What Does the Josh Duggar Dialogue Say to Assault Victims?

Duggar Assault

When I started this blog, I had decided that I never wanted to write this post. Hot button topics? Politics? Debate? This was never going to be that sort of blog. There was enough internet commentary already, and mine wasn’t going to be that sort of place. And yet I’m sitting here in front of the screen, writing my first post back after a month long hiatus of sorts, and never in a million years did I expect THIS to be what I needed to write. But for the million and one blogs and articles dissecting the recent Duggar scandal from every angle and point of view, one was glaringly missing to me: and it’s the one I simply can’t allow to remain silent. Am I concerned about the potential loss of readership? Of course. But some things are simply too important to remain silent about. Someone has to speak up for those who can’t always speak for themselves. So bear with me dear readers. I promise, this will not be a heated debate or rehashing of the same rhetoric you see all over social media and the blogsphere. If you would give me a few minutes and an open mind, I want to give some thought to the people who are being given the least attention right now in this whole sensational media explosion – the victims of sexual assault.

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.

He sought forgiveness and repented, and became a great person, so why is everyone trying to destroy him over a past mistake?
A common theme to some of the defenses of Josh Duggar seem to be that he’s a good man, a family man, with a wife and kids who depend on him, and that coming after him is vindictive and cruel. There are many who would frame the dialogue to make Josh a victim in his own right: coming under fire from an out and out attack by the progressive left. Over and over I hear messages of sympathy for a man who’s built a wonderful life for himself and his family and is now being senselessly dragged through the mud when he’s already repented and apologized. But what does this dialogue say to victims of sexual assault, especially those who experience their pain at the hands of someone they know and quite possibly even love? The heartbreaking message we are sending them is that if your abuser apologizes and seeks your forgiveness, its unfair and purely vindictive to seek meaningful legal consequences for their actions.  If Josh Duggar is being unfairly persecuted despite his apologies and remorse, what does that say to a young victim who is struggling to decide whether or not to potentially “ruin the life” of her family member by reporting them to authorities? How much harder is it for a victim to knowingly send a long time friend and mentor to jail when they are being bombarded with messages about how believing in the power of Gods forgiveness means accepting a heartfelt apology and not destroying the life of a “good person” over a “mistake.” It is difficult enough for many sexual assault victims to seek justice in their cases because they already struggle with the complexities of feeling both love and pain towards the same person in their abuser, so in adding this extra layer of confusion how many victims might we be ultimately silencing? How many will now tell themselves that the “right” thing to do is accept an apology and move on without justice?

“How can people call him a child molestor when he was just a child himself!” / “He was so young! It wasn’t a crime, it was teenage mischief!”
This has got to be one of the most damaging pieces of rhetoric I have seen making the rounds. What are we saying to countless sexual assault victims when we write off these crimes as “teenage antics?” What are we saying to them when we publicly declare that Josh was simply too young to be held accountable for any sort of real crime? So if a young girl’s abuser is also another teenager, does this in fact negate the crime? Are we telling her that no crime has actually occurred at all, thereby stripping her of her victimhood? How can a nice girl from a nice family hope to report a sex crime when she is met with the idea that it wasn’t really a crime at all but teenagers fooling around with their sexuality? Furthermore, as the mother of two boys I see a big part of my job as teaching them that they have responsibility for their choices, and about the importance of consent in regards to sexuality. This dialogue certainly flies in the face of that message. If Josh Duggar didn’t commit a crime and was just “exploring” or “curious,” what terrifying messages does that send to our sons about both consent and personal responsibility? If that 14 year old can’t be held responsible for his sexual actions, what does that say to my boys about theirs?

“It was 12 years ago! Why bring it up now? He shouldn’t be defined by a mistake from so long ago.”
Easily one of the most common themes permeating the dialogue right now is the idea that this was all ancient history and it serves no good to bring it up now. Are we ready to look assault victims in the face who are 10, 15, even 20 years beyond their ordeals and tell them that it’s all “water under the bridge” and that any pain they still feel is simply outside the bounds of normal? Are we willing to place limits on how long they can relive the trauma, how big the lasting effects can be, or how much they are even allowed to claim their crimes have effected them? And what of women who simply weren’t ready or able report their crimes years ago, but wish to step forward now and seek whatever justice may be left? Are we willing to tell them there is a time limit not only on the reaches of justice but the length of our sympathies? Why report a decades old crime when all you will be met with is tales of what a nice guy your abuser grew up to be and how it was all so long ago its simply not worth bringing up. It also begs to question whether we apply this same standard to ALL sexual offenders. Should we remove all sex crimes from a criminal record after a decade has past? Perhaps we should lift the ban on former offenders being teachers, childcare workers, etc. After all, we are claiming we shouldn’t define them by a past mistake right? Are we ready to abolish the sex offender registry and forgive all past offenders as easily as we are expecting the world to forgive Josh Duggar?

“This is a liberal attack on the Duggars, because they are such great Christian role models.”
I’m going to make a heartfelt plea to my fellow believers on this one: guys, we have GOT to stop saying this. Think this one through. Do we really want to send the message that reporting the crimes of any of our own is going to met with the overwhelming response that this is unfair persecution and simply the attack of some sort of liberal agenda? Do we want the world to see us as a church body that will stand by its own at all costs, even if it means defending a child molester because he’s such a “good guy?” I understand how hard it is for many of my faith to feel like the world is out there just looking for a way to take us down. I understand we’ve been told that the media is out to discredit us all and seeks our demise. And I will even admit that whoever brought this recent scandal to light probably had less than saintly motives and that yes, there are plenty of people out there who are doing a victory dance on the Duggars’ perceived grave. BUT, and this is a big but y’all, does that really and truly justify going out there and portraying Josh himself as the victim in all this? And more importantly, what do you think we are saying to victims of sexual abuse when we show them that the church is quite possibly going to close ranks and protect their own if someone wants to call out an abuser in our midst? How many girls sitting in our own pews right now are getting the message that if they somehow muster the courage to admit someone in our congregation has assaulted them, that they might just find their attacker painted as the victim and see themselves be hung out to dry for attacking such Godly upstanding men of character? An overwhelming majority of sexual assaults already go unreported, and sadly this is already the main reason why: it’s hard enough to hope that adults are going to believe you when you are young, but it’s exponentially harder when the person you stand to accuse is seen as an upstanding citizen and person of faith. We as a church have a responsibility to sexual assault victims everywhere to make a very public stand: we will not protect or support criminals in our midst. We will not write off accusations against as our own as merely “spiritual warfare” or “liberal agenda.” We will not close ranks when we feel slighted. We we always first and foremost stand for VICTIMS. Period.

Comments

  1. says

    great post Stephanie! I especially like your point about how we lose credibility when we defend a fellow believer, no matter the cost. While yes, God’s grace covers all sin, we have to be careful that we don’t pick and choose which sins we get behind versus which ones we fight. How many believers would be calling for justice if josh duggar was a liberal left winged politician?

    • says

      Well said Jill. I think we as a modern church need to be less focused on defending ourselves and our perceived rights and more focused on standing up for the rights of OTHERS. Seems far more like a gospel point of view. And if we successfully changed that focus and weren’t so quick to defend ourselves from these perceived slights? I think a lot of this unfortunate dialogue could have been avoided.

    • Dejah says

      As a die hard liberal, survivor of child sexual abuse, screaming for Josh Duggar’s head on a silver platter, I would certainly be calling for the prosecution of another liberal.

      If you recall, that Liberal congressman who sent dick pics to college girls, he was forced by the Liberals to resign. And he didn’t get elected NY mayor, by other Liberals. He didn’t even commit a crime.

      You are standing by a child molester who finger raped a five year ol, and an 8 yr old, and a 9 yr old, and a 10 yr old and an 11 yr old. Besides not even being a comparison of scope, in terms of horrifingness, how can you even accuse anyone one of saying “but they would support THEIR CHILD MOLESTERS!”

