A Cry For Justice

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

Silence As Defiance: Tamar’s Desolation — a reblog from The Shiloh Project

An anonymous, personal reflection on the experience of sexual exploitation in childhood. The reflection also draws in the biblical story of Amnon’s rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13). On the one hand this is a declaration reminiscent of #MeToo but it is also an expression of defiant and articulate silence and a reminder that there isn’t a single, let alone a ‘right’ response to sexual violation.

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“I come from a place where breath, eyes, and memory are one, a place from which you carry your past like the hair on your head.”

Edwidge Danticant, Breath, Eyes, Memory

I have always been intrigued by silence; it has given me the space to observe and understand people.  Because of my mother’s influential position as a prayer warrior within the Christian community, our house was constantly filled with people, especially troubled women.  Since I was just a young girl, invisible in a patriarchal world, no one seemed to notice me.  So I just listened and studied the women who came with their stories, women who were under-appreciated, disrespected, unloved, silenced, cheated on, battered, and raped.  Too many stories to tell.  Yet the advice was all too familiar, quietly endure the mistreatment and abuse for the sake of the children, for the family.

It was the same advice that my mother kept for our own family.  And so I was silent when I had to deal with my own sexual molestation.  When I was young, I didn’t have the emotional capacity and definitely not the words to understand what was happening.  My mother knew what was happening but she failed to protect me because it was a family member she wanted to protect even more.  It was an ongoing shameful “event” that was confused with love, loyalty, and duty to the family.  All integrally connected to Korean cultural values that I only understood to be burdensome in my adulthood.  My mother, herself a victim/survivor of molestation and rape, tried to normalize the “event.”  It happens in all families and it was my responsibility from making it happen yet again.  I, the woman, had the power to say no and avoid the situation.  Since it was understood that men had no self-control, he could not be expected or punished to stop. But I was just a child, confused, not a woman.  So I was silenced or had no choice but to be silent.  I would not have known what to say or to whom I would have spoken. After all, it happens in all families.  So I tried to listen to my mother’s advice, to avoid situations and learned to say, “No.”  But it was at the cost, the loss of a loving relationship that I needed and valued.  Of course, the perpetrator had his reasons, perhaps justifiable to him, for his perversion but that is not my story to tell.  The burden is on him to explain his behavior to the world and God.  But most likely, he will choose silence for fear of jeopardizing his standing in the family and without question, his community.  I just wanted to make sure that it never ever happened again in the family. Never.  And it never did.

When I came into my personhood, I chose to be silent about the “event.”  Perhaps I was ashamed and somehow blamed myself for not stopping the “event.”  But more than anything, I still did not know how to express the inexplicable rage, hatred, self-loathing, and disgust that lied underneath.  And as always, I felt the responsibility to protect the perpetrator and my family which had a reputation to keep in the community.  I was not equipped emotionally to share this story with my close friends.  I remember just uttering a few words to a couple of people who were victims of molestation to make a point.  But it was all in passing, nothing to brood over or deal with.  This was the norm for a dutiful person who wanted to honor her mother’s implicit wishes.

Even when I was heavily influenced by the Oprah-era of needing to share one’s life publicly, I chose silence. I knew the rhetoric that silence equaled death and courageous women were the ones who came out with their stories.  After all, truth or finding one’s voice liberates the person.  However, I chose silence to deal with the “event.”  I still did not have the words to describe the “inexplicable.”  How does one talk about trauma?  What words can encapsulate the “event”?  Who will be able to understand the mixed emotions of being hurt by a loved one?

