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LDS women say Church leaders encouraged them to stay with their abusers


(KUTV)- After the spousal abuse allegations against White House Staff Secretary, Rob Porter went public, many Mormon women are now saying their Church leaders encouraged them to stay with their abusers for the sake of the marriage.

According to an article from cnn.com, both women Porter had previously been married to shared how "the unique role the Mormon church played in their troubled relationships."

For many Mormons, the first line of help for any issue or advice outside the family is often the local bishop or the home teachers. In a recent article by BuzzFeed News, 20 female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they "had been victims of marital abuse and confined in their Church leaders for help."

The BuzzFeed article claimed that in response to women's requests for guidance, "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."

The article also stated that many other women were told by their clergy that "abuse was their fault, that they needed to work harder to satisfy their husbands’ sexual desires, and that they should pray or read their scriptures more often in order to deal with violence at home."

Holly Richardson, a Utah Legislator who has been an active voice in the Utah community took her opinion on this issue to Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

Circa affiliate KUTV reached out to the Church for a statement regarding domestic abuse within Mormon relationships. The church spokesman, Eric Hawkins, provided this statement that was also issued when the Rob Porter story first came out:

It is difficult to speak to specific circumstances without complete information from all involved, but the position of the Church is clear: There is zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. Church leaders are given instruction on how to prevent and report abuse and how to care for those who have been abused.

Donna Kelly, a prosecutor at the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office gave comment to Buzzfeed on this issue. "I think what we have in a lot of clergy cases is people, leaders, who are very well-meaning, who are trying to handle a problem they don’t understand.”

“In other words, they don’t have the training to solve domestic violence. They don’t have the training or the background or the information to be able to adequately deal with the problem.”

Free and confidential help and support for victims and survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence are available 24/7 at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) and udvc.org

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

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