      No. We. Wouldn’t. It’s so insane I can’t believe you’re doing it! You. Are. Supporting. A. CHILD. MOLESTER.

      Inconceivable!

      • says

        I agree .. I too was a victim and I know how the molester has the ppl believe it’s over
        .. But they never quit .. It is an illness. That their body has .. Josh has children .. The evil will hang on .. The desire will always be there .. The victim lives daily. With
        The
        Damage done and why by someone who should of been their protector .. I told and no one believed .. Many girls and boys life’s were ruined .. I use my understanding. Of being a victim to help heal other family member through their pain and shame .. My when does this travesty stop .. Church is saying no punishment .. What about the innocence of the victim .. Jesus said bring the little children on to me !! Those who harm my children shall harm my father .. Yes we
        Can forgiven but only as long as whenever repeat the offence .. Josh had at leAst five victims .. He has His church behind him But God will be His judge .. In the end .. I cry inside when I find out yet another child has been a victim !! Evil grabs those who are unable to defend themselves .. The abusers Convince the public they are good upstanding citizens … The victim is made to feel Ashamed !!

        • Jules Opal says

          Thank you so much for writing this post.

          In America “forgiveness” has become an act of cowardice & is another word for “shut up”.

          It takes a great deal of courage, maturity and perseverence to confront people & hold them accountable for their choices & their crimes.

          Instead many people take the cowards way out and engage in fake meaningless hypocritical “forgiveness”.

          Scapegoating the victim takes a lot less effort.

          There is not one shred of evidence that Josh Duggar has stopped sexually assaulting.

          My God, my Soul & my Faith tell me that there is no greater thing a person can do in the whole of their lifetime than to stand against Tyranny.

      • Meg says

        I read the comment about liberals to mean there would be a double standard amongst the Josh Duggar supporters had the perpetrator been liberal. I think she’s pointing out that many of the Josh Duggar supporters would be outraged and demanding persecution to the full extent of the law if the perpetrator had been someone known for their left leaning politics, and not saying that liberals would protect their own. I think your message is a very important one to hear and I don’t want it to be discounted because of a misunderstanding!

      • Alanna says

        Dejah, that’s definitely the point that the author was making! That we need to stop defending criminals just because they’re in the same religion/race/family as us.
        She stated:

        “we will not protect or support criminals in our midst. We will not write off accusations against as our own as merely “spiritual warfare” or “liberal agenda.” We will not close ranks when we feel slighted. We we always first and foremost stand for VICTIMS. Period.”

        If you re-read the article you will find that you are on the same page.

    • Michelle j says

      I think the only point you missed is that child molesters are the only crime that you can’t be rehabilitated for. You can’t come back from that. No matter what you say, if you’re being honest, you never want to forget those “moments” as disgusting as they are, with the victims. The predators desire more. It’s worse than a drug. It’s consuming. It’s been proven again and again. He shouldn’t be allowed around kids, especially his own and his siblings and nieces and nephews. He should serve time for his crimes and he should be in a program at least weekly to keep his “cravings” down. As a survivor of molestation where my predator got away bc I didn’t want to testify and he moved away, this stuff is a hot button for me, but now I have kids of my own. I can’t imagine being in the duggars’ situation but at the same time, I’d like to think that truth, justice and responsibility would come to the forefront after the initial shock.

      • Bev says

        Excellent blog post! I wholeheartedly agree with all you have said. I was just abut to address the one point I think you missed, but then I read Michelle’s post. She and I had the same thought. Thanks for stating it so well, Michelle. Time and again it has been proven that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated.That dark side will always exist. Maybe it can be controlled, maybe not. Having been a victim myself, I know what it is like to be scarred for life. I certainly want to protect my grandchildren, indeed all children,from that soul-scarring hell.

        • Lucy says

          I am in no way defending what happened, but you are incorrect.
          It is commonly repeated that child molesters cannot be rehabilitated. This comes from confusion between the words “pedophile” and “child molester.” Pedophiles are almost impossible to rehabilitate, but teenage child molesters are unlikely to reoffend once they become of age:

          http://www.practicenotes.org/vol7_no2/understand_jso.htm

          A common belief about juvenile sexual offenders is that even after treatment, most will offend again. Hunter (2000), citing the research literature, finds “no compelling evidence to suggest that the majority of juvenile sex offenders are likely to become adult sex offenders. . . . . juveniles who engage in sexual aggression frequently cease such behavior by the time they reach adulthood” (p. 1).

          Juveniles who participate in treatment programs have sexual recidivism rates that range between 7% and 13% over follow-up periods of two to five years. Research indicates that recidivism for nonsexual offenses is much higher among juveniles (25–50%) (Hunter, 2000).

          Youths participating in treatment have lower recidivism rates than either adult sex offenders or untreated juvenile sex offenders. In an analysis of eight separate studies, Alexander (1999) found that while adults had re-offend rates that averaged 13%, juveniles who participated in offense-specific treatment had a recidivism rate that averaged 7.1% in a 3–5 year follow-up. Worling (2001), in a large-scale study that examined data from across Canada, found that only 5% of youths who underwent treatment were charged with another sexual offense within six years, compared to 18% of the youths who did not participate in treatment (Ryan, 2000).

      • ashley says

        Not being able to be rehabilitated is completely false. Maybe your abuser never got help, but to blanket statement and say that child molestora never can be free flies against the truth that there is freedom in Jesus.

        • Lauren says

          By saying that there is no rehabilitation for abusers, am I correct in assuming that you believe this is the one sin that God cannot forgive? Is this one addiction that the addict cannot be healed from?

          As far as those victims, my heart goes out to them. They have suffered profound damage that cannot be taken lightly. Christ can take them to a place where they can find a healing that goes beyond anything we can imagine. Christ gives victims the ability to forgive their abusers. That is a huge step on the road to complete recovery.

          I know this first hand.

        • Dejah says

          Sorry, but there isn’t. Religion is nice. But the craving for child sex doesn’t go away “bc Jesus.” Would that it did.

          There are many that don’t want to offend who wish that Jesus took away their perverse desires. Alas!They become priests and clergy, looking for the false promise of redemption and the false solace of celibacy. But I think Catholics could tell you how well that works. Or doesn’t.

          Because it never has worked.

        • Donna Forbes says

          The recidivism rate for pedophiles is over 95% no matter what treatment they receive. I could not, in good conscience allow any pedophile based on those odds to supervise or work with any children Whatever remedies the law offers the victims should have been adhered to when this all began. It seems they were not. The victims were victimized by both the young Mr. Duggar and by society and, seemingly, by the brand of Christianity the family practices. Can this sect stand the scrutiny of how they handle such issues? Would we even be having this discussion about someone who had not spent so much time in the public eye? Somehow, I do not think so.

        • kimbev69 says

          Its common knowledge that pedos cannot be cured. Just like a person is straight or gay it cannot be changed. What turns you on is just what it is. Its been studied and proven time again. My abuser molested me from age 6 to 15 was mandated by the court into therapy for 5 yrs and went on to abuse 3 more girls i know of. Everytime he hooked up with a new gf the woman always had two daughters like my mom so he could have a choice as some kids tell…i did not. I had only met my bio mom for the first time at age 6 so the bond and trust was non existing. He fooled alot of people but not me. Anytime i found out about a new gf i made it my goal to send her the court docs and a clipping from dear abby from an anonymous pedo who basically warned people do not trust a sex offender because we do not change. We may go yrs without molesting a child but when its the right child and right opportunity we will eventually act on it.

          • Sonia says

            I wonder how many girls/children you may have saved from that monster.
            How amazingly strong and brave of you!
            Your story really moved me.
            Thank you for sharing. I agree with you about pedophiles not being able to be “cured”.

  2. Sharon Rudolph says

    Your blog was wonderful, you put into words everything I have been thinking but couldn’t find the right words. Thank you for a great post!

    • Lisa Kroulik says

      Me too. This is exactly the kinds of reactions I’m seeing from many in my own community. No wonder we’re seen as hypocrites. I am embarrassed by association.