But I have decided now to talk about the “event” through the story of Tamar (2 Sam 13).  In the biblical story the daughter of King David, a virgin princess, is raped by her half-brother, Amnon.  The author explains that he was “tormented” because he was madly in love with a virgin who happens to be his sister.  He could not help himself; he was ill with lust so he had to possess her sexually.  And he does, forcibly against the wishes of his vocal sister.  She resists, fights, but he overpowers her.  Afterwards, she tries to talk sense into her half-brother, begging him to marry her so that they do have to bear the shame.  He does not listen; he is after all the crown prince, the heir apparent to the throne of Israel.  She will be shamed, not him.  Why would he listen to a woman?  He commands the servant to kick her out, whereupon she puts ashes on her head, tears her garment, and leaves the premise crying out loud.  She rightfully mourns for herself.

Everyone in the palace would have known; it would not have been a mystery that Amnon had raped his sister.  Yet everyone was silent.  The servants were silent.  Amnon disappeared into the background and therefore became silent.  Her father, the almighty King David knew but he remained silent.  Absalom, her full brother, found out but he too kept silent.  And it would appear that Tamar was silenced or became silent.  Yet their silences were not the same.

The servants did not have the power to speak; they would have spoken only at the cost of their livelihood or lives. If they spoke of the “event,” it would have been in hushed tones.  Amnon himself chooses silence because he probably did not believe he wronged anyone. Why would he talk about a trifling matter?  Is he not the prince who will one day rule the kingdom as he saw fit?  King David, the father and executor of justice, should and could have punished his son and uplifted his daughter but he chooses silence.  He did not want to punish his beloved son.  But then what about his daughter?!  He, by his silence, became complicit in Amnon’s crime.  Absalom, the rightful defender of his sister’s honor, also decides to remain silent.  His silence hid his determination to kill Amnon.  But who knows if he was defending his sister or making a run for the throne.  All three men in position of authority should have spoken up for Tamar; yet they chose silence to protect, to ensure their own power.

Then what about Tamar’s silence?  Scholars have argued that Tamar was silenced; Absalom asked her to remain quiet.  I argue just the opposite.  She chooses to remain silent.  Given her characterization throughout the story in which she, a woman, speaks against her brother is quite significant.  No female biblical character is more vocal than Tamar.  A woman who demonstrably cries out her pain most likely could not be silenced by her brother, Absalom.  Yet her silence is not quiet but defiant.  Rather than use words, she decides to speak through her “desolated” body.  It is not clear if the court historian had personally experienced or knew of her story but s/he aptly encapsulates Tamar’s response with the word, “desolated” (2 Sam 13:20).

The Hebrew word conjures imagery of devastation in the aftermath of war, the absence of life in the midst of charred ruins.

She embodied the “event” so that every sigh, every pained look, every deadly silence bespoke the devastation of the violent rape.  She did not need to utter a word because she had become a living monument to the “event.”  So she speaks without words; she breathes her pain. And everyone would have experienced and known of the “event” through her very presence.  Though men have refused to publicly acknowledge the “event,” she used her desolated body to tell her story.  She created a space that defied the men of power, ultimately undermining their authority.  This is real power, power to throttle or overthrow unjust leaders.

The emboldening story of Tamar’s rape and her desolation has given meaning to my silence. I do not necessarily think a survivor’s silence is an act of acquiescence to the cultural silencing of women.[1] Yes, one could argue that my mother had been silenced by the expectations of her culture.  It was shameful for a woman to discuss sex, especially sexual violence that was committed against her body by a family member, a much older half-brother. However, she embodied the desolation in the silence.  She, who constantly remembered and repeatedly told stories of her emotional, verbal, and physical abuse, did not utter a word about the sexual abuse.  But I knew she had been molested before she even mentioned it. Her body language bore the desolation. She only said a few words to me just once, not twice. And I knew of the rape because I was physically there.  I was not a direct witness but I knew with all the yelling, bashing of fists one particular night that a rape followed.  I just knew. I did not know the word for the violent violation but I knew it was the “unspeakable” act of terror. She did not say anything.  She again bore the shame of the event and I have inherited her pain.  I bear in my body the burden of her rape.  But again I have chosen to be silent about her story.

