Betty had tried to tell him no, but he had kept touching her. She had been so excited to have been asked out by an older guy that she tried to act more sophisticated and more mature than she felt. Now she kept having thoughts about what had happened and didn’t know what she should do.
The FBI estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. The average age is 11 but they range in age from 9 to 19. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they reach the age of 16. In one study, 27% of women and 16% of men reported they were victims of sexual abuse. 42% of women and 33% of men said they had never reported it to anyone. National College Women Sexual Victimization Study found that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 women experienced a rape – either completely or attempted.
There are a couple examples of sexual abuse in the Scriptures. I want us to look at a second example, this one is in 2 Samuel 13. One of David’s sons rapes a half-sister.
THE ABUSE OCCURS – 13:1-14
Verse 1 – Absalom was, with Tamar, David’s children through Maacah, daughter of King of Geshur; Amnon was David’s first born through Ahinoam.
Verses 3-6 – Amnon, through a scheme with his cousin Jonadab, gets Tamar alone in the room with Amnon
Verse 14 – Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar
These are some of the physical consequences of sexual abuse: pelvic pain, stomach problems, headaches, back pain, facial pain
The psychological consequences can be long-term: shock, disbelief, denial, fear, confusion, anxiety, withdrawal, sleep disturbances, emotional detachment. Often, to handle the flood of emotions, they turn to substance abuse – drugs and alcohol. They may try to commit suicide. They often distrust others and have a hard time having a fulfilling, healthy sexual relationship with someone in the future. They often blame themselves for the tragedy – “if I had not done such-and-such, this would not have happened.”
HOW TO OVERCOME – 13:15-19
Verse 19 – Tamar goes into mourning for her virginity was violated.
Verse 21 – David was angry; but he doesn’t do anything about it.
Verse 22 – Absalom hated Amnon
Verse 23 – Absalom waits two full years. Sheep shearing occurred in the early summer. It required many workers, so it was associated with a holiday.
One person said that a physical abuse is not just physical – “they invade your soul.”
I do not know if Amnon’s death gave any sense of closure to what Tamar had experienced. I do understand that it will take time to overcome sexual abuse but that healing can occur. God, of course, is the most important part of the healing process. A victim of sexual abuse shares these 9 steps in the healing process (from Think):
Recognize that you – alone – are powerless to heal the damage done. You need God’s help. Trust Him.
Acknowledge that God is love and wants you to be victorious over the horrible experience. You will heal.
The abuser is the one responsible for this act. Work through your feelings of guilt and recognize that he/she is the one ultimately responsible.
Return to the Bible and its teaching that you are worthwhile and God loves you.
Share your feelings with God in prayer – the negative feelings and the positive feelings. Share also with someone whom you trust. To heal, you must accept the validity of your feelings, express them to those you can, and deal with those feelings.
You are responsible for how you react to it and how you respond.
Accept God’s help in the process of forgiving those who have offended you.
Work at maturing in your relationship with God and with others. Accept the pure love of others. Learn to trust again. Reestablish boundaries:
Speak the truth to the abuser.
Accept support of your family, your church.
Withdraw from the abuser and let him/her know what is happening.
Allow God to use you to help and serve others.
Resources: Think magazine April, 2012. Drs. Tim Clinton and Ron Hawkins, The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling. 2009. World magazine, “Help for the Hurting”, June 30, 2012, pages 59-60.