A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

She did not cry out while being raped … so is she guilty?

Shoesofiron wrote this as a comment on Jeff C’s first post about the BJU Conference. I’ve moved it over here into a post as it seems like an important topic worthy of being addressed on its own. I also moved the comments related to it over here. I think many of our readers will be interested the what happened to Shoesofiron’s daughter.

Shoesofiron wrote:

My daughter  has a master’s degree in counseling from BJU. She had been sexually abused by her youth group pastor (BJU grad with master’s degree at a Greenville area BJU church) and believed that she was “totally fine” with it…..UNTIL she took a counseling class by the wife of the former DOS. (Pretty sure she’s not qualified to teach–oh wait, none of them are qualified to do anything they are doing) Anyway, this teacher shut the door, read the verses in Deuteronomy about not crying out in the situation of rape. She then shrugged her shoulders and said, “What do you do with that? It’s in the Bible. Those aren’t my words, they are God’s.” All of a sudden my daughter realized that she had not vocally “cried out,” (there was no one there anyway) at the time of the incidents. She then became distressed and started finding blame in herself. My daughter is under 30 and is still paying every single month for that useless degree. :*( Guess I’d better stop now. I know too much and I have a horrible headache thinking of all the unbelievable things that happened to me and my family and my friends over there at 1700 WHB all the while they making the victims believe they have the spiritual problems. Damn them. But your post is an encouragement to me this morning. Thank you and God bless, Survivor.

Jeff Crippen responded:

Shoes – Now there is a story that will require a blog post. Namely, the wicked distortion and application of the following Scripture:

Deuteronomy 22:22-26  “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. (23) “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, (24) then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (25) “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. (26) But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor,

So, she didn’t scream out for help while being raped by her “youth pastor” – having been grossly manipulated and deceived by him, so now she is guilty. This is very typical of the hermeneutic of the Pharisee.. Wooden, literal, naked letter that kills. No mercy. Yes, Shoes, may anyone who tells a victim such a thing in God’s name be judged by Him on that Day. And so they shall be.

Song said:

I seriously wish there were laws against the teaching from people and churches who teach the things such as is being taught at BJU because of how it is so destructive to so many people! I don’t know how it could happen or even if it’s the best recourse, but hearing these stories certainly makes me want to see some kind of discipline put in place.

Here is my response to Shoesofiron:

Dear Shoes Of Iron, I am weeping with you and your daughter. What terrible pain; that teacher is ignorant of the feelings and responses of sexual abuse victims. That Deuteronomy passage has been difficult to understand and many survivors of rape have felt skewered by it.
The most important thing about reading that passage is this: it must not be read woodenly, or in isolation from all the other passages which talk about sex.
I have written a post called The Bible’s view on premarital sex – is the remedy always “get married”? As you can tell from the title, it is not only about rape, but it does cover that passage in Deuteronomy about the woman who did not cry out. And it explains how it is only ‘case law’ and must be interpreted not woodenly but by applying the principle therein to situations as appropriate .

The way that teacher applied it was the wrong way. Your daughter is not guilty for simply having ‘failed’ to cry out with a vocalised sound. As you said, there was no-one else there anyway, so her case is like the woman who was raped in the country (Deut. 22:25) where if she had cried out, no-one would have heard her anyway! So she is not guilty in any way shape or form. And even if the acts took place in a location where others would be within hearing distance, they would still be rape (or sexual assault if there was no actual penetration)  if the rapist had so intimidated, coerced, manipulated, guilted and otherwise silenced the victim by psychological tactics: she might not ‘cry out’ due to fear, but that doesn’t mean she was complicit in the sexual act. She was raped. She was sexually assaulted.

One thing I find helpful when thinking about whether or not there was consent to a sexual act, is this: Consent is the Yes you say when you are free to say No. Your daughter was not free to say no; she had been so intimidated, coerced, scared, manipulated, etc, her freedom was denied. It was run roughshod over. She was raped. She is not to blame.

Blessings and hugs. There is also another post on this blog called Do you tell others about the sexual abuse? which may be of help for your daughter.
The bottom line is: she was not to blame; it was not her fault.

30 Comments

  1. I’d like to suggest that an inquiry be made with the SC Counseling Board (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/pol/counselors/index.asp?file=complaint.htm) to see what the state requirements are for someone teaching any class with the word “counseling” in it. Ohio has very strong laws so that no “fly by night” classes are permitted. Also, no one in Ohio can call themselves a counselor unless they are State certified. Too many quacks out there!

    • Very good suggestion, Morven! Thank you.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Good idea! There has to be such a thing, at minimum, as malpractice.

  2. MeganC

    Call me naive but I am shocked that anyone would use twist such a passage and distort the context/meaning in such a wicked way. I can only imagine, dear Shoes of Iron, how your precious daughter has dealt with such a heavy weight on her shoulders. My heart is surely heavier than it has been in a long time . . . Your daughter was raped and preyed upon. She is a victim. Clear as that. My heart goes out to you.