I can hear voices in my head the words of my Western education – “you have been silenced by your family, by your traditions, by your oppressive culture.”  Perhaps.  But like Tamar, I know that my silence has been an act of defiance.   First, it has given me the space to formulate my own narrative of the trauma.  I own the story and in my silence, I have refused to acquiesce to the counter-stories created by my mother and perpetrator.  Second, silence has allowed me to mourn the pain on my own terms.  No one has been able to dictate on how and why I should feel the way I do.  Third, I have been able to share my story through my desolated body, not through words but my very presence.  I have found that words almost always fail but silence embraces all – the tempest of emotions, the pain, the profound sadness, the confusion.  In other words, silence allowed me to be all and nothing at all.[2]  And it is through this choice that I have forced the perpetrator to break, to apologize.  Interestingly, that was not I wanted.  I had forgiven him a long time ago.  Nothing would have given back my innocence, my trust, my childhood.  No.  All  I really wanted was him to acknowledge his perversion, to admit his culpability and therefore find a road to his own healing.  As for my mother, she is too broken to understand her role in my trauma.  She utters a few words because she sees my pain in my silence.  But I do not want to hurt her more as Buki, a character who had undergone female circumcision in Breath, Eyes, Memory writes to her dead grandmother:

Because of you, I feel like a helpless cripple.  I sometimes want to kill myself.  All because of what you did to me, a child who could not say no, a child who could not defend herself. It would be easy to hate you, but I can’t because you are part of me.  You are me.[3]

It is in the silence that I have been able to express all the raging emotions and it is through my desolation that I have been able to tell my story, my version of the “event.”

Therefore, I do not believe in asking, encouraging, and definitely not forcing women to verbally share their stories.  If we just listen to their defiant silence and observe their desolated bodies, we will be able to piece their stories.  For me, it is the silence of the perpetrators and their complicit partners who should be encouraged, perhaps forced to speak about their acts of violence against women.  They should be shamed for their cowardice in wanting to hide behind a deafening wall of silence.  They should be forced to acknowledge and speak about their crimes.

You may ask.  Why have I broken my silence now? I felt a responsibility to a community of women who have chosen to remain defiantly silent.  I laud their decision to silently speak of the atrocities committed against them.  They may not use words but in their very being, in their embodied desolation, they have and continue to share their stories.  And their stories resonate with the stories told by other women.  Think about it.  Despite all the silence around Tamar, her story is included in the Court History in the Bible.  And so her story of her desolated body echoes to this day.  She has spoken so loudly through her silence that now everyone knows her story.  So we all should listen to her cries and say, no more. Never again, Tamar.

Dedicated to a woman whose desolating silence has inspired me to write this story.

[1] I am not including numerous instances in which women are forcibly silenced.  I am speaking of instances in which women have the choice, the privilege to choose between speech and silence.

[2] After much contemplation over silence, I have a deeper appreciation of the divine name, Yahweh (“I am/I will be”).  It allows God to be present without being defined, without being named.

[3] Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (New York: Soho, 2015), 206

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Thanks to The Shiloh Project who gave us permission to reblog this post. The original post was published on 11 July 2018 here.

20 Comments

  1. Broken bird

    That was profound. So very very true in many aspects. I love how she explains the depth of the soul in willful silence. May God continue to heal her and many other women and men of sexual abuse. Pray always. Not all people are cookie cutter shapes. But this gives so much to me personally. Thank you for sharing and posting this.

  2. Helovesme

    I appreciate ANYONE having the courage to write about something so personal, and intense. I am grateful to this woman for giving us a LOT to think about—and hopefully there will be lots of good discussion about silence versus speaking out.

    I did have strong disagreements with her at certain places. But I also very much understood the stressful, repressive atmosphere of silence and “what is best for the family” attitude.

    I am unsure if this was indicated in the story: her mom welcomed the wounded and abused into her home, but advised them to: “quietly endure the mistreatment and abuse for the sake of the children, for the family.”