      • says

        That’s a big part of why I felt the need to speak up. Sometimes the most outspoken members of our faith are the ones who really don’t represent us well. That’s unfortunate.

        • Lisa Kroulik says

          Me again. I just want to say that while I mourn for the young ladies that they are now reliving this, the fact is it’s out and I’ve been highly disappointed by reactions I’ve read from conservative Christians. I was obsessively drawn to this story, and yours is the first article I read that really resonated with me. This is no small thing as I’m a writer myself and I couldn’t find the words the way you did.

          I was molested at age 9 by my friend’s 15-year-old brother. I repressed this memory until age 21, ironically, 12 years later. I was in treatment for chemical dependency at the time and the first person I told chided me for making a big deal out of normal teenage experimentation. Forgive my bluntness, but that’s not what I’d call being pulled into a closet, forced to touch him, and having him violate me with “forcible fondling (finger penetration).” I was also trying to get attention by remaining a victim, according to the director of this halfway house.

          I have forgiven my abuser (and this woman) but because the words stung so much I haven’t forgotten them. I’m the first to defend anyone who has gone through a similar experience.They absolutely should come first.

          Many years later, after being with my (then) husband for over 13 years, I discovered a disturbing sexual secret/habit of his that completely devastated me at the time. The church counseling I received was to “forgive him and never bring it up again.” Actually all counseling I received was focused on keeping us together and me looking at my own sin. The whole “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” thing. The “how dare you not forgive when Christ forgave you” thing. I still cringe to hear those words as they felt extremely manipulative to me.

          I apologize for the novel. I just wanted to say I appreciate this article so much and your courage in posting in. If your church culture is anything like mine, your opinion is in the minority.

          • says

            There is such a powerful story there in what you just said. I’m deeply moved. I wish so many people blindly defending Josh Duggars actions could read what you just wrote. So powerful. I’m humbled you chose to share that here. Thank you.

          • Hannah says

            This all brings me to tears. I’ve been there. I was sexually abused in high school by a reputable ‘Christian’ man in his twenties. I also shoved to memories back for 6 years. I was ashamed and scared. At 25 I’m being prodded by God to share my story and call for change. But I am afraid, as I confided in family and it was brushed under the rug and ignored. Thank you for speaking for us! Thank you for feeling for us!

          • Dejah says

            Lisa,

            I hope you for some REAL counseling after that. Those people should be dragged out and exposed in the public square for charlatans for what they told yous. Trauma doesn’t go away bc you stuff it and hide it and act happy about it. Pls if you haven’t, go get some real sexual assault survivors therapy. Might help your sobriety too to address a root cause.

  3. says

    Thank you for bringing these points to light. We have to change the dialogue and I believe you raise very good points and explain them with clarity.

  4. KS says

    Well said!!! I couldn’t agree more. Over 30 years ago, I was the victim of a crime I don’t wish to share the details of. The fact that we were both under 18, doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the crime committed against me that horrible night. The pain is still present and will forever be a part of me. No justice was ever served, and I shutter to think of what kind of sons this man raised.

    • says

      I’m so sorry to read you were victimized. Hearing your perspective makes me even more convinced we need to stand up for those who may not be able to speak for themselves. Thanks for sharing.

      • KS says

        Thank you Stephanie. Oh, and I just realized that I misspelled “shudder”. LOL

  5. Rona says

    Another thing I would add to this: yes, he has repented and been forgiven by God. But that doesn’t mean he gets to escape the consequences of his actions. On a simplistic level it’s like speeding and getting a ticket. I can confess that I was speeding and get forgiveness, and never speed again, but I will still have to pay the ticket.

    • says

      Exactly. The rhetoric out there attempts to frame this so that you can’t be both wanting to see Josh Duggar pay the consequences for his crime and also believe in God’s forgiveness. The reality is that the two are not, and have never been, mutually exclusive.

  6. Kimberly says

    As someone who was abused in the church and didn’t come forward because I was terrified that no one would believe me, this article resonates deep within my heart. When I was molested, I was crippled with fear. I was damaged so much that I forgot about it for years. When I did remember and my mom found out, she confronted the pastor of our church and the man that did it. Guess what happened? Because I was too afraid to attend this confrontation (I had frequent thoughts of suicide and attending would have damaged me even more), the pastor sided with my molester. He told my mother that he was making my molester step down from all leadership positions, but as soon as he realized that my mom would not be in attendance of the church, my molester became a deacon yet again. When I see people defend Josh Duggar it makes me sick to my stomach. The victims have been revictimized in an entirely different way — suddenly their experiences are invalid because he asked for repentance and is currently a Godly family man. It doesn’t work that way. I would also like to add that the situation with his sister’s worries me. How oppressed were they? Were they told their experiences didn’t matter? Were they forced to forgive him? Do they live their lives in silent terror; knowing that if they speak ill of their brother, their parents will be forced to choose between them or Josh? I can’t believe that therapy (if they actually received it) totally wiped away all ill feelings of their brother.

    • says

      Oh Kimberly… Your story absolutely breaks my heart. I am so so so deeply sorry you were victimized all over again by the your ordeal was handled. This is exactly why I felt called to speak up. How many women share a story like yours? How many girls are out there right now reading scores of messages defending Josh Duggar and are feeling revictimized all over again? Thank you so much for sharing your brave perspective with me.

      • eliza says

        A lot. A lot of women share a story like this. A lot are not believed, and the perpetrator is seen as the victim, because he is a “good” guy, or said he’s sorry, or because no one can really believe he did it. It happens everywhere, it happens in our churches, it happened to me. Thank you to all who share your story, and thank you for writing this blog post. Thank you for standing up for those who can’t speak for themselves, and for those who are silenced.

        • says

          Oh Eliza, I’m so sorry that you had to experience that. Thank you for bravely speaking up. Your input here is greatly appreciated.

  7. Victoria Sanders says

    This kind of event is not just in the church. As a military sexual assault survivor I fight to not just get the victim heard but believed. It appears the standard in both church and military is the same. They may use different words but it comes down to believing victims when they are brave enough to come forward. The military uses terms like change the culture but the culture will never change until the crimes are punished. You just have to look to the Catholic Church as an example of how not taking the victim at face value but taking the accused at face value to see how this has played out. Most of these predators have multiple victims. In the Duggar case we know about 5. How many more are there? We may never know because there was no legal action taken in response to these crimes. The good soldier defense has allowed many serial predators to have a new set of victims every few years with no follow up and no consequences for the person committing the crime. This leaves those that are brave enough to come forward with little to no justice. We must look at these crimes as serious. They are serious for the victims. Many have lifetime difficulty that even years of therapy cannot erase.

    • says

      Thank you for sharing this perspective Victoria. We need to stop this defense of the “really great guy” when we look at sex crimes. It doesn’t matter how wonderful, thoughtful, or well liked the offender is: we stand with the victim. Always.

  8. Colleen says

    You took the words out of my mouth and I praise your decision to publicly say this despite any fall out from your readers. I am one of those “REAL” people who stand up, speak up, and don’t care if it rubs someone wrong. THANK YOU. Your post is REAL!

  9. Donald says

    Well said young lady. As a therapist and former law enforcement that investigated child sexual abuse, please remember the kids. Both boys and girls who were molested. You might want to read up on Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.
    Thanks again, Donald

  10. Jenn says

    These victims aren’t voiceless. They’re adults who could speak if they wanted to. I’m sure, they, more than anyone else just want this to go away and for people like you to stop piggy backing off of their tragedy to make yourself relevant in the blogosphere. Now if you want a cause to rally around that had victims without voices, why not try the abortion halocaust in this country.

    • says

      I’m sorry you feel like this is a ploy at relevancy. I most sincerely am not trying to get a traffic boost with these words. I’m trying to speak up from an angle that is being ignored from what I’ve seen out there. We as a body of believers need to be seen as supporting the weak, the broken-hearted, the downtrodden… The victims. When we loudly yell and scream about the “rights” of an admitted child molester being infringed on but we say nothing about his victims? We fail the gospel in an extraordinary way. It’s not ok.

