What a wiggly can of worms I let loose Yesterday! My, my! And all I was doing is clearing my mind so I can sleep! Not twenty-four hours later, over forty thousand people ‘tuned in’ to my blog about Josh Duggar, and gave me lots to think about. And that’s a lot more people that I contemplated influencing with the unburdening of my heart; a thought that is quite sobering. Still, apart from some new insight into the bigger story, I stand by what I’ve written, 100%, at the core of my message.
As a result of the many comments and messages resulting from my previous blog, I spent my day responding to comments on FB, email messages, private messages etc. (I was going to clean my house! Too bad, eh? What a thing, to be ‘stuck’ writing instead of cleaning. lol!) I’m responding to as many as possible, because this is an important topic and misunderstandings and incomplete information has the potential to do a lot of damage, on many levels. (Messages from readers, ranged from support, to rage, to hate… well, all I can say is when you swim upstream you have to watch for sharks.)
Covered in this post:
• The fact that Josh was a Juvenile
• The Duggar’s ‘reporting’ of the incident
• Was it the Victim’s Fault in any way?
• Mrs. Duggar’s statement regarding homosexuals and transgenders being pedophiles
• A Secret of My Own
There are a few things I learned throughout the day, yesterday, that are worthy of further exploring. Things that I want to ‘correct’ because of that new information. But first let me say this, in response to some of the ‘heavy pouncing’ as to why I would leave a blog up after I learned that I did not have full information. It’s this simple;
1.) I still feel the same way about the core of my message, that SOME victims do not want to be made to feel like victims for life. SOME victims want to use the very thing that almost destroyed them, to bring hope and healing. SOME victims… and I am one. (Nothing of my post tone is all inclusive. To victims who read it that way, do as I did and ‘take YOUR voice’ to the streets. I will read it (if you send me a link) and I will not bash you. We all heal differently.) Just heal.
2.) The other ‘faulty’ information is still out in the media. so anyone who isn’t merely trolling and trying to poke the poop piles will know I’m not trying to be a moron. They’ll have heard the info, and since I was blogging about my feelings, that info can be corrected in this blog. In fact, it might help others get accurate information. I read enough I would have thought I’d have stumbled upon the truth at some point but I didn’t until people sent me links. So others will go through the same thing. I’d rather keep my original post up, and not retract the message, when new information does not change the core. I hope I can always be humble enough to take correction. I have not always been and it’s something God’s been teaching me in the past few years, so this is good practice.
3.) I wasn’t writing about the home dynamics. I wasn’t writing to document the events, or tell the world everything they did or did not do right. I was writing about how I FEEL as a victim when I see people speaking for ALL VICTIMS. I was using MY VOICE to express MY HEART. It is MY TESTIMONY of healing. And it’s just that: MINE. You can love it, hate it, like it, share it, leave it, condemn it or curse it. It is MY JOURNEY and I WILL NOT BE MOVED by the masses. If I would look around and see a host of victims who are way more healed than I , then I’d say, Gosh, you know, maybe something is really screwed up about my healing journey. Maybe I’m missing something here… But, alas, I don’t. I just don’t. There are others as healed, who healed very differently, and I bless them. But this is what works for me, so I will speak, write, and share my heart. You can do with it as you wish. I’m good here.
And now to the items I feel are worthy of addressing…
I had read that Josh Duggar and the victims received counseling and how dad went to a trooper, even if a year late. I took these things at face value, and based on these ‘facts’, I felt they had done all they could have done, at the time, even though they did it a year late. Now, with more information, I have found that information to not be fully accurate, and it raises questions. Did they handle things in a way as to keep a lid on it and keep family image in tact? Was there an agenda? Did they put themselves ahead of the well-being of their sons and daughters? What we know with certainty is that, at the very least there was mishandling of information by parents. church leaders, and the trooper. I am still not willing to throw rocks on how they should have done things, but I did want to correct this information. (To read the police report, visit InTouch. It is a bit insightful. And for Josh’s confession click HERE.)
