I was Josh Duggar's Victim. {a different perspective}.

Not literally his victim but for all intents and purposes, yes, we are the same person.  I was molested by both a teen peer and a family member.  More on that in a moment.   

I opted out of watching the news years ago.  The agony of witnessing a broken world was too much for me to handle on a regular basis.  So, news takes many layers to get to me and I avoid regular contact with the heartbreak of living in a fallen world (at least as far as the news is concerned).  Even with my self made barrier, I cannot get away from the Duggar tragedy.  It is everywhere.  Being waved as a flag of proof and pride of Christians and non-Christians alike.  The level of which people are taking joy in showing off how good they are in comparison to those Christians is sickening and sorrow inducing.  

This is not a Christian issue.  It is not a Conservative or Republican or Democrat issue.  This is not an issue that should be used as an "AH HA!!" moment.  It should not be used as a way to prove that Christians are messed up.  We are.  Ok?  Every Christian I have ever known is messed up on some level or another.  Each of us is knee deep in our own muck and mess and mire.  In fact, ALL people are messed up.  Not a single one of us can stand on our own virtue.  For what it's worth, I don't line up with much of what the Duggars believe is necessary to love Jesus well but different strokes and all.    

Any Christian worth their salt will be quick to tell you that we all suck as people.  The best Christian in all the land is still a pretty terrible human being.  That's the point of Jesus. 

My disclaimer goes here: I am not in anyway saying that what Josh did was OK or should not have been dealt with appropriately.  I do not wish to excuse it or sweep it under the rug.  It was wrong.  Period.

I do feel that those who are thirsty for the blood of Christians or eager to put themselves above another Christian are failing to remember something.  This was not a perpetrator.  This was a 14 year old boy.  A sheltered, 14 year old boy at that.  Not a grown man. 

Since this story broke I've thought often about every 14 year old boy that I know and whether they would understand the consequences of such actions.   How many would understand the full ripple effect?  None that I can think of, and I know some pretty great young men.  Knowing right from wrong is different than understanding WHY it is right and wrong.  You need life experience to teach you the why.

I've also thought about how heartbreaking it is that the victims of such a tragedy are being violated all over again.  Do people not realize that if the victims wanted to drag him through the mud, they could have years ago?  Being molested IS a shame inducing act.  I'm not saying it should be, but it IS.  It's something that is not eagerly discussed and many of us victims would rather not have it dragged through the papers and online and put in the face of everyone who can read, against our will.  The media has taken away their ability to be anonymous for the goal of shaming someone who has by all appearances gone forward and tried to do better.  We as a society BEG for rehabilitation but offer NO GRACE on the other side of those who have tried to do just that.  

I am sure these victims are feeling some form of mortification.  I am voluntarily sharing my story and fighting off the urge to delete all of this and go back into hiding with it IN SHAME

I've also thought a lot of my experience as a victim of teen boy.  Before I moved out of my parents house, I was molested on several occasions.  By several people.  The elements of my childhood made me a perfect victim {aloof parents focused on their own tragedies the main element that made me eligible). 

And this may come as a shocker.  I wish my "perpetrator" (for lack of a better word) in this incident, no ill will.  If I could identify him and if there were no statute of limitations and I could prove what he did and know he would be punished, I would be the first on my knees in front of the judge begging for his mercy.   Especially if his adult self had made amends, had counseling, turned his life around and lived a repenting life.  I think it says a lot that Josh sat down with a girl he hoped to marry and her parents and confessed to his prior sins.  How much did you confess in this way?  I'm not saying I want to be his best friend or even see him, but he can go on about his life with no obligation of downtrodden-ness from me.   

Why do I not wish my victimizer punished?  Because as an adult woman I understand that he was a stupid young teenager doing something that he had no idea would perpetuate the issues that it did.  Did he know right from wrong? Yes.  Did he understand the consequences of his actions? I'm guessing no.  For many reasons.  He was young.  So young.  An undeveloped brain and surging hormones are not the path to steady, sound decision making.  He was not a bad kid as I recall.  A normal boy in a normal neighborhood.  Not a monster or a pervert.  Just a kid exceptionally stupid at the time.  

We've all experienced the effects of out of control hormones.

Doug and I have been together for over ten years.  One of the ONLY fights I can recall occurred when I was pregnant.  I KNEW my hormones were in control of mouth and actions.  I knew it but I could not stop it.  We fought over him taking too long in the shower and my hair drying in the process.  As I yelled at him my inner voice yelled at me "WHAT ARE YOU DOING STUPID!?!" to which my crazy self yelled back "SHUT UP" and wrapped that sensible girl in duct tape.  My point being, hormones (and the environment they are in at times) CAN make us much stupider than we tend to be on a normal day.

