Friday, May 29, 2015

Why The Duggar Situation is Personal

Current news reports about the Duggar family are incredibly triggering to me. I was repeatedly sexually abused by a male family member when I was a child, and my abuser was never officially charged or prosecuted.

I was 13 when I went to my guidance counselor because I was having nightmares. I was hesitant to share  but I had just moved to a new school in Minnesota and didn't really know anyone. I didn't have anyone else to talk to about how I was feeling. She listened to me, then explained gently that because of what I'd told her that she had to contact the authorities. I begged her not to, explaining that I had already told before and nothing had been done. It didn't matter. She had to report it.

Thus began a parade of police and social workers. I was sent to counselors and assigned a guardian ad litem. My mother, whose hold on sobriety was tenuous at best, crawled back to the bottle and stayed there. The people in charge of my case told me that my abuser was arrested. More importantly, they told me they believed me. Then, they told me that he was not going to be charged because the statute of limitations had expired in the states where he had abused me.

I'd told my mom about the abuse years before when we lived in Iowa, when we were still living with the abuser. She took me to the police then. A doctor examined me and decided I'd made it up because there was no physical evidence. He told my mother that I was jealous of her new relationship. When I told her later that it was still happening, she slapped my face and told me to stop lying. I wasn't lying, I just wasn't old enough to accurately describe what was happening to me. Seven-year olds don't know much about sodomy and the male doctor who examined me hadn't checked thoroughly enough.
For perspective, this was about how old I was when I met my abuser
We moved often over the next few years, leaving rumors of other victims in at least three states. I know at least one other child was abused because I was there when it happened. My mother eventually left my abuser. Then she left me behind with a series of friends and relatives while she dove head-first into the bottle. I eventually ended up as a ward of the state after telling a judge that I would probably not survive living with my mother any more. My heart was completely broken when I did this, but my foster parents taught me how families should be and of equal importance, made sure that I got the intensive counseling that I desperately needed. It took years to truly understand that I was not responsible for what happened to me.

Seeing another abuser avoid charges due to the statute of limitations made me so incredibly angry that I was literally shaking as I read the news report. I've been following the story and I've seen all of the online arguing about whether Josh Duggar should have been made to pay for his actions. The family allegedly reported the abuse, and stated that they got help for all involved, but it would appear that that they are being less than honest about that. People are saying that the girls are being victimized again by the story coming out now and that we should leave it alone. I'd like to agree, but I don't because every single day that the people involved stayed silent, the opportunity for Josh to offend again was there. I also fear that his victims have not gotten the help that they need to truly understand that they didn’t deserve what happened to them.

I reported my abuser and he abused me many more times after I did. People who are sexually attracted to prepubescent children don't suddenly stop being that way. My abuser also said that he got help and was no longer offending, but he lied. Last year, another rumor circulated that he’d molested someone well after claiming he had stopped.

The Duggars chose to hide the abuse and shield their son from consequences. They are responsible for every single victim that comes forward from here on out. He abused at least 5 girls, one of which did not live in his household. I am literally sick to my stomach as I wait for more victims to come forward. Sadly, I am confident that we will be hearing from them 
soon.

Every state needs to make it so that abusers cannot continue to offend without consequence because the victims don't come forward "soon enough". Some states have legislated that sexual abuse against children does not have a statute of limitations. We need for EVERY state to do so and we need them to do it now.


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16 comments:

Mahala said...

There are many of us out here with similar stories who share your anger. All we can do is share our horror and hope that someone listens, changes the laws and makes the world safer for children.

Jo said...

Exactly Mahala. Thank you so much for your support. We are not alone. Much love to you. <3

Stephanie F said...

I think it would be appropriate to compile a list of all the states that still have this statute of limitations, a list of those state's representatives, and start rallying people to contact these representatives to get some laws changed.

Jo said...

Absolutely Stephanie. As soon as the dust settles I'll get to it. Right now I'm in ohmygodicannotbelieveitandwillnevergetcaughtuponmessages mode. Love you.

Stephanie F said...

Let me know if you need help.

Jo said...

Oh my gosh, that would be fantastic!

Cody Todd said...

Thank you for sharing. It's been said, that for evil to flourish, good men must do nothing. There aren't many things that will rile my blood, but stories like this, and the "justice" of it, while perhaps a little better than in the past in some ways, is still not at the point where it should be. While I have issues with the 'sex offender database', the fact alot of abusers (and don't mean a 2 year gap of statuatory) get probation, house arrest, limited sentence with early parole even on multiple incarcerations is sickening. In many ways and many reasons alot of this is also society's fault.

Jo said...

Thank you Cody. I am proud to call you my friend. <3

Jo said...

