Josh Duggar’s Victims Deserved Better by @TruthisHers

Josh Duggar’s Victims Deserved Better

The internet has been buzzing since police reports were made public on Thursday, May 21st detailing charges that Josh Duggar molested five minor females on multiple occasions in 2002 and 2003. Josh is the eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the parents of the large and well-known Duggar family who star in TLC Network’s hit series 19 Kids and Counting. The family is known both for their large size and their conservative Christian beliefs. You can read the Duggar family response here (source: People).

HISTORY OF ABUSE

This is not the first time the Duggar family has sparked a controversy worthy of headlines. Their outspoken views on homosexuality, birth control, and abortion have pushed them into the forefront of the public’s attention on more than one occasion. Normally, the Duggar family, their actions and the resulting headlines are only a minor blip on my radar. Today’s news, though, evoked an immediate visceral reaction for me. It was a punch to the gut, triggering memories of my decades-long battle with feelings of worthlessness.

I’m not upset for the same reason I see many people tweeting and commenting. They are rallying around the hypocrisy of the Duggar family because they easily condemn other’s lifestyle choices but apparently have little problem with their son’s sexually molesting minor children. But that isn’t what felt like a body blow for me. No, my concern is for those five young girls, who are now young women, he molested and how they were thrown under a proverbial bus in his parent’s obvious desire to shield their son from consequences for his actions.

The police reports state that in 2002 one of the minor girls (who are never identified in the report but the predominant speculation on the internet is that these children were his sisters) told Jim Bob Duggar that she had been molested by Josh while she slept. Making inquiries led Jim Bob to learn that multiple girls had been involved. In response, Josh was “disciplined” but they didn’t take any further steps. No reports were made to the police or the local children’s services agency. Josh’s access to the girls was not blocked.

This “discipline” was apparently ineffective, as in March 2003 several victims again made reports that Josh had molested them. It has escalated at this point, as sexual offenses often do, to his fondling them not only while they were sleeping but while they were awake. How did the Duggars respond this time? They took him to see an Arkansas State Trooper, a purveyor of child pornography now serving a fifty-six year sentence, who gave Josh a “stern talking to.” Contrary to the law, this gentleman did not file a report about the crime. Neither did the church elders that Jim Bob spoke with after the second set of molestation charges. (Source: Gawker.)

The family told police that they then sent Josh to a Christian treatment facility for four months where he received counseling. However, Michelle Duggar admitted to police that the treatment facility was actually another friend of the family with a home remodeling business.

I have news for the Duggars: home remodeling does not cure sex offenders.

PROTECT THE PEDOPHILE

In December of 2006, a police investigation was opened after an anonymous email sent to Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studies, prior to a television interview with the Duggars, was forwarded to Arkansas’ Department of Human Services, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar consented to be interviewed and they allowed the victims to be questioned. But they refused to allow Josh to be interviewed. Apparently, they were unconcerned about putting the girls through the trauma of reliving their molestation, but were vehemently opposed to their sex offender son being questioned. Charges couldn’t be filed because the statute of limitations had expired. (For specifics on Arkansas’ statutes, click here).pajamas gratisography, RAINN, RachelintheOC

If it’s apparent to me, a bystander, that the girls were given little protection while Josh, the offender, was given massive protection I guarantee that the victims can see that even more clearly. And if they don’t feel the injustice of that obvious favoritism in the depth of their being now, I doubt that they will later on in their lives. Trauma is a relentless beast. It will knock on the door to those girl’s minds for years into the future.

Josh Duggar issued a statement on Thursday admitting his guilt. But it’s apparent he doesn’t understand the weight of what he’s done to his victims. He says, among other things, that “I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life.”

Well, whew! I’m so glad his life wasn’t negatively impacted by his sexually molesting five girls over the course of at least two years. That would be such a shame.

Really, Josh? Why are you concerned about the impact on yourself rather than the horrible impact your sexual offenses had upon the girls you molested? That attitude is unfortunately reflected in the thinking pattern of many sexual offenders. They worry more about how their lives will be impacted if others know of their crimes than they do about how those crimes impact the victims. I can see where he learned that attitude though, as his parents clearly demonstrated that they too worry more for Josh than they do the victims of his crimes.

