Plain truth about the obscurity of abuse survivors.

paradoxical_silence_by_philomena_famulok-d6kcg8dShe adored him. Cooked for him. Tended to him. Laughed with him. Grew up with him.

He was her brother, after all.

Someone she looked up to.

Someone she could trust.

Someone who, because of the roles they naturally assumed, had authority over her.

***

He adored her.

Grew up with her.

Looked out for her.

Developed an all-consuming attraction to her.

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And then, he raped her.

***

Oh, sure, their dad was angry when he learned of the incident, but that soon passed. After all, he couldn’t bring himself to punish his eldest son, the apple of his eye.

The girl’s other brother, he took care of that, though. Killed the incestuous sibling.

And they lived happily ever after.

Most of them, that is.

Except for the girl.

They told her to hush.

They told her to get over it.

They told her to forgive and forget.

They told her the wounds would heal with time.

Get over it and get on with it, they said.

And they did.

Except for the girl.

Who, as the history books tell us, went off to live in desolation and obscurity.

Things haven’t changed much, have they?

Thousands of years have passed since the book of II Samuel was written and the lives of King David’s children, Tamar, Absalom and Amnon documented. 

Much ado has been rightfully made in the last week or two about an article published and then rescinded by the Leadership Journal. I’m not writing about it here to attempt to add to the wisdom of other writers have who’ve already posted on and led the way in successfully toppling this particular offender’s platform.

I only have a question.

What will you do about the Tamar’s, one out of every four (by conservative estimates) girls and women all around you?

In your church?

Yes, your conservative, evangelical, wealthy suburban church?

In your quiet little country church?

In your burgeoning, established city church?

Because the Amnon’s of the world know no boundaries.

It’s not the people you don’t know who will hurt your daughter, girlfriend, wife.

It’s the people you do know.

The charismatic worship leader.

The hipster youth leader.

The incred-amazing coach.

The theater professor.

The cousin.

The uncle.

The aunt.

The brother.

The father.

The mother.

The guy who got caught but weeps and grovels and praises Jesus for breaking him and makes everyone believe he’s been redeemed, who convinces everyone he had a mean judge who sentenced him to prison. Because you know, the girl in his youth group, she was sorta slutty, and she sat on his lap. What was he supposed to do? (See Maureen Garcia’s brave article here: I Married a Sex Offender.)

***

There is a better question.

What will you do to shatter the obscurity of the Tamar’s around you today?

To give them a voice?

To give them a platform?

To give them a reason

a purpose

and a hope

that they can step out of the shadows of shame

that they can live strong

and out loud

instead of in desolation?

***

Note: I wrote my novel, How Sweet the Sound, to give the Tamar’s of the world hope, and to let the rest of the world around them know what it feels like to suffer and begin to heal from the vices of sexual abuse and assault. I took great care to write the story in a way that is gentle enough for survivors to read without being triggered. But make no mistake: the book tells the truth. If you know a Tamar, they might like my book. And if you just want to understand a Tamar better, you might, too. 

***

For further reading, see also:

Ed Stetzer’s article, It’s Abuse not an Affair

Mary DeMuth’s brave post, Dear Man in Prison

Karen Swallow Prior’s heartbreaking article, #HowOldWereYou: Origins of a Heartbreaking Hashtag

Elizabeth Esther’s Open Letter to Christianity Today

HerMeneutic’s article, To Publish a Predator

The Leadership Journal‘s editorial apology for publishing their article, “From Youth Minister to Felon.”

 

 

 

 

On Abba and fathers and survivors

The first time the name Abba stuck with me is when I read Brennan Manning’s exquisite book, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging. Something about this particular way of referencing God–essentially as “daddy”–made me feel as if I was curled up and safe on His lap.

It’s no accident that most of the time Comfort (one of the two main protagonists in How Sweet the Sound, and the one who was raped and molested) refers to God as Abba.

Comfort argues with Abba.

She laments to Abba.

She weeps with Abba.

She asks Abba why.

Comfort talks with Abba the way He wishes all His children felt free enough to do. But because many abuse survivors are hurt by their fathers, many feel unable to approach God as a Father.

I am so incredibly grateful that I was not abused by my earthly father. In fact, my Dad is the epitomy of kindness, gentleness, and a strong protector.

They were, however, extended family members, and sadly, a few of their friends.

But my abuser was not–praise God–my father.

Trust may be the most difficult and enigmatic aspect of survivor recovery, especially when the people who are supposed to protect you the most violate the deepest, most private parts of you. Because so many have a hard time relating to God as someone who watches out for them, someone who delivers them, and someone in whom they can place their trust–things a father should be relied upon for–I decided to refer primarily to God as Abba in my novel, with the hopes that painful, triggering memories associated with the name “father” diminish for some.

Because whether eartly or eternal–especially eternal–we all need to know we have a Daddy who loves us unconditionally. Who can handle our deepest, darkest questions and secrets. Who binds up our wounds. Who heals us so we can bring hope to others.

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“Only reckless confidence in a Source greater than ourselves can empower us to forgive the wounds inflicted by others.”
Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
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Father-Silhouette-24[1]

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“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 NLT

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What about you?

Do you have a hard time thinking about God as your father?

Do you think the name Abba helps or hinders faith in Him?