Break the silence; it starts In the family
They say those who are likely to hurt you the most are those closest to you, those you consider family. Is it because you have let your guard down around them? We can’t help it but let our guards down around family members we trust. That’s being human, right?
In many communities around the world and in South Africa, in your neighborhood, there are countless number of women and children being abused by those closest to them, in their household, in their families. Most of these incidents go unreported because ‘we don’t want to expose our families dirty laundry’, do we?! Yet silence around these issues is deafening, and many of vulnerable members of our societies are quietly suffering.
This reminds me of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. Let’s read it together:
1 Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her.
2 And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her.
3 But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. And Jonadab was a very crafty man.
4 And he said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
5 Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me bread to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand.'”
6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. And when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.”
7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare food for him.”
8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. And she took dough and kneaded it and made cakes in his sight and baked the cakes.
9 And she took the pan and emptied it out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him.
10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.
11 But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.”
12 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.
13 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.”
14 But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.
15 Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!”
16 But she said to him, “No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her.
17 He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.”
18 Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her.
19 And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went.
20 And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house.
21 When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry.
22 But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar.
So, Tamar was raped by her half brother under false pretenses. Here is one of he verses that makes me angry; ‘Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.” 2 Samuel 13:20.
Wow, I am wondering how many women have heard similar words from members of their families;
– “Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your father; do not take this to heart.”
– “Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your lecturer/teacher/pastor/uncle/cousin; do not take this to heart.”
– “Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your boss; do not take this to heart.”
We cannot afford to be silent because whatever is kept silent won’t be stopped. King David was a respectable man, who had an impressive resume; he killed lions, bears and Goliath. However, he trusted his son so much he sent her daughter to cook for him. Even great men of God have blind spots, let their guards down, and are imprudent sometimes. He could recognize the evil in his own house. He didn’t know any better when he send Tamar to her brother’s house. He didn’t know he was sending her to the trap of the evil one. So, do you think you know and are aware of what is happening in your house, to your children? Do you think it is possible someone have violated them and they have been instructed to ‘hold they peace’?!
If it can happen to David, it can happen to any of us. We have to break the silence and encourage these victims of domestic assaults to speak out. We cannot afford to keep quiet. If you are an individual and encourages victims to be silent, you are as guilty and heartless as the perpetrators themselves. May God help us protect those who are vulnerable amongst us. It starts in the family.