I know firsthand what it feels like for an offender to be sheltered from the consequences of their crimes at the expense of their victim(s). I’ve lived through that personally. I’ve also sat with many other survivors of childhood abuse whose well-being was considered secondary to their offenders. Do you know what message that sends us? It tells us that we aren’t worth protecting. That we didn’t matter, certainly not as much as our molester or rapist.

What do you think it does to a boy or girl, to be told that they have less value than a rapist?

How do you think they see themselves as having any value at all in the face of that statement? I can tell you, as someone who has both lived through that horrific judgment herself, and as someone who has sat with hundreds of other survivors trying to survive the agony of that judgment. It leaves us broken, breathless from emotional pain, and hopeless to ever feel like we are worth being loved or valued by anyone, including ourselves.

I ask you to sit with that thought for just a moment, to imagine what it’s like to be considered by those who are supposed to love and protect you, as having no value worthy of protecting.

No value.

None.

Are you even capable of imagining that level of unworthiness? I can. Many survivors can. It has been our reality, and not just for a few moments but for years.

MY STORY

It took me decades to free myself from the belief that I wasn’t worthy of protecting. That complete lack of self-worth drove me into depression so deep I forgot what living in the light felt like. I ping-ponged from psychiatric ward to psychiatric ward, battling the desire to kill myself because I didn’t think I would ever get to a place where I could live with the incredible pain of being worthless. After a near lethal suicide attempt I finally got the help I needed to move toward finding value in myself. But it took another decade of hard work to get to my feet firmly rooted in healthy, positive self-worth.

Something I think few people understand is that the sexual abuse itself is often only a part of what traumatizes us. How our reports of abuse are handled can cause tremendous secondary damage. When we summon the courage to speak up about what’s happened to us and are treated badly, the message it sends to us about our value wounds us deeply. Survivor after survivor that comes into my care has as much work to do to heal their abuse as they do how they were treated by family, friends and the legal system after their abuse was reported. Sometimes, the trauma of being ostracized for our report or watching our abuser be given preferential treatment while we are kicked to the curb causes even more damage than the abuse itself.

WHAT WENT WRONG

None of us deserved to be abused. Nor do we deserve to be treated as unworthy when that abuse is reported. Josh Duggar’s victims are no different. Every step should have been taken to protect them from the moment the first report was made by one of his victims in 2002. There never should have been a second incident, or a third or heaven knows how many additional violations of those innocent girl’s bodies, hearts and minds. Reports to the police should have been immediate.

Instead, Josh’s parents’ actions told the girls they weren’t worth protecting. He was given access to them again. And, as is the case with many sexual offenders who are not separated from their victims, Josh violated them again. Who knows how many times he was allowed to abuse them?

As enablers, his parents bear significant responsibility for their son’s actions.

When the police investigation was underway, those young girls had to live through another round of Josh being protected at their expense. If they had any chance of feeling worthy after their second round of violations, do you think they could have withstood another blow to their self-worth when Jim Bob and Michelle sheltered Josh from being questioned by police, while they were not afforded the same protection? I hope they survived that with their self-worth intact. It would be a feat I have never seen in all of the years I’ve worked with thousands of survivors.

Josh Duggar’s victims deserved better. It’s been more than a decade since they were first molested and nine years since the police ‘investigation.’ I hope they make it into the rare group of survivors who never feel the full weight of their trauma settle into their heart and mind.

If they don’t make it into that group, I hope they are able to find the help they need to recover from the incredible injustice done to them, on top of the sexual abuse they suffered at Josh’s hands. I hope they come to know that the fact that they weren’t protected is no reflection of their worth, but a result of his parents’ toxic priorities. They, like all survivors, were worth protecting. And they still are.

If you are a survivor and feel triggered by these events, here’s Bobbi’s video addressing ways to manage. 

Broken Places is available NOW from Booktrope. It's already hit #1 on Women's Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo).

