You don’t know me, but let me tell you my story.
When I was a child, I was molested by my biological father. It was fondling and inappropriate touching. Thankfully, it never went any further. This went on for a couple years, and I even tried telling my step-mother, she told me I was making it up. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew it was wrong, but it felt good. That’s the torture, it FELT good. I felt dirty, and I thought I was the problem. When I finally told someone it was the pastor’s wife at my cousin’s church. Little did I know that she was also a social worker.
I remember feeling like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I couldn’t possibly know what was going on around me afterward. I felt better, but the moment I walked out of the door to go to school, my life had changed. I just didn’t know it yet.
I was called to the office, and I remember wondering what I did wrong. When I reached the office, I saw my aunt, along with several other people. Now, I know that it was child services. They took me back to my father’s house, and I put everything I could into plastic trash bags. I was terrified, but I was also comforted because my aunt was there.
The last time I ever saw my father was when I testified against him in court. He pled guilty and did four years in prison. This was long before sex offenders had to register, but I took comfort in knowing that he couldn’t hurt another child.
Other family members were on his side had told me that I shouldn’t have said anything, that I should have kept it in the family and what he did “wasn’t that bad.” Much like you’re doing right now.
Let me explain to you how something you deem as “not being that bad” has affected my life. I thought about killing myself because even though I KNEW this wasn’t my fault, I still felt I was responsible for what HE did to me. I was in a downward spiral of self-loathing and reckless behavior. I could have a very different outcome if it weren’t for my family on my mother’s side. My aunt and uncle showed be what it was like to be in a properly functioning home. A home with love, laughter, and unity. I lived there for two years until they felt I was ready to move back home with my mother. I didn’t want to go at first. I had found peace, and I was being uprooted again. But I know now that my aunt and uncle believed in me. They helped put those broken pieces back together and because of them, I am BETTER than I was before.
I was one of the lucky ones. I had people who loved me, cared about me and wouldn’t let me fall. I made mistakes growing up, but I KNEW they would be there.
My mother married a man and to me, he is my father. He may not be related by blood, but he also raised me, fed me, and clothed me like I was his own.
I tell people I have two mothers and two fathers, my aunt and uncle and then my mother and step-father.
When I read/see/hear people defending the Duggar family, I don’t think people fully understand the emotional scars “just touching” can have on a young child. Josh was a teen, he knew what he was doing was wrong and his victims, his sisters, had to live with him. They had to look at him every day and wonder if he would do it again. They didn’t get justice; they didn’t have that peace of mind that I had. Even now, they defend him. How many times do you see battered women defending their abusive husbands? This situation isn’t different.
I am a survivor. I am a fighter. I am a mother, and I am a woman who went through fire and came out of the other side stronger. What my biological father did was wrong and it was not my fault.
Jim Bob and Michelle, do not downplay the abuse that your daughters suffered. I can tell you from experience that emotional scars run deep, but you first have to acknowledge that there is a problem. It wasn’t an unfortunate incident. It was calculating, manipulative and your daughters are being victimized all over again. Not by the media, but by you. You can’t admit that one of your children is a predator. Have you thought about the emotional scars you are inflicting? I don’t think you have.
I wouldn’t wish abuse on anyone. Time can be very healing, but only if you have support and love. If you truly love your children, stop trying to justify Josh’s behavior. Take yourselves off the air and use that time to heal, get counseling and have that difficult conversation with each of your children. Not as a group, but individually.Listen to them. I’m willing to bet there is far more going on that you realize.
Please, I implore you to take time away from the cameras and focus on putting your family back together.
Shelly M. Burrows