The Victims of a System that Promotes Abuses: Essential Reading on Josh Duggar and His Christian Patriarchy Background

It’s good that we’re talking about this. Some of you may be sick to death of it by now, and I don’t blame you, but we need to talk about it. Sexual abuse survivors need us talking. Children suffering abuse, right now, need us to talk about this. They need us not to let it go. They need us to remember, and act, and speak out for them when they have no voice. I know they need this, because I have seen victims in so many blogs and threads finding their voices, because we’re speaking out.

Sexual abuse, like racist police and systemic injustice, thrives on our silence. The people who commit these crimes and enable injustice cannot thrive when we refuse to stay quiet.

The survivors are speaking out, and this is necessary. They need us to listen, and then amplify their voices. I have a lot of voices here for you to listen to, a lot of signals to boost. I hope you read them all. But at the very least, read the first.

And then refuse to give the abusers the shelter of your silence.

Red poster with British crown and the words, "Keep Calm* and Speak Out." * Optional Step.

(Content note for descriptions of child sexual abuse)

The Victims

The Real Rebecca Diamond: Nice girls don’t talk about stuff like this.

Nice girls don’t tell you that when they read that the victims forgave him those jagged edges of their heart wept blood because they know what forgiveness means within that culture, to shove down the pain even deeper than the violation, to smile and say “It’s ok” because more than anything, more than anything, Jesus only loves you when you’re happy.

No Longer Quivering: Dear Victims of Josh Duggar

As the news unfolds and the secrets are expunged and revealed in graphic and horrifying clarity, I want to say…it’s not OK.

It’s not OK to have your dignity stolen from you.

It’s not OK to have your soul violated. Your body violated.

It’s not OK to have your feelings invalidated. Your story silenced. Your voice gone.

It’s not OK to be forced into situations where you feel violated, uncomfortable, unsafe.

It’s not OK for your parents to cover this up, to shush you, to silence you. To subject you to false guilt and spiritual rape by suggesting that you must forgive.

It’s not OK to be required to do anything you feel uncomfortable doing: television interviews, episodes, book deals, discussing your feelings, having conversations with people that make you feel unsafe.

The Joy Parade: What Does the Josh Duggar Dialogue Say to Assault Victims?

What exactly does our public dialogue about Josh Duggar say to victims: both his own victims, and all victims of sexual assault by a family member or friend? As I read post after post, status after tweet, and all manner of debate and discussion about what and who is to blame, I can’t help but read each of them through the eyes of assault victims. I see some common themes and phrases popping up repeatedly in response to the all out attack the Duggar family is supposedly facing right now, and I wonder how many people have really asked themselves what they are communicating to assault victims with their words? Let’s take a closer look at four of the more prevalent messages I’m seeing.

Love, Joy, Feminism: When the Perpetrators Matter More than the Victims

In March 2002, Jim Bob Duggar found out that his fourteen-year-old son, Josh, was sexually molesting prepubescent girls. Jim Bob did not say anything about this to the authorities until July 2003, even as it continued to happen and the list of victims grew. And in the wake of these revelations, I have been absolutely horrified by the number of people who have said they would not have immediately reported their fourteen-year-old son for molesting prepubescent girls either.

BJU Grace: Thoughts on learning of the Duggar scandal

When you wake up from a sound sleep because someone is molesting you, it doesn’t matter to you whether that person is 14 years old or 44 years old.

I hear the story of Josh Duggar and his victims in the news, I read it on the internet, and I am instantly reminded.  Reminded of the feeling of groggy confusion and panic.  Reminded of what it feels like to wake up and find that your life is changed forever.  Reminded of how sexual abuse defiles relationships.  Boundaries have been broken, and though you can try to rebuild the boundaries, there is no going back.  Things are changed forever, for everyone involved – the victim, the offender, the parents, the siblings, the friends, the future wives and husbands, the future children.


