In an unusually frank public sermon on a sensitive topic, Elder Richard G. Scott told Latter-day Saints during the faith's general conference on Saturday that God knows the details of each act of verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse and will help victims while holding abusers accountable.
"The rising tide of this vicious, abominable sin may not have touched your life personally. Yet it is pervasive enough in the world that it may have touched someone you love," said Elder Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. "It frequently causes such profound suffering that can be overcome that I want to speak of how healing can be attained."
To abusers, he said: "You likely have deceived yourself in the false, temporary security that you have successfully hidden your transgression from the civil or church authorities. But know that the Lord Jesus Christ is completely aware of your sins. Know that sometime, even without action by the victim, your acts of abuse will be publicly know, for Satan will expose you and abandon you."
He urged those who have abused others to "recognize that you need help with your addiction or it will destroy you. You will not overcome it by yourself. You likely need specialized professional help. I plead with you to be rescued now," he said, with a recognition that forgiveness is possible with complete repentance through Christ's atonement.
Such action "affords the perpetrator a way to avoid the severe punishment the Lord has decreed for such acts."
Seeking to provide hope and direction to those who have been victimized by abuse, Elder Scott said he knows victims "who have successfully made the difficult journey to full healing through the power of the atonement," including a woman who had been severely abused by her father as a child.
She then brought her father to see Elder Scott, telling him she loved her father but that he remained concerned about his abusive actions toward her. "They are no longer a problem for me. Could you help him?" she asked.
"If you are currently being abused or have been in the past, find the courage to seek help. You may have been severely threatened or caused to fear so that you would not reveal the abuse. Have the courage to act now. Seek the support of someone you can trust," including a bishop or stake president. "Do not fear," he said, "for fear is a tool Satan will use to keep you suffering. The Lord will help you, but you must reach out for that help."
He urged victims not to be discouraged in seeking help, or to believe there is no solution to their suffering.
"Do not let Satan convince you that you are beyond help.... You must have faith that all of these negative outcomes can be resolved, otherwise they will keep you from full recovery. While these consequences have powerful influence in your life, they do not define the real you," he said.
"Predators are skillful at cultivating a public appearance of piety to mask their despicable acts. Pray to be guided in your efforts to receive help. That support will come."Rest assured that the perfect judge, Jesus the Christ, with a perfect knowledge of the details, will hold all abusers accountable for every unrighteous act. In time, He will fully apply the required demands of justice unless there is complete repentance."