Disclaimer: I don’t care how much you love the “19 Kids and Counting” show, I’m just going to speak my mind right now. I understand that I do not know all of the facts about the situation, but I do know the facts that the Duggars have themselves said and that is where this is coming from. Not only speculation.
Before I really get into this, I wanted to let you know that I’m working on an assumption of the best case scenario here. I’m assuming that everyone got counseling, Josh was healed from the obvious brokenness that sexual abuse comes from, and they are truly healed right now. Everything I say from here on out is going to be coming from that mindset.
Ok let’s go.
Here’s the part that really really got me: it started in 2002.
That means that the Duggars knew about this before they started their show. Before they put their children in the limelight, making them public figures that had to constantly wear a happy face. They knew that their daughters, victims of sexual abuse, would have to become spokespersons for the faith of the family that hushed up their pain–even if they were on a great road to recovery, that’s still horrible.
Personally (EVEN IN THE BEST CASE SCENARIO), I think the Duggar parents are responsible for psychological harm for their children, and I’ll tell you why.
They covered it up.
Yes, they reported it initially (but it took OVER A FLIPPING YEAR from when the dad knew), and got the girls and Josh into counseling (AFTER A FLIPPING YEAR). But that’s not enough. Then they went to TLC and got on a TV show that required them to hush-hush about “the incidents” and pretend they were a perfect Christian family who had never done anything wrong.
Well I’m sorry, you did something wrong. Covering it up makes it worse.
They put Josh’s needs above the girls’
In my opinion, they did this in 2 ways:
1. He continued to live in the family
I’m sorry. If a boy molested my daughters, even if he was my son, he would be gone. The right thing to do is to separate him from the girls–send him to live with his grandparents or to work out in the country away from them so that they can have time to heal. As soon as he does that, it’s not about what makes him feel happy and safe anymore–he’s not the victim, he’s the perpetrator.
They did eventually send him to a program, apparently, but Jim Bob Duggar did not report the abuse FOR A FLIPPING YEAR AFTER HE HEARD ABOUT IT, which means that these girls were living with their abuser for a YEAR before they got therapy and he was removed. I’m sorry, but in my mind that is inhumane.
2. They forced the family to go on TV and put their happy faces on, pretending that they were part of the ideal Christian family.
Not only did they not report it for a year, but then after the initial shock of it all wore of they went on TV. And not only that, they went on as the perfect Christian family while they held this secret behind closed doors. To me, that behaviour says that they had forgiven Josh and wanted to pretend it had never happened. But pretending it never happened helps Josh, not the girls. Pretending it never happened minimizes the pain and suffering and confusion that they must have felt.
They tried to save face, not do what was right
I honestly thought that the Duggars were a slightly sheltered but seemingly perfect family (although I really disagree with a lot of what they portray as Christianity). But hearing this, I cannot say that anymore. Saving face is never the answer–honesty is the only way to lead to healing. Saving face helps the parents stay away from having to answer tough questions, but tells the girls that their suffering is insignificant compared to their parents’ pride.
They put those girls in the limelight in extremely psychologically damaging ways
Honestly, if they had gone on TV for a show about gardening, I wouldn’t be this mad. Gardening has nothing to do with sexual abuse or anything about sex or relationships at all. It’s about flowers and vegetables–completely safe topics.
But they didn’t. What they did was become the spokesperson for modesty and purity, knowing all the while that the daughters they are making speak about this are living with sexual abuse in their past, unable to speak out. Even though I 100% believe that these girls are NO less pure for having this horrific thing done to them, I can’t imaging having to speak about purity and modesty every day or your life and being known as the chaste Christian Duggar girls while having that in your past. Can you even imagine how psychologically damaging that would be? I can’t. I really can’t. My heart breaks for these girls. So not only were they speaking about sex all the time, but they were also praising Josh for his purity. Ugh. I shudder just thinking about what they had to go through.
If they had been forthright about the abuse in their past and then spoke about purity, it could have been quite powerful. But instead the covered it up, and now they’ve done more damage than I think they know not only to their family, but also to the cause of Christ.
They are speaking too much about the silver lining
Yes, they’ve had 12 years to deal with it and they probably are on a road to recovery. We, however, as the public, just heard about it. The proper thing to do as a Christian spokesperson is to admit that it was horrific and say sorry and leave it there. Not point out all the great things that came from it! For heaven’s sake, the Duggars even tried to point out the good that came from this by stating that “this entire incident had brought the family closer to God”
WHAT? That is one of the worst things you could say to a public who does not believe in God!
Dear Duggar parents: hushing it up doesn’t make it OK, and saying that the abuse brought people to God doesn’t make it OK either. Click to tweet this quote!
I’m just saying, this is not about the abuse. I don’t think the Duggars are a bad family because their son abused his sisters and other girls. I think that if we say that they aren’t a good Christian family because of that, then we are in the wrong. We all sin, some worse than others, but it does happen.
What I think makes them a horrible spokesperson for the Christian faith is how they handled it. Not the fact that one member molested girls, but in how they dealt with it.
I actually have so much compassion for Josh. I can’t imagine what he’s going through, and I do not think that Josh Duggar should be facing any sort of persecution or slander because of this, so please don’t talk about him badly. Sexual abuse comes from such a broken place, and I do truly believe that he probably feels more angry and confused about all of this than any of us ever could. I’m mad at the parents for how they handled it, because it didn’t help the girls or Josh, and that is their primary responsibility as parents.
So those are my thoughts. Josh and the Duggar girls: I am so sorry this happened to you.
Josh, I’m sorry that you got to such a place that when you were a teenager you did this and it will follow you around for the rest of your life. I”m so sorry you have to live with that, and know that God has forgiven you 100%, because his grace truly is enough. But know that you cannot hide from your past–that does not give glory to Jesus. Facing your past and proclaiming God’s forgiveness over you is what brings him praise.
Girls, I hope you’re OK. I really hope that you have received good counseling and feel like you have truly moved past (not gotten over, but moved past) this. I’m so sorry this is all being dragged up again, and I hope that this does not adversely effect you in any way. Know that you have people who are willing to stand up for you, and that your suffering at the time was warranted, and that being asked to cover it up was wrong. I hope that you all find someone who can truly take care of you, not just themselves.
I truly hope that the family does not fall apart because of this, but I hope it’s a wake up call to something greater. It isn’t often that you see a family with this much opportunity to spread God’s message, and I really hope that they start proclaiming the truth about God’s love rather than trying to save face at the expense of others.