent! That is the essence of agency.
Let me illustrate with a personal experience. In 1990 our family moved to a very small community in southeast Ohio called The Plains. On the first night, someone broke into our car and took everything they wanted to keep. When I discovered the theft, several thoughts came immediately to mind:
“If I had only parked closer to the house and away from the street.”
“It’s my own fault; I should have locked the car doors.”
“How naïve of me to think we were safe just because this is a small, rural town.”
“If I had been more alert, I could have prevented this from happening.”
Do you see how I took responsibility for a crime committed by someone else? No matter where I had parked, how naïve I had been, or whether I had locked the doors or not, no one has the right to take things from my car without my permission. I was not responsible for the theft. Yet I automatically took the blame because I could imagine things that I thought I should have done differently.
This is a common response to victimization.35 Similarly, in the much more serious and harmful case of sexual assault, when one’s agency and ability to determine what happens to their own body are disregarded, the victim may automatically respond to the situation with feelings of guilt or shame because they can imagine ways in which they think they could have or should have avoided the situation. After an assault, a victim may attempt to reestablish a sense of control and order to their life by taking some of the blame for what happened.
Victims are not the only ones to erroneously think they may be responsible for what happened to them. Sometimes friends and relatives may think the victim did something to contribute to the situation. Perhaps you heard my story and thought I was partly responsible for losing my possessions because I left the car doors unlocked. Let me be very clear about the responsibility for sexual assault. The perpetrator is responsible for their actions. A victim was deprived of their agency, and they are not accountable for what happened to them without their consent—no matter what they were wearing, where they were, or what happened beforehand. They did not invite, allow, sanction, or encourage the assault. As it states on LDS.org:
Victims of abuse [or assault] should be assured that they are not to blame for the harmful behavior of others. They do not need to feel guilt. If they have been a victim of rape or other sexual abuse, whether they have been abused by an acquaintance, a stranger, or even a family member, victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sexual sin.36
Gratefully, “Our [Heavenly] Father provided a way to heal the consequences of acts that, through force, misuse of authority, or fear of another, temporarily take away the agency of the abused.”37
That secure healing comes through the power of the Atonement of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to rectify that which is unjust. Faith in Jesus Christ and in His power to heal provides the abused with the means to overcome the terrible consequences of another’s unrighteous acts.38
This healing can be supplemented with a variety of resources.39 In an inspired general conference talk, “To Heal the Shattered Consequences of Abuse,” Elder Richard G. Scott encouraged survivors to seek help from their bishops, to use professional help, and to recognize Satan’s attempts to discourage and deceive them into believing that there is no hope for their future.40 There is hope! There is healing! I recommend reading Elder Scott’s talk and other resources on LDS.org41 for those suffering at the hands of another.42 Real peace and healing are available from Him who suffered
pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; . . .
[who took] upon him their infirmities, that his bowels [might] be filled with mercy . . . , that he [might] know . . . how to succor his people according to their infirmities.43
Friends, Relatives, and Bystanders
Many of you have been neither perpetrators of nor victims of sexual assault. You want to help but may not know exactly what to do. Whether you are aware of it or not, there is someone around you whose life has been altered by sexual violence.44 Being “an example of the believers,”45 living a life of kindness and compassion, keeping your covenant “to mourn with those that mourn,”46 and serving others can all have powerful effects on those around you. Please do not underestimate the influence of diligent obedience, daily worship, and active service. You can do much good in a general way without realizing how the Spirit is working through you to bless the lives of others.
If a friend or relative tells you they have been the victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse—and our data suggest they are most likely to tell a friend or a roommate47—tell them you believe them, express your concern for them, and encourage them to seek professional help. If they are a student at BYU, there are several resources available to them. If they wish, they can see the university’s victim advocate and receive confidential advice about the various options for proceeding. They may choose to seek a medical evaluation. In our community, most all hospital emergency departments and the BYU Health Center provide free exams for recent victims of assault.48 The BYU Title IX Office can provide resources and support to help them be successful in school. In most cases the Title IX Office will not move forward with a formal investigation of the perpetrator unless the victim wants them to proceed.49 Confidential counseling is also available to BYU students at BYU Counseling and Psychological Services. You might even offer to walk with your friend to one of these offices so that they feel supported as they obtain help.
