We commonly speak of sexual abuse as murder.
Some perhaps go even further: they say that sexual abuse is WORSE than murder.
That’s because in the case of physical murder the victim, now dead, no longer suffers the ignominy of the crime committed against them.
In the case of sexual abuse, the victim goes on living but with all of the psychological and social damage hobbling them.
The parallel of murder and sexual abuse is drawn from the Bible.
In the discussion of sexual violence in Deuteronomy 22 we find these verses:
25 But if a man finds the betrothed girl in the field, and the man overpowers her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die.
26 Whereas to the girl, you shall do nothing the girl did not commit a sin deserving of death, for just as a man rises up against his fellow and murders him, so is this case.
27 Because he found her in the field. The betrothed girl had cried out, but there was no one to save her.
This parallel is compelling.
Speaking for myself, it makes me wonder about life and what it means to be alive.
And by extension it makes me think about what is destroyed when a woman or man is sexually violated.
Look at it like this:
If you were to ask anyone what is it to be alive they would probably say that it means to have a heart beat, to show signs of physical life.
In all honesty, I wouldn’t say that they are wrong.
But the Bible is placing in murder and sexual violation in one category.
Pretty shocking, no?
It would seem that the commonality between the two is that there is denial of self determination.
To be robbed of agency is to die.
It would seem then that to be alive is to be able freely determine where one wishes to go and what one wishes to do.
To be able to chart the direction of one’s life.
Having worked with victims of sexual abuse over the past thirty years this kind of murder is real.
These victims are caught in a web of shame, powerlessness, fear, and confusion that denies them the ability to live joyfully and powerfully in their own lives.
Their hearts may still beat out a normal sinus rhythm but their spirits, like a corpse, are dead and buried.
But that is what makes their resurrection so much more amazing and miraculous.