As A Survivor Of Child Molestation, I Won’t Forget Josh Duggar’s Victims

Yesterday, the Duggar Family, stars of TLC’s “19 Kids & Counting,” were forced to acknowledge that their son, Josh Duggar, molested multiple underage girls when he was a teenager, including some of his sisters. Fans of the Duggars would have you believe that they owned up to this because they are Christ-like people. This is simply untrue. The fact is that they never acknowledged these facts until InTouch magazine ran an article about the incidents, complete with the police report containing disturbing details about how Josh Duggar would touch these young girls, often while they were asleep. It should also be noted that Jim Bob Duggar, the family’s patriarch, waited over a year before he contacted police. This is all too common in cases of molestation between family members. Then this morning, Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee came out in support of the Duggar family, writing on his Facebook page that “good people make mistakes.” Huckabee knows a thing or two about having a horrible son. David Huckabee is said to have hung a stray dog from a tree while working as a camp counselor in 1998 when he was 17 years old.

Have you noticed that no one defending the Duggars even mentions his victims? Even Jim Bob, his wife Michelle Duggar, and Josh Duggar himself barely mentioned them. That is telling. If we are being told by these people to forgive Josh, it is very, very likely these girls were told to do the same thing. My heart goes out to the Duggar sisters and the other victims. It feels so backwards to me, to commend Josh Duggar for being “brave” enough to admit what he did, all the while ignoring the girls who experienced abuse at his hands. Sadly all too often the victims in these situations are ignored. Is it because we are afraid to face the reality of what’s been done to them?

You may wonder why someone like myself would want to write about this particular issue. I’m writing about this because this is something I’m all to familiar with, as I was the victim of sexual abuse as a child. I also was molested by a family member, a family member who (thankfully) has since passed away. As someone who has survived sexual abuse, I feel it is my duty to speak up.

Reading about Josh Duggar fondling girls in their sleep triggered something in me that I felt unprepared to deal with. What happened to me as a child has caused me a great deal of emotional turmoil and I am still in therapy to this day because of it. Anyone who says things like, “Oh, well, he just fondled those girls. It’s not like he raped them,” should know that my grandfather didn’t rape me either. I was only ever fondled, but that was still a massive violation. No one should ever put their hands on a young child in such a way. No should touch anyone without their consent. Not only is it deplorable, but to then use Jesus as your scapegoat is just downright disgusting.

I cannot stress enough how these events can impact someone’s life forever. I suffer from PTSD. To this day, at 25 years old, I still shake whenever I talk about it. It makes me absolutely sick to think that an elected official, someone who is seeking the Presidency no less, would come to the defense of a person who committed such an act. Mike Huckabee, I would honestly like to know, if my grandfather asked Jesus for forgiveness, does that mean you forgive him too?

Some people say you can’t live with something like this unless you have forgiveness in your heart. I beg to differ. My disdain for my grandfather and others who behave like him is what fuels me. It makes me want to be a different person. It makes me want to fight. It has given me the courage to talk about what happened to me, an experience still so upsetting that sometimes I feel like I can’t continue to live with it. But that’s the trick: if you let it consume you, it will. You can choose to battle through it, to be the voice for those who are too afraid or unable to speak. I have made my share of well-documented mistakes. But the best thing I could ever do in my life is just this. To openly discuss what happened to me because it happens to so many other children every single day. All I have ever wanted was to find a way to connect with women who have been through something similar. I never thought the Duggars would be the ones to help bring me to that point.

Follow Sydney Leathers on Twitter at @sydneyelainexo.