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Forensic nurse and advocate shares specific message for abuse survivors during BYU devotional

BYU professor of nursing Julie Valentine delivers the campus devotional address on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Provo, Utah.
BYU professor of nursing Julie Valentine delivers the campus devotional address on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Provo, Utah.
Joey Garrison/BYU Photo

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Life as a forensic nurse primarily caring for rape survivors is a career “immersed in great trauma and sadness,” Julie Valentine said Tuesday during her devotional address at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

“For many of my patients, I am with them during the worst time of their lives. Yet, some of my patients share a lifetime of trauma and abuses. In my work, there seems to be a never-ending amount of despair, brutality and pain.”

However, Valentine also she is “equally surrounded by tremendous light and beauty.”

She shared a specific message for survivors of all abuse:

“I pray that you understand that healing is a long process, different for every individual. Be kind and patient with yourself. I pray that you believe in your nobility as a child of God. I pray that you know that you are loved by your Heavenly Father, who sees your unlimited worth and beauty. I pray that you feel surrounded by the healing and hope extended by our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his Atonement. I pray that you receive strength from others who love you. I pray that you grow in your ability to feel strong and empowered to heal and to bloom.”

Valentine said she frequently shares with her patients a card with a photo of crocus flowers and the word “bloom.”

The image she shared of that resilient flower tied her devotional directly to another event this week 2,000 miles to the northeast — after 20 tragic, history-altering months that included 5 million deaths, the first dedication of a Latter-day Saint temple since the start of the pandemic.

An image of a crocus flower shared during Julie Valentine’s BYU devotional address.
An image of a crocus flower shared during Julie Valentine’s BYU devotional address on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Provo, Utah.

Crocus flowers are the first to emerge as winter begins to end, signaling the renewal of spring just ahead. Purple blossoms often rise through the snow in Canada, where the new Winnipeg Manitoba Temple is decorated by a stone prairie crocus at the base of the temple’s steeple.

“It comes forth in the snow and in the coldest weather and blooms,” Winnipeg native Susan Paunins told the Church News. “And even though it is surrounded by snow, it knows the warmth of the sun will keep it alive.”

A prairie crocus decorates the red brink of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple in Winnipeg, Canada.
A prairie crocus decorates the red brink of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple in Winnipeg, Canada, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. Both the crocus and red brick are unique features of this temple.
Daniel Crump for the Deseret News

Valentine’s message to survivors is, “Just as the crocus flowers bloom after a long, cold and dark winter, may you emerge from your pain and suffering to bloom and share your beauty with the world.”

Valentine told BYU students they have a noble responsibility to use their strength and influence for good. Her “for good” is working to decrease sexual and intimate partner violence.

“I am often asked how I can do this difficult work of caring for individuals impacted by violence. My response is, ‘How can I not?’ I can do this work because I believe that I have a noble responsibility to use my strength and influence for good.”

She said it is good for university students to invest themselves in their education and experiences.

“Use your strength to learn and to grow. Investing in yourself reflects self-love and self-worth. Remember, the second commandment of loving thy neighbor as thyself affirms that we are to love ourselves. Be good to yourself by investing in your education, talents, skills and relationships,” she said.

All people share the responsibility to help survivors and others bloom, Valentine said:

“May we use our influence and strength to uplift, sustain and heal one another. Small, seemingly insignificant actions such as saying, ‘I am there for you’ or ‘you matter to me’ or just sitting in companionable silence all make a difference. May we reflect God’s love to those who have forgotten what they are capable of and who they are.”

To watch Valentine’s devotional, visit BYUtv.

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Behind the scenes

Forensic nurse Julie Valentine shows the card she gives to rape survivors of crocus flowers blooming through the snow.
Julie Valentine shares the card she regularly gives to rape survivors in her work as a forensic nurse. Valentine, a professor and associate dean of undergraduate studies and research at BYU’s College of Nursing, talked about her work during a devotional address on the Provo, Utah, campus on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.