Even so, attacking Josh on how it was handled is not right, because the handling of things does not fall on him; he was a juvenile. Questions I ask are: What more could he have done at that age? What more would he have known to do, to get help? And then, if we all agree that most 14-yr-olds would look to the adults for guidance, can we release him from the burden of the failure of adults in his life, and put that blame where it belongs? The crime he committed, is his burden, but what the adults did or didn’t do, is not. He can never get away from the reality of what he did to the victims; that is his to ‘own’.
Further to his age, and the anger regarding my statement about ‘fully understanding the consequences of his actions’. First of all, if you have a problem with it, read it again. I use the boy who molested me as an example. Secondly, I write about understanding ‘the consequences’ of his actions. But I will say again that an ‘over protected’ child who had not been taught much about sex, if anything, also will not understand the sexuality of it. They will feel that it is wrong, but not understand it. In my early teens I asked a friend if she wanted to ‘put our bodies together’, and she agreed, so we did. I had no idea that the encounter was a sexual thing. I knew boys shouldn’t touch girls, and girls shouldn’t touch boys, but even there I didn’t understand the ‘sex thing’ behind it. But no one taught me about sex, and certainly not about girls with girls. So, yes, I stand by the statement that it is very possible for a young teen to not understand. If you were not raised in a closed culture, or were withheld teaching on sex to the point of sheer ignorance, you have zero authority to tell me what it’s like inside those cultures. We who lived it, know. My sisters didn’t even get a warning about their periods. They just started bleeding one day and thought they were going to die. I read about it in an old Britannica encyclopedia. That doesn’t justify what Josh did to those children; he committed a crime. And it doesn’t make it any easier that my first ‘consensual’ sexual experience was with a girl. Because I instigated it, I went back to her soon after with a note that said I was so sorry, that I didn’t know what it meant but that I felt bad. Ignorance is a painful thing. (For the record, I believe in not hiding things. So I tell this in my book, and I’ve blogged about it before. I live my life an open book. Literally. )
As for the victims, they are not and were not at fault, in any way, and the fact that it was put on them, is not okay. I’ve seen that too many times. (That’s the most disturbing piece here, how victims can be blamed. And spare me the ‘if the victim didn’t scream’ line. Seriously! That’s a twisted abuse of scripture. And, furthermore, “then ya’ll shoulda taught ’em to scream, thank you very much!” Which, BTW, would mean actually talking about sex, and protecting your children. But if you don’t do your part, don’t bother with other lines from scripture to justify abuse and abusers. It’s wicked.) It also troubles me, after discovering that Josh’s crimes were only told to a trooper-friend, and he never had counseling, the in his confession he boldly states it having been taken to the law, and that he had counseling. If that was an attempt to ‘cover’, and make it look as legitimately ‘cleaned up as possible’ or not, I cannot tell. Or maybe he sincerely believed it… That’s his to carry.
Many readers have shared details of what has been described as cult-like’ environment in the Duggar home, and their adherence to the Pearl’s (Train Up A Child) methods of parenting. I cannot prove or disprove their claims, but will say that whole parenting method about make me ill. I can’t read that stuff, and for many reasons not the least of which is the abuse we suffered and witnessed at home, in childhood, with beatings and whippings and sometimes having to strip to the skin. My mind can hardly handle reading such vile and abusive parenting advice. There is nothing of our Heavenly Father’s compassion and love that is reflected in the harshness of it. If you want to know more, go looking. I don’t intend to do a lot of digging into this, but simply say this much to firmly declare I do not support any form of violence or abuse. Beating children into submission is not right. Period. All discipline should be relationship driven, and relationship building. More on that another day… maybe. But for now, I don’t support it. But it still has nothing to do with the message of yesterday’s blog. I never voiced support for them. I don’t know enough to hang them or hail them.
I also commented that I had never seen, until this Duggar case, a dad turning in his own son. And I still can’t think of any. But several of you sent private messages detailing just such accounts and how that worked out for you. I applaud your courage, even though it didn’t always end well for you. And I recognize that following proper protocol is no guarantee that victims or offenders get the help they need. It’s possible the Duggars would still be in this mess and nothing would have turned out differently, other than the media would have had a lot less clout. But those of you who had to fight against the system to get help for your children, when the system wanted to ‘turn a blind eye’, hats off to you.
