Thirty years ago, I was molested by a male, teenage family member that I loved and respected, and lived with in our home. At the time I was five, he was fifteen. It didn’t hurt. I didn’t know it was wrong. There were no threats for me to keep quiet “or else.” Within a year it was over and we moved on in our happy little family, never to mention it again.
Ten years ago, I was pregnant with my first child. That’s when the panic attacks began. I would wake up suddenly, my heart pounding, terrified. I was constantly afraid I would not be able to protect my little one. It worsened after she was born. I became convinced that everyone was a predator — people who had been good to me my whole life, my parents, my younger siblings. I barely trusted them to hold my child. I refused to leave her alone with anyone.
I don’t think my husband and I even had a dinner date until she was almost three, and even during that short meal, while she was alone with my mother in law, I worried. She never spent the night with my family until she and her younger brother were old enough to tell me everything that went on during their time there. From their earliest memories, they have been bombarded with lessons on good touch/ bad touch. They have been assured that no matter what, I will always love them and support them and they never have to worry about being honest with me.
I never spoke out to my family. I never told my mom what happened under her roof. She has no idea why I am so protective of my own children. In the beginning, it was because I didn’t know what I was speaking out against, because what happened did not seem like a violent act. As I got older, it was because I was scared that I would destroy my family. Scared that I would hurt my now adult brother. Or worse, scared that no one would care or believe me.
As time has passed and my children have gotten older, I’m more comfortable again. I don’t worry about them as I used to, I just worry about them now in the “normal” mom ways. I had allowed those feelings and that incident to be buried again. Now, in the midst of the Duggar family controversy, I find myself lashing out on this subject.
I don’t care about the Duggars’ show. I never watched it, and it didn’t really affect my life that it was on TV. Any news of Duggar “controversy” normally just gets scrolled past on my Facebook newsfeed. But what Josh Duggar did twelve years ago, it got my attention. Not so much for the fact that he molested his sisters; because, frankly, that happens a lot in a lot of houses; but that some seem to expect us, the public, to be OK with it.
“Oh, well, it was a long time ago and he got help and never did it again.”
Those of us who are outraged get treated like we are either a) bad Christians, because Christians should forgive and understand that we all have sin and that’s why Jesus died for us, or b) we’re hippie, progressive “secularists” that hate all Christians and are happy to see an outspoken Christian family fall from grace.
I am neither of those things. I am a victim. I am a woman who survived. I am damaged because of what someone did to me, the exact same thing that Josh Duggar did to others. And I cannot scroll by any Duggar article on Facebook without my heart stopping … without feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut. Without the tears forming in my eyes. I can’t help but go back to that scary place where everyone looked like a potential culprit that would hurt my child.
What was done to those five girls by Josh Duggar, what was done to me by someone I loved, it’s inexcusable. This was not “playing doctor,” it was not a one time experiment between two consenting children. It was a cruel attack.
You can go to counseling and you can learn to deal with it, but trust will never come back. Because of what happened when I was five, I will never be able to trust or love anyone in the way I once did. It doesn’t matter if it was twelve or thirty years ago, the damage that molestation by a family member does will always be there.
I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks. I’ve been avoiding sharing it for a number of reasons. First, because I want this story to go away. I don’t want these terrible people to have any more fame than they already do. I want us all to be fed up and just kick them to the curb and focus on other, better things.
Also, I’m scared. I have never shared this story and I never intended to. I hoped that if I let time pass and let the media move on to something else, I wouldn’t have to tell my story. But I feel it’s an injustice to all victims and survivors of child molestation to allow my experience to go unknown.
The internet is currently full of opinions on how we should feel about the Duggar situation. A lot of the more conservative media are out there trying to make me feel guilty for my judgment of Josh Duggar. But, I’m sick of feeling guilty. I have spent my life living with the guilt of my own molestation, and I will not sit back and silently allow the media to bully me into feeling even more guilt.
Maybe you are pro-Duggar. Maybe you are one of those people who feel Josh and his parents should be forgiven, that he was open about his indiscretions, that Jesus wouldn’t hold a grudge. Whatever. We are all entitled to our own feelings and if that’s your’s, awesome. But don’t you dare judge me. Don’t you dare tell me I should be forgiving, or flippantly assume that my anger comes from a place of secular liberalism and hatred of all things “wholesome.” It’s so much more than that.
This post was submitted by a guest writer.