    I am unsure if the mom invited these women in to feel comforted for a moment, but then to give jemt this type of counsel really did not help matters.

    I also understand the lies the author was told (vocally or silently) about abuse: it happens in all families, men have no self-control, and her mom obviously had conflicting loyalties. She said: “My mother knew what was happening but she failed to protect me because it was a family member she wanted to protect even more. It was an ongoing shameful ‘event’ that was confused with love, loyalty, and duty to the family.”

    I also understand something that is very relevant, but not discussed enough: not only WHO do you tell, but how do you tell it? You are trying to express the unthinkable, the tragic and the unspeakable. Where you do start? How do you “draw out” the details from deep within you, and find words to express them? Are there even words that would suffice?

    “I still did not have the words to describe the ‘inexplicable.’ How does one talk about trauma? What words can encapsulate the ‘event’? Who will be able to understand the mixed emotions of being hurt by a loved one?”

    Even if she find someone to trust and talk to, her internal conflicts would have remained: “And as always, I felt the responsibility to protect the perpetrator and my family which had a reputation to keep in the community….This was the norm for a dutiful person who wanted to honor her mother’s implicit wishes.”

    She worked very hard to explain how she believed her silence “spoke” for her, as well as her body language.

    But I do know that I disagree with her about Tamar. Yes, she used her body to express what had been done to her (tearing her robe, ashes on her head). Yes, was certainly vocal in trying to escape and resist her half brother’s attack). Yes, it didn’t help that everyone kept silent, but everyone knew.

    But sexual assault changes a person. It takes the voice out of you. You are alive on the outside, but inside is a different story.

    I do not expect any victim of abuse and/or assault to not struggle with vocally telling their stories. Something has torn them up inside, and describing the unthinkable will not always come automatically.

    I DO see what she means when she speaks of the advantages of being silent: you’re in charge. No one will try to change the narrative or tell you how to feel, how to process the pain. When I first started to try to talk about my abuse, I usually ended up wishing I hadn’t!

    But that was because I wasn’t speaking to the right people. They did not understand abuse or how to handle it in an honest, biblical way. And yes, they may have lacked compassion as well, and they had a too-fervent desire for me to share the Gospel when my unsaved abuser.

    However, I still lean towards coming to a place, if possible, to share you story with actual words, with real people. With the right people who will embrace and empathize with you.

    But I would never force anyone to tell their stories if they do not want to, or simply choose not for whatever reason.

    I do disagree about how her silence seemed to have forced an apology from her attacker. I don’t want others to think that that is the way to bring their abuser to their knees. I also question the sincerity of his apology. I also question if she was truly able to stop him from hurting others by remaining silent. I admire that desire, but I do not believe she can be 100% sure of her success. Abusers are incredibly crafty, and creative, and they know how to use the darkness to cover for their crimes.

    I DO think she gives us a lot to think about, in looking for the signs of the abused. Their body language and overall demeanor. I recall a time when my shoulders were constantly slumped out of despair and overall defeat. My body was reflecting a lot of turmoil inside of me. It was speaking about something very serious and deep within me.

    I was crying out in silence for sure, as are many others! My voice often came out in prayers to the Lord. Even when words would not come, I knew He “heard” my heart. That was of great comfort, and it did eventually help me to find the words to voice my pain.

    “For me, it is the silence of the perpetrators and their complicit partners who should be encouraged, perhaps forced to speak about their acts of violence against women. They should be shamed for their cowardice in wanting to hide behind a deafening wall of silence. They should be forced to acknowledge and speak about their crimes”

    It is the perpetrators that should be the most ashamed, and feel compelled vocalize their crimes. But I do not think there is much hope for that. Abusers embrace silence for their own purposes, to hide and avoid any accountability for crimes that they KNOW are wrong, but simply don’t care. They relish the silence they live in, whereas victims are suffering in it.