      • Jenn says

        Let’s talk gospel:

        Galatians 6 King James Version (KJV)

        6 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

        2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

        3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

        4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

        5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

        6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

        7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

        8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

        9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

        10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.y

      • me says

        Perhaps I’m just a more private person but how has exposing what happened to them without their permission and making it public entertainment helped any of them? Their bodies were violated however many years ago now their privacy had been violated. They have all been “re-victimized”!

        • says

          You make a perfectly fair point here. The media frenzy doesn’t serve them well at all. However it’s out there, even if the motives were less than pure, and I was speaking more to how we need to be thoughtful about our reactions to this. When we publicly defend a molester, we hurt victims.

          • Larry says

            The trauma the girls suffered has occurred within the last few weeks. However well intentioned your blog it has fallen in line with tabloids that are truly victimizing these young ladies who did not want their names plastered all over the internet. Yes, as you say, it’s out there, so let’s throw some napalm on the Duggar girls while they are still smoking. There is a continuum in circumstances such as these, all bad, but not all worthy of the death penalty. At what level does a parent put a child at risk of even worse psychology trauma by making it a Federal offense. Tough question if you are the parent. Easy if you are Monday morning quarterback. I have no personal interest in the Duggars and I am surely not making excuses for Josh Duggar,but,I do know that none of us were there, none of us know all the facts and that, like it or not, it is nothing more than gossip (sin) to speak of what you do not know.

        • Lynn says

          I have those same feelings, that these precious girls are having to relive being victimized in such a public circus. I cannot imagine how embarrassed and humiliated they feel with all eyes on them. I hope someone is always assuring them that this was not their fault in any way.

        • B J says

          The news frenzy on the perpetrator is similar to piranha in Brazil. However, there is no empathy, sympathy, or concern for keeping the victims of this bad behavior private or not revealed by name. That is the real tragedy. Concern and charity to the victims should have been paramount. Instead it was ignored. They were re-victimized not by their choice to come forward either in healing or in seeking justice. That is the injustice of this affair. A victim needs healing, love, and support; not a social media frenzy with no future. The real question is – who really weighs the balance in all this? Perhaps we each should do individually. Thank you for allowing me this space to contribute. It means so much.

    • Happy Now says

      I too am on the fence with this story and this blog. I was a victim as a young girl by my babysitters boyfriend who would always come in my room in the middle of the night and fondle my vagina, grab my breast and try to put his privates in my face. For YEARS I wondered why and what I may have done to cause this when really it wasn’t me it was the other person (who was about 16-18) But then it wasn’t until a few years later that I was at my aunts and for whatever reason my 30-something uncle was talking to me and next thing I knew he wanted me to check a bump on his stomach. He lead my hand to basically rub all around his stomach from chest to pant line. Nothing more, but I suppose it could’ve been.

      Moving forward I went through some troubling relationships even watching my mother go through some troubling relationships as well. [by this, they were simply cheaters, liars, users] By the time I was 30 I decided to take back my life and stand firm as to who “I” was and what “I” would not tolerate ever again. It became easier as the years went on. I don’t look back, I am a happy and successful woman today who views my past as valuable lessons and growth as to why I am who I am today. I will never allow something that happened to me when I was 8-10 and again at 14 to define who I WANT to be today nor do I look to people for their opinion or their sympathy on the matter. I choose to be happy and not dwell on this situation. I suppose I could if things were different for me & I simply was in a bad place today, but why? This WAS in fact 35-40 years ago, you don’t forget but I don’t ever want that situation to mold me or control me. I see kids today “experimenting” and certainly speak my mind on the subject and too, know that back in the day the boy that was doing what he was doing to me was most likely “experimenting” as well. I never heard of him doing this to anybody else and found out later he too had children that I’d bet he hopes nothing will ever happen to. [he lives 3 towns over] It’s sad that kids aren’t taught what is right and wrong all the time; it’s when they become adults and do this that I will have a problem with since by that time, they should know better.

      • says

        I’m so sorry you went through such a horrid ordeal. Thanks for bravely offering your story in these comments. Your opinion really matters to me.

        • Happy Now says

          Joy … although it wasn’t pleasant, I’ve forgiven the young man and have chosen to move forward. I am in a very happy place today!!! HE WAS YOUNG and EXPERIMENTAL is what I’m trying to say. He was not a grown man who knew better. Evidently his parents did not teach him the “Birds & the Bees” Josh Duggard did this 10 years ago …why somebody FEELS THE NEED to bring it out NOW has my curiosity up. I hope those gals too can find happiness and move forward from this unfortunate situation 10-YEARS AGO.

          • Julie says

            I have trouble accepting the idea of a 16-18year old being described as ‘not knowing any better’. In many states you can MARRY at age 16. You can also be tried as an adult. If my child told me a 16 year old male had put his hands on her vagina and put his penis in her face, I wouldnot consider it ‘experimentation’. I am sorry that you still have enough pain regarding your experience to prompt you to discuss it now. But calling this crime anything otherthan a crime is exactly the disservice to victims the author was speaking of.

    • Angie says

      Jen
      Child victims are voiceless. Any therapist will share with you one of the major challenges with victims of sexual violence is that adults are looking at it through the eyes of adults and that is not accurate. As an adult if someone tells you “this is our secret, don’t tell or something bad will happen to you or your parents”, we know that to not be true and can act accordingly. As a child you are taught to trust authority even if that authority is just a few years older, especially a sibling and the child won’t tell because they believe the perpetrator. Anyone writing eloquently and in an educational manner is not piggy backing off a tragedy. I find this to be an excellent , non hateful, article. It’s unfortunate that you find it differently.

      • Kimberly says

        Thank you. So many like to say that the victims are no longer voiceless but this simply is not true. Childhood abuse leaves victims emotionally stunted. While the victims are no longer children age wise, what is their mental age?

  11. momofbothsides says

    Your response to this story is so correct. My son who was adopted at 6 molested my daughter for several years before she stopped it. She finally told us when she was 15 and praise God our church family supported us through the whole ordeal of reporting.
    He was immediately sent to a sexual offenders youth home and she’s been in therapy ever since because it triggered her bipolar and she has ptsd from that and school bullying.
    He completed his treatment having made his apologies and asked forgiveness. My daughter still loves her brother and has no problems with him.
    I am sad for the Duggar family that they didn’t get him help right away. They will always wonder and he needed to be clear and sought treatment about his inappropriate actions at the time.

  12. Candace says

    Thanks for posting this. It’s brings up a lot questions and concerns. We live in a society that is saturated in sex that encourages people to get involved in it at a younger and younger age. Unfortunately, that leads to more and more harm done then good. The issue needs to be addressed by both the perpetrator and the victim. Yet both are damaged by the act and healing isn’t going to be complete without forgiveness. If handled right shining the light on a sin, gives the perpetrator and the victims both a chance for redemption. Yes, Josh needs to suffer the consequences but without some compassion for sins committed at age 14 in a world that expects children 14 years old to be sexually active, we are a society need to realize that we are as responsible for acts like this as is the perpetrator. I don’t agree with everyone point you’ve made here but I do agree that the victims need to know that they were VICTIMS and that they need compassion as well.

  13. Medley says

    I have never read your blog before but I must say that even though this is a difficult subject you handled it beautifully, and I agree with you.

  14. Angie says

    This is excellent!!!!!! Child hood victims of sexual assault are often told to “get over it”, it w as so long ago, , we all make mistakes when we are young. However, if what happened to that same person as an adult society and the law says it’s rape, and we’re going to send your perpetrator to jail and they tell the victim how sorry they are and that we will help you with advocates and counselors. The only difference is age….and innocence. Your blog is fabulous and I hope one day people will look back and find it hard to believe how child victims used to be treated.

