Yesterday we started looking at Hophni and Phinehas’s behaviour with the women who served at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Was it sexual assault? The strong power imbalance made consent unlikely. If you missed it, you can read about it here. Hophni and Phinehas...
Today we start a series looking at Eli, and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
When we read 1 and 2 Samuel, and look for what it has to say to us about abuse, we are flooded with stories and examples. This makes sense because what we now categorise broadly as abuse is a grouping of different harmful or toxic behaviours: different sins.
When we slow down and look at what is happening in Hannah’s relationships, it becomes clear how much she is suffering. But what about other people in her family? We know kids are vulnerable to domestic violence. Just watching it makes them victims of child abuse....
How can I be a friend to someone in need? The psalmist wrote:
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
One of the most difficult challenges for a victim of abuse is to be believed. Even by their friends. Abusers play on it and often use tactics to perpetrate further abuse through other people. These third parties are colloquially known as “flying monkeys”, reminiscent of the servants of the Wicked Witch of the West. Some might be only too glad to join in on hurting someone, but many will be innocent and unaware of the way they are being used.
Abuse is complicated in so many ways. It is completely unsurprising that people find it difficult to deal with. It’s not as “simple” as just dealing with one horrific type of behaviour. A typical abuser might have dozens of types of behaviour that stretch across multiple forms of abuse. Some of the most confusing and difficult to respond to are the apparent “positive” behaviours – behaviours that help the abuser hide and deny the abuse.
We are looking at Psalm 123 as part of our series on the Songs of Ascents.
Abuse is torture. It’s difficult to go into that without raising triggers for people. But in the many different forms of abuse: all are dehumanising. Among the dozens of abusive behaviours a perpetrator is likely to be practised at are many that seek to disrupt a victim’s capacity to know and see clearly.