Many also pointed out “hypocritical comments” made by Mrs. Duggar that equated homosexual and transgender people to sex offenders and pedophiles, and that men will pretend to be trans as a means to to access women and children in bathrooms etc. Again, my blog wasn’t about that but since so many said something, there is clearly a lot of pain out there about her words. I have worked with many clients in these areas, and won’t get into details but want to at least acknowledge that the identity struggle (and bear with me if you find that offensive, there are no right words to express everyone’s heart here) is very real. I write in my memoir about wanting to be a little boy, about thinking God messed me up and I don’t fit. That started as a toddler. So a statement like Mrs. Duggar’s is a very painful way to judge quickly something that goes deep inside. I am sorry your pain/struggle has been so casually brushed aside and turned into something it is not; I have never come across any documentation–scientific, biblical or otherwise, that would support her statement creating a link between homosexuality/transgender with pedophilia. When it comes to some pretending with agenda, are there exceptions, and some who do pretend? Maybe, I don’t know. But for those of you who struggle with that deep ‘lostness’ of wondering ‘who am I’, this is a painful statement, and I’m sorry.
Lastly, before I share a ‘secret’ of my own… there is one correction I need to make regarding a comment I made about ‘the duty to report’ in Ontario, and that the father would not have been required to report. In a case where I was involved ‘on the fringes’ back in 2013, we did some research on the duty to report and what it means to acquire information ‘in the line of duty’. I found my information on the Government of Canada website and understood it to say all are required to report, and that is what I told my client. But my client also found a clause that indicated the ‘duty to report’ was only if discovered ‘in the line of duty’. Furthermore, my client being a medical professional investigated through work, and sent me the same clause, indicating that the obligation, from a legal perspective, is only for professionals who discover ‘in the line of duty’. If you visit the Government link I shared, you will find that the ‘in a line of duty’ clause is no longer to be found, and it now says the following:
“Professionals and officials have the same duty as the rest of the public to report their suspicion that a child is or may be in need of protection. However, the Act recognizes that people working closely with children have a special awareness of the signs of child abuse and neglect, and a particular responsibility to report their suspicions. Any professional or official who fails to report a suspicion is liable on conviction to a fine of up to $1,000, if they obtained the information in the course of their professional or official duties. [CFSA s.72 (4), (6.2)]”
I felt it prudent to correct that, for the sake of those who read my comment and possibly shared it. I am relieved that someone is doing something to demand accountability. One day, I am hopeful, it will be a chargeable crime to keep molestation hidden. I do pray that we continue to work closely with our youth, and ‘retrain’ their brains to not commit such crimes. And, yes, I believe they can be retrained in the same way that violence and trauma ‘retrain’ for ‘damage’, I believe that the brains can be retrained for good, and healing can come. If it works for other things, like joy and positive thinking, why would it not work for this?
The ‘Secret of My Own’ is something only a small handful of people know, until this moment. And it is regarding the devastating impact of sexual abuse. I understand the desire for ‘justice at any cost’ because the psychological impact of molestation goes far beyond that moment in time.
When I was in my mid-teens, I started to loath my own body at a whole new level. (I write in my book, Between 2 Gods, how as a young preschooler I tried to put a stick inside of my body, and how I wanted to be a boy. So the ‘self hate’ started very young.). By my mid teens, because of how I had been used and abused, sexually, I hated my body so much I wanted to have surgery to remove parts of my genitalia. I was sure it had grown ‘all wrong’ because of it. When I broached the subject with my doctor, he told me there is nothing wrong with me, that my body is ‘normal’. But I didn’t believe him. So I went to his son, also a General Practitioner. He told me that my body was normal, and there was no need to remove anything. I was still not convinced. My mind was so obsessed with there being something desperately wrong with me, that I refused to give up. In hindsight, and having worked with many different victims, I finally understand what was going on, but all I knew then is that ‘there is something wrong with me, and I want it corrected’.