    • says

      Thank you. I sincerely hope the dialogue about this sort of assault changes dramatically and changes SOON, before we further harm any more of these victims

  15. Carol Fleming says

    YES to this article 100%. I was the victim of child molestation at the hands of my father. To this day it is all still very confusing to my 10 year old self and I’m 48 years old. Until you are a victim of this type of crime you don’t get to decide what is or isn’t appropriate. The after effects NEVER go away. It alters the course of your life forever. He robbed me of things that no amount of remorse or heartfelt apologies will ever give back. How nice it would be for Josh Duggar and his parents “cash cow tv show” if everyone could just move on…everyone but his victims.

    • says

      I’m so sorry you went through something so terrible Carol. Thanks for being brave enough to share your perspective here. I deeply appreciate it.

  16. Amanda says

    Thank you for a refreshing outlook on this matter. I see in other posts regarding this subject the extremes of “repent and forget”..or,”attack and crucify.”Sometimes I feel that our society as a whole will require years and decades to take one step forward..yet only a media frenzy and resulting comments/opinions to take ten steps back.Your blog, however, added sensibility and reason, which overshadows those pointing fingers of blame and making excuses, in my opinion. Thank you for putting into words what many of us are feeling.

    • says

      Thanks for taking the time to leave such encouraging feedback. It’s often really scary to post something like this, so it’s incredibly encouraging to hear that people are responding to it.

  17. Angela says

    Thank you for your post. These are the points that I attempted (and fear I failed) at vocalizing last night in a discussion with friends about this. Their defense of Josh Duggar and his parents upset me so much that I had to leave the room and go outside and only a forced change of subject saved the dinner party. It’s not something I’m ever going to forget – that people I cared for and respected for their integrity and faith felt this way and has me reevaluating everything our friendship is based upon.

    • says

      Angela, I totally understand what you mean. I’m usually pretty good at accepting my friends don’t all vote the way I do or think the way I do or support the causes I support. But I won’t lie: it’s really hard to see someone you love and respect stand up to passionately defend a child molester. I’m working hard to try to put it aside, but it’s very very tough to see them the same way.

  18. Derrick says

    As I’ve read your article and the comments, I understand your point and to a measure appreciate you being a voice for the seemingly voiceless. however I have to say that I categorically disagree with several of the statements you and others have made. I will not defend his actions as they were sinful and he has clearly gone far above and beyond to be right with God and his fellow man. However your article has no room for grace saying “he shouldn’t be allowed to be around his own kids” seriously? That couldn’t be farther from the gospel you claim to cling to. I understand personally that their are permanent scars that cannot be changed in those girls lives and for that there are no excuses. But your blindness to see the much larger picture and desire to draw out speaking for the speechless, I believe is far out of balance and has made a mountain out of molehill which is very clearly what the left winged liberals have done with this case. It just took them a very long time to dig this up and now they are striving to discredit you/I Christians. It is imperative that we get the gospel right and a recent comment had it right. I would encourage you to put more words into speaking up for the truly speechless in our abortion minded society and speak to the much for evil people in this world like Michael Jackson etc who preyed on children in disgusting ways yet the media now seems to ruin the life of a family a man and accuse Christians that is Christianity and I am sorry but this message is so close that it sounds like the gospel when in reality, it is no gospel at all.

    • says

      I strongly disagree sir, sorry. There is grace, and there is forgiveness, but they aren’t mutually exclusive from real consequences. An admitted child molester shouldn’t be around children, no matter how nice a guy he appears to be now. And when we try to lift up Josh Duggar as first and foremost a victim of a liberal attack campaign? We community to sexual assault victims and the world at large that we care more about the seeming injustice against our faith than the horrible injustice committed against those young souls. And that’s not the gospel. Perhaps we as Christians should follow our Saviors example to be ready and willing to surrender our “rights,”even unto death, and put the needs of OTHERS before our own. Even if you are correct and the world at large is attacking the Christian faith? It still doesn’t justify defending a child molester instead of his victims.

      • Lauren says

        I’m not really sure I understand why you’re calling him a “child molester” as if that is what he was, what he is, and what he will always be. He was a child who molested two times over the period of one year. He confessed to his parents and they sought help. He never repeated the offense since. I do understand your sympathy towards the victims, however I don’t see how bringing up the past is going to help anyone. Some suggest legal action should be taken, but what legal action can be taken for a crime committed by a young teen 12 years ago? In my opinion, I feel bringing up the past is only going to make the victims relive the past. For the record, I am not at all saying that what he did was okay or acceptable. It’s not. He knows that. His family knows that. His victims know that, yet they have chosen to forgive him.

        • says

          Lauren,

          According he police report and his own admissions therein he molested more than twice. He molested 5 girls over a period of years. And he was a teenager, not a child. A teenager forcibly fondling a 5 year old is molestation, no matter what we try to call it.

          More importantly, this dialogue serves to hurt so many victims, as I pointed out in my blog. Does being assaulted by a minor instead of a legal adult somehow negate the crime? Does it mean they can’t be held accountable for their actions? And what message does that send our young boys? If we say he couldn’t be held responsible at 15 for molesting 5 girls repeatedly because he was “just a teenager,” what does that say to other teenage boys about their own personal responsibility in regards to sex?

          The same goes for this whole idea of “it was 12 years ago what good does it do to bring it up now.” So it doesn’t matter then? Everyone should just forget about it as if it never happened? And because he can’t go to jail for his crimes, are we really suggesting that we should just leave it be then? That there is no other possible justice? What does that say to victims of past abuse who wish to speak up now about their abusers, even if they are outside the statute of limitations? Are we really telling them “well it’s too late for the law to do anything, and your abuser is such a nice guy now, so you should really just get over it already?”

          • Lauren says

            I’m by no means trying to downplay the victims or the crime. I’m just not entirely sure that talking about this is really accomplishing what you’re hoping to. It seems to me that the world buzzing about what happened to these girls is only making them victims all over again. I don’t know about others, but I know that if I had been molested (or victimized in any way), I wouldn’t want the whole world talking about it, especially if I had already forgiven the person. I can’t imagine what the girls and their family are going through right now. In one moment, nearly the entire world’s opinion of them changed. Then I look at it from Josh’s perspective. Everyone is talking about a horrible mistake he made as a 14 year old, which has led to his resignation and possibly the cancellation of his family’s show. Imagine if all of our sins were brought to light for the whole world to see. I’ve done things that I’m ashamed of. I wouldn’t want even a few people to know about it, let alone the entire world! When the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus and asked if she should be stoned, he said “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” And that is why I cannot cast a stone at Josh. Then Jesus said to the woman “Has no one condemned you? Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” I am so thankful that Josh came to Jesus and left his sin in the past -maybe we should too. We have every right to call sin what it is, but we have no right to a life of condemnation because if we start condemning others, well, we might as well condemn ourselves.
            Before I end this comment, I do understand what you’re saying about assault victims. We don’t want to give the impression that molesting is okay or should go unpunished. But I fear that you’ve gone from one end of the spectrum to another and are instead giving the impression that there is no forgiveness for those who have done wrong, even if they were a child or teenager at the time. We MUST protect the weak and the voiceless, but let us not forget to leave room for forgiveness.

    • says

      Also I’m not sure where you think I said “he shouldn’t be around his own kids” in my article (your quotation marks, not mine.) Is it possible you have my post confused with someone else’s?

    • Julia Ma says

      Sad to say, but let’s revisit this topic in a few years and see if Joshie has truly mended his ways….you know…like never did it again? Statistics support 99% recidivism in pedophiles. Yes, he’s a pedophile. He was ONLY 14…matters not. Several years apart also means several years of experience and maturity apart. I worshipped my big brother…and considered him most important in my life. Had he been found out as a molester of girls, and especially his sister…in my family someone wouldn’t have lived til sundown.

      • Jennifer says

        You are wrong. The definition of a pedophile is an ADULT that is attracted to children. NO standard in this country treats a 14-year-old as an adult. And it’s been 12 years since he committed these acts. Surely if he’d “receded” in that time, people would be coming out of the woodwork to expose any continued deviant activity. If people are going to sling mud at Josh, at least use correct terms to define his actions. He – under the law – was a child, who molested other children. By law, he is neither “child molester” (which is an adult who molests children) or a “pedophile” (which I’ve already defined for you).

