The Psychology of Sexual Abuse

The allegations against Bill Cosby are shocking. He has long been a cultural icon whose name has been nearly synonymous with morality (a bald morality devoid of Jesus, mind you, but morality by the world’s standards nonetheless). But 15 women accusing him of rape is no joke, and regardless of whether or not he did it, his reputation will be tarnished forever. I don’t care to discuss that though.

What I want to address is a subject that I’ve heard raised on the radio as well as in the barbershop that I manage. The issue I’d like to address is the one pertaining to why come out now and not when these alleged attacks first took place. A coworker of mine gets incensed every time the subject is brought up and blames the alleged victims for waiting so long to come forward. In his mind this is a clear sign of Cosby’s innocence.

But he also adds that even if Cosby is guilty, these women are making themselves look stupid by keeping quit for so long. Surely had they really been assaulted they would have gone to the authorities immediately; I mean everybody knows that, right? WRONG! I’ve not read any studies on the subject (I really wish I had statistics to bolster my claims here) but I can speak anecdotally because I know dozens (that’s right; dozen in the plural) of people who have been sexually assaulted.

I know both women and men who have been abused sexually, whether molested or raped (some violently and some who have been victim to date rape), and there’s a common denominator in all of their testimonies: SHAME. I don’t know a single person who has been abused sexually who hasn’t felt some kind of shame about it. Some of those I know who were strong enough to tell on their abuser were met with scorn and doubt from those they told. Most were too traumatized or too deceived into thinking they were to blame to say anything at all initially.

The thing I tried to explain to my coworker (repeatedly), was that many women (and men as well) who are victims of sexual assault don’t say anything because speaking about it causes them to relive the experience. In addition, many believe themselves to have been at fault for a variety of reasons (e.g., not fighting against the attack as hard as they could have; coming on too strong and inviting the attack; putting themselves in a situation to be attacked; etc.). The point is that there’s a lot of moving parts to why someone wouldn’t just up and tell on their abuser.

And I know a bunch of nobodies (and by that I mean people who are not well known by the general public) who were abused by a bunch of nobodies. Bill Cosby is a somebody. Again, he’s been a cultural icon for half a century! Standup comedy (clean standup comedy at that); movies; wildly popular television programs; endorsements; philanthropy; etc. Now think of how that impacts the dynamic. You have a number of women who have allegedly been sexually assaulted by one of the most loved figures in recent American memory. How easy is it to just up and tell on him given the broad range of emotions they’re feeling and the magnitude of his public persona?

It’s not easy at all. It’s not easy for nobodies to tell on nobodies let alone nobodies tell on famous people. So why now? Why stay quiet for all this time? Well, I don’t have all of the facts, so I don’t know exactly when these women started to come out of the woodwork, but lets say that they all came out within a month or two of each other. It’s not so difficult to account for that (and we see it with these types of cases all the time). There is strength in numbers. One victim stepping forward empowers another to do the same. So on and so forth. It’s the reason that support groups exist.

Now I don’t know if Bill Cosby is a serial rapist or not. I don’t find it implausible. In fact, I tend to find 15 women accusing him of rape well after they can seek legal recourse (and from what I’ve read, none are seeking damages either) more implausible, which is to say that given the scope of the accusation and the similarity in the stories of the alleged victims (at least from what I’ve read), I tend to think that there’s a good chance he did it. But Bill Cosby isn’t the issue here. The issue is thinking that it’s just as easy to report a sexual crime as it is to report a hit and run or burglary. It’s not. Not even close.

Just something to ponder for those who are quick to blame the alleged victims of sexual crimes. Much more could be said but I’ll leave it to the experts to say it.

B”H

Mini-Interview with Chris Tilling

For those who haven’t heard, Eerdmans is publishing Chris Tilling‘s Paul’s Divine Christology as an affordable volume! Rachel Bomberger (of EerdWord fame) caught up with Chris at SBL and interviewed him about his work. The question I submitted on Twitter was one of the three answered (along with Matthew Montonini and Simon Watkinson’s). Here’s the mini-interview:

B”H

Psalm 36

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.

Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me. There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.

(Psalms 36:1–12 KJV)

B”H

Just Ordered

I had nearly forgotten that I received a gift certificate from the Westminster Bookstore a little while ago and once I remembered I went to the website and got to shopping. Initially I thought to get Thomas Schreiner’s commentary on Romans in the BECNT series, because well, I don’t have it and I hear it’s brilliant, but ultimately I decided on something else.

I ended up ordering the second volume of Douglas Kelly’s Systematic Theology entitled The Beauty of Christ: A Trinitarian Vision. I have thoroughly enjoyed the portions of the first volume that I’ve read and I’m on board with any systematic theology set that his a trinitarian focus, so this was a must have.

In addition to this I ordered Brian Edgar’s The Message of the Trinity, which is a book that has eluded me for years. I’ve almost purchased it dozens of times but always brushed it to the side for something else. Well, the price was right this time and the two books combined to be almost exactly what I had on the gift certificate. I simply paid for shipping.

I know I’ve been talking about tech quite a bit in recent months, but I’ll never turn away from my first love: BOOKS!!!

B”H

A Budding Scholar You Should Know

Chris Tilling has taken on a PhD student. It’s about time! His name is Justin Hagerman and he maintains a blog called “Virtue in Paul’s Letters.” Justin’s stated focus is reviewing the work of scholars writing on Paul while he begins his own in depth study of the Apostle beginning with Galatians. So bookmark his blog, add it to Feedly or whatever other aggregator you use, and interact with him.

B”H

In the Mail

I can’t remember exactly when I heard that Gordon Fee’s NICNT 1 Corinthians volume was being revised but I knew immediately that I wanted it. Well, after however long of a wait, I got my copy today! Eerdmans was good enough to pass along one for review and I will be reading it alongside the original to see where Fee differed from his former self. I’m looking forward to making use of this resource for years to come!

B”H

I Need This!

UPDATE: My pastor made an excellent point. People could donate to my church and receive a tax deduction and then the church will provide the equipment for me! Something to ponder!

I mentioned this on Twitter a few minutes ago but it bears repeating. I spent the better part of my day yesterday editing some video footage in Adobe Premiere Pro and even though it wasn’t all the way complete I wanted to render the rough cut and see how everything was coming together. Well, I went to export the file and as soon as Premiere started encoding the video my MacBook Pro heated up to over 200° F! Last time I tried to encode a large video file with Adobe Media Encoder it heated up beyond that point and shut down! So I cancelled the process and have no way to render this video.

But that brings me to my present point; namely that I’m going to need a more powerful machine. I love the MBP for most of the stuff I do with it but the more I get into video editing work the less useful it is. I really need a Mac Pro. The problem is that I can’t afford one at the moment. In order to get a refurbished (which is fine; I honestly wouldn’t get brand new when the refurbs are just as good and a little less expensive) 6 core Mac Pro I need about $3400 (not including tax)! I’d like to get dual 27″ (2560×1440) monitors to go with it but I can survive with my 24″ setup for now.

In any event, you have not because you ask not, so I thought I’d ask if anyone wanted to help out. You never know; I may have a silent reader who has been waiting to bless me for years and was looking for the right opportunity to do so. I may have several readers who would all like to make small (or large) donations towards the cause. I don’t know. One thing I do know is that I don’t do this stuff for my personal enjoyment, nor do I turn a profit off of it. My labors are for the ministry and trust me, if my church could afford it, I’d already have it.

I wish I had a non-profit set up where people could receive tax credit for helping me out. In truth, I need to get that ball rolling since I’m ordained now and can make that a reality. I’m just waiting to hear from the Lord on the few things before I go that direction. But that’s fodder for another post to be written at another time. In any event, if anyone wants to buy me a Mac Pro, I’d appreciate it. Thanks! ;-)

B”H