“We should also avoid any practices in which one person attempts to surrender even part of his will to another person or in which another person attempts to take it. Whether the means are chemical, behavioral, electronic, or others not yet dreamed of, such attempts run counter to the heavenly plan and further the adversary’s plan. Free agency, the power to choose and direct our thoughts and our actions, is a gift of God, and we should resist any means that would compromise it.“ Dallin H. Oaks, Free Agency and Freedom, 1987.
Abusers are trying to achieve one or more of the following:
-Make someone do something.
-Force someone to do something.
-Stop someone from doing something.
-Retaliate by punishing someone.
-Gain power and control.
-Avoid feeling certain feelings.
Several research projects have noted that men say they abuse their partners in order to keep score — to prove to their partner that he’s the winner, that he’s right, or that he’s bigger, better, stronger, more adult, or smarter. Abusers decide who to abuse, what tactic to use, how much harm to cause.
Believe an abuser when they show you that they are powerful. Even those who aren’t in the relationship can spot this if they watch. The abuser can’t help but talk about the times they’ve exerted their power. What fun is it for them if they can’t tell people how powerful they are? My abuser enjoyed telling how he tortured our cat one night; putting her in a kennel, taking her out to the yard and hosing her down while still in the kennel. Then leaving her outside, wet in the kennel, on a chilly fall night. He told many people this story. They cringed and didn’t know what to do or say in response. I didn’t know what to do or say in response either. How could the man I was married to be so cruel to a defenseless animal?
Believe an abuser when they prove to you that they want power. In LDS doctrine we often call this unrighteous dominion. As Elder Oaks says, this urge to control you and deny you of your agency is furthering the adversary’s plan. Your abuser’s actions are the same actions that Lucifer proposed in the council in heaven – to take away your agency.
Think for a moment, if you can, what you would do if you didn’t have to worry about your abuser’s reactions?
When I was posed this question it opened up my mind to how much I based my daily decisions on my abuser’s approval. If your choices in life are not determined by what you want to do, or what you feel God wants you to do, then you are not using your agency. I was not using my agency. When I realized it, I began to take my choices back.
We may not always like the choices we have, but we do always have choices. Christ died so that we could choose, learn, repent and still return to our Father in heaven. That is God’s plan, freedom to choose. We can’t learn and progress if we don’t first use our agency to choose for ourselves.