Lies and Excuses: Duggars and Defenders: Part I

As I researched and began documenting different things for what I thought would be a blog post on the Duggar scandal, I realized how big it had become. Because of that, I’m breaking it down into two parts. I’ll publish Part II on Monday. It focuses on the media backlash and the insanity of both Conservatives and the media. Part I, below, focuses on the recent Duggar interviews.

Many of us watched the Megyn Kelly interview with the Duggar family over the past several days. For those of us who’d hoped they’d be asked the tough questions by Kelly, who’s known for holding interviewees’ feet to the fire, those viewers were both disappointed and disgusted. Not surprisingly, the majority of viewers, many in the media and of course, the Twitter court (myself included), promptly called “foul”.  As is the case with sexual assault, molestation and/or rape – there’s always a “Paul Harvey”…the rest of the story.

As the parents of this man continue to sing his praises and insist he’s the victim, there are a few things that Kelly and the family’s other supporters have conveniently overlooked. Actually, what’s been overlooked or dismissed just might be the worst part of this entire episode.

From the sleeping arrangements that just don’t add up to the mind-boggling defenses of Josh Duggar from Kelly, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (who definitely blew any shot he had to hell and back with his support of Josh Duggar) and now, Sarah Palin, many are shocked and are wondering if maybe the entire conservative movement is worth the cost others will pay. What makes this worse is that at my core, I’m as Republican and conservative as they come; and now I’m rethinking everything I thought I knew.

Sleeping Arrangements

In 2002, the Duggar family had 13 children: 5 girls, 8 boys. They lived in a 2000 sq. ft. home with three bedrooms. The parents had one bedroom. (Remember, they didn’t move into their 7,000 sq. ft. home until January 2006). Michelle Duggar stated during the interview that the five daughters shared two bedrooms, which left the parents with the other bedroom. (The transcript is here).

KELLY: The girls all slept together?

M. DUGGAR: Hm-mm.

J.B. DUGGAR: Yes. The girls had two bedrooms at the time.

KELLY: How many girls are we talking about?

J.B. DUGGAR: We had five girls at the time.

This left the 8 boys. Maybe the living room turned into a sleepover room at bedtime? As kids, most of us would have loved the idea of “camping out” in the living room. Jim Bob said that after his son came to him in March 2002, he and his wife:

And so we went, and the first thing was to protect the girls.

DUGGAR: Well, we definitely put safeguards in our home.

Let’s jump ahead to July, 2002 – four months after the first disclosure:

So, we had safeguards that protected them from that. But there was another incident where — two different incidents where the girls were, like, laying on the couch, and it was — he had touched, like, over the couch and actually touched their breast while they were asleep.

According to the interview with one of the family victims, the separation of boys and girls did not occur until after Josh returned from Little Rock, where he went to be “counseled” in the spring/summer of 2003. People who are pointing to the layout of the family home are forgetting that new home was not their family home in 2002 and 2003. Three bedrooms between 15 people is challenging and why anyone is surprised by the fact that many of the kids slept on sofas clearly has never had a teenager who loves sleepovers.

The shocking part is that the girls were not as “protected” as Jim Bob said and the “safeguards” mentioned by Michelle were, well, non-existent.

I’ll Sue

Next, everyone even remotely associated with this case insists Josh became humble and sought forgiveness, which quickly was given. He wanted to move forward and his parents felt it was part of the past. The case that was opened by Arkansas police went away (whether it’s because of statutes expiring or other reasons). Ah, but then it was reopened. Josh Duggar actually had the audacity to sue the Department of Human Services for investigating him. Whatever happened with that case couldn’t have been good for the family. Most Arkansas DHS investigators say it was likely that instead of winning a ridiculous lawsuit, it brought more pressure onto the family, up to and including his being labeled an “in home offender”. If that’s true, DHS then really became involved because they’re obligated to conduct investigations at different intervals, something that Duggar’s lawsuit did not intend.

The fact that the Duggars are mum (and the fact that Kelly didn’t ask about it) suggests there is no happy ending from that avenue over poor, victimized Josh.

Long Term Repercussions of the REAL Victims

Here’s the greater problem, though. Fox News quickly paraded a number of experts who dismissed the potential for bigger problems down the road when it comes to these young women. They are indeed following their parents’ lead, which is admirable and frankly, something most kids don’t feel the need to do today. The parents have divided loyalties – again, it makes sense. No parent wants to be in the position that they’re in. I think, though, they are so deeply interwoven with their religious beliefs, they’re missing huge red flags. While they’re busy shoring up their religion, they’re not thinking about the faith of these young women and how they will likely struggle with that faith. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), childhood sexual abuse survivors face a number of potential problems that will plague them throughout life.

  • There often exists a lack of trust that sometimes doesn’t become obvious until years later. For some, the inability to trust is put into place in the moment of the assault and never goes away.
  • They’re twice as likely to be raped as an adult.
  • They suffer from flashbacks – the scent of a cereal, for example that they equate with the assault. It might have been what the victim had for breakfast the next morning. It stays with children and anytime the scent of it hits them, they’re right back in that moment.
  • Eating disorders are common.
  • Depression and low self-esteem is common as well.
  • A sense that they don’t have control over their lives.

For Megyn Kelly and Fox News to provide a gracious, kind and quite comfortable platform for these parents is irresponsible. By doing so, this tells the victims that anything negative they’re feeling is not justified. Hell, if the supporters are these types of globally recognized names and images, what do the victims know, right?

Soon, though, there were other voices that quickly barreled into the conversation and in ways that are ridiculous and self-serving. Enter Sarah Palin.

I’ll post the remainder of this piece on Monday. Disagree with anything I’ve written? Let me know – leave a comment or drop me a line at donna@donna-mcgill.com.

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5 thoughts on “Lies and Excuses: Duggars and Defenders: Part I

  1. Pingback: Lies and Excuses: Duggars and Defenders: Part II | It's All About the Right Writing

  2. I never understood the Duggars and now I am just fully disgusted. Why have children if you are not going to be a parent to them? I say it to parents of 50 and I say it to a parent of 1. Parenting isn’t birth-its a process.

    • Well said!! I’d never watched the show either – the whole “let’s do a TV show because we’re growing our family” was never enough of a hook for me.

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