it isn’t new. and maybe that’s where a large part of the tragedy lies. in that it isn’t new. and it hasn’t changed.
it happens. regularly. almost religiously. it’s one of the things you can count on happening. in all of it’s awfulness. it will happen. again. and again. and again. so long as the mindset of “the church” refuses to change.
we wear blinders and focus solely on what paints the picture we want to see. we’ll erase and smudge and blur out the lines of the things we don’t want to discuss or acknowledge.
and it’s a lie straight from the pit of hell- that talking about it will encourage it. Satan is smart. he is cunning. and beautiful. and tempting.
he. is. powerful. and STRONG.- he makes sin look sweet. and desirable. and pretty.
wrap it up, stick a bow on it, and don’t talk about it.
mmm, yeah, that’s right. not talking about it can be a sin. silencing voices of victims and refusing to spotlight the sin does nothing but contribute to the sin.
and this mindset permeates our entire culture.
the “let’s talk about it as minimally as possible.” pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get away from the event as fast as possible. because that’s the only way to heal. not.
sweep it under the rug and somehow it just disappears. ?
i don’t know about you, but if there’s so much as a tiny button underneath my rug, my toes will find it. and eventually i pull up the fabric and scrape the wood to remove the button and put it where it belongs. because it doesn’t go under the rug.
so in a world where, by the tender age of eighteen, it is estimated that one in four women and one in six men have experienced some form of sexual abuse, maybe the sweep it under the rug and don’t talk about it mentality is severely messed up.
kids need to be educated on sex in a way that is healthful and empowering- knowledge is power- how do you expect a kid to tell you if something has happened to them if they can’t fully understand it themselves? do you think a child is going to feel safe to come and talk to you about something that you won’t talk with them about? as the adults we have to be the ones to teach our children in a manner that is appropriate.*
*have a loss of where to start? i recommend something like this.
and second, if a child is coming to you saying, describing, something that makes you uncomfortable, you don’t get to sweep it to the side. by doing that you fail them. you fail that child. and you help to silence their voice. your job, in that moment, is to listen. to validate who they are. they are still loved. nothing has changed in how you see them. and then you seek help from professional counselors. oh, and you report the incident. you just do. i don’t care who it was or how it happened. you. report. it. you do the right thing. not the pretty thing, not the what makes you feel more comfortable thing. the right thing.
maybe you aren’t convinced yet. maybe it’s because you are so removed from the situation. because maybe you aren’t one of the “one in four” or “one in six” maybe you were one of the lucky ones. so maybe it’s hard for you to fully understand. so maybe you need to hear someone’s story. and maybe you can try to make it real for yourself. then maybe you will understand what happens when victims lose their voice. and an act of abuse is labeled as a mistake.
…so maybe you need to read this excerpt below?**
“I think it would be good to tell you the story of one woman’s experience of sexual abuse. The reason I believe this might be helpful is that I find many survivors can see and understand more about the experience of sexual abuse and its aftereffects when they hear about it in someone else’s life. They are outraged about hearing what happened in another’s life. When it is their own experience, they are often quick to brush it off as “no big deal.” Somehow I do not think you will say this woman’s experience was “no big deal.”
This is a true story. … This story concerns the rape of a young teenager, about fifteen years old, by her older brother. I believe it has much to teach us.
Aaron and Tanya’s dad is an extremely wealthy man who knows and loves God. Aaron, the man’s oldest child, is due to take over his dad’s business. Although Aaron and Tanya have the same father, they do not have the same mother. Tanya’s full brother, Adam, who also lives with the family, cares a lot for Tanya and is very protective of her.
As Aaron watches his half sister grow up, he becomes enamored with her and allows himself to fantasize about her. Over time he becomes so obsessed with her that he can think of nothing else. Aaron’s lust for Tanya grows so strong that it literally makes him sick. When Aaron’s cousin, Jon, asks him what is wrong, he tells Jon about his obsession with Tanya. Understanding the power of raging hormones, Jon helps Aaron plan a way to get what he wants out of Tanya.
One day, Aaron pretends to be too sick to get out of bed or to eat. Aaron’s dad, hearing about his son’s behavior, checks on Aaron to see if he can help. Aaron tells his dad that he probably would eat a little if Tanya brought him some of her special bread. The father thinks this is an easy solution and tells Tanya to bake some bread and take it to her sick brother.
Tanya, happy to help Aaron, goes to him without fear or suspicion. Once she enters his room and they are alone, Aaron tosses aside any pretense of sickness or interest in Tanya’s bread. He takes the bread and throws it across the room. Tanya is frightened and confused. Aaron grabs Tanya and tries to force her to have sex with him. She pleads with him not to force her. She reminds him that their dad would be horrified if he knew what Aaron was doing. She begs him not to disgrace her. She warns him that people will lose respect for him if he gives in to his passion.
Blind with rage and lust, Aaron hears nothing she says. Her words are meaningless to him. Using his brute strength, Aaron forces Tanya down and rapes her. As soon as he finishes, he turns livid. He acts as if he hates the very sight of her, making her feel as if she is somehow to blame. He screams at her to get up and leave. Again, Tanya pleads with him, telling him that trashing her after what he has done is as bad or worse than the rape. How can he toss her out and make it look to everyone as if she has done something vile to him? How did this get to be her fault? Aaron refuses to listen. He throws Tanya out of his room, loudly slamming and locking his door so that everyone in the house knows something horrible has happened. She knows they will assume she has done something wrong because of how Aaron throws her out.