The System

Elizabeth Esther: It’s Not Only About Josh Duggar, It’s Also About An Entire SYSTEM of Abuse

The greatest mistake we can make right now is believing that this latest exposure of sexual assault is an isolated incident. I am here to tell you that the Christian church—as a whole—has a major, MAJOR problem with the physical and sexual abuse of children. It’s time we examined not only WHAT is happening but WHY this is happening.

Love, Joy, Feminism: How Christian Culture Excuses Sex Offenders

It is an unfortunate reality that evangelical Christianity in general and the patriarchal quiverfull homeschool world in particular have some serious problems when it comes to dealing with child sexual abuse. I’m not saying other groups are perfect! But these particular groups have a specific ideology and set of beliefs that make it especially difficult to address child sexual abuse in a positive and productive manner. This is something I’ve been saying over and over and over again on this blog for years now.

I want to take a few minutes to explore some of these themes through examining three responses to the Duggar situation.

Homeschoolers Anonymous: ATI’s “Sex Ed” Curriculum: Silencing Victims and Excusing Sex Crime

I recently received a set of first edition Advanced Training Institute Wisdom Booklets – thanks to the generous scrounging of an HA community member. I distinctly remembered a volume of the WBs (Wisdom Booklets) that dealt with sexuality, lust, and immoral sexual activity. At the time, it left me more confused than anything. I thought married couples literally could not catch or spread a venereal disease. My sexual education from the WBs did not include anything on consent or rape, and it placed much of the burden of lustful thoughts on the seductive powers of scantily clad women. While I cannot say with any certainty that the Duggars received the same sexual education I did, our shared curriculum in the WBs and Bill Gothard’s teachings were at least our shared base line for “sexual education.” Ironically, it was the coverage of President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky that prompted me to ask “what is rape?” and not a concept I learned from my sexual education.

A foundational point in ATI and Gothard’s sexual ethic is a lack of agency for men and women as a powerful temptation.

 Love, Joy, Feminism: Josh Duggar and the Tale of Two Boxes

What is going on here, exactly?

In short, there seems to be an assumption among some social conservatives that because progressives do not see premarital sex as sinful and wrong, they aren’t in any position to criticize Josh Duggar’s actions. In other words, because (in their view) progressives take an “anything goes” approach to sex, they argue, progressives are being hypocrites when they condemn Josh Duggar. This assumption is based in a serious misunderstanding of progressive sexual ethics.

This goes back to my “tale of two boxes.”

Image is a promotional shot of 19 Kids and Counting with the word CANCEL stamped across it.

The Victims of a System that Promotes Abuses: Essential Reading on Josh Duggar and His Christian Patriarchy Background

4 thoughts on “The Victims of a System that Promotes Abuses: Essential Reading on Josh Duggar and His Christian Patriarchy Background

  1. rq

    I don’t have much extra to comment on this, except to express complete support for the victims. What happened was not okay, and their continued silencing is not okay, and it is not okay that people think it fine to defend Josh Duggar like he’s the one whose life has been ruined. Yes, he was a child in a terrible system at the time, but he has not owned up to this mistake (half-assed self-centered apologies don’t count), and I doubt he has learned much from it.
    It’s the victims for whom I hope better future are in store, though considering the situation, I fear for them, very very much.

  2. 2

    I’ve only been shallowly following this story, because my own childhood sexual abuse trauma makes it difficult to read too in depth about these sorts of things. I know first hand how a culture of silence shelters the abusers and isolates the abused. And I know first hand how some people (or a lot of people) will refuse to believe that the abuse happened, or be quick to write it off because they don’t want to admit that the person they know is a monster.

    I appreciate these sorts of posts immensely. I appreciate the coverage that these things have been getting over the last little while (I think the Penn State abuse scandal was a big turning point). I’ve been dealing with the struggle of finding my voice over the last several years after 15 years of silence – and these sorts of posts and comments make it that much easier to talk about. It helps to not feel as alone.

    All that being said – woe be unto the person who defends Duggar in my presence. I will GO OFF.

  3. 3

    I’ve not yet had the stomach to read all those links but like you, I fear for the victims. I would be VERY surprised if they haven’t been blamed for the whole thing. Not modest enough, and all that.

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