Harm and Abuse

Last Updated on July 28, 2022 by Jason Harris


Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not feelings. The roots are ownership, the trunk is entitlement and the branches are control.

Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft

Growing up in Mormon culture, there is an attitude that the most important quality one can have in one’s approach to another human being is an attitude of caring, love and kindness.

I once fully embraced and believed this. I now STRONGLY disagree.

I think the most important quality one must possess in approaching others is first and foremost a proper understanding of ownership. What is truly one’s own to be entitled to… and not. What truly are one’s responsibilities… and not. Proper boundaries. Attitudes of caring, love and kindness must then be built on top of this. Not in lieu of this.

As the quote above from Lundy Bancroft, an international expert on abuse indicates, the foundation for abuse, even when not intentional, even stemming from the “best of intentions” is when “ownership” is misplaced.

We see this in all cases of abuse. Regardless of the institution or individual involved.

This is true in cases of over-controlling behavior.

This is also true in cases of neglect.

Does this mean all harm stems from misplaced ideas and concepts of ownership? Of course not. Much of it does though.

Embedded in patriarchy are profoundly mistaken ideas and concepts of ownership. Misappropriation. Within this global paradigm resides a MUCH smaller Mormon Church (as well as MANY other institutions).

Foundational to the Mormon Church are profound misappropriations of ownership.

There are objectively false claims of ownership to literally speaking for God. Solid objective evidence these ownership claims are false are suppressed or distorted by top leadership of the Mormon Church to keep members in line. Entitlement. Control.

These false beliefs of ownership (and the entitlements that come with that) start at the top of the Mormon church and extend down to literally every level of the Mormon Church.

In ecclesiastical interviews by local Mormon leadership for instance, harm can sometimes result. Even with the very BEST of intentions. This is because ownership is being claimed that ISN’T actually there. Bishops and other leaders act as if they are experts in arenas (mental health, marital relationships, etc.) that they AREN’T. Even if this is done with the very best of intentions… with the purest of hearts… this misplaced ownership CAN and DOES lead to harm.

Misappropriated claims to ownership and dishonest attempts to defend these are not unique to Mormonism though. Many other high-demand religious groups also engage in similar behaviors.

Any of us transitioning from Mormonism… especially any of us men transitioning from Mormonism have been exposed to many false ideas of ownership.

Unless ownership is properly understood… harm can result. Even if unintentional.

If I am to minimize harm in the lives of myself as well as those around me… I believe this starts with first properly owning what is mine to own. My feelings, my thoughts, my responsibilities, my true areas of expertise.

And not owning that which is not mine to own.

Only AFTER proper ownership is understood and embraced, will attitudes of kindness, caring and compassion help prevent harm and lead to truly benefitting myself and others.

This is true in my thoughts, actions and activities within my own family, profession and community.

Love with proper boundaries.

This is one of the biggest take-aways I am learning in my faith transition from Mormonism.

Jason Harris lived as an orthodox Mormon for forty years. He writes about his experiences leaving the Mormon Church and reconstructing a new World-View. He believes all religions and scripture are man-made, potentially helpful and harmful. He believes there is Divinity in all of them and everywhere.