The Duggar Family; A Few Things… And a Secret of My Own…

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.

Love,
~ 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:
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Introduction to the Letters

The next several blog posts will be difficult for some, if not many, victims of abuse to read. I know this because in conversation with victims, if ever I express some of what I am going to write here, it creates a struggle almost every time. And it will also be hard for some who were not abused, but have someone close to them who was victimized.

It is a battle I, too, have fought countless time and only now do I feel I can write it. If it enrages you, I understand. I felt the same rage for many years. But I cannot teach partial truth out of my own desire for comfort, or for anyone else’s comfort. I am far more interested in freedom, than comfort or a sense of personal justice.

So, if you are not ready to hear of forgiveness for perpetrators, or preachers/pastors who turn a blind eye, then I recommend you don’t read the next two posts.

I have heard many people utter harsh judgements that included the death sentence for perpetrators, and I understand them. It is not that I am so holy, so righteous and so saintly that I have never struggled with those judgements. I know the aftermath of sexual abuse. I know the hell my soul fought because of it. And I know the hell people closest to me fought because of it. I understand the evil.

But I also understand Jesus and what He came to do. I understand that He ‘gets’ my struggle and doesn’t ask me to pull myself up by my boot straps and present an image of being ‘untouched’ by sin and its impact. I understand that He cares for the soul of every human being. So, if I am truly lost in Him, if my identity is truly found in His love, then I want to extend His love and His grace to everyone. Even the perpetrators of the pain I suffered.

(c) Can Stock Photo

I will be writing several letters. The first one is to the perpetrator. The second to the preacher. The third to the victim. In no way is my intent to downplay the pain of victims by offering hope to the perpetrators. I was a victim. I was hurt that way. I understand the suffering you have gone through. But part of my healing has been in having compassion for the offenders. All offenders. And that compassion has set me free from the grip of the past in a whole new way.

The fourth and final letter is to our Saviour. He is impartial. All who come…. All…. that word that is best defined by itself. All who seek with a true heart… All who knock… All who ask. All who believe on Jesus, repent of their sins–regardless what those sins are–and call on the name of the Lord Jesus, our Saviour, God in the flesh, will be saved.

All…

For that message I am truly grateful. If all were not welcome, if all could not repent, then Jesus would not be who He is. And that is the message in my letters to the perpetrator and the preacher. That Jesus loves them, and offers His grace and forgiveness, and I offer mine.

The letters are not necessarily all written based on my experience because I really don’t recall a time when I was innocent of sexual confusion in childhood. I write the letter to the perpetrator from the perspective of an innocent little girl, whose dreams are sweet until she is robbed of that innocence. That was not my story, but because of the impact of victimization in my early teens, and how much I lost then, I can imagine.

I pray that these letters will bring hope and healing to each of the people groups represented in them.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

It’s Not Your Fault: False Guilt in Male Victims

Much of what I wrote in my previous blog, What if My Husband Was Abused? is not unique to abused men, though parts are. Other men face some of the same struggles, but for different reasons. Sexual abuse changes the dynamics of struggles familiar to others, giving them more power, and making the victim feel more helpless and vulnerable. False guilt has a way of doing that.

My prayer is that with time, I will find a team of men who are willing to share their stories, whether anonymously, or as named guest bloggers. There are dynamics that I cannot speak to or express well, simply because I am a female and we process things differently.

(Gentlemen, if you have a story of overcoming abuse, and you are willing to work with me on it, please visit the ‘Contact Us’  page, and send me a message. If you’re not a great writer, don’t let that stop you. I would be happy to work with you.)

I think it would be beneficial, not only to other men struggling with the aftermath of abuse–whether through low self-esteem, sexual addictions, or depression, to name only a few things–but it would also help women to better understand men who have been abused.

While I cannot speak to many aspects of male victimization, there are some practical things I want to share, based on what my male friends, who have been victimized, have shared with me. Because one of the struggles, as I mentioned yesterday, is feeling somehow at fault, that is the first thing I want to talk about.

When Is The Victim Responsible for the Victimization?

“Well… that’s a dumb question… isn’t it?” you say. And I agree.

And, yet, what I see and hear, tells me that some people believe it is valid, not as a question, but as a statement. Some say that there are times when it is the victim’s fault.

For you who were victims of childhood abuse, the most important thing for you to know, is that it is not your fault. You did not ask for it. You did nothing to deserve it. You were innocent. The fact that you are male, and strong, does not make you responsible. To illustrate how foolish it is for people to blame the victim, I will share what I encounter, when meeting with victims in Christian settings.

I have had victims tell me that their church asked them to go back and ask perpetrators for forgiveness. Just heard it again this week. A victim does not ever need to say, “I am sorry, ” to the perpetrator, or to anyone else. It is ignorant beyond words, at best, and corrupt to the core, at worst, to ask such a thing.

