Josh Duggar: Forgive and Forget?

Josh Duggar, Onyx Truth

I’ve seen and heard a lot written about Josh Duggar in these past few weeks and I think it’s time to address those who are supporting his actions as well as saying that he deserves forgiveness.

Exhibit A: Mike Huckabee

huckabee

I neglected to include that over 70,000 people liked that post because that fact makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit, but alas, there you have it.  So let’s take his statements and break them down a little bit.  First, he is quick to point out that Josh was underage at the time of the abuse.  This of course is true and I have no interest in disputing it, but I think it is meant to subtly put the audience in a position to be sympathetic to Josh – he was young and made a mistake.  However, molesting 5 young girls isn’t a mistake.  A teenage mistake is having bad bangs or asking someone who doesn’t like you to the prom.  Touching 5 little girls on their chests and vaginas isn’t a mistake, it’s a felony.  Huckabee then alleges that the Duggar family was upfront about this with the police.  That is just a straight-up lie.  Michelle and Jim Bob were first made aware of Josh’s abuse to his sisters in 2002, but failed to contact the police until 2003.  From March 17 to July 17, Josh went to a Christian counseling program in where he did manual labor.  I have been unable to find out what type of counseling was actually going on during that period of time.  I also have found 0 evidence of any counseling that was offered to his victims.  After going to the police in 2003 Josh was given a “very stern talking to” by then State Trooper Joseph Truman Hutchen.  Hutchen is currently serving 56 years in Arkansas prison on child pornography charges.  Needless to say, Hutchen failed to investigate the case further and it was not brought to further attention until 2006 when someone called an anonymous tip line about child abuse taking place at the Duggar residence.  Interestingly enough, Hutchen alleges that he would have pursued the issue further, but Jim Bob had lied about the extent of Josh’s indiscretions, saying that it had been a single incident when instead it was many.  Another thing worth mentioning is that Huckabee alleges the victims want this incident left in the past.  Again I’ll reiterate that none of these girls were given access to counseling and even if they were, we have heard nothing about their wants and desires.  The best I could find was in the police report, in which some of the girls say they do not feel safe at home.  In his diatribe, Huckabee says that he wants to support the Duggars, my question is which Duggars are you supporting?  Because from where I am sitting, it doesn’t seem like there is a lot of support for the Duggars that were victims of a horrendous crime.  Where is the call to get them help?  Where is the assurances of the fact that this wasn’t their fault and that they are not sinful or bad because of the abuse they endured?  If his aim was truly support, then he is utterly failing.

Exhibit B: Jim Bob and Michelle

While we don’t have quotes from them about Josh’s molestation of young girls, we do have their actions, which seem to strongly support that they put his needs over that of his victims.  This might lead a rational person to ask – why?  Why on Earth would parents stand by as someone is abusing their children?  Even if the abuser is also a family member, one would assume that the safety of the victims would be of the utmost importance.  Instead they failed to make sure he was punished in any meaningful way, instead of going to the police station they went to a trooper who was a family friend.  Instead of taking the girls to counseling they discussed the situation with church elders and sent Josh to build houses over the summer.  What parents, what Christians would do such a thing?  I believe the answer comes from Libby Anne over at Love, Joy, Feminism who grew up in an environment similar to that of the Duggars, which makes her privy to a lot of information about the type of culture we are dealing with here.  We know that the Duggars use Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute (ATI).  It should be noted that Bill Gothard himself recently resigned from his own institute after 30 women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment.  So what exactly does the ATI teach families about sexual assault?  In Libby Anne’s article, What Did Josh Duggar’s Counseling Look Like? she provides snapshots of actual materials from the ATI, such as the following:

Does anyone see some problems here?  Let me make note that this document is about advising the victim of sexual assault, not the abuser.  Just a few things that stuck out to me include the massive amount of victim blaming.  Notice how it says “if the victim was not at fault” if.  IF.  Because that’s exactly what you should do if a child comes to you saying they have been molested, see if they were at fault and then telling them why God let it happen.  Shouldn’t have been running around with just a diaper on you little hussy!  You may think I was joking about that last part, but take a look at this article also provided by the ATI which was written by a teenage boy who molested his young sisters:

The need for modesty in the home

Modesty was a factor.  It was not at the level it should have been in my family.  It was not uncommon for my younger siblings to come out of their baths naked or with a towel.  They would often run around the house for the next twenty minutes until my mom or sister got around to dressing them.

Changing my younger sisters’ diapers when they were really young may not have been a big thing, but it really did not have to be that way (if we had only applied Levitical law).  My younger sisters used to wear dresses often, but as they were young and not aware of modesty, they did not behave in them as they should.

Mom did not push the modesty unless we were in public, and Dad only had the opportunity to mention it during weekends.  Little people do not realize their nakedness right away.  It takes several years before they grasp it.  It needs to be taught to them.  My mom is a nurse, and the human body was not a big deal to her.  I guess she didn’t want it to be for her children either.

She and I have talked about it.  She explained to me that she had no idea how visual male sexuality is, compared to women who are mainly by touch.  I am so grateful my parents have changed so much of this area in our home.  This was not a major reason for the offending, but it allowed my little sister to be open to what I made her do. I don’t think so much teaching was necessary because everyone was so young.  However, a different lifestyle, with more modesty, might have prevented what happened.

There you have it folks, victim blaming 101.  So with this type of information coming into the home I don’t think it’s a far off assumption that Jim Bob and Michelle probably put most of the blame on their daughters instead of their son.  Instead of protecting them and making sure they were okay, it seems to me like that covered it up, and expected the girls to simply forgive and forget.  Which isn’t exactly possible for victims of incest.  Just a smattering of the negative effects of childhood sexual abuse include:

  • Body issues and eating disorders
  • Somatization symptoms among survivors are often related to pelvic pain, gastrointestinal
    problems, headaches, and difficulty swallowing
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Difficulties with trust, fear of intimacy, fear of being different or weird, difficulty establishing interpersonal boundaries, passive behaviors, and getting involved in abusive relationships
  • Engaging in compulsive or inappropriate sexual behaviors
  • Experiencing difficulty establishing or maintaining an intimate relationship
  • Experiencing vaginal pain or orgasmic difficulties

It’s unlikely that his victims are going to be able to just pretend this never happened, especially since they continued to live with their abuser for such a long time, the re-victimization they must have ensured was surely massive.  So why is it that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and Mike Huckabee want us to just let this go?  Is it because it will hurt their bottom line?  Is it because they believe that’s what Jesus would have wanted?  Honestly, I don’t think we are going to get a direct answer of that, but I believe it is clear that sexual abuse and incest should not be things we take lightly as a culture or a society.  Instead of blaming the victims and pushing it in the past, we should be offering these girls help and support, and affirmations that what Josh did was wrong and they did not deserve what happened to them.  If they should chose to forgive him later in life, that is their prerogative, but it’s not something that should be forced on them, or on anyone else.

Natalina graduated from the University of North Dakota with a BA in English and minor in Gender and Women's Studies. She is currently pursuing her medical degree in Iowa. She is a sexual assault and domestic violence victim advocate as well as a LGBT activist. She is very interested in feminism and pop culture. When she is not in school or online she is spending time with her husband, playing video games, or playing with her 2 cats.
  • Elizabeth Levang

    Right on. All this victimization of the victim is horrifying. Shame on Huckabee. Shame on the Duggar family. Obviously males rule and women are nothing but objects. Disgusting.

  • Johnny Silvercloud

    Excellent article.

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