You can also be respectful and kind to your neighbors, friends, family, and dating companions. You can provide safety and refuge for those who are victimized. You can help by recognizing that the words and actions you choose influence those around you, including some who are survivors. You can stand up to others when you hear inappropriate remarks. You can also be alert for signs of inappropriate behavior in relationships and take actions to provide assistance when needed. Only by uniting our voices and actions to assist victims and to promote respect for others can we help to end sexual violence.
In our conversations about sexual assault, we too often overlook the fact that many people are respectful, kind, and considerate of others in their daily and intimate relationships. There is so much good and right among hundreds and thousands of couples. If you are among this group, I congratulate you on your respect for the agency of others and your desire to treat others with dignity. As we treat one another as children of God, we base our relationships on the love, respect for agency, and kindness necessary to form a stable foundation for eternal relationships.
It is my prayer that the doctrines and principles of the gospel might shed light on this difficult topic in such a way as to bring hope rather than discouragement. If you are confused, uncertain, or disheartened, please seek out support and places to talk through your concerns. Our moral agency is a divine gift that makes it possible for us to progress through mortality by facing opposition, choosing the light, and returning to our Father in Heaven. If you have been harmed because of others’ misuse of their agency, there are resources available to you on campus, and thankfully the way has been prepared through the Atonement of Jesus Christ for you to be healed from the injuries, injustices, and offenses of others. “O how great the goodness of our God”!50 “O how great the plan of our God!”51 The way may be difficult, yet we will eventually triumph over every adversity.
Finally, when we respect others’ agency, especially in healthy relationships that can lead to, and thereafter enrich, covenant marriage, we have the potential to jointly, mutually, and consensually engage in an intimate and eternal marriage that can bring us a fulness of joy with our families in the presence of our Eternal Father. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. See Amanda Luz Henning Santiago, “36 Powerful Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct After Harvey Weinstein,” Business Insider, 29 November 2017, businessinsider.com/powerful-men-accused-of-sexual-misconduct-after-harvey-weinstein-list-2017-10.
2. See Sophie Gilbert, “The Movement of #MeToo: How a Hashtag Got Its Power,” Atlantic, 16 October 2017, theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-movement-of-metoo/542979.
3. See Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards, “Person of the
Year 2017: The Silence Breakers,” Time, 18 December 2017, time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017
4. See Nell Gluckman, Brock Read, Katherine Mangan, and Bianca Quilantan, “Tracking Higher Ed’s #MeToo Moment: Updates on Sexual Assault and Harassment,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 13 November 2017, chronicle.com/article/Tracking-Higher-Ed-s-MeToo/241757.
5. Misconduct at BYU includes sexual harassment, stalking, domestic violence, dating violence, or sexual violence. See Brigham Young University Policies, “Sexual Misconduct Policy,” 23 March 2015, policy.byu.edu/view/index.php?p=155.
6. See “Key Terms and Phrases,” RAINN, rainn.org/articles/key-terms-and-phrases.
7. See Brigham Young University, “Report of the Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault,” 7 October 2016, news.byu.edu/sites/default/files/AdvisoryCouncilReport.pdf.
8. See Brigham Young University, “Report on the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault,” November 2017, news.byu.edu/sites/default/files/Campus%20Climate%20Report_F2017.pdf.
10. See Moses 3:16–17.
11. Abraham 3:25; see also verse 24.
12. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Topics page, “Agency and Accountability,” lds.org/topics/agency?lang=eng.
15. Richard G. Scott, “To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse,” Ensign, May 2008.
16. Scott, “Heal Shattering Consequences.”
18. David A. Bednar, “We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign, May 2013.
19. Utah Code 76-5-406, “Sexual Offenses Against the Victim Without Consent of Victim—Circumstances,” Utah State Legislature, 12 May 2015, circumstance 1, le.utah.gov/xcode/Title76/Chapter5/76-5-S406.html.
20. See Rebecca Campbell, “The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault: Implications for First Responders in Law Enforcement, Prosecution, and Victim Advocacy,” Research for the Real World Seminar, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, 3 December 2012, nij.gov/multimedia/presenter/presenter-campbell/Pages/welcome.aspx.
