Bill Cosby was America’s dad, the picture of Black male responsibility. More than just a comedian, he is an author, a philanthropist and an educator. We know him as Cliff Huxtable, the doctor on television. Surely he could not be guilty of something as heinous as rape. Unfortunately for Cosby and for his alleged victims that day, the definitive determination in court, will never come. Too much time has passed. For both the accused and the accuser, there will not be a day when someone can examine all the evidence.
Sadder, so many sense and identify with the cover-up or sweep-it-under-the-rug narrative. For so many it is believable that powerful and well-connected individuals can get away with sexual abuse. They recognize a code of silence that says, ‘Don’t say anything. Keep silent!’
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 68% of rapes are never reported to the police. Of every 100 rapes, 32% get reported to the police, only seven reports lead to an arrest, three cases make it to a prosecutor, and only two rapists spend any time in prison.
The biblical narrative of the powerful prince Amnon creates a basis of discussion and action around the issue of rape and sexual abuse even today. In 2 Samuel 13 one of King David’s sons, Amnon, was infatuated with one of David’s daughters, Tamar. The narrative informs us that Amnon was sick both in the head and in the body because of how badly he wanted Tamar.
Jonadab, Amnon’s cousin, encouraged him to set up an opportunity to be alone with Tamar and have his way with her. Jonadab represents the license people give for those in power to get whatever they want. He set the stage for Amnon to act. Amnon commenced his plan and found himself alone with Tamar. He lay in his bed as she made cakes for him. And in this sick, twisted plot, he eventually sent everyone away so he could be alone with Tamar. Amnon invited her to come near to him to feed him the cakes.
Verses 11 – 14:
But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.’ But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.”
Amnon grabbed Tamar and forced himself on her. She begged him to not violate her. Listen to her words carefully: “Don’t violate me.”
Don’t Violate Me
In sexual abuse, something is taken from a human being that damages their innermost person. They are violated and the abuse has lasting effects. This is one of the worse things that can happen to anyone, male or female. And the sad reality is, it has happened to too many people.
•1 out of every 6 women has been the victim of a rape or an attempted rape.
•1 in 3 girls and 1 in every 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
Hannah Banks, (you can watch her story on YouTube) described how it felt when a friend of the family raped her at age 13. The violation led to a downward spiral of self-harm.
“It consumed my whole life. It was the only thing I thought about for months and months. It led me to attempt suicide six months later and to self-mutilation, alcohol and drug abuse.”
Victims of sexual abuse are:
• 3 times more likely to suffer from depression
• 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress
• 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
• 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
• 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
Where Will I Carry My Shame?
Tamar also gives voice to the victim today. One of the saddest realities of abuse is the shame of the victim. Even though it was not her fault, Tamar anticipated the shame.
After Amnon violated Tamar, he cast her out, but Tamar does not cooperate with the culture of silence. In 2 Samuel 13:19, she is reported to have put ashes on her head and torn her long robe. She could have decided to keep on the garments that announced “I’m a virgin.” She could have gone along and pretended nothing happened. But she decided to protest her abuse.
She lay her hands on her head and cried. Amnon may have taken her virginity but she would not let him take her voice.
Six months after her abuse, Banks attempted suicide. It landed her in a psychiatric hospital where she started her healing, much of it by shedding light on the violation.
“For the first time, I was able to talk about what happened to me and face it head on. I also found God for the first time in my life.”
“When I was growing up, it was such a social stigma and a taboo to even talk about it. What I realized in therapy is every time I talked about it, I felt better. I wasn’t the only one who had been through it.”
“It has helped me. It’s a healing process every time I share. When I first started sharing my story, I would cry thinking about my abuse. I get choked up now, but now it’s about how God brought me through it.”
* ‘Survivor Of’ Ministry can be found at facebook.com/survivorofministry