The girls who were abused by Josh Duggar, and other kids in the Duggar family who need to escape, will probably never see this post. But if by some miracle they do, I want them to know: there are avenues of escape, should you want them. I’m pretty sure many of your fans would leap to provide you financial assistance through a GoFundMe campaign. Even those of us who aren’t fans would chip in – we care about your safety and well-being. You can hear other survivors’ stories and reach out for advice through No Longer Quivering and the Spiritual Abuse Survivors Network. I’m pretty sure the Free Jinger folks would lend a hand. If you need resources to help you deal with what Josh did to you, reach out to the good folks at RAINN [Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network] for information on where you can get proper counseling. You don’t have to wear a mask forever. You can overcome this, and you can live a life you were never allowed to dream of. And those resources will be available whether you need them today or decades from now. Someone on the outside will always be here for you.
That goes for all victims of sexual assault, and everyone trapped within the Christian Patriarchy movement. You don’t have to face this alone. The abuse you suffered does not define you.
Now, if you’re a victim of sexual abuse within the Christian Patriarchy movement, you may have been subjected to something you were told is counseling. It’s not. It’s victim-blaming crap made up by a serial sexual abuser. It’s designed to cover for him and people like him, so they can go on attacking you with impunity while you blame yourself. How sick is it that a man who victimized over thirty young women is held up as a godly authority on sexual assault?
Put those materials aside and contact people who can actually help you. Call 1-800-656-HOPE for advice.
Let me tell you something as a sexual assault survivor: it’s not your fault. Not even a tiny bit. Not even if you ever wore something that wasn’t 100% modest. Not even if you smiled really nicely, or did anything else your abuser claims made you irresistible to him. Not even if you sinned a little that one time, maybe by telling a little lie or doubting God or whatever other transgression you may be suspecting caused God to stop protecting you. God wasn’t punishing you for anything. Good fathers, which God is supposed to be, don’t punish their kids by letting someone attack them. Sexual assault isn’t caused by what you’re wearing or how you look or act. Sexual assault is 1000% the fault of the person who assaulted you. It was up to them to control themselves. They’re not helpless animals, like many would like you to believe. They made a choice to do wrong. That choice was completely up to them. It’s hard, I know it’s hard, but stop taking even a fraction of their guilt on yourself.
You did nothing wrong. Not one thing. You did absolutely nothing to deserve what he did to you.
I know those worksheets you may have been given say otherwise. Of course they do: they were written by a man who preyed on young women. He needs you to focus on your own supposed sin because he can’t stand to face his own. That’s what abusers do: they blame their victim for their actions. It’s toxic and it’s wrong.
Here are a lot of people who are talking about those materials and those attitudes, people who can see through the abuser’s facade, and who know what’s wrong with telling a victim they’re responsible for their own assault. It may help you to see people, many of them assault survivors themselves, tearing this stuff apart. I hope seeing what they say helps you take the guilt off your own shoulders and settle it firmly where it belongs: on your abuser. Even if you genuinely forgive him, you don’t have to carry any part of his guilt anymore. That’s his job, and his alone.
Don’t ever forget we’re here for you. We’ll be here when you need us.
Defeating the Dragons: How Josh Duggar is getting away with it.
Jim Bob and Michelle and the church leadership and the police were able to cover this up because of the culture his victims belong to. They have been taught since they extremely young that women are capable of tempting the most holy man to sin, that women can provoke men into raping them, that if something bad happened they must always look for their part in the blame. The Duggars belong to an even more nightmarish subculture than I was exposed to, since they follow Bill Gothard. If you’re not familiar with ATI/IBLP, this is what Gothard teaches about sexual abuse.
Love, Joy, Feminism: What Did Josh Duggar’s Counseling Look Like?
In the end, it is incredibly clear that Gothard has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to minor child sexual offenders, or sexual abuse in general. From his victim blaming to his complete ignorance of the factors that contribute to such abuse, Gothard is unable to effectively grapple with these problems or support victims.
Homeschooler’s Anonymous: Gothard’s ATI and the Duggar Family’s Secrets.
The lessons learned from birth in homes like the Duggar’s strip children of their voice and agency. Starting with blanket training babies and toddlers understand quickly that disappointing a parent leads to swift and painful consequences. As they grow, it becomes clear that simply doing what is expected is not enough. It must be done instantly and cheerfully. Children are even forbidden to seek out the logic behind the request, as kids are prone to do, because that is seen a making excuses or delaying obedience. The consequences of failing to meet these expectations are severe. Gothard and the Duggars believe that spankings are necessary to save a child from their inborn nature to do evil, and these are not just any spankings. The Duggars endorse the child abuse methods taught by the Pearls. Growing up in an environment of fear, where questions are seen as rebellious, eventually makes children unable to speak up for themselves. They become unable to trust their own judgment of what is right and wrong. These children are the perfect targets for abuse; they do not know how to advocate for themselves.
Love, Joy, Feminism: Anna Duggar and the Silencing Power of Forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a warped topic in fundamentalist Christian circles where abuse is concerned. Jim Bob, Michelle, and Josh are using that language purposefully. They are tapping into the belief that no sin is too terrible for God to forgive and the mandate that we must forgive our trespassers as God has forgiven us. Together, these beliefs force victims in this subculture to shut up, sit down, and “make peace” with the people who have wronged them.
This results in victims having to act as if nothing ever happened. They still have to live with the perpetrator. They still have to speak to the perpetrator and show affection to them. They have to smile and pretend for years and years. No one gets real counseling. And the perpetrator is never punished.
The lessons are frighteningly light on personal responsibility, and heavy on blame for the victim—condemning younger sisters for dressing “immodestly,” and parents for exposing the boy to temptation by having him change his sisters’ diapers. The document also blames porn, advising families to “pray for protection from pornography.”
Recovering Grace notes that “of the four listed consequences of sexual abuse, three concentrate on damage to public image.”
Moore to the Point: What Should the Duggar Scandal Teach the Church?
The church has a responsibility, beyond alerting proper authority, in several areas. The first is to preach and teach on issues of sexual abuse. Many abused people hide in the shadows because they believe, sometimes even subliminally, that they were somehow at fault for their abuse. Sometimes abused people are fearful to come forward because they think that people within the church will think they are now “damaged” because of the abuse. The church’s witness should be clear that victims of sexual abuse are not to blame—nor are they defined by the atrocities committed against them. You may think that such truths are obvious, but they need to be said if we are to offer freedom for the captives, as Jesus did (Lk. 4:18). One of the chief ways people are held in captivity is through misplaced shame, for what has been done to them.
No one should be a prisoner. You deserve your freedom.
Duggar fans and Slymepitters: Don’t even think about trying to slip your abuse apologetics and gotchas past my comment filters. Doing that on a post that’s for the victims is beyond reprehensible. Go away, and don’t come back.