Restrictions aimed to stop the spread of Covid-19 are also making abuse hotlines light up. What can you do to help? 

In 2 Samuel 13, David’s son, Amnon, is said to “love” his half-sister, Tamar. He 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.” This verse tells us a lot; Amnon only wants Tamar to “do” something “to her.” 

As a royal princess and a virgin, Tamar was closely watched by the king’s guards. There seemed no opportunity for Amnon to get her alone. So Amnon’s buddy, Jonadab, comes up with a wicked plot: “pretend to be sick and ask your father (David) to send Tamar to serve you some food.” Amnon sent everyone out of his room, took hold of her, and said, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” “No, my brother,” Tamar replied, “do not violate me; do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” (I’m guessing that Tamar said this as a ploy to get away). But Amnon “would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.”

Look for clues of abuse by noticing how people respond.

Notice Tamar. She put ashes on her head and tears her robe. Victims will often try to hide what happened and bury it. But notice that Tamar tears her royal robe, puts ashes on her head, “and went away, crying aloud as she went.” I can picture her walking down the palace hallway wailing while everyone is freaking out looking at her. Something valuable had been lost. She did not say, “This was somehow my fault.” She didn’t hide the truth that a terrible sin was committed against her will. Tamar did it right. She grieved and people noticed.

Notice Amnon. His obsession immediately turns to loathing. He “hated her with great hatred”—clearly, a warped psychological maneuver. Amnon says to Tamar, “Get up! Go!” and tells his servants, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her” (literally “Get this out of here”). Perpetrators despise the one they abuse. Amnon blamed the person he injured, and it was obvious to all.

Notice David. He is angry, but sadly, he does nothing–except to keep it quiet. He did not confront Amnon or minister to Tamar and everyone knew it.

Notice Amnon’s brother, Absalom. He plots revenge, kills Amnon two years later, and tries to usurp the kingdom from his father David (2 Samuel 13:20-18:18). Nobody missed this trail of tears.

Look for clues. Notice changes in facial expressions and behaviors. Someone’s heartbreaking journey may be buoyed by a simple act—a smile, an invitation to talk, a nudge of encouragement from you.