The Aftershocks of Incest . . .
By: Joseph Paluszak
In one of my blogs last week we looked at scriptural examples of Godly families that suffered the trauma of sexual violence. In it, we studied an account of incest in the form of acquaintance rape that is found in II Samuel 13:1-20 where the royal family has literally torn asunder after Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. Let us now look at the aftershocks of this assault.
I’m going to indulge in a little Bible speculation here as we look at the events following her assault. These events seemingly confirm said speculation, but they are vague enough that I cannot teach it as a scriptural absolute.
Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, advises her to, “…hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this thing to heart.”
In other words, “Don’t tell anyone about this.” The end result? Verse 20 tells us that Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house.
Why did Absalom give her such lame advice? There are two possible reasons I can think of: First, he didn’t want the shame and humiliation of it becoming public knowledge. Second, he didn’t know what to say but felt he had to say something. He ended up blurting out the first thing that popped into his mind.
Absalom meant the advice he gave his sister, but later he murdered his half-brother, Amnon, for what he had done to Tamar and subsequently tried to seize the throne from his father, King David, in a bloody civil war. Why?
Here’s where the speculation comes in. I think that in the aftermath of the sexual assault, he watched his sister, whom he loved dearly, slip into discouragement, which grew into depression, which in turn grew into despair. Despair is the absence of hope which induces suicidal tendencies. This is not uncommon for survivors of rape.
Years ago God gave me a phrase to describe what survivors of Sexual Abuse and Domestic and Dating Violence experience emotionally. They feel as if they are bleeding to death through their emotions. A physical wound would be preferable. If you were grievously wounded and bleeding profusely, you would either bleed out, and the pain would end, or you would ultimately be healed. When you are bleeding emotionally you are experiencing an unending death process!
Tamar’s pain drove Absalom to vengeance. He murdered Amnon, and then, probably, thinking that his father was not fit to rule as king because he had failed to confront incest within his own house, tried to overthrow the throne in a bloody civil war. It is quite possible that King David didn’t even know about the incestuous rape, and if he did, he probably didn’t know what to do about it or how to confront it. The end result? Like so many families caught up in incest, he did nothing!
Can I prove this scripturally or historically? Of course not. But knowing how dysfunctional, incestuous families interact with each other, it would not be unreasonable to suspect that this was Absalom’s motivation.