It is odd, really, as I think of it now, that I didn’t trust the word of two doctors who delivered many babies and saw many women’s parts. Other than childhood molestation, I had never seen the genitalia of any other adult female. They had a frame of reference, I did not, but still I didn’t accept their word for it. I went to yet another doctor, and he finally referred me to a specialist, a gynecologist who later became a plastic surgeon; a detail that only matters because I was actually asking for plastic surgery, and didn’t realize it… And the rest is history.
There are drastic consequences for sexual abuse and what it does to the mind and body. Yes, I made my own decision to have that surgery, but my mind was messed up by all the trauma, and as a result I didn’t comprehend what I was doing. The impact of abuse is long-lasting. So I am certainly not trying to defend a crime in any way. (And yes, it is a crime.)
I would wish for the victims, who bear the greater scars and consequences, to have some say in what happens next, rather than to see them further stripped publicly. I’m okay with crimes being made public-except for the little detail of ‘the identity of juvenile offenders being protected’ being violated in this case–because at least now it’s not lurking in the dark. Hopefully the victims now get all the help they needed a long time ago, and are given permission to grieve, to face the loss and to work through the aftermath without the angst of it all. Hopefully the burden can now be lifted from their backs, so they know they are not to blame, in any way.
And hopefully other victims will use their own voices, and speak for themselves, like I did. We all need healing, and however that healing comes best for each one of us, is our own personal journey.
Thank you all for your feedback–whether supportive or challenging–and a special thank you to those who vehemently disagreed, and yet spoke with at least an element of kindness. It would seem to me that is a sign of your healing. And to those who attacked quite viciously, I have no hard feelings or animosity. Some of you are angry people looking for punching bags. But many are sincerely distressed and desperate to be heard and have your pain acknowledged, and my blog yesterday made you feel again unacknowledged. That is the only thing for which I am sorry in all of it. Because victims are always my first priority.
Today I acknowledge your pain. I am so sorry for the things you suffered. I am sorry that guilt was imposed on you, for what others did against you. I am sorry that your body bears the scars, as mine does, for crimes carelessly committed and often carelessly swept under the carpet. I pray that you find hope and healing and that someone will walk through the dark with you, so you can walk in freedom on the other side. If I can offer you the tiniest glimpse of the love or our Heavenly Father, I thank God for it. I really do care. And God really does love us; He loves you.
~ T ~
July 9 – 12 Pennsylvania:
I plan to be in Lancaster Pennsylvania, July 9 – 12. To receive updates on where I will be speaking, join our email list by sending your name and email address via my “Contact Trudy” page. I would love to meet you if you’re in the area!
© Trudy Metzger
BETWEEN 2 Gods: a Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community:
Barnes & Noble
Thank you, and I am also a survivor. You eloquently stated every thought I have of offenders. I, too, wrote about my repressed memories of my molestation and feel healed and whole from something that unknowingly affected me for 35+ years. I try to help by encouraging others to deal with their pasts so that they can be free to live the present and futures that are promised to them. I also try to stay away from crucifying offenders. They are themselves victims. Thank you for all that I know you have done. And thank you for confirming my present beliefs.
Very thoughtful and thought provoking. Thank you.
It still bothers me that so many are creating a whole scenario based on assumptions and stereotypes about what was or was not done for those girls. That is not fair and totally inappropriate. As far as I have seen (and like everyone else I don’t know them but at least I have watched a significant number of episodes and read their book and heard from others who know the family etc) the parents are the most gentle and loving and consistent I have ever seen. Training a child to obey loving parents is not abuse. No one has any right to call them abusive just because others in ultra conservative families have been abused(which is real and valid) you can project other people’s lives and experiences on them. They sent Josh away! No one knows what transpired with the girls and they want to hang the parents. Makes me sick. There is nothing wrong with trying to salvage the 14 year olds life along with their daughters there is equal responsibility and if the behavior continued there would be further responsibility. To me it does look like it was handled without protecting him any more than a 14 year old boy should be protected so that the rest of his life wasn’t ruined without an opportunity for repentance. That was accomplished and that is done. I can only assume that while he was away that the parents energy and attention was turned towards the girls and their healing. Seems like that would be the whole point of removing Josh from the household. They are entitled to family privacy – especially with all kids involved under 14. This has nothing to do with their image and everything to do with appropriately parenting and protecting children. It does not belong in the media !!!!