        • says

          I have to respectfully disagree here on something. According to the current standards a 16 year old can already be classified as a pedophile. And I would point out what I said in the article again: when we claim that a teenager isn’t culpable in the same way as an adult for their acts, we minimize the crime and hurt the victims. Josh’s actions happened over a period of years, starting at age 14, and according to the police report touching children as young as 5. A post-puberty teen who is sexually aware repeatedly fondling an unwilling child of 5? That’s pedophilia, no matter what we want to call it.

          • Jennifer says

            You know why we distinguish between adults and children in criminal prosecution? Because we know that children’s (yes, even teenage boys’) brains are not fully developed. We seal records because youthful indescretions do not define adult outcomes, and teen-committed criminal actions shouldn’t define the adult they become. Scientifically, we are told that in the teen years (beginning with puberty) the brain is not only going through a period of transition and massive change, but certain parts of the brain (like the frontal context) are so underdeveloped that teens actually can NOT correctly understand things like risk and danger, and in many ways have much less control over their actions than children. They are literally “brain damaged”. When we treat teen criminals differently than adults, we don’t minimize the crime and hurt the victims. We recognize that the situation is different than if a fully-cognizant adult was the perpetrator. Speaking from personal experience, even the child victim (of a sibling) understands the difference!

            If you read the police report accurately, it was over A YEAR, not “years” that this took place. Not only that, but not all 14-year old boys are at the same stage of physical, mental or developmental maturity. I have one son who didn’t technically begin puberty until he was 15 and four months, and another who had already done the majority of his pubescent growing at 13. You can’t measure the teen Josh Duggar was at 14 to the teen boys you know that seem like adults and therefore you think should be legally treated as such.

            We know that at in the time frame this took place, he was not at an age where he could be classified as a pedophile, because the police report is clear that nothing took place after he was 15. Ergo, he is NOT in any way classifiable as a pedophile.

            I realize this is a subject that brings up strong feelings and emotions, but everyone needs to look at the FACTS of the case (not all the speculation and conjecture about “what probably did” or “we know most likely didn’t” happen). As far as we know, he has not done anything inappropriate to anyone since he was 15 years old (and given the current uproar, there’s a very good chance that had he actually continued to molest, it would have come out when the story broke).

  19. Sarah says

    So well said. This is the voice I’ve been waiting to hear in all the hubub. Thank you for speaking on behalf of the victims.

  20. Anonymous says

    Rhank you for the courage of your convictions. I am 60 and was molested by a family friend, a minister, when I was 13. He worked for my father and I told my mom ASAP. Nothing was said or done by my parents. He went on to molest two daughters of another of our circle of “Christian” friends. He always remained a close friend of my parents. I forgave him long ago but will always feel the betrayal of the people who are supposed to be on your side. Due to the lack of action on my parents’ part, I never told them of the other two times I was molested. After all, I must have done something wrong, right? I went out of my way to prepare my own children for such possibilities. Good on you and we’ll stated.

    • says

      Thank you for bravely sharing this. Im so sorry the church and the people around you failed so deeply in keeping you protected. I wish with all my heart you had received real justice. I can only pray that stories like yours and the dialogue we are starting hear can openly change the conversation, and can make us all take a good look at the way we handle these issues in our churches moving forward.

  21. Jennifer says

    I’m sorry, but it have to disagree. I am a victim of repeated assault by a family member (living in my own home), a distant relative, and several “friends”. Not only am I a sexual abuse survivor (who claims victory over my abuse and doesn’t let it define me), I am also the mother of a victim who was molested at 7 by a 13-year old.

    So, I think I’m well-qualified to say that, NO, the “dialogue” does not send these “universal” messages to assault victims that you claim it does.

    Because:
    1) We can actually read (the facts about what happened without bringing up a lot of conjecture about the way “things probably went”, making assumptions and indicting the family and church without really knowing what did or didn’t happen)

    2) We can understand the circumstances this all took place in (a family that would be hurt no matter how the choices and people who know that love trumps brokenness every time)

    3) We know that people and decisions are sometimes flawed (but loving and well-intentioned), and that when you are in the middle of that kind of hell, there are no good, right or easy answers.

    4) We understand the power of repentance and forgiveness.

    5) We also understand that ONLY the people living in the middle of that particular situation gets to have a say about any of it.

    Sincerely,
    A mother and daughter that are victors, not victims

    • says

      Jennifer,

      First off I found your comment! I was using the mobile app for WordPress to moderate and couldn’t find it anywhere, so I checked on my computer where I have more controls and found it. It had been marked as trash. I’m so sorry! That wasn’t on purpose, I promise!

      Thanks for your valuable input.

  22. Misty says

    These points…..I have tears running down my face. 2 years ago I went through a living hell re-living and making tough decisions about things that were done to me by an uncle almost 20 years ago. I did have counseling, I did meet with him face to face, and I did turn it into the police….and I heard every single point that you made in your article. Every. Single. One. My own grandparents told me I was “ruining a good man’s life. Just forgive and get past it” I ruined HIS life!!
    When the news of Josh Duggar came out, my heart sank. And then the responses started flying and then I pretty well tanked. It’s like re-living the worst year of my life. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for typing this out. Your thoughts need to be heard…they are true, they are necessary and they really need to be heeded.
    THANK YOU

    • says

      Oh Misty my heart just breaks for you! Hearing that this post in any way comforts you? That’s HUGE. This is why I do what I do. Thank you for your bravery in sharing here. ❤️

  23. Janette says

    Thank you. I truly appreciate your thoughts, and would like to say – Amen!

  24. Ali says

    So, i was an abuse victim in the church 26 years ago. I have not forgiven my perpetrator. I dont see him asking forgiveness and I feel ehen i am expected to forgive it takes more of my own self away. That is where i am stuck. Most of the comments from fellow victims on here keep mentioning “i have forgiven him”…why? How? I went to a great Christian counselor when i was like 24 to discuss it. The thing that bothered me was how muchshe kept asking about and emphasizing the perps age.

    • Lisa Kroulik says

      Counseling never helped me much with the molestation or other abuse issues I had to deal with growing up. I haven’t seen this person in years. When I remembered what happened, I allowed myself to feel my emotions and that is what seemed to help the most.

      The molestation is something I rarely think about anymore, but 38 years later, I still have some effects from it, such as fear of enclosed spaces, nearly jumping out of my skin when someone touches me from behind and I didn’t see them coming, and bad dreams. I guess it was just a personal resolve not to let it keep me down.

      Forgiveness for me was more just letting go and trying to live in the present.

  25. April says

    It was very brave of you to write this and every word hits the nail on the head. The victims are often the ones under a microscope – their character is called into question. My biggest problem with the people defending Duggar and calling out others because they feel he has the right to be forgiven is the fact that we as humans don’t decide that. If all of these people standing beside him are Christian, they can’t judge anyone else for being upset and horrified by what happened. After all, God is ultimately the one to decide. I don’t know anyone without sin or anyone who has the divine right to tell others who they should and shouldn’t forgive. It isn’t a religious issue. It’s a moral one and one that is illegal. Working the system and downplaying what could very well cause problems for victims for the rest of their life is wrong plain and simple. We should be the voice for those too scared and weak to come forward. And covering up what he did not only hurt the victims, it kept Duggar from getting help he probably needed.

  26. Hope says

    You are joining a camp of people who seem to indicate that child molestation is the one unforgivable sin. It’s not. Shame on you for acting like all victims of this kind of abuse all are unable to forgive and move on, or that by allowing him to move on in life is to lesson the offense. Victims can forgive…perpetrators can change. There is healing. You are acting like you are a voice for all the victims. You’re not.

