Meet Dinah: Victim of sexual abuse

Let me tell you the account of a woman who was abused sexually. It is found in Genesis 34. Did this incident of sexual abuse result in silence? Yes it did. But the story doesn’t end there.

(The Bible is not an account of perfect people, but a true account of God’s love and redemption of His people.)

Today we meet Dinah and learn the beginning of her experience with brokenness.

First a little family history background for you on Dinah. Found in the previous chapters of Genesis; it’s worth the read.

Dinah was Jacob & Leah’s daughter. (Abraham had Isaac who had twins Esau and Jacob.) Dinah’s mom Leah was not known to be beautiful as her sister Rachel was; Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah who was the firstborn; but really Jacob loved Rachel. So an average looking mom, who had jealously issues with her beautiful little sister, and battled to feel her husband’s love, finally at some point had a little girl named Dinah.

Dinah had many brothers because her mom had the gift of having children, sons to be exact. Dinah is the only mention of a daughter that she had. So, Dinah had many brothers, and she her life may have consisted of a world of men, as well as possibly watching her mom, Leah, and aunt Rachel fight over sharing dad quite often. Mom and aunt Rachel were having a race to see who could have the most kids. (Kind of makes you feel real special in the birth order, doesn’t it?) I imagine in this family a girl could feel a little lost, left behind or left out. Just speculating.

Perhaps that is why she sought female companionship.

Genesis 34:1 “Dinah…went out to see some of the young women of the area.”

A girl has got to have her girlfriend time.

It doesn’t sound too abnormal, does it? “I’m tired of being around all my brothers and my family fights a lot. I’m going to go see my friends.” And truly at any age, a women needs her female companions. So off she goes to have girl time.

Enter the bad guy. Ironically it’s a prince. Yes, ladies, what was Disney thinking by glorifying a prince in all their fairytales. But maybe that indicates something about this man and what he is about to do.

Genesis 34:2 “When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite”…

Family matters.

A man’s upbringing makes a difference; who he has grown up with and how; and what kind of family he comes from. This verse lists his name, his father’s name and his family origin. Study a little more about the Hivites and his father Hamor, and we might discover something about the nature of this man Shechem.

…”the prince of the region”

Sometimes a girl gets swept up by a Prince, and she’s not always OK with it.

Of course. Here comes the entitled, big ego guy. I’m sure he knew he could get away with anything and always get what he wanted. In fact later in verse 19 we learn Shechem is the ...”most important in all his father’s house.” So we are dealing with a guy who gets his way and gets what he wants.

…”when [he]….saw her, he took her and raped her.”

Pause for a moment. And ask yourself what this might have looked like from the outside. Where were  her girlfriends? Did they know what really happened? Was this man desired in the region and being with him was perceived as a good thing? Who was around when this went down?

It is clear Dinah expressed no consent here. And the tragedy sounds as about immediate as “when he saw he took.” Again, from the outside in, might some have thought they fell in love or that it was a good arrangement? Even from Dinah’s perspective, there was no time to stop, think, ponder and consider what all was happening. She went to go see her girlfriends. She had no idea those plans would be violently interrupted and her life drastically changed.

Then there’s the day that Daddy finds out about his little girl.

Genesis 34:5 “Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah…”

Not a great day for dad. Probably a pain he prayed against since the day Dinah was born. His manhood and calling to protect probably just cranked up to a level 9.

…”but since his sons were with his livestock in the field”…

Here is the first excuse why post abuse action is not taken. Sometimes we get carried away with the family business. Everyone is busy or working or out doing their own thing, and we don’t realize what has happened in our own family.

Perimeter pain can come subtly when a family is looking the other way.

There is no direct blame on Dinah’s father or her brothers; nor was it wrong that she go out from her family to see her female companions; and there is not a clear description of the timeframe. How much time had passed from the incident to Dinah’s dad hearing about it and her family learning the truth? We also do not know how this information got back to them. What we do learn from verse 26 is that our broken Dinah has remained at Shechem’s house this whole time. (…”took Dinah from Shechem’s house” Gen 34:26)

And now comes the most common result of all sexual abuse, remaining silent.

Sexual abuse causes fear which results in SILENCE.

…”he remained silent until they returned.”

However long Jacob remained silent, we don’t know. Deeper study of the culture at the time might reveal how long the brothers would have stayed and worked out in the fields. Whether Jacob only waited until they “clocked out at five” that day, or if they commuted days to work out of town in their fields, is not mentioned. What is clear is that there was time that lapsed between dad finding out and his ability to do anything about it. Because of the complicated nature of sexual abuse, it is difficult to arrive at immediate and clear follow-up action.

Follow-up action to sexual abuse is often delayed.

Also look into why Jacob was waiting because his sons were not around. Did he want to share the news with his family first before acting? Was he afraid to act being only one man? There are many elements that come into play here, and unfortunately it seems that the only one in these accounts who act on impulse is the attacker.

Why did Dinah fall off the grid and out of the account as soon as it was mentioned she was raped? Shouldn’t the story focus on her needs at this time? What was she doing and feeling this whole time? How is her life and future reshaping at the hands of this man?

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If this article resonated with you, there is a safe place to share:

WomenConnect@Harborsidechurch.org          SUBJECT LINE: Dinah’s Story

 

 

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