It’s like tracking down a burglar and apologizing that he committed the crime and robbed you. Who would ask that of anyone? How much less appropriate, when the very heart of a child is destroyed? Much more is stolen in childhood sexual abuse than any burglary.

I have also spoken to several individuals, who attended private school, and when the perpetrator was caught violating them, the victims was also whipped, along with the instigator. The reality is that neither one should have been whipped. They should have been taught.

Someone should have been there, and explored why the older child did it in the first place, and the younger child should have been comforted. But religion is harsh. And it is yet more harsh when the person in charge has hidden sin.

It is easy to see, in these extreme examples, that there is no justice in blaming the victim. This tells me that we know it in our heads, and yet the most common thing I work through with victims, is accepting that they are not at fault. This is true for men and women, but much stronger in men. What I write applies to women, but for today, I’m writing predominantly to men.

If you were seduced, manipulated, forced or coerced into sexual relationship by an older child, it is not your fault. And if that relationship continued for years, and you struggle with believing it became mutual consent, and therefore the perpetrator is not really in the wrong, let the guilt go. It is not your fault. In cases of ongoing abuse it is the hardest for victims to say, “It’s not my fault.”

If a father rapes a son or daughter, starting at age 4, and if that abuse continues to sixteen, seventeen, eighteen…. twenty-one… At no point does the victim truly become ‘guilty’? Never.

Ignorance, power and fear often keep children victimized to their parents for years. The same is true with victims outside of the home. The brainwashing, and sometimes threats, prevent the victim from understanding that this is not normal, and they have the right to speak up. This is especially true if there is no healthy ‘sex-ed’ in private schools or home-schooled children, where parents are not teaching healthy, biblical sexuality.

One victim tells of going off to college, after being home-schooled all the way from kindergarten through high school, and having been very secluded those years, with parents controlling all books and information. Only then, far from home, and being taught the truth, did the lights go on that it is not normal for parents to ‘teach’ their children about sex through ‘hands on’ learning. The victim saw to it that all younger siblings were immediately removed from their home. It horrifies me that this took place in a conservative Christian environment, in my lifetime, minutes from my home.

All of us would agree, I hope, that this victim was not at fault. And yet, there are times we judge quickly the person who is victimized by someone several years older, or even a peer, who then remains trapped in that relationship for years. There are many things that keep victims trapped in the abusive relationship, not the least of which are fear and shame, and to judge the victim  is not helpful.

Even if you were victimized by someone younger than you, and this does happen, though I’ve only run into it a few times, know that it is not your fault. The younger person who is bigger, stronger, more powerful, or more influential, has the potential to use that against someone older. Though younger, they are responsible for the abuse.

Where victims become perpetrators, and begin to victimize others, they need to take ownership. But never does the victim become responsible for the ongoing abuse imposed on him.

We, as humans, were created for pure and unbroken relationship with God. We can’t handle guilt. It destroys us, makes us physically sick. Guilt and shame, when it’s the result of our choices, make us run and hide, just as Adam and Eve did. But there is freedom in taking ownership.

But with false guilt, there is no freedom as long as we hold on to it and accept that blame. We cannot repent, we did not sin. We cannot mend our ways and correct it, we were overpowered. All the while the false guilt sucks the life and hope out of our spirits, condemning our minds, haunting us… over… and over… and over again.

Release the child within you, from that dreadful burden of guilt and shame. He does not need the burden any more. He was not strong enough to prevent victimization, and he is not strong enough to carry the false sense of guilt and shame. Set that child free, and let God hold and comfort him.

Let the little boy grieve, possibly for the first time, how much was stolen from him, from his confidence, his manhood. And invite Jesus to heal and restore the broken places. He can. He will. If you let Him.

If I, as the mother of three young boys, am a good enough parent to know that my sons would not be at fault if this happened to them, how much more is God that kind of Father? He is a better Papa, than I will ever be as a mother. He loves you. He understands your struggle.

Jesus hung on a cross–God in the flesh–not as we portray Him in our modest culture-friendly art, with at least a bit of dignity. In reality, He was stripped of everything. Naked. Exposed. Violated. Abused. Shamed. Mocked. And He died that way, in the public eye, a spectacle for all to see. His body, and it’s natural responses through death, was there for the world to watch. I’ve worked with the dying. I know what happens. Jesus understood abuse. He was strong enough to pull himself from that cross, but He stayed.

Was Jesus still a victim, even though He was strong enough to leave the cross? Again the answer is easy.

Jesus understands your pain. Lay that burden down, my friend. You are free. Say it until you know it, and believe it with your innermost part. And when the voices of shame haunt, say it again, “I am free. It was not my fault.” And never stop saying it, for the rest of your life.

© Trudy Metzger

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First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series