THIS. Oh my this, my heart has been screaming this as someone who has personally met them and someone who has mutual very good friends. There is so much conjecture based on people they KNOW and no one knows exactly how things went. I was in very similar circles as well but do not follow all the same things people are holding up as being so prevalent. We have to stop assuming and projecting.
As I state in my blog post, I don’t support abuse and violence… and I don’t know enough about the Duggars to ‘hang them or hail them’. I make my point clear on abuse, without judging them as a family. I have no authority to speak to that, without knowing them.
This feeding frenzy does nothing but set an example to other parents why they should NOT go to the authorities and why they should do everything to try and handle things themselves unless they want their kids life destroyed beyond reason.
Here I disagree, for several reasons. First, this should convince parents on how wise it is to follow proper protocol, so their children’s crimes don’t bite them in the backside as adults. When they are juveniles, they get help needed and can thrive in life. Secondly, you have to be pretty famous for something like this to happen; the average family will quietly go about their business, with only a small group of people around them even catching on.
THANK you for your transparency and openness in sharing your story…and the comments on this sad, challenging, and difficult issue.
Being in ministry for over 40 yrs., and hearing the sad stories of many lives, makes us HATE “sin” in any form it shows itself.
But, to leave that hurting, wounded person in that position, is NOT the way to go, when we CAN help point them to the Healer who, as you’ve testified, bring them the healing…in time, that none other can bring.
God bless you allowing His healing, to flow to and through you, to the many, many individuals who need it….more now than ever!!!!!
Pastor M.L Hobbs
Hope International Missions
My wife and I are missionaries into Haiti, working with orphans a church and a school in Grand Rivere, Haiti.
Thank you Pastor Hobbs! Wishing you many blessings in ministry!
Trudy, I first saw your writing through a friend on facebook. Because of some of my own struggles, I found your blog and began following. It has been refreshing and helpful. I hope that you will always be as honest and real and open. Thank you.
I appreciate your thoughtful posts on this topic. I too am an ex-Mennonite and, if you’re interested, this Duggar stuff prompted me to write about my own experience here: https://theharpinthecloset.wordpress.com/supplemental-miscellany/letter-to-a-jerk/
Emotions are funny things. I usually don’t get up in arms about news; in fact, I usually ignore the news, and I practically never post about news. This really got me, though. I don’t pretend to know what all happened in detail or how the Duggar family dynamic actually IS. But my heart goes out to those girls, praying, hoping that they are getting the help they need. The past few days have been very difficult for me to navigate my own feelings on this whole topic and specifically how to respond to Josh’s crime.
I’m going to try to get a copy of your book. I wish, wish, wish that Christian subcultures, such as Mennonites, were not so full of dark secrets like this.
Sorry, I’m rambling! Thank you again though for sharing.
I have found your blog and am glad you have made your life experiences available to help others heal who have been through what you have been through. I believe God does that in our lives so we can encourage and love one another through difficult times. I do want to address the fact that people have told you that the Duggar’s have a cult like “Train up a child” mentality. This, to me is here-say. I do watch the show regularly, I know that cameras aren’t there all the time, and so for me to say that they don’t use this method of training their children, I cannot, but I also can say, that for those who say they do, they can’t say that either. It’s all here-say. When watching the show, you never see evidence of that type of child rearing being used-NOT even in the LEAST. As a matter of fact, one of the last episodes of this past season was more about the crew and family relationship, and the crew had nothing but good things to say about the family. The crew is there so frequently that they are looked upon by the children as aunts and uncles. Might be worth watching.
Thank you again for being a voice and a encourager to victims and using what God has brought you through to encourage others. That is something I can’t relate to, and I pray that I never do, and I pray that no one else ever has to either, but alas, the world is full of sinners. (Thank goodness we have a savior!!)
Thank you Andrea. And, like you, I do not ‘accept’ the heresy as gospel truth, which is why I end with saying that I don’t know enough about them ‘…to hang them or to hail them…’, and stick to making my position clear on abuse. I do know where I stand on that, regardless how saintly they are, or are not, as a family.