Tanya can hardly think. Her heart is pounding. Her life has just been destroyed. She is terrified. She leaves the room, shrieking in anguish and ripping at her clothes. She feels as if her body cannot contain her feelings; they are so overwhelming.
Desperate for help, she goes to her brother Adam. Surely his loyalty to her will help her find a way to deal with this. When Adam finds out what has happened, he says to Tanya, “Don’t tell anyone. Our family will never recover from the damage this information will create. Never mind. Don’t let it upset you.” She is stunned! Don’t tell? Don’t have any feelings about this? Is he crazy? She feels she has no place to turn. What about her dad? He will help.
When Tanya’s dad hears what happened, he is furious. His reaction gives Tanya hope. Her father never seems to doubt the truth of her story. He seems to know that Aaron is capable of such a thing. But although her father shows lots of anger, he does nothing. Nothing.
The father’s passivity destroys Tanya’s hope. Somehow, protecting his oldest son and the reputation of the family seems more important to the father than dealing with his son’s appalling behavior or his daughter’s feelings. Her father acts if nothing had happened.
Tanya knows then that she is lost and alone. No one cares. She does not matter. What Aaron did to her matters to no one.
Tanya lives out the rest of her life in the shadow of that rape. She becomes numb to her feelings, almost like a walking corpse. She seems to have no will to live. She wastes away physically. Her beauty, her body no longer matter. She learns to hate herself and becomes very self-destructive. Her grief is more than she can bear.
Tanya’s story is similar to many of yours. Although she was older and was “only” raped once, her experience carries many elements common to others. She was forced. She had no choice. She was deceived. In a place and in a relationship that should have provided safety for her, she was in great danger. Her voice was silenced. Her words and feelings had absolutely no impact. She was helpless to stop both the rape and the events that happened in response to it. What she needed or wanted did not matter.
Afterward she was blamed. She was humiliated. Those who should have come to her aid left her alone. She was told not to talk about it. She was told not to let it bother her. In essence, the message was, Do not have any feelings about it. Just get on with your life. There were no consequences for her rapist. Her father, a godly man, did nothing. He passed over his son’s crime as if it were of little consequence. The implication seemed to be that appearances, reputation, and her father’s hopes for the future of his business meant far more to him than she did.
Tanya’s response was one of shame and humiliation. She was stunned by what had happened. She was emotionally numb. She basically sat around in a stupor. She wasted away. Life held nothing for her anymore. The world was an unsafe place. Her joy was gone. She became self-destructive. Why not? She didn’t matter anyway.
If you truly grasp the horror of what was done to Tanya, as well as the profound consequences of her life, then you have a glimpse of what sexual abuse can do. If these are the results of the rape of a fifteen-year-old, then how can we expect otherwise in the life of someone who is repeatedly raped throughout his or her growing-up years?
This is not a conglomerate of many different stories. It is one woman’s true story. It actually happened as it was told to you here. This is not what could happen. This is not what it might have felt like. This is what was.
Tanya’s story is really the story of a woman named Tamar. Her story is found in the Old Testament, in 2 Samuel 13:1-22. Tamar was raped by her half brother Amnon, who was the heir apparent to King David’s throne. Her brother Absalom is the one who told her to be silent and not be upset about it. He, of course, hated Amnon, and he later murdered him. King David failed to punish either Amnon or Absalom.
Amnon’s rape of Tamar was a blatant violation of the Old Testament law (Lev. 18:9-11; 20:17). What Amnon did was deliberate and defiant disobedience of the law of God. That same law demanded death as a penalty. By failing to hold his son accountable, King David, too, failed to obey. The result of all this in Tamar’s life was that she “was desolate in her brother Absalom’s house” (2 Sam. 13:20, NASB).
How important it is for us to hear this story that God chose to place in His Word. How clearly it teaches us the terrible aftereffects of sexual abuse. Not only does the Word of God make it very clear that sexual abuse is against God, it also vividly portrays for us what the results of such sin can be in the life of a young girl.
However, for us, the story does not end there. God’s Word contains truths that Tamar never had the privilege of hearing. The same God who gave us this story says, “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated with no one passing through [what a description of desolation!], I will make you an everlasting pride, a joy” (Isa. 60:15, NASB). This God sent the Redeemer, who said he came to “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim… release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isa. 61:1). This God responds to the cry of those who are oppressed by sending them “a Savior and a Champion” (Isa. 19:20, NASB). How Tamar needed to hear such words! How she needed such a Champion!
Let this story from the Word of God affirm your experience. God knows what sexual abuse does. He hates it. He hates it so much that he has sent Jesus to bear in his own body very similar consequences to those that Tamar experienced. In so doing, God offers redemption and healing to all.”
**(excerpt from “On the Threshold of Hope” by Diane Madnt Langberg- if you or someone you love is a survivor of sexual abuse, i highly recommend this book and the workbook that accompanies it)