    God’s law was always for the best of His people, not as whimsy. When one digs deep, one can find shields and boundaries put in place for the the care of His daughters. This law would absolutely encourage a woman to CRY OUT if she was being raped (no one wants to be stoned!). God is saying, “Cry out, daughters! Don’t let this happen to you!! Protect yourselves!” — Much like if I told my child, “If someone grabs you, SCREAM!!!” All my children can yell, “LEAVE ME ALONE” and have been trained by *discipline* to do this if someone picks them up to take them away (learned in martial arts). It is for their best. In His laws, I always see the compassionate, tender heart of a Father who loves His children. Sadly, others find His law to be a cold and calculated way to further oppress. I am sorry for this.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Megan – Isn’t there something in that Scripture that says that if the victim is raped in a more isolated place where her cries could not be heard, that she is innocent? I will have to check that out. Barbara may have covered that already in her earlier article. BUT are we to believe that when a woman is raped there are MANY possible reasons why she does not cry out. Fear of being killed. Shock and trauma. I mean, it really doesn’t take a lot of thinking to understand that the principle in this passage is what is important. Namely, if there were circumstances that made it impossible or even extremely difficult for her to “cry out” then those circumstances are the very same thing as if it happened in a wilderness. And that is what happens with the Pharisaical approach to Scripture. They focus on the letter, not the spirit. They miss the principle which emanates from the character and heart of God.

      • Yes. And Barbara did cover that in her article. And yes — I could not agree with you more — in that the Pharisees focus on the letter and not the spirit (killing). If she is isolated (in the country), and she is raped, she is innocent. If she is in a populated place and cries out, she is innocent. “In the country”, as Barbara said above could be defined as manipulated into silence, terrorized into silence and so on . . . I was trying to point out that the burden is not on the woman — it was not a law that bound her. . . rather, it was a compassionate father saying “Scream!! Don’t let him do it!!” The Pharisees twist it so badly .. . . “Well, you didn’t cry out so . . . . ” Does this make sense?

      • Anonymous

        Just a thought, but could it be that the Scripture there is really implying that she didn’t “cry out”, because she was actually consenting and was thereby sentenced to death along with the man, because she was sinning willfully with him? I don’t know, but it just seems that God cannot be saying to women, that unless they physically cry out during a rape, that they deserve death.

      • Anonymous

        Just to add to that thought, I am not implying that the daughter referred to in the blog post was “willing”, as she was obviously raped. I am just saying that the implication of the Scripture may be this thought: the woman in the Bible did not “cry out”, because she was not actually being raped. Does that make better sense?

      • Anonymous, that is my first thought too. I haven’t studied the passage in depth though.

      • Yes, I believe this passage is distinguishing between fornication where both parties are consenting, and rape where the woman is not consenting. The verse that mentions the woman in the city who does not cry out, is giving the case of illicit sex where there was mutual consent – so both parties are equally guilty. The verse that mentions the woman in the country where the man seized the woman, is giving a case of illicit sex where only the man was guilty and the woman is expressly stated to be innocent. And any reasonable person knows that you don’t get raped only ‘in the country’ and you don’t always cry out when being raped, wherever the rape happens to take place. Mosaic Law is ‘case law’ and just like the wise judges and elders in ancient Israels, we are to infer principles from case law, not apply it word for word, like a robot (or a computer) would.

      • Anonymous Woman

        ”Fear of being killed. Shock and trauma.”
        Until it happens to you, you don’t know what it’s like.

        Plus, there’s so much bad teaching by cops and others that instruct women not to risk even more serious injury in fighting or struggling. Kind of like cops say to just give the robber your purse, don’t fight him for it and be shot dead. Lose the purse but live to see another day as you escape with your life. That’s taught to so many. Then the system and courts might go against you in saying you didn’t fight or resist enough so it can’t be rape.

      • Dear Anonymous Woman, it’s clear that you know what it’s like to be in imminent fear af of being killed by an abusive man.

        I myself have never faced that imminent fear of being killed.

        I respect and honor you. The abusers will not win. God will judge them and punish them in the end. That is the truth we know and cling to, and it’s the truth that helps us keep going… day by day and minute by minute.

      • Anonymous Woman

        I really appreciate your words, Barbara. There are so many wicked in this world. The deck is stacked so very high against victims. And the more powerful the abusers and victimizers, the more isolated, targeted and hunted the victim is. The victim never stands a chance. The wicked carefully designed it this way.

      • May I help in this matter from the Hebrew language itself צָעֲקָה Tsawk is a Hebrew that is often mistranslated and yes one could translate this as “shrieked” but the real way to translate this word is: “to proclaim before an assembly” that is making known before more than one witness what has happened to the girl.

      • Thank you Steven.
        I gather from your email address that you speak modern Hebrew. Do you know whether the word meant the same thing when it was used in the scriptures? Your information is very interesting and I appreciate you sharing it.