All content © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


Submit Your Essay for our 2015 #NoMoreShame Anthology created by me (Rachel Thompson), Bobbi and @AthenaMoberg http://ow.ly/MmcLU to be published by my publisher, Booktrope! Theme: Community.
Picture courtesy of pixabay

We’ve Lived In Shame Long Enough

This article first appeared as a guest post on the amazing Nicole Lyons’ The Lithium Chronicles and is reprinted here with attribution and her permission. car, unsplash, Rachel Thompson, Broken Places, shame

 

Every morning, as I drive my child to school and back, I pass an old brown El Camino parked in a random driveway. My heart races as my foot accelerates. I can’t move fast enough past that foreign, yet familiar, car.

Innocence, sweet soft cheeks, I kiss my boy as he holds me tight before he turns to his friends, off for a day of fun and learning, imagination his natural ally. A dreamer, my boy. He loves to be my protector when it suits him, though dark, nighttime fears soon swallow him up and he snuggles tightly into me, afraid of the unknown, as he drifts off to sleep.

But I know.

The car reminds me, in its way, a daily symbol of the monster who lived next door, his El Camino parked in the driveway. I was barely older than my boy when the monster trapped me in his nest of scooter rides and lollipops, a daughter my age with an invitation to come over and play, a cold swimming pool on a brutally hot day. Opportunities.

Monsters know what children crave, and sadly, the reverse often becomes true.

I didn’t share what happened to me until I had to – sheriffs knocking at our door. I didn’t say anything then, either, because of the shame. Shame is a powerful emotion, stronger than fear. I often wonder what it takes to be a police officer, to coax a story out of child mired in shame so thick they reek of it, that child-like scent of innocence and purity you can smell in their sweet hair, gone.

What happened to you wasn’t as bad as what happened to the other, smaller girls.

There were trials – I testified twice – yes, twice. Civil and military, because he was an army officer and he carried a gun. Because I was old enough to testify, to verbalize what he had done. He went to jail for two years and lost his pension.

My family continued to live next door to them for many more years. I went to school with his children, even after he returned. A glass wall of silence shattered with glares of hate, as if I had done the crime. As soon as I could move out for college, I was gone.

In my strenuous ignorance in dealing with it all, I dissociated by immersing myself in athletics and school and boys and weed and – whatever could keep me busy. And numb. Flashbacks, nightmares, PTSD, panic – this was part of growing up, since I didn’t have names for these things.

Deal with it, it wasn’t that bad, it could have been worse.

College, career, marriage, children, divorce…it wasn’t until I gave birth to my first child that the depression and anxiety hit with a vengeance. What if the same thing happened to her? How could I keep her safe? I started to spin and eventually, became inconsolable, incapable of functioning outside of that mindset. I sought help. Thirty years after my experience with the monster, I finally, finally realized I needed help.car, unsplash, shame, Broken Places

That child, my sweet loving, artistic daughter, is almost sixteen, and my boy is almost wow, ten. I am overprotective, and I’m okay with that. My children know I was sexually abused when I was eleven. They don’t know the extent because they don’t need to. They know I wrote two books (so far) about it, Broken Pieces and Broken Places, that I’m writing Broken People (all published by Booktrope). They know I started #SexAbuseChat on Twitter, and that I’m the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, bringing stories of trauma and recovery to life. It doesn’t really mean all that much to them, and that’s okay, too. “Mom is a writer and stuff,” my boy tells his friends.

It’s okay that they don’t really understand the gravity of everything that happened to me, because I want them to maintain their innocence for as long as they can. They still believe in Santa Claus, though my daughter is questioning the Easter Bunny (she calls him Sketchy Bunny). It’s good to laugh about such things.

There’s not always justice in this world. Monsters still exist, children are still abused. Awareness is greater now than when I was a kid, and if I have had some small part in that, whether it’s through my books, or being an outspoken advocate for children and survivors, then I’m honored.

All I know is that every survivor has a right to tell their story because we did nothing wrong.

We’ve lived in shame long enough.

Would you like to sign up for my free #SexAbuse Resource List and newsletter? Totally confidential.

Broken Places is available NOW from Booktrope. It's already hit #1 on Women's Poetry and Hot New Releases on Amazon! Broken Pieces is still going strong, #1 on Amazon’s Women’s (paid) Poetry list.

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo).

All content © 2015 by Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.


Pictures courtesy of Unsplash

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