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What’s the big deal about the Duggar family and the revelation that Josh molested his sisters and other girls in the neighborhood? I have heard several sides but there’s one I haven’t heard; what about the irreversible damage to the victims? What about asking why a 14 year old boy felt compelled to do such a thing? If we are bold and ask these questions and get real, maybe just maybe, there would be less sexual abuse that occurs behind closed doors.

Brace yourself, this is from a survivor’s point of view.

I am a survivor, I am not a victim. The definition of survivor, while most refer to living when most have died, is coping with difficulties in their life. I like that! Coping. It does not go completely away, but coping is a device or a way in which to move forward. Victim on the other hand, makes me feel like “oh poor me” this happened and so I cannot function, I cannot move on so I will stay here and complain about how awful things are. 

Molestation has happened since the beginning of time. It has manifested, in my estimation, because we are not to talk about it. The whole subject matter is taboo. We are supposed to shove anything like that under the carpet and smooth it out. What does this accomplish? A continued cycle, sludge that seeps out and infects your soul to the core. It makes the people involved feel as though they asked for it and this is unique and has never happened to anyone else. 

Here goes, I am going to talk about IT. I am going to tell you how IT made me feel and I am going to take IT to the middle of the room and examine IT. While IT is not pretty, if I do not deal with IT, then I am defined by IT and I will not allow that to happen!

One pretty fall day, my 10 year old self was so excited. I was old enough to stay home by myself, rather than endure the work in the field that was happening. I smiled and settled in. A few minutes passed and I heard a knock at the door. I rehearsed what I was taught.

Check to see who it is. If it’s a stranger, ignore the door and tell mom and dad.

Oh, whew! Just my dear great uncle. I answered the door, greeted with his familiar scent.

He smoked cigars and that was a trademark of him that I will forever remember. He asked to talk to my Dad and I explained that they were all out in the field. What happened next, I am not sure. I knew that he was touching me in most private places and I did not feel right. I wanted to scream and I wanted him to go away! I did not scream though, and this went on for what seemed an eternity.

When I grew up, we did not know about good and bad touch. Still, I knew this was not right. Finally, he left. I curled up into a ball on the floor and I cried and then the crying turned into sobbing.

Oh how I wish I had never been alone in that big house! 

As soon as my parents returned, I ran to my mother and the crying started again. I remember taking a long time to tell what had happened. The response, not what I imagined. Mom said, “everyone knows that is how your great uncle is and next time don’t answer the door.” 

That was it? Really? No words of sympathy. From that point on, I hated my body. I disliked mirrors and I truly loathed the site of my uncle. My relief  came when he died. I felt relief, true relief, I never had to worry about being alone and having him come to my door. The relief turned into guilt. What kind of a girl is happy that her uncle died?

 If only that were the end of my story. I had another uncle who did something similar. My self-esteem, well, it was nowhere to be found. My story, I hoped, was unique to me. I would not wish this awful feeling on anyone. I found time and time again, other people have survived similar things and in their families and so on. Not long ago, a cousin and I connected on social media. She asked for my phone number and I gave it to her. That night she called, and I blurted it right out ‘Your grandpa, my great uncle did awful things to me.”  I am not sure what was worse; that I revealed this life-long secret or that she herself was abused and many more times than I had been at the hand of her Grandpa. The whole thing just made me cry.

 As I began processing it all, I wondered, why he felt the need to do this? Was he himself abused? How possibly was it OK to do this to his own flesh and blood? I shared this revelation with my aunt, oh my, I wish I had kept it to myself! I found that she was also abused, and by other uncle’s as well.

There you have it! The scary truth. I was not alone. I have gone through a lot of counseling in my adult life, but I still have moments where I just cannot wrap my brain around the whole situation. I worry now about younger children who are also now adults. Did they go through this? Even if I found out, would it help them to know they are not alone? Maybe more of a question, why did my uncle’s do this and were they abused? How do we stop this from ever happening again? 

I do not have answers, more questions, but no answers. I do know this. We have to have conversations, real conversations and acknowledge that it happens. IT happens and IT needs to stop! Subjects like sexual abuse are not about right or wrong. It is not about persecuting a family because of their Christianity, more than that, it is about humanity. We are all human, “IT” has happened over and over. The main objective is to promote accountability and to understand we must have conversations and maybe one day, IT will not exist and there will no longer be stories of survival, just stories of humans living together and not violating each other.

There is the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. If everyone in the village looks out for each other, then abuse can be voided from society. When you are reading about celebrities like the Duggar family, and you are choosing a side to take, choose the side of humanity. Josh needs forgiveness but also self-examination as to why he did what he did. The survivors also need love and kindness to move on. Life is not easy sometimes, but it can be if we work together. It is not about right and wrong as much as it is about marching forward to a better drum and treating each other in the way we want to be treated.

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