We at least know that they spank with a rod. One of the children said so during the interview in the police report. On another note, I’m disturbed by the fact that some of the children talk about how uncomfortable one of the girls was around Josh and still didn’t trust him 4 years after the first incident. That says a lot about the family dynamic at the time.
I am in agreement with Laura, Meglettx, and Andrea. I loved your original post, but now am thinking of taking it off my page because of this added link leading to this blog. 😦 I am really trying to not come off as mean. Please understand I am not trying to be. I just feel as if you basically have done what you were originally trying not to do. Coming from someone who admitted to never having watched their show or followed their story, you shared things in this blog that is basically, in your words, “media driven poison” and hearsay from people all over who just don’t agree with the way they do things. So now, those thoughts are further put into peoples minds from reading this blog too. These girls are NOT oppressed, and certainly NOT abused. I don’t have to know them personally to figure this out. I could continue on mentioning things point by point, but I won’t. I will share a comment (I am sorry that it is long) that I originally posted under the Matt Walsh article, and then later posted it under your (Trudy) original blog post on this when I shared it on my Facebook page. ” I am with everyone that says that we don’t know everything. Who are we to say that the girls aren’t healed and made whole. I realize that not everyone on here is a Christian. However, I am going to speak as if everyone is and understands where I am coming from. I have read their books and especially love the girls’ book. And I observe how they all behave and their body language and interactions with each other on the show. I have done this for a while now because of how people try to say stuff about them and I am trying to see if I see the same thing, but I don’t. Anyway, if these girls were still traumatized and not healed and made whole and struggling, they wouldn’t be able to hide it so well, especially not for this long. AND wouldn’t you think there would be some obvious resentment towards their parents with how they did or “didn’t handle it”? I had things quite similar to this happen to me in broad daylight, while awake…many times. I can even recall where they all happened. And I was a young teenager . Some happened at school, and one time while the teacher was outside the door even, another time happened in a room full of people at an arcade, and even by my step uncle who was living with us. My parents put a lock on my door, and he continued to live with us. All that before I knew Jesus. I fully surrendered my life to Him a few weeks before 16 (I am now 35). I never ever got counseling for anything. Not even for other things I went through at home.(Some physical, mostly mental/emotional abuse.) And I never needed it. And I would be happy if I had found out that the people that did these things were walking closely with God today. Other than my uncle, I do not assume that the boys (who were approximately Josh’s young age) are child molester’s today. If Josh was in his late teens, then yes, I would have turned him in right away. Obviously, the help that Josh got worked because it led to his genuine salvation. But my point in all this was to say that Josh appears to have totally let God change him and is living for the Lord, and many people have vouched for this. And the girls, from everything I can see (yes, I know I don’t know them), but as much as I have observed and seen and can discern, those girls have a pretty solid relationship with God themselves and are pretty healed and made whole by the God that they serve. The One Who saves, heals, forgives, makes all things new, and restores. The family has obviously worked through this. We shouldn’t assume that they haven’t until one of the girls says otherwise.”
Tell me honestly, can you justly accuse me of bashing Duggars on my second post? And, if you’re interested, ask me why I wrote about the things that are hearsay. 🙂 I’m not that interested in garnering everyone’s support, I am interested in being true to myself. That means I’m going to get some bashing from both sides – – and I do not feel like you are bashing me, I feel like you are sincere. So if you’re interested, go ahead and ask me why I did it. I’m not going to take time to explain things you don’t want to know. 🙂
I don’t believe you were bashing them and I told my sister that even in this article with some things I didn’t agree with I am much more able to respect your viewpoint by the way you present yourself than almost all articles I’ve seen written about the situation (both those in support and those not). I deeply appreciate your ability to speak your thoughts on the matter in such a clear, concise way that does not sound bitter. I’ve seen a great many formerly from some of the same circles as the Duggars just continue to lash out at the doctrines and lifestyles of those AROUND them and this muddies the water. There have been so many sad rumors swirling because people said things in speculation and it makes me sick. Obviously this is a price of being in the public spotlight but it is still not right. Thank you for sticking to the issue and sharing your testimony in relation. I just want people to stop acting like they know better what the victims need and let them figure it out for themselves. And all the public turmoil can NOT be helpful to them no matter where they are in the healing process.