    • says

      I’m so sorry you feel that way Hope. I don’t think it’s an unforgivable sin, not at all. But I do think that forgiveness does not have to be mutually exclusive from justice or consequences. I also don’t mean to claim I speak for every single victim. I don’t. But read through the comment section and you will see that there are many victims who do In fact feel hurt and revictimized by the way they see Josh Duggar being defended. And ultimately that was my point here: not whether or not his sin is “forgivable,” but that the needs of victims come first before his, and that minimizing his crime or painting him as a victim in all this hurts a whole community of sexual assault survivors. They deserve better from us.

  27. says

    This is beautifully, lovingly and perfectly worded. I have also steered from this topic, seeing the gap you saw, but unable to draw the appropriate words from myself to participate. So Thank you, for doing that for me!

    The damaging conversations happening on the national level are so disheartening, and alienating for our already alienated. It cannot be stated enough: forgiveness is not the same as lawful consequence. I appreciate your words here.

    • says

      Thank you Randi. I love your words about “alienating for our already alienated.” That’s spot on. Let’s hope we can repair the damage before it’s too late.

  28. Gwen Shaffer says

    Josh has been exposed, embarrassed & humiliated for sins he committed at 14 years old. Also, he lost his job. What other punishment do you think he deserves?

    • says

      Gwen, it’s not about what punishment I think he deserves. The point here is that the dialogue should first and foremost reflect the needs of the VICTIMS, not of Josh. So worrying about how much HIS life is being effected misses the point, and minimizes his crime. It’s not about HIM, it’s about THEM.

    • Dejah says

      He deserves to have his day in court and be convicted for his crimes

      He deserves to be sent for the therapy he should have been sent for a decade ago when it might actually have helped. For HIS benefit.

      He deserves to hear his victims speak and then see them receive actual therapy instead of being blamed for “tempting” him at age 5-11.

      He deserves to spend the rest of his life on a sex offender registry like every other convicted sex offender.

      He deserves to be divorced by his horrified wife… or taken back by a woman who knows she married a monster.

      He deserves supervised visits with his daughters. Because THEY deserve to be safe.

      He deserves to never have another victim.

      He deserves the grace of his god, bc no sin is unforgivable, especially when one makes true amends and shows willingness to take the consequences of one’s actions.

      He may deserve the forgiveness of his victims ONLY if they truly choose to give it to him under no duress.

      Or, he may not.

      He took no consequences. He took no responsibility. He *deserves* nothing. Except perhaps the grace of his god.

      Let’s hope his girls are safe.

      • me says

        I get what you’re saying but no one deserves grace. That’s what makes it grace.

    • Janie Berry says

      Full Accountability. To be on the sexual predator list. To protect others. That was not done. He should not be allowed to be alone with children. Most adult molesters started out in their younger years,

  29. Deborah says

    I loved your view point! I have forgiven my uncle who sexually molest uncle when i was five;however,I want no contact with him as it just reopens wounds. I feel for these girls thst had to face their attacker daily, I’m sure they didn’t feel safe in there own home. Just heartbreaking!

  30. Heather says

    I completely agree with you! I think if it was one of the victims coming forward for the first time, this blog would be completely valid. However, the victims are being revictimized, Josh’s wife and children have now been drug into this, and the entire family is now having to deal with something that had already been dealt with. As a victim of assault as a young teenager, I would be absolutely devastated if my pain and humiliation was dug up, and public announced, without my consent, just so people would have something to gossip about! Whoever decided to start this and write the first article/blog, I highly doubt it was done to “help” anyone, except maybe their own wallet! My heart is breaking for this entire family, particularly the victims. We should be praying for all of them, and we should, as believers, be standing by ALL of them!! My prayer is that this family will be left alone so that they can heal from this AGAIN, and that in a way that only God can, His name would be honored and glorified,

    • says

      I won’t disagree with you that whoever brought this up did it in a horrible way and probably had less than pure motives. But now that it’s out there? We need to be very very very careful about our response. The things I’ve listed here that are being repeated over and over in defense of Josh Duggar? They are FAR from the best response, especially where victims are concerned.

  31. Kelly Williams says

    I think we need to move away from calling them “fellow believers”. I”m a Christian. They are not my fellow believers. They are part of the cult of Gothard. That’s not MY Christianity!

  32. Janie Berry says

    A big thank you! A fellow “Evangelical Christian” here and I’m stunned at some of the very lame comments from them. “Oh, he was just a kid…….oh, we all sin…..” I’ve been so fuming over these remarks and more. I’ve commented here and there and realized I need to stop, it’s so irritating. So, just saying that you put all my feelings and thoughts into a remarkable blog. Little makes me angry like this. Especially Huckabee’s long letter of support (ugggg!) It was not a mutual teenage relationship that went wrong. Josh, over several years, groomed, sought out, and hid his unwilling child victims. He gets caught. His “therapy”? To talk to a family friend police officer, who soon goes to prison for child porn. Mr. Duggar, a politician? The Judge gets rid of the case? The list goes on and on. Not to mention, no big deal……..just go on business as usual and get a national t.v. show. Really. Thank you.

  33. Granny says

    From what I understand, Josh and the girls all went to counseling and it was handled appropriately within the family, back when it happened. If this is true, WHO is it helping to bring this out publicly? Certainly not the young women. They are being victimized and humiliated all over again.

    It wasn’t one of the young women who brought this out publicly. It wasn’t that anyone is telling her “so much time has passed why bring it up now?” Shame on the official that leaked the juvenile record of this young man to the press. It might be hurting him but I assure you it is hurting these young women more.

    Sadly, this happens All. The. Time.

    I’m not talking about an adult molester or a neighbor kid, I’m referring to teenage brothers and step-brothers sexually touching (and sometimes worse) their younger sisters.

    Imagine this: Your son … YOUR SON … sexually fondles his younger sister. Your sweet little girl. You either caught him in the act, or she told you about it, or he felt so bad about it he told you himself. However you found out, you found out.

    What do you do?

    Do you stop loving him? Do you kick him out of the house? Do you call the police and turn him in? Do you tell all your neighbors and extended family members to never let him be around their children alone? Seriously, think about this. What do you do?

    I’ll tell you what most do. They keep it to themselves, within the immediately family. Good parents get their daughter professional counseling and they get their son the same counseling but separately from their daughter. The counselor decides when it is time to have group counseling with your daughter and son together, along with mom and dad.

    Yes, you still love your son. And your daughter still loves her brother, too. If your daughter learns he was wrong for what he did to her (even if it felt good!), and she knows for certain he is truly sorry for what he did, and she knows with confidence he will never do anything like that again, then she can begin to move on with her life and it doesn’t have to define who she is for the rest of her life.

    And, this all has to be dealt with immediately, as soon as it is discovered. It can’t be swept under the rug, hoping it will just go away. To do so would hurt and haunt both your daughter and son their entire lives.

    Someone here said something like pedophiles can’t be rehabilitated, and I agree with that. But, the vast majority of these boys do what they do to their younger sisters because they ARE curious about sex and they don’t have the courage to try it with a girl their age, yet.

    Some of these boys will grow up to be men that continue to molest children. But, most of them don’t.

    Josh was 15 and, if I read correctly, one of the girls was as young as 5. That’s pretty sick and I would be concerned that he is sexually attracted to children and will be throughout his life. Being a 15-year-old, he should have had plenty of girls (sadly) that would have been willing to fool around and experiment with him.

    I’m an old lady, and over the years I’ve learned that many of my friends and acquaintances were molested by their brother or step-brother when they were young. And, many more from younger generations.

    Some were forced and it was violent and done repeatedly, some were a one-time thing (sometimes mutual), and everything in between.

    It happens all the time, it is shocking how often it happens. If nothing else, I hope the story of Josh Duggar gets some real dialogue going.

    I hope it opens parents eyes to the possibility that their son may do something like this, too.

    I hope it gets parents talking to their sons and daughters about boundaries and privacy and consent and how it is not a harmless thing to do, even if it feels good.

    I hope.