    • SJR

      It’s typical BJU style fundamentalism. It’s a terrific training ground for abusers and teaches the abused to suck it up and take it. I’m sure there are exceptions 😉 Not everyone internalizes the teaching that is present, but hell will freeze over before my kids ever go there!

  3. Oh wow, this made me so very angry. There are so many misconceptions about rape within the church and elsewhere it makes me sick. Rape is rape, period. I am glad to see laws in various states being updated to reflect the fact that the victim did not, as Jeff said, give consent, rather than the law be based on gender, force, fear, etc.

    There is rape by ceorcion and rape by fraud:

    https://wildninja.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/rethinking-rape/

  4. Deanna

    One thing I learned in studies of a person’s response to stress and trauma is that there is so much information that the brain is trying to input and comprehend, that a victim will freeze when being attacked. The same is true of being robbed, being attacked by a pit bull, rape, watching a friend being murdered, and smaller traumas, like losing your job. You are in shock, you freeze, you can’t move, you can’t speak. This is the normal response. Women have been dealt a harsh blow by being blamed for not being able to get free during an attack. I know when I was raped that I was limp and lifeless. I struggled initially, but once it was starting, I pushed myself out of my body and perceived that the rape was happening to somebody else. While that sounds funky, dissociation is another common response to assault. Understanding these factors was more healing to me than you can imagine.

    • Thanks Deanna, you are exactly right, those responses are well documented in the literature. As far as I can recall from my reading, the limbic system is so flooded with emotions that the frontal cortex is not able to process stuff in the normal analytical way; language and speech go out the door, the victim can feel flooded, frozen, paralysed, and yes, dissociation is one of the creative ways the mind-body deals with unprocessable horror.
      And of course, God knows all about trauma and how we respond to trauma. He knows everything. Jesus himself must have suffered incredible traumatic stress the day of the crucifixion. When he came out of the grave, it had all been healed; but for most of us it takes a lot longer than three days to get healed! It can take three years, or three decades, to even realise one is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder…

  5. Rebecca

    This is such a disturbing story of blaming the victim. It makes me sick and grieved all at the same time.

    During a traumatic event like rape, Deanna said it….”You are in shock, you freeze, you can’t move, you can’t speak. This is the normal response. Women have been dealt a harsh blow by being blamed for not being able to get free during an attack.” That’s right. Disassociation becomes a survival mechanism. But yet a woman is supposed to cry out? This does nothing more than put more trauma and pressure on the victim.

    Not only that, but even if the translation ‘cry out’ is taking not as literally as crying out in the moment of the rape, what happens when a woman does finally tell a pastor or leader in the church of sexual abuse, even in a marriage? Will this means of ‘crying out’ even be heard? Usually not, because the perpetrator will passionately, adamantly deny it. And who does leadership typically believe….

  6. joepote01

    Barbara, I love how you phrased this:

    “Consent is the Yes you say when you are free to say No.”

    Even in marriages not scarred by abuse, many Christians have heard NT teachings so misapplied that they feel they have no right to ever say No.

    Your above statement reminds me of something I once heard a wise counselor say, “If you feel you can never say No, then you can never fully say Yes.”

    • Thanks Joe. I actually picked up that definition of consent from a secular training on how to respond to disclosures of sexual (sexualized) abuse. Once again, the secular counsellors have it all over the Christians.

  7. SJR

    Berg or Fremont?
    They’re both poison. Just wondering.

  8. won't tell

    I love the definition of consent. thank you

  9. 7stelle

    Bill Gothard has spread this lie and burdened many with his teaching: ‘Tamar was partially at fault for being raped, because she wasn’t spiritually alert and didn’t cry out.’ He then emphasizes forgiving the offender and watch you don’t become bitter. Well how about letting the victim be rightfully angry for what was done to her. Then she won’t fall into bitterness over the cold callous blame placed on her.

  10. Anonymous Grandma

    This is an older post, but it has stuck with me ever since I first read it. This is something that troubled me for many, many years. Why were women required to cry out, when the instinctive reaction is to freeze up in shock? I’ve struggled for a long time, trying to reconcile God’s command in Deuteronomy with the way He created our brains to react.

    Nowadays, my best guess is that girls in that culture were taught from childhood to cry out if they were assaulted, in the same way that children in our culture are taught to dial 911 or 000 in an emergency. Early childhood training and cultural reinforcement would override their instinctive freeze reaction.

    In our culture, the vast majority of parents never warn or train their children how to react to sexual assault. Most of us have no clue where to even start. With no training, it’s perfectly natural for the victim to freeze up in shock.

    Shoesofiron, the entire blame for the rape rests solely on the youth pastor. Nothing your daughter did, or failed to do, makes her guilty in any way. Above all, she’s not responsible for knowing and acting on the cultural assumptions of a civilization that ceased to exist two millennia before she was born.

  11. Finding Answers

    Adding my two cents worth to a discussion in an old post…..

    I think Shoesofiron’s daughter was raped whether or not she cried out.

    In a world where bystanders watch and stay silent, in a world where we are surrounded by a cacophony of sound, many cries are never heard.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: