TAMAR’s STORY:A Mirrored Reflection
This is the story of King David who had children from different wives (emphasis added). His son Absalom had a beautiful unmarried sister named Tamar. Amnon, another of David’s sons, fell in love with her. He was so much in love with her that he became sick, because it seemed impossible for him to have her; as a virgin, she was kept from meeting men. But he had a friend, a very shrewd man named Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shammah. Jonadab said to Amnon, “You are the king’s son, yet day after day I see you looking sad. What’s the matter?”
“I’m in love with Tamar, the sister of my half brother Absalom,” he answered.
Jonadab said to him, “Pretend that you are sick and go to bed. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please ask my sister Tamar to come and feed me. I want her to fix the food here where I can see her, and then serve it to me herself.’” So Amnon pretended that he was sick and went to bed.
King David went to see him, and Amnon said to him, “Please let Tamar come and make a few cakes here where I can see her, and then serve them to me herself.”
So David sent word to Tamar in the palace: “Go to Amnon’s house and fix him some food.” She went there and found him in bed. She took some dough, prepared it, and made some cakes there where he could see her. Then she baked the cakes and emptied them out of the pan for him to eat, but he wouldn’t. He said, “Send everyone away”—and they all left. Then he said to her, “Bring the cakes here to my bed and serve them to me yourself.” She took the cakes and went over to him. As she offered them to him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me!”
“No,” she said. “Don’t force me to do such a degrading thing! That’s awful! How could I ever hold up my head in public again? And you—you would be completely disgraced in Israel. Please, speak to the king, and I’m sure that he will give me to you.” But he would not listen to her; and since he was stronger than she was, he overpowered her and raped her.
Then Amnon was filled with a deep hatred for her; he hated her now even more than he had loved her before. He said to her, “Get out!”
“No,” she answered. “To send me away like this is a greater crime than what you just did!”
But Amnon would not listen to her; he called in his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight! Throw her out and lock the door!” The servant put her out and locked the door.
Tamar was wearing a long robe with full sleeves, the usual clothing for an unmarried princess in those days. She sprinkled ashes on her head, tore her robe, and with her face buried in her hands went away crying. When her brother Absalom saw her, he asked, “Has Amnon molested you? Please, sister, don’t let it upset you so much. He is your half brother, so don’t tell anyone about it.” So Tamar lived in Absalom’s house, sad and lonely.
When King David heard what had happened, he was furious. However, King David did not discipline his son for committing the act of incest against his daughter Tamar (emphasis added). And Absalom hated Amnon so much for having raped his sister Tamar that he would no longer even speak to him.
Incest is a subject that society rejects from all socioeconomic levels even today. Incest can occur at any age and to anyone. Its not a new concern and/or problem in our global society. The bible tells of this specific account, for many worship centers the topic is taboo and unless there is an active ministry that is prepared to help victims and survivors. The topic is not understood by leaders, leaving members who have experienced rape to remain with feeling unnecessary guilt, blame and low self esteem. However, memories for these survivors can alter their lives and challenge one’s ability to heal memories. According to WCASA fact sheet:
Incest is an experience which affects survivors’ lives in many ways. The following is only a partial list of possible effects survivors may experience for years into their adult lives: Low self- esteem Anxiety, need to control relationships Self-blame, guilt Post-traumatic stress disorder Vulnerability to re-victimization Eating disorders Depression Dissociative reactions Difficulty sustaining relationships & building trust Sexual dysfunction Alcohol or drug problems Flashbacks and traumatic memories
Incest remains one of the most under-reported and least discussed crimes in our nation, making accurate statistics and information difficult to gather. Because of strong taboos, incest is often concealed by the victim because of guilt, shame, fear, coercion by the abuser, and/or social and familial pressure.
Incest is experienced by those of every racial and ethnic descent, all religious traditions, and any socioeconomic status. Victims of incest are boys and girls, infants and adolescents. Perpetrators of incest can be aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, parents, step-parents, step-children, grandparents, and grandchildren. In addition, incest offenders can be persons without a direct blood or legal relationship to the victim such as a parents’ lover or live-in nanny, housekeeper, etc.
HEALING. People who experience incest have experienced violation of trust and sexual exploitation, but they can and do survive. There is no one “right way” to heal. Many will heal with the help of a counselor/ therapist and/or support group, and others will heal on their own. Once a survivor has made a commitment to address incest issues, it may take an average of 3-5 years of therapy to heal.
According to the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Socio-emotional Impact of Violent Crime (2014).
¹² Sexual violence also affects victims’ relationships with their family, friends, and co-workers.
- 38% of victims of sexual violence experience work or school problems, which can include significant problems with a boss, coworker, or peer.
- 37% experience family/friend problems, including getting into arguments more frequently than before, not feeling able to trust their family/friends, or not feeling as close to them as before the crime.
- 84% of survivors who were victimized by an intimate partner experience professional or emotional issues, including moderate to severe distress, or increased problems at work or school.
- 79% of survivors who were victimized by a family member, close friend or acquaintance experience professional or emotional issues, including moderate to severe distress, or increased problems at work or school.
- 67% of survivors who were victimized by a stranger experience professional or emotional issues, including moderate to severe distress, or increased problems at work or school.
Tamar’s Story adapted from: www.biblegateway.com, 2 Samuel 13:1-22, Good News Translation (GNT), retrieved September 4, 2017
Adapted from www.wcasa.org, retrieved September 4, 2017,to read the full written by Susan Forward, Ph.D., Innocence and Betrayal Overcoming the Legacy of Sexual Abuse
emphasis added by Dr. Deborah Jones-Allen where you can find my story in Mirrored Reflections