Shhh, don’t tell: the church is sweeping this under the rug!

For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. – Jeremiah 8:11 (King James Version)

Have you ever had an unexpected guest and quickly shoved scattered laundry, toys or miscellaneous items into a closet to put your best foot forward?  There’s an old idiom that refers to sweeping something under the rug (or under the carpet). It means to hide something damaging or unpleasant and try to keep it secret or, cover something up and pretend it doesn’t exist because it’s not visible to the naked eye. Of all of the unpleasant issues the church has had to deal with, sexual abuse is one the enemy most desires to sweep under the rug.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime and 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. These women are your nieces, aunts, sisters, mothers and congregation members. Shame, a terrible weapon of the devil, keeps them in silence and helps to keep this issue under the rug. In the 2 Samuel account of Tamar’s rape, Tamar tells her half-brother that the result of his terrible act will be shame.

12 And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. 13 And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. 14 Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her. – 2 Samuel 13:12-14 (King James Version)

As a rape survivor, I’m intimately acquainted with the detrimental effects of shame. I sat in church for years and no one talked about or addressed my deepest pains and I also didn’t open up about what had happened to me. If 60% of sexual assaults go unreported think about the potential numbers of women who are sitting in church just like I was—hurting but not knowing how to be healed, break free from shame and get the help they need.

The scripture says that our Lord Jesus took shame to the cross so that you can be free from shame. Isaiah 50:6 says, I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. The reality is that Jesus can relate to the rape survivor and so many need to know this. It’s time for this message of redemption to reach hurting sexual assault survivors. No more sweeping it under the rug.

It is my prayer that the church be a relevant, encouraging source of healing for sexual assault survivors and fulfill her mandate to bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted. Let’s join in with what God is doing and extend our hands in compassion and care. For more information about how you can help, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/at/iam4woman.

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Lenita Reeves is the author of Breaking the Silence: The Journey from Rape to redemption, a speaker, counselor, pastor, wife and mother of four children. As a rape survivor and former teen mom, God has graced Lenita to be an outspoken overcomer, delivering insight in an approachable yet enlightening manner. From senior class president to founder of a non-profit, leadership has been an evident mark of Lenita’s calling and passions throughout her life. She is an international speaker, member of the RAINN speaker’s bureau, ordained pastor and founder of PurposeHouse Christian Counseling. Lenita has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech, a Master of Arts in Dance Education from the Ohio State University and a MBA from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Christian Counseling and attended Beulah Heights Bible College in Atlanta, Georgia.

For more information about Lenita’s books, visit http://www.amazon.com/author/lenitareeves.