    They put the heaviest of burdens on their victims to remain silent, using fear and intimidation and even the Bible to ensure they do not speak.

    The only thing I think abusers fear, is the silence being broken by their victim(s). So they work very hard to control and manipulate.

    I again disagree about her view on Tamar: “She has spoken so loudly through her silence that now everyone knows her story.”

    Her story used words. Lots of them. Her silence afterwards may have had to more with ancient culture (she articulated that no one would marry her now) and the possible lack of any legal rights that a woman had in that time (even a princess). It was up to her father to use his authority as a father and a king, which he failed to do.

    My understanding is that she lived out her life in isolation and silence, but I do not think that that was how the endgame should have played out for her— AT ALL.

    I do not think that that is the Lord’s plan for women who have been abused or attacked.

    Absalom, who is NOT a person to be admired—-did avenge his sister. He waited for two years to do so, but it’s obvious he never forgot, even as he stayed silent for that time.

  3. Moving Forward

    I have learned it takes strength to be silent.

  4. Finding Answers

    I have had this post in the back of my mind all day.

    I am uncomfortable saying anything, as each person has their own way of walking through life. I can understand the different qualities of silence – the “silent treatment” of the abuser, the pleasant silence of shared companionship, the silence of an empty house.

    I….found the graphic of the mouth stapled shut the most disturbing…..

    • anonymous

      A Russian performance artist actually did this, he sewed his mouth shut to protest the Russian government and how the government silences its own people.

      But perhaps the mouth stapled shut is disturbing… evil is disturbing. Somehow I appreciate the grittiness of the graphic as evil is usually cloaked and yet the core is ugly. There’s a certain honesty in the graphic showing it like it is.

  5. anonymous

    I don’t know about silence as defiance. Silence seems to be the smartest way to go, otherwise people turn one’s victimization, violation, and traumatization into but gossip fodder, or worse yet, as supposed ‘evidence’ as to what a horrible person one is, how one deserves to be targeted, harmed, further victimized.

    Speaking out did not help me. It only harmed me. And lest anyone recklessly, and rashly, in a passing moment of courage speak out, only to encounter overwhelming pushback, backlash, etc. and be intimidated/scared into recanting/backing down/walking back their reality, my goodness, what hell awaits such a person.

    A person has to know that if one breaks the silence, all new, fresh hell, will break forth. If a person is already in bad shape, the advice to speak out, to tell what has been done to you, is not exactly good advice to follow.

    A person needs to trust the system in order to speak out and my goodness, that trust is not warranted.

    Also, the story about Tamar, I think people knew what was about to happen. The rapist plotted as to how to lure his victim into his quarters and get her alone. Not many half-brothers who are as powerful as that, need nursing from their sisters, instead of anyone else. A admire Tamar for having openly worn her pain, her victimization, and not hidden it, covered it up, kept up appearances in a desperate attempt to preserve any bit of dignity and self-respect. Rape is about humiliation, embarassment, perversion, degradation, and power. It’s very tempting to cover it up in the aftermath as one doesn’t want such to have happened to them, wants to pretend it away, wants things to go back to pre-rape.

    Silence is an interesting thing. I think one has to have enough status, power, and/or support (allies) in order to break one’s silence, out their perp, and not be sucked into a new swirling of the drain, hellish experience and reality.

    But then again, a Bible verse I didn’t know or recall when I needed it, was that we are to expose evil, and have nothing to do with wickedness. By remaining silent, we somewhat collude in it. But that also assumes people will care if we say anything, that the police won’t be but fellow wifebeaters, rapists, thugs, corrupt criminals. And I know it is the very last thing a victim wants to do — to acknowledge what was done to her, to actually acknowledge it, to tell anyone about it, to have others know about it, to be at the mercy of some horrendous court system.

    But if I had to do it all over again, I’d have spoken my truth, worn my pain and victimization openly, and reported the perp right away. I just didn’t want it to have been done to me. Nobody does. And forgetting, burying, repressing, etc. only works for so long and it bubbles up again and all along the way, the damage and harms already are becoming self-evident, so hiding it isn’t all that easy.