So well said! You also have a way with expressing yourself that is thoughtful and direct, even where you disagree. I respect that.
How do you know these girls are NOT oppressed? How do you know these girls are NOT abused? Please tell me you are basing this off the fact that you personally know these young ladies and not from watching a REALITY TV SHOW!! Some of the most wounded abused people I have ever met by all appearances are thriving (sometimes for decades) when in reality it is all a show. Unless you personally know this family well you sure are taking a lot for granted in regards to who these people are.
Trudy, thanks for your blogs about Josh, and I agree totally that if we truly believe Jesus can heal and restore, we should live out that truth as you have done! I pray that the Family Research Council will restore Josh’s job in due time, as an example of how Christians are to move on after the proper bases are covered. However, being so young still…Josh might prefer a break from the public. I personally have met the Duggars and have watched a few shows. But due to time constraints, I stay busy with our own 9 adult children, and our 4 grandchildren. The Duggar family is the same in private, as best I can discern…gentle, consistently loving and patient! I know some families who could benefit from your advice and experience, so I will recommend your blog. My husband is in ministry, so we have occasion to be asked for advice at times on these topics. Keep up your hard work! You are a blessing!
Shared your last thoughts on my FB page. You’ve spoken well, my friend.
Love your post. I appreciate the fact that you listened to the thoughts of others, read the police report for yourself, and amended some of your evaluations based on the truth you learned by doing so. I wish more of those who are speaking out publicly would follow suit.
1. Josh Duggar’s “confession” is disingenuous considering it leads the reader to believe a) he voluntarily confessed to his parents, which he didn’t, b) He was reported to the authorities which he wasn’t, c) He received counseling which he didn’t. Anyone reading his public statement and NOT the police report would NOT have an accurate view of the truth. This may be his parent’s narrative, but he’s old enough to know and see the difference and he is responsible for the words he has chosen to use as he has addressed the public on this topic. They are misleading to say the least.
2. The fact that his victimized sisters had to sleep down the hall from their abuser for the rest of their childhood is appalling. They may have begun the process of forgiveness and they may have still felt love for their brother. They may even have received adequate counseling (although there is no direct evidence they did and the parents’ idea of “counseling” is in legitimate question). However, it should never have been asked of them to be healed enough and to trust him enough to feel safe with their abuser down the hall within a four month period of time. Remember, they were abused, repeatedly, at night, in their own beds (and elsewhere) for a period of at least one year. Forgiveness has nothing to do with this. Expecting them to have healed enough to feel safe with him there was unreasonable and unfair and in my opinion, further abuse.
3. Josh Duggar was, indeed, a juvenile. He does deserve forgiveness and a second chance. I have no problem with that. I don’t at all believe that once an abuser, always an abuser and I despise the vitriolic words that have been hurled at him. They just spread hate and untruths. I do agree with your policy to “forgive WITH BOUNDARIES.” But we can’t minimize his offenses either. He abused sisters significantly younger than he, repeatedly, over the period of at least one year (even after he had been caught). We wasn’t 12, he was 14 and 15. This was not a minor, minimal type of offense that can now be called a childhood mistake. It just isn’t. It was egregious. It must be understood that the type of offenses that Josh Duggar committed REQUIRED significant intervention and professional counseling. He deserved that, especially since there are factors in this case that suggest he may have been abused himself. If we minimize what he did and accept that he was “given a stern talking to” by a state trooper and counseled by an untrained family friend as a reasonable remedy, then we may be dooming other offenders and victims to receive the same inadequate (lack of) help. Somebody has to say no. It is not okay how this was handled. Because it just is not.
(I do believe Josh Duggar was in the wrong by not disclosing this truth to his employer before he took a job representing a religious organization where this kind of past could have a negative impact (right or wrong) on that organization should it be made public. Even the appearance of hypocrisy gives ammunition to those who would use it against the FRC and it should have been their decision to risk facing a situation such as that which has come about.)