  34. Nancy says

    I can honestly say that I’ve never been a fan of this “family” and their whole “have 19 kids and let the oldest parent the youngest” hypocrisy.

    AND, I don’t think that Josh received the punishment that he should have…and should certainly NOT talk about family values in relation to anything.

    However, (as a liberal, too:) )- I wouldn’t actual call him a child molester since he was only 14. I would call him a rapist who is really sick (incest on top of it) – but his victims were basically not far from his own age…so child molester is not a label that I would use.

    This whole family has needed help for a long time and should really stop preaching about other peoples’ lives.

  35. Julia says

    I really appreciate this piece, but I want to remind you that sexual assault can be perpetrated by both males and females against both males and females. You mentioned raising your sons to understand the need for consent–I hope you are also letting them know about their rights to their own bodies, that their own physical reactions to stimulation should not be taken as consent by partners (or others), and that the visibility of male perpetrators in the media does not protect them as males from being assaulted or raped by men or women. All of us need to have the vocabulary and contextual knowledge to navigate our relationships/bodies.

    (I’m not trying to downplay violence against women and girls, but gendering our expectations for bodily autonomy and consent and who is victim/perpetrator is part of a culture that perpetuates rape/assault rather than fostering mutual respect and healthy conversation.)

  36. Deann says

    i will not defend him, he did it and will reap the consequences.
    But as “damaging” as this is to him, what has it done to the young ladies? Has it helped them in any way?
    Maybe the message all this sends to victims is, don’t report someone, because if they are ever a public figure, you’ll forever be labeled a helpless victim,unable to speak for yourself and that the whole world has the right to examine your life?

  37. Jeanette says

    A pedophile is defined as a lover of sexual desire with a child. From the time a young man has been through puberty, he can be and is considered a criminal from 12-14 years of age on. I am a child sexual assault counselor. 90% of the responses on your blog were taken advantage of by a criminal! My God loves children and animals. He also LOATHES criminals of violence. These criminals HIDE BEHIND THE BIBLE hoping to disguise themselves as innocent. THEY ARE NOT AND WILL ROT IN HELL! (Our churches should get a clue and prosecute them.). Thank you for listening and do not forget they also rope their own wives into committing sins, against children.

  38. Sonya says

    Stephanie, I almost passed over your blog article that was circulating on FB because I’m so sick of the defense of Josh Duggar. I thought your article was going to be another one. I can’t say enough how glad I am that I took the time to read it. It is one of the TOP blog posts I’ve found. Excellent!

  39. Sarah says

    Thank you for this post! You have touched many points that are exactly the reason victims don’t come forward. There is so much “shame” brought on the victims over ruining a persons life. The victimizer ruins lives.

  40. Jill says

    Jill Ranney Hofstede I read this and although she does have some good points, I still think she is wrong. why? Because it is not our story to tell. As mad as we may be, as many opinions as we may have as to how this should be or should have been handled it is NOT our story to tell. The girls are the victims .. the girls are adults now and it is only THEIR story to tell or not tell. I have experienced abuse in my life.. as has one of my children. I do not tell many others my child’s story because it is my child’s decision who they want to know. They will tell who they want and they will not tell who they don’t want. It is not a secret.. we don’t push it away, we discuss it from time to time with each other and we got the help we needed at the time, but this is the victims right to NOT be put in the limelight of someone elses crime. This rehashing is not about Josh Duggar only .. it is about bringing the girls most painful and private life experiende into everyones right to know. It is their story and we are violating them over and over again by giving our opinions. They have a right to do this and say these things, but we do not. So no matter what I think should have been done or still should be done it is NOT MINE to decide. It is theirs and I am sure we are hurting them by questioning how their parents did, and how they as adults decided to handle it. We stole another peice of their power over themselves and their lives. It’s all wrong. Not wrong because they are popular, and not because i like the show (I have only seen it twice since we don’t have cable) , and NOT because they are christians.. but because they are the victims and victims get to decide. PERIOD!

  41. Amy says

    My comment is this… When I was in 6th grade I was sexually assaulted.. I told the teacher and I was told he was to stay away from me. 7th grade he was in my new school in my class. I panicked.. I stood up for myself and told the teacher and the principal. He was a minor.. They blew it off at first and we had to take it higher to get him out of the school. We took him to court and after all the fighting we won. But after me he assaulted 10 others…

    Later on in life I was brutally raped, he attempted to kill me, muffled me with my pillow 4 times, hit me 17 times and raped me any and every way possible… You could see the evil in his eyes. The control that got him off. I screamed my ass off but no one heard me. I went to work the next day numb.. The girls and I were getting ready for our shift and I nonchalantly asked a question about has anyone ever been raped? They looked at me like what kind of question is that?? I said well last night I was… Still feeling numb, my friends forced me to report it and go to the hospital. He came inside and I was given the morning after pill and thank god for that… The cops, sheriff, fbi, investigators ripped my house apart… 2 weeks later the mans uncle turned him in. His attorney said if I don’t show that he’s free to go… I showed. He received 7 years only and was out in 3-1/2… He did this to other women too.. But I was strong enough to fight. Others sadly weren’t…

    This whole Josh Duggar thing pisses me off because my daughter and I watched this show for years… To know he did that to his sisters and one other is sick. To know he did that to them in their sleep is unbelievable!! His father knew and hid it for a year.. The officer friend Jim Bob reported it too is in prison for 56 counts of child porn. The place they sent Josh was also a molester. We are very disappointed with all the people who said the same things you pointed out… I don’t care if you are a child or an adult.. This is a sick temptation that you cannot stop… It’s worse than a drug like others pointed out. I will never forget what happened to me but I forgave thru God so I could move on with my life…

    Josh is being punished by the show coming off, the endorsements being dropped. His family doesn’t deserve to be on tv because they aren’t the wholesome family we all though they were. The fact he is near all those kids terrifies me. The fact it was brushed under a rug by Jim Bob and the courts because they are an upstanding Christian family disgusts me!!! Josh knew in the back of his mind truth comes out!!! I pray for the victims as I have experienced that as well.. I apologize for this being long, but I loved this blog and wanted to support these ladies who it happened to as well… I have 2 daughters 11/17 and I can’t ever imagine someone touching them like that… I’m not a fan of honey boo boo or June but she’s right. TLC shouldn’t contradict themselves and support the Duggars for the same reason June was dropped… Just because Josh is a nice guy.. They need to stand by actual standards and abide by it.. You don’t give television time to abusers or molesters.. Period !!!!

  42. Cindy says

    Very well written, it touched on most of how I feel. But I have one question still, do you feel, (or really I will direct this to all that reads this) that the release of the full police report is helpful or harmful in the healing of victims. I have not seen anyone touch on this, and to me, if it was me it would hurt.

    This whole thing has really touched home with me, as my Mom used to take in abused children as a foster mom. My hope and prayer for all those that have been abused can find peace. And to say what my Mom used to say to all those kids she helped. do not allow your abuser to steal one more second of your life, this day is day one of the rest of your life.

  43. Lois says

    While I would never condone what Josh did, I do believe in forgiveness. However, I believe that forgiveness is for the victim to allow them to move on and heal. And least we forget forgiveness does not in any way remove the need for consequences for sin.

    I believe that many things about this case were handled badly by his parents first of all. I understand living your children (I have 3), but part of loving them is teaching them that son has consequences and when you do not properly deal with sin in an older child, it will teach the younger children that there are no consequences. This is dangerous. Please remember that yes we need to practice forgiveness and mercy, but we must also practice justice.

    No I don’t belive that child molestation is an unforgivable sin. However, I also know that you should never place yourself voluntarily in a position where you will be tempted to sin. If I were Josh’s wife I would insist on some major ground rules including not being alone with their children.

  44. Carole says

    As someone who was abused in the church, came forward, and was ostracized because the abuser was a member of the church community, I’m so grateful for this post. Every post that begins with “He who is without sin, throw the first stone” makes me want to throw up, because I know it’s become a tactic to keep people quiet instead of a being voice for the oppressed and forgotten.

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