Thank you Cody. I am proud to call you my friend. <3

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest problems is not so much people not coming forward and speaking up about it as much as it is about how they are treated when they do speak up. Victims (and reporters and those who try to speak up about their suspicions) are almost always shunned, ostracized, ignored, blamed, condemned, persecuted, and further victimized by their own family, by their peers, by law enforcement, and even by Social Services. 90% of the time when a victim discloses, the rest of his/her family will shun and ostracize him/her, always siding with the offender. In fact because pedophiles/child molesters are so good at targeting mothers who they know will allow the abuse, most mothers will tell their child to be quiet about the abuse or that it didn't happen, even though they know that it did. I have seen most adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse say that their mother either "knew" about the abuse or "had to have known" about the abuse but did nothing. I have heard hundreds of stories from sexual abuse survivors and the theme is the same; my mother allowed it, my mother didn't believe me, my mother ignored it, my mother told me that it was my fault, my mother told me to be quiet about it. It's so easy for child molesters to find mothers who are so needy, so mentally ill, so weak, and so desperate that she will allow a man to sexually abuse her child in exchange for money, companionship, security, comfort, and sometimes even drugs. One experienced pedophile was quoted as saying "it was so easy to find children to molest that I didn't get around to molesting all of the ones that I had groomed, but I got them ready for the next guy." It's despicable how society has created this.

Law enforcement and our courts would rather sweep it under the rug and they require hard tangible evidence, otherwise they fear the offender will sue for defamation or slander (I say let's teach children how to video tape what they feel could be their abuse because without actual video tape a child's word is never taken over an adults). As our laws and society are today it is far easier, and sometimes even safer, to be silent about your sexual abuse than it is to speak up and that is the problem. This applies to reporters and victims because I myself have been severely and grossly abused by our courts and legal system when I tried to report a very dangerous pedophile. The courts and law enforcement didn't want to go up against someone with a little money and education so they purposely mistreated the reporter, even violating State Laws.

Pedophiles/child molesters have easily manipulated our entire society, including law enforcement, courts, and social services, into being afraid to question them. Child molesters/pedophiles have effortlessly made people afraid and ashamed of even talking about it let alone outwardly accusing. Pedophiles and child molesters most definitely have the upper hand and law enforcement, judges, courts, social services, friends, family, and peers should all be ashamed of themselves for creating this extremely harmful epidemic to thrive simply because they are weak cowards.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest problems is not so much people not coming forward and speaking up about it as much as it is about how they are treated when they do speak up. Victims (and reporters and those who try to speak up about their suspicions) are almost always shunned, ostracized, ignored, blamed, condemned, persecuted, and further victimized by their own family, by their peers, by law enforcement, and even by Social Services. 90% of the time when a victim discloses, the rest of his/her family will shun and ostracize him/her, always siding with the offender. In fact because pedophiles/child molesters are so good at targeting mothers who they know will allow the abuse, most mothers will tell their child to be quiet about the abuse or that it didn't happen, even though they know that it did. I have seen most adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse say that their mother either "knew" about the abuse or "had to have known" about the abuse but did nothing. I have heard hundreds of stories from sexual abuse survivors and the theme is the same; my mother allowed it, my mother didn't believe me, my mother ignored it, my mother told me that it was my fault, my mother told me to be quiet about it. It's so easy for child molesters to find mothers who are so needy, so mentally ill, so weak, and so desperate that she will allow a man to sexually abuse her child in exchange for money, companionship, security, comfort, and sometimes even drugs. One experienced pedophile was quoted as saying "it was so easy to find children to molest that I didn't get around to molesting all of the ones that I had groomed, but I got them ready for the next guy." It's despicable how society has created this.

Law enforcement and our courts would rather sweep it under the rug and they require hard tangible evidence, otherwise they fear the offender will sue for defamation or slander (I say let's teach children how to video tape what they feel could be their abuse because without actual video tape a child's word is never taken over an adults). As our laws and society are today it is far easier, and sometimes even safer, to be silent about your sexual abuse than it is to speak up and that is the problem. This applies to reporters and victims because I myself have been severely and grossly abused by our courts and legal system when I tried to report a very dangerous pedophile. The courts and law enforcement didn't want to go up against someone with a little money and education so they purposely mistreated the reporter, even violating State Laws.

Pedophiles/child molesters have easily manipulated our entire society, including law enforcement, courts, and social services, into being afraid to question them. Child molesters/pedophiles have effortlessly made people afraid and ashamed of even talking about it let alone outwardly accusing. Pedophiles and child molesters most definitely have the upper hand and law enforcement, judges, courts, social services, friends, family, and peers should all be ashamed of themselves for creating this extremely harmful epidemic to thrive simply because they are weak cowards.

Anonymous said...

I was raped by my first boyfriend. I never told anyone. It was the worst thing that I had to go through. The feeling of being alone and not in control of what happens to me. I feel for everybody that has endured sexual abuse.

Erin said...

You are brave. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I was raped multiple times. By my father. My brothers .whom I reported to the school, and after speaking to my mom, and my brothers... Cps and the school Decided I was a liar. And by My grandfather. Noone knows it but me. .

Jo said...

Anonymous at 12:53 I agree with so much of what you have said. That's why we need to keep working.

Anon at 3:34 You are never alone. You have us. Thank you for being brave enough to share here. <3

Erin: Thank you. I don't feel brave but I'll work on it. <3

Anon at 5:56 We know and we are here. You are not alone. So much love to you. Thank you for sharing with us.

Lisa Thomson said...

Hi Jo, I just popped over from your post on Blogher. I'm so sorry for your loss in childhood at the hands of your abuser. This is a powerful post and you're brave to share your story. I hope each State corrects the Statute so that those abusers will get charged and do the time for their horrible crimes. Great awareness piece.