    • anonymous

      Also, I’m not sure how many other readers can identify with this but I grew up in a religious family and lived a pretty sheltered life and when my abuser unleashed all sorts of hell, horror, abuse, shock and awe, battery, attempted murder, perversion, assaults, threats, terror and more, I didn’t know how to possibly tell anyone, that anyone would ever believe what a monster he was, as I was there and I lived it and I couldn’t believe it, and also there’s a ton of bad ‘c’hristian teachings about ‘silence, judge not, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, don’t speak negatively of anyone, etc

      A victim is so alone, so alone. Silence is sometimes all she has to protect her because the abuser is going to unleash all new levels or ways or methods of hell if she says anything, even if she bothers to privately mention something to him. It’s really bad what truly evil, seriously depraved men can do to a woman who is all alone, doesn’t even have the words to describe what is being done to her (just in her own mind, even)….

      But speaking out is not the end-all solution. Sometimes that means death for the abused one. Some abusers, once they’ve been outed as being abusers/wifebeaters/rapists/etc. go the murder-suicide route. Sometimes silence is life-saving.

      But if I could suggest anything to any other readers, it is to do one or the other. If you speak out, do not go back on your momentary courage. No matter what. Life will be all that more hellacious if you waver under the immense pressure coming your way. Don’t recant if you can help it. And if you are going to tell of what your abuser did to you, know you will very likely be hunted, hounded, and abused in all new ways, pressured, threatened, coerced, and basically forced into going back on your word. Just know that before speaking so you know what is coming your way.

      But then again, why not speak truth, and if dying is the consequence of such, that means you’ll be home with Jesus that much sooner. 🙂 (easier to say than to live and do) But I know, death, more abuse, more threats, more horror, they are heavy weights with heavy tolls and I don’t blame anyone for buckling under such. It’s a lonely, dangerous, horrible position.

    • Some Anonymous Bloke

      anonymous, the biblical text that you are searching for is Ephesians 5:11: ‘Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them’ (CSB).

    • Silence is an interesting thing. I think one has to have enough status, power, and/or support (allies) in order to break one’s silence, out their perp, and not be sucked into a new swirling of the drain, hellish experience and reality.

      This ^

    • Moving Forward

      I so agree with your comment, Anonymous.

      Speaking up just resulted in shunning from the church, loss of the few friends I had, and rage from the abusive ex.

      If the truth is spoken of in court, a person may lose their children.

      I learned to be silent for the safety of myself and the children. However, he uses that against me too, and goes out of his way to harass me to the point of speaking out, just so he can trounce me again with words and actions.

      It is very hard to keep my silence when someone is doing what they can to get under my skin and provoke a response for his nefarious purposes. But by the grace of God, knowing He sees all and is watching over us, I keep my tongue and fingers silent as best as I can.

  6. GypsyAngel

    Why is it we women who have to bear the burden of these shameful acts? Why is it that as children we are taught that it is better to be silent than speak out about the harm done to us. Even our own mothers, who may have been there, should be the ones who understand and care, but instead they burden us more. The climate of male dominated, male privilege, male “rights” over us and our lives will only change if and when we speak out and continue to do so. But how can we when we are constantly being battered and shamed for doing so? We are being constantly given the message everywhere we turn to sit down, be quiet, know our place, be submissive, trust men to know what’s right, trust the ‘c’hurch to be the guiding authority, own your complicity (as a child and then battered adult) in the act….Balderdash.

    What must we do to create a climate of caring? Because we must do something. I carry this burden in my heart for the harmed children, for the trafficked babies, toddlers, and older children that society has created as “convenient” victims. I hurt Everytime I hear of another woman victimized by their spouse, family, and ‘c’hurch. But what do we do? Can we actually do anything but pray and wait for Christ to come again? How can I live with the shame and dehumanization that I face on a daily basis because I “was an adult and could have done something to stop it” when I was revictimized by my own husband? Is there even an answer?

