She 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.
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Much ado has been rightfully made in the last week or two about an article published and then rescinded by the Leadership Journal.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 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
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.”