Tamar could not believe something like this could happen to her. One would think it unlikely, considering her upbringing. She comes from a good, loving and wealthy family. Yet it happened. As the story goes, Tamar responded to the request that her brother Amnon was ill and desired that she bring him a meal. In spite of the inconvenience of going to Amnon’s home to prepare this meal, Tamar went. She wanted her brother to get well.
Tamar arrived at Amnon’s home with all of the supplies. She would make the best cakes he ever tasted. She prepared the meal, set the table and called him in to eat. Oddly, Amnon refused to eat. He just sat there staring. Suddenly, Amnon requested everyone to leave. Then Tamar was asked to serve him his meal in his bedroom. She thought to herself, “oh how spoiled rotten this one has become.” She was here now. Why not?
As Tamar entered the room, Amnon grabbed hold of her. He wasted no time in making his true intentions known. “Come, lie with me,” he said.
Fear pulsated through every fiber of her being. She tried reasoning and pleading. Amnon would not relent. In just a matter of minutes, her life was ruined.
As Tamar left Amnon’s home, she displayed the signs of damaged goods. Shame, tears, ashes, and torn garment were the signs she wore. Over and over she questioned how this could have happened? What did she do to cause this?
This Tamar story is based on the biblical story found in 2 Samuel 13. The biblical story goes from bad to worse. Tamar’s father David is angered by what happened to Tamar. Unfortunately, he does nothing. After a sufficient amount of time, in which justice should have occurred, Absolom, another son, avenges his sister. He has Amnon killed.
Yes, this is a horrible story. Tamar’s story is told in an effort to raise awareness about domestic violence. This story is reflective of the ugly truth of millions of women and children. The abuse occurs in varying ways – physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, and economic abuses. Often the vulnerable are criticized, made to feel inferior, isolated from family and friends, threatened, controlled, kept financially dependent, or sexually coerced. Abuse can occur anywhere, including homes, schools, churches, and places of employment.
The cries of the innocent are screaming out for help. Since we the church are in partnership with God, we have an obligation to work for justice, healing, and hope. It is essential that victims like Tamar be heard and believed. With eyes, ears, and hearts open, let us seek to make a difference. Ignoring the cries will not make the problem of intimate partner violence go away.
O LORD, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more. – Psalm 10:17-18
National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233)