    • GypsyAngel

      I suppose part of what I’m trying to convey is; “Where is the justice? where is MY justice?” What am I doing wrong that I have no justice? And instead face only condemnation even from those who have set themselves up in authority and are supposed to care. Where are the answers?

  7. Krikit

    In reading her personal story, I am reminded of Christ’s silence in the face of His persecution, torture, and ultimately, His demise. And yet, His silence had God’s purpose at hand because Christ was and is the Savior of the world. Such silence was God’s to use as I Am, and Christ’s to live as The Lamb.

    While I can understand the perspective written of in her story, I can never believe that human silence in the face of atrocity, brings redemption. Mankind is no one’s Savior.

    • I agree that human silence in the face of atrocity does not cause a perpetrator to break / apologise / repent unto redemption.

      There is only one redeemer – the man Christ Jesus.

      It’s not fair or logical to put the load on any victim to do ‘x’ or ‘y’ or ‘z’ to bring the perpetrator to repentance.

      This person who was abused and who wrote this article (I’m guessing she is female) tells us that her perpetrator did eventually “break and apologise” to her. But perhaps, she has mis-attributed cause and effect.

      I honor her for her courage. I honor her for her willingness to voice her experience and for how she draws our attention to the ‘speaking’ that is ‘not-speaking’ — the body language, the use of garments and other non-verbal signs to declare reality and truth – when speaking words is too dangerous, or when speaking words to brick walls is a waste of time.

      At the same time as I honor her, I also think that she might have made an error in jumping to the conclusion that her silence is what “forced the perpetrator to break”.

      Here is a quote from her article:

      like Tamar, I know that my silence has been an act of defiance. First, it has given me the space to formulate my own narrative of the trauma. I own the story and in my silence, I have refused to acquiesce to the counter-stories created by my mother and perpetrator. Second, silence has allowed me to mourn the pain on my own terms. No one has been able to dictate on how and why I should feel the way I do. Third, I have been able to share my story through my desolated body, not through words but my very presence. I have found that words almost always fail but silence embraces all – the tempest of emotions, the pain, the profound sadness, the confusion. In other words, silence allowed me to be all and nothing at all. And it is through this choice that I have forced the perpetrator to break, to apologize. Interestingly, that was not I wanted. I had forgiven him a long time ago. Nothing would have given back my innocence, my trust, my childhood. No. All I really wanted was him to acknowledge his perversion, to admit his culpability and therefore find a road to his own healing.

      I am so glad that this perpetrator broke and apologized to this victim. At the same time, I recognise that the pushback some of our readers have given on this post has been understandable.

      It was my (Barb’s) decision to reblog this article by the anonymous author.
      I take full responsibility for not giving my clarifying commentary/caveat when we originally posted the article.
      Please forgive me.
      And thanks to all our readers who have given me pushback. 🙂

      • anonymous

        When she talks about her perp breaking and apologizing, I’m assuming it was but words. Talk is cheap. I hate to point it out but to labor for so long in hopes of a perp muttering “I’m sorry” (and lie through his teeth in doing so) is just the perp remaining in control, manipulating, stringing his victim along, furthering the illusion that she might have any impact on him. The perp does whatever the perp wants. The perp’s victim means nothing to him. I’d guess that it was but some cheap words to continue the abuse, to dupe her into thinking she had any effect on him, a few seconds of playacting out ‘brokenness’ and a few more seconds of a fake apology, and the buy back is complete.

        Admittedly, I barely skimmed the post as some of the things seemed really off, and bothered me. But still, victims need to know that perps don’t break, they don’t finally ‘see the light’ and genuinely apologize. Such labors is false labor, under false hopes and pretenses. Abusers serve themselves only. It’s hard to see these things when one is the involved victim, but the objective reality is there.

