I get it. Hypocrites suck. However, they are everywhere; in every religion, in every wing of politics, in various socio-economic sections… Moreover, every time we see someone acting hypocritically we want to call them out on it. For some reason, it makes us all feel better.
However, in the case with the Duggars – there is a far, far, far, bigger problem (And frankly I could not care less about the hypocrisy of the Duggar family). The Duggars are just one more example of excusing sexual abuse; they just happen to be in the public eye.
Social media is blowing up with people arguing (myself included) about the Duggars. To me, the big issue – an adolescent molests a younger child and then that abuse is “covered up”. Fine, I have seen the reports and articles stating that patriarch Duggar went to the police, but it was an entire year later, and then charges were never brought forth. In my opinion, NO CHARGES = FREE PASS AT SEXUAL ASSAULT. When charges are filed, then at the very minimum, the survivor gets to make a statement before a court of law. (Even if a plea deal is made, the survivor is allowed to make an impact statement that goes into court record) When a prosecutor chooses not to file charges, that speaks volumes: it tells an assault survivor that their well being is of little importance. And, in the case of the Josh Duggar, that it is ok to be a sexual predator, as long as you are fourteen.
I have also read the articles and subsequent Facebook threads and Twitter comments that excuse this inexcusable behavior by proclaiming childhood err. Maybe it is just me? However, I tend to think that a juvenile “mistake” or “inappropriate childhood” behavior is more akin to shoplifting a Butterfinger bar versus sexually molesting a sibling. So at what age does sexual misconduct become more than a “mistake”? Moreover, what degree of sexual assault become significant enough that it warrants criminal charges?
This case explicitly tells other survivors that if they are (or were) assaulted that their story is not as important as the person who was the abuser. In this case, the abuser got “treatment”, and is now a public figure with a massive amount of supporters. This tells survivors that if their abuser is in a place of power that their abuse is justified.
What do we tell our daughters when they ask questions about this story? If an older relative touches them inappropriately that it is acceptable? As a rape survivor, and someone who is still healing from assault, this infuriates me. I want my daughter to know that under any circumstances what so ever it is not ok for ANYONE (male or female) to touch her body.
I understand media is reporting that Josh Duggar repented and that he is sorry for his behavior. I can only hope that my abuser feels regret, and I can struggle to forgive him. I know that I have to forgive him for my healing. However, let me make one thing absolutely clear; forgiveness is NOT equal to excusing the inexcusable behavior. So yes, his survivors should and need to forgive him, but they do not need to excuse his behavior simply because he repented.
The other argument that I have read is that abuse it is a ”private matter” and that it is best that it was handled within the family. So let’s discuss that then.
Let us stop making abuse a private matter – by reinforcing the “private” nature of this type of violent crime it only teaches survivors that they need to be quiet. It teaches and reinforces silence. This is an absurd and ridiculous concept. I cannot tell you how many status updates I have read that say something like “OMG, My car/apartment/neighbor was broken into last night. #criminalsuck”. The comments that follow are usually those of support and/or condolences.
It seems that we tend to reinforce the premise that sexual abuse is embarrassing – but why is it more embarrassing than having a bike stolen? Why are survivors of molestation or rape less likely to report their assault? Why do survivors struggle with the feeling of shame if their assault is brought to the public eye?
Just as was done in the Duggar case; it was a “private matter that was handled privately”. This reinforces my big outrage in the fact that it was “covered up”. Yes – coming forward and admitting abuse is hard, but rape culture is going to continue to be a problem until we can change this code of silence that is systematically imposed on abuse survivors.
PS – in the defense of hypocrites, I will now make this disclaimer –Yes, I know that I am also a hypocrite, since I am publishing this anonymously and have not yet made my story public. I know exactly how hard it is to relive an assault and the judgey way people treat you once you tell them (yep, Survivor Pity is annoying, and I will address that in a different article).