21. See Christopher Krebs, Christine Lindquist, Marcus Berzofsky, Bonnie Shook-Sa, Kimberly Peterson, Michael Planty, Lynn Langton, and Jessica Stroop, “Campus Climate Survey Validation Study: Final Technical Report,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Research and Development Series, U.S. Department of Justice, bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ccsvsftr.pdf.
22. See BYU, “Report on the Campus Climate Survey,” 2.
23. See BYU, “Report on the Campus Climate Survey,” 3.
24. See BYU, “Report on the Campus Climate Survey,” 2.
25. See Annika M. Johnson and Stephanie M. Hoover, “The Potential of Sexual Consent Interventions on College Campuses: A Literature Review on the Barriers to Establishing Affirmative Sexual Consent,” PURE Insights 4, no. 1 (2015), digitalcommons.wou.edu/pure/vol4/iss1/5.
26. See David A. Bednar, “Things as They Really Are,” CES fireside address, 3 May 2009, lds.org/media-library/video/2009-05-0030-things-as-they-really-are?category=ces-devotionals/2009-ces-firesides&lang=eng#d; see also Bednar, “Things as They Really Are,” Ensign, June 2010.
27. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Save the Children,” Ensign, November 1994.
28. Scott, “Heal Shattering Consequences.”
29. See BYU, “Report on the Campus Climate Survey,” 2.
30. See BYU, “Report on the Campus Climate Survey,” internal report.
31. See Campbell, “The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault.”
32. See Edna B. Foa and Barbara Olasov Rothbaum, Treating the Trauma of Rape: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for PTSD (New York: Guilford Press, 1998).
33. See Rebecca Campbell, Emily Dworkin, and Giannina Cabral, “An Ecological Model of the Impact of Sexual Assault on Women’s Mental Health,” Trauma, Violence, and Abuse 10, no. 3 (July 2009): 225–46.
34. See Nyla R. Branscombe, Michael J. A. Wohl, Susan Owen, Julie A. Allison, and Ahogni N’gbala, “Counterfactual Thinking, Blame Assignment, and Well-Being in Rape Victims,” Basic and Applied Social Psychology 25, no. 4 (December 2003): 265–73.
35. See Neal J. Roese, “Counterfactual Thinking,” Psychological Bulletin 121, no. 1 (January 1997): 133–48.
36. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Topics page, “Abuse,” lds.org/topics/abuse?lang=eng.
37. Scott, “Heal Shattering Consequences.”
38. Scott, “Heal Shattering Consequences.”
39. See Isaiah 61:3; Marshall, “Learning the Healer’s Art”; James R. Rasband, “Faith to Forgive Grievous Harms: Accepting the Atonement as Restitution,” BYU devotional address, 23 October 2012; Jonathan G. Sandberg, “Healing = Courage + Action + Grace,” BYU devotional address, 21 January 2014.
40. See Scott, “Heal Shattering Consequences.”
41. See Gospel Topics page, “Abuse.”
42. See Chieko Okazaki, “Healing from Sexual Abuse,” episode 101 in Embracing Hope: Confronting, Understanding, and Healing from Abuse, BYU conference, 23 October 2002, youtube.com/watch?v=Rs4XJURtSug.
43. Alma 7:11–12; emphasis added.
44. See Joe Hadfield, “A National Expert’s Take on BYU’s Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault,” BYU News, 16 November 2017, news.byu.edu/news/national-expert-campus-climate-survey-sexual-assault.
45. 1 Timothy 4:12.
46. Mosiah 18:9.
47. BYU, “Report on the Campus Climate Survey,” 6.
48. See Julie Valentine, “Commentary: Unite in the Fight Against Sexual Violence,” Opinion, Salt Lake Tribune, 2 December 2017, sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2017/12/02/commentary-unite-in-the-fight-against-sexual-violence.
49.See BYU, “Sexual Misconduct Policy,” for a full explanation of circumstances that might warrant an investigation contrary to the complainant’s request.
50. 2 Nephi 9:10.
51. 2 Nephi 9:13.
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Benjamin M. Ogles, dean of the BYU College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, delivered this devotional address on January 30, 2018.