      • Anonymous, I know you care about victims and you appreciate victims speaking about their experiences.

        You said that you have made an assumption about this perp’s “breaking and apologising” being ‘just words’.

        Please consider this as a possibility: in your zeal of wanting to warn other victims about the likelihood that a perp’s apology is fake, could you be unfairly and unjustly scorning this author’s testimony about her own experience?

        Is it fair to skim an article, and then make assumptions about it?

        Let me tell you about my experience with one of the people who abused me. This person abused me when both of us were children. I confronted this person about it when we were both adults. The person said that they had no memory of it, but if they had done it they would apologise. I instantly felt reconciled with the person when they said that.

        I do not feel like I have the right or the power to demand that this person probe their memory and recognise the facts of what they did to me. I am okay with letting God deal with this person, as He sees fit, as He knows best. But I am confident thqt this person’s apology was genuine.

        Could you open your mind, anonymous, to the fact that not all victim-survivors have perpetrators like the perps you have had?

      • anonymous

        Yes, I do very much care about victims and I appreciate their sharing. I’m probably on the extreme end, as is/was my victimization. I do not wish to scorn, trivialize or dismiss another’s experiences/testimony. I just care deeply about other women, other victims, and I know how bad and extreme my situation is/was and we all get but one life and perhaps other victims have lives which are still salvageable, so I hate to see victims pinning their hopes on change/breaking/apologizing, when the reality is an exceedingly rare occurrence. Each testimony of some abuser changing or whatever is breathing oxygen into the very minute chance that their abuser(s) might do the same, which exposes victims to more abuse, more harm, more devastation. The chances of such happening for any victim are super low.

        Yes, my experience is/was extreme and that colors my perspective, but I’ve also heard and/or read about many other women’s experiences and the core experience is there. I have yet to see or know about or read about anyone’s abuser(s) changing in my life’s experiences, aside from what I’ve read here on this site. Nowhere else have I read of such happening. Nobody I’ve ever talked to in person has ever had any ‘success’.

        The way I see it is much like Pastor Powell’s latest posting/comment lays it out. Abusers are poison. It’s like playing with fire or drinking poison or playing Russian roulette.

        People are free to do what they think is best for themselves and they are experts on their lives, situations, and circumstances. I just don’t want others to be as harmed as badly as I have been because there are points of no return and it’s game over once a person is hurled past those points of no return. For me, death is a mercy, and if I can inform others of the dire reality, and perhaps help persuade others to safeguard themselves and look to protect themselves at all costs before they’re too mangled to manage anymore, then perhaps there’s a reason why I am still alive.

        But, that’s just my thought/hope. Indeed, I am on the extreme end, and I’m radical, but when a person considers what is at stake, I think it’s worth being radical and resolute.

        But yes, I shouldn’t have skimmed and then felt adequately informed to comment. I should have carefully read it all. I just don’t want others to be lulled into a false sense of security or hopefulness when they’re simply playing Russian roulette with their lives.

      • anonymous

        I’m in bad shape and in pain. I probably need to start refraining from commenting. Sorry about my comments. I probably am too radical because of the extremities of my experiences. I don’t know though.

        Thanks, Barb. 🙂

      • Thanks anonymous, I understand you’re in pain.

        It’s okay to keep commenting even if you’re in pain, but please just be aware that we try to honour all survivor’s stories, and we don’t want one reader to comment in a way that discounts another survivor’s experiences.

        Also, TW and I put a lot of effort into moderating comments at this blog. And you are one of our readers whom we cannot email privately, which makes it a bit harder for us. So I’d appreciate you bearing in mind the time it takes for us to read and moderate your comments. (Because of your situation with email, you may not be aware of how often I edit your comments.)

        When you’re in a lot of pain, perhaps the best way to comment is to just voice your own emotions, rather than try to warn other victim-survivors about the dangers you want to help them avoid.

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