Friday, July 17, 2015

Sexual Abuse, Victim Blaming, and Josh Duggar

When my husband showed me the news story about Josh Duggar, I was not surprised.   What I was surprised about is that the media finally picked up on it.  How I knew this years ago I'm not sure, but I did.  I remember references to Jim Bob talking about "sin in the camp".  Anyone who didn't see something like this coming had their head in the sand if for no other reason that one in four girls and one in six boys are abused sexually.  When you have nineteen children, statistics say there will be some in your family who will be sexually abused.

There are some things that are bothering me about this, and things I have heard very few people mention.   Where are the victims?

First off, let's ask who the victims are.  This is not normal behavior for a teenager.   I can't help but wonder if Josh learned this behavior from a predator himself.  If so, this is something that has not been mentioned.  Still, he is responsible for his behavior.

Where are Josh's victims?  I'll tell you where they are -- having one of the most painful things that has ever happened to them all over the place.  Can you imagine the looks his sisters are getting when they go to the grocery store?   When they go to church?  When they pick up diapers for their children?  No person of sexual abuse needs to have their story plastered all over the media.  It doesn't need to be covered up, but if everyone wouldn't have said 'sisters' their identity would have been protected and they could have processed their pain in private like most victims of sexual abuse.

Another concern I have is the purity culture in which the Duggars are in.  Sometimes this is victim blaming.  I was in college in the 1990s when the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye gained popularity.  This is when I saw the rise of purity culture among mainstream Christians, and learned about victim blaming.   There was a girl I was friends with who was sexually assaulted one night.  When she told a Christian worker about it, this girl was told that she needed to be held accountable with her actions around men.   I don't see that someone who is a victim of sexual abuse should be held accountable for what someone did to her.

I had another friend who was sexually abused before she was a teenager.  I remember her telling me that it was her fault and that no man would ever marry her because she was "used".

What is done to you is NOT your fault   If you are reading this, and this is the first time you have heard this, PLEASE believe me.  You may have physically enjoyed the way the abuse felt.  It is still not your fault.  It may have been the most heinous hour of your life.  It is still not your fault.  You may have been wearing a bikini or a burqua.  It is still not your fault. You may have been drunk.  I am not sure about other states, but if you are drunk in West Virginia, anything that is done to you is considered sexual abuse and it is not your fault.

Please know you are not used.   You are not damaged property, and there will be someone who loves you enough out there to understand what happened to you and will want to marry you.   Please know that forgiveness doesn't mean you have to put yourself in a situation to be hurt again.  There are people who have hurt me, but I don't dwell on it.   I may not speak to them, but that doesn't mean that I brood over the wrongs they did to me.  Forgiveness if for yourself only so you can move on, and if you can't forgive right away, it means you are processing your pain and that can also be a great thing.   Forgiveness is a process and happens as healing comes.  Don't let anyone push you, and don't let anyone define your journey for you.  Your experience is as unique as you are.

If you have never talked about your abuse, I encourage you to tell someone.  Here are some numbers that may be helpful:  Please be careful clicking links if you live with your abuser and your abuser might see your internet history.

RAINN (Rape and Incest National Network) 1-800-656-HOPE  (4673)  http://centers.rainn.org/

My local area:

Garrett County Maryland:
The Dove Center  301-334-9000  http://www.gcdovecenter.org/index.php

North Central West Virginia
Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center 304-292-5100  http://rdvic.org/


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