4. Jim Bob Duggar failed to protect his daughters at least 3 times. a) He did nothing the first time he was told Josh abused a sister. Consequently, more sisters were molested repeated over the course of a year. b) He allowed Josh to rejoin the family way too soon with way too little (if any) professional help, forcing his daughters to live with their abuser long before it was even conceivably possible for them to feel truly safe around him. (I don’t care what they may have vocalized at the time, they were too young and it was too soon by any reasonable standards and it should never have been asked of them.) c) He took his family into public life knowing that this would eventually come out (How could he not? Church members and others outside the family knew.) and that his daughters would be publicly humiliated and have to forever live in a world where everyone knew something intimate and private about them that they may have preferred to keep private. I personally, don’t believe that others knowing about one’s sexual abuse is humiliating, but that is an individual matter. Many victims don’t want anyone to know and they didn’t have that choice. If the daughters are being “re-victimized” now that this has come to public knowledge as many bloggers and others are claiming, then the blame for that lies solely at their father’s feet. (And their mother’s if one thinks that she had a say in it even after considering the patriarchal religious organization they are affiliated with.) He (they) could have prevented this from ever happening and He(they) should have. The fact that he didn’t, for me, puts into question his understanding of what actually happened and his entire value system. (What beliefs contributed to his willingness to minimize the abuse and it’s consequences to his daughters?)
5. Discerning the actual facts in this case, evaluating them and making statements about them is not wrong or hateful, though so many Duggar supporters are up in arms at those who attempt to do so. Sexual abuse is a topic we must be willing and able to discuss and be educated on. People must be willing to learn from mistakes that are made, (even those made by others) so we can, as a society, advance in wisdom in this area. White washing and minimizing what happened in the Duggar family helps no one, neither does the opposite behavior, of course, especially if either is done just because they are “Christians.” Facing the truth about what happened in the Duggar family (since they willingly chose to become public figures and since the knowledge of the problem is now public (we can’t stuff it back in the closet)), evaluating it and learning from it can do some good. Conservative Christians who blindly defend them and refuse to see where they may have gone wrong only serve to stymie understanding and wisdom about sexual abuse and make Christians look like fools to a world enthusiastically looking for reasons to see us as such.
Disclosure about me:
I am a relatively conservative, born again, Christ follower.
Though I’m not a member of the isolationist/ patriarchal type Christian sect that they are members of (ATII and IBLP) and don’t agree with everything thing they espouse, I have been a long time Duggar fan, have watched the show often and enjoyed their family tremendously. I have defended them many times to others. I have no ulterior motive where they are concerned and up till now, have had a primarily positive opinion of them. I am saddened for the whole family and pray for healing and wisdom for all of them.
I am a survivor of child sexual abuse (as well as emotional and spiritual abuse), having been molested by a biological family member from the age of 2 to 16.
I appreciate your heart, your directness and wisdom. Especially the ‘calling the crime a crime’ even though he was 14, and a juvenile (which is no excuse, just a reality) while still offering kindness. If more Christians dared to do that, it would go a long way. I have no answers as to exactly what should have been done with a young offender in the home. I know they don’t always remove them here, even when proper channels are followed… And, quite frankly, I cringe at the blind support as much as the heartless judgement. Both are destructive.
Blessings to you
I wish I could “like” this comment! Blessings on you!
BAM! Nail head, meet hammer head. Thank you for saying this. I’m an ex christian now atheist and I can’t find a single thing in your brilliant comment to disagree with.
I appreciate Trudy’s perspective and find myself in agreement. I don’t understand why many people are insisting that Josh and his victims did not get counseling. They say that they did but have provided no further details. We have no basis upon which to make a judgment. They are not obligated to provide details of the counseling that would lead to verification. Much of the criticism seems to come from a place of a lack of faith that God can heal abusers or victims. We need to remember that this only was revealed due to a betrayal of the safeguards that we’re supposed to ensure juvenile records being sealed. Also, the police officer to whom it was reported was later revealed to be an offender. That does not mean that they knew this about him at the time. I pray that this betrayal will lead to more healing for victims and abusers, and for more protection and appropriate boundaries to prevent victimization.
It’s in the police report. Michelle admits that Josh did not receive any professional counseling.