The core of abuse is control. Any time we try to control another person, we are opening ourselves up to possibly abusing them. The main difference between "merely" attempting to control a person and actually abusing them is only by degree; how far are you willing to go to attempt that control?

This is why it is so difficult to label abuse, and why it is so difficult for victims of abuse to be believed. When a woman goes to someone and says "he got mad at me and broke some of my things," a typical first thought is something like, "well, that's not all that bad, I've wanted to break things before." Just like Satan's methods of leading us down to hell, the difference is gradual. Our desire to control our environment coupled with our belief in our own invulnerability, makes it all too easy to align ourselves with abusers rather than victims.

I remember hearing stories of abused women and thinking, "I would never let someone hit me." I've heard others say similar things, "Well, if it was me, I'd have kicked him right out of the house the moment he laid a finger on me."

But it's not that easy. Just like Bugs Bunny's lines to cross, there is never a clear-cut moment of no return until it's too late.

There are many cases where the priesthood has been used to attempt control. Often, this leaves members bitter about their experiences and cautious when dealing with priesthood leaders. But the Lord taught that those who attempt to control are not actually working by the powers of heaven. He also pointed out that most of us who are given power immediately try to use that power to control. In other words, the tendency to abuse is part of our natural man status, and is normal.

But normal does not mean acceptable.

I believe that one of the best weapons in the fight against abuse is self-realization. If we realize that all of us have this tendency to control, and that we are separated from abusers only by our unwillingness to go to certain lengths, we are empowered to recognize controlling behavior before it blossoms into abuse, both in ourselves and in others.

And, while I'll not go into detail here, there is much to be learned about the powers of heaven and the structure of eternity once we master this concept.
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