Recently, a reader wrote into Geoff Steurer, an LDS licensed marriage and family therapist. She asked about her daughter who, at just 11-years-old, had been abused in a way that "broke her and our family." After this event, she began losing her faith, asking questions like, “Why did God let this happen to me? Why didn’t He stop it?” Here was Steurer's response:
My heart breaks for your little girl. Trauma at any age is awful, but it’s especially difficult to watch a child grapple with their loss of innocence at the hands of an abuser. Children are so trusting and simple in their view of the world. I’m sorry to hear she had to experience something so life altering.
Her questions are actually very normal for anyone who has been abused or betrayed. A belief in our Heavenly Father helps most people feel safe and protected, especially when difficult things happen. However, when someone has a traumatic experience that completely overwhelms his or her ability to cope, it’s common to begin questioning everything, including the reality of a loving and protective God.
We ask these difficult questions because we want to know what we can trust. Trauma is unpredictable and completely changes our perception of the world as safe and orderly. For most people, having a relationship with Heavenly Father is part of that order in the world. When everything is turned upside down from a betrayal, it’s common to wonder what is real and what is false.