I do NOT think these kinds of actions should go unpunished but having been a social worker I have learned a lot about a few things.  One of which is that our system is not set up to help boys in these positions get back on track.  They are labeled and housed and become self-fulfilling prophesies.  (not always but often).  Like I said earlier, as a society we beg for lawmakers to offer solutions like rehabilitation but then go on to treat people no differently if they take that route.  The system is not set up to help people succeed.  The system is set up to punish and confine.  That does not solve this particular problem.   

Another thing I've learned, this could be your son.  There is no set formula for avoiding this in your own family.  You can't pick out in a class photo who will do something like this.  It's not always the animal abusing, snaggle toothed kid that smells like ketchup.  Sometimes it's the polite boy who loves Jesus.  We all need to move forward in a way that considers how much grace and love and support we would need to get through something like this the best we can because the reality IS that it could be your son.  We need to be part of creating an environment that HELPS the victims heal and the victimizers understand AND do better.   

I do think that these kinds of incidents should be addressed in such away as to help these boys become aware and understand fully what they have done, how to move forward appropriately and make amends for what they have done.  Positive, helpful, reformative actions need to occur for the sake of all involved. 

I guess I just don't get the point of shaming him to the detriment of his victims.  What would be a just punishment?  Death?  No further blessing or comfort in life.  Are you also prepared to pay for what your stupid youthful self did forever and always no matter how you've changed or grown or made amends?

I know that personally, I am thankful that I am NOT even kind of the same person I was before 20 AND that I escaped the life defining consequences of all the stupid things I did as a teenager.  I am a grateful mess for the grace extended to me, which makes me all the more eager to extend it to others.  Finger wagging and shaming and self-righteousness does nothing to help the problem, Christians or not.  Admittance of sin and failure can start us on the right path to unity but there is a severe need to get over ourselves and the delusion that we are any better first.

Hello, my name is Crystal, I suck as a human and fail as a follower of Jesus every minute of my life.  I'm thankful for forgiveness and grace to fill in the gaps where I am too stupid to help myself.  I'm here to tell you that all Christians suck at life.

That's the point of Jesus. 

While you are here, I have three different ways for you to win $100!  Someone has to win, might as well be you!  Read about Spring and gardening a leave a comment to enter HERE.  Read about Goldfish and why we love them and leave a comment to enter HERE.  AND finally, find the good in Mother's and Father's day and leave a comment HERE to enter! :) 


April@MySacredSojourn said...

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about shame lately and you hit the nail on the head. Hiding things, keeping them in the dark, is the breeding ground for shame. Christ bore our shame and thank Him for His endless grace and mercy, we don't have to live there anymore. I agree 100000% with everything you wrote about the Duggar situation. I'm not a "fan" of the family/show by any stretch, but I agree that dragging them through the mud serves no purpose than to sell newspapers/magazines and feed the ego of the "elder brothers." We're ALL prodigals (and elder brothers at times.) We ALL need the Father to meet us in the field and bring us back to our restored identity.

Sara Neufeld said...

Oh my goodness. This is so refreshing. Thank you. I have thought about this situation so much and seriously have been praying for the whole Duggar family. And just so saddened by the lack of GRACE that is being shown them. I have spent time with the duggars and they are some of the most kind, humble people that I have known. And to see people treat them so horribly is heart breaking. I so affirm what you are saying here. Thank you for this.

Nicole Russell Willis said...

Hugs to you!

Nicole Russell Willis said...

Whoops, meant to write more. I hope your know your artwork is the highlight of my IG feed on many days and you are sharing such goodness to the world! :) I agree people are so quick to judge and are being terrible in this case! Why they want to celebrate such hurtful things is beyond me.
I hope you know how mnay people appreciate you and the awesome talent you bring to the world!! :)

ann marie Luckow said...

I just want to thank you. And hug you. And high five you. And thank you again. <3

Jackie Lee said...

Oh so well written and beautiful!! Thank you!

I would like your permission to copy the last two paragraphs in your blog and substitute my name for yours. It's a statement I would love to make publicly.

Jackie in So California

Jen said...

Girl. My heart hurts for what you've been through, yet fills for the grace and growth that has resulted. Nothing we suffer is in vain when we surrender ourselves to the Lord. I avoid news like you and did not know about what's going on with the Duggars. Again, my heart hurts. Grace covers so much and you are so right on--we all need it!! All of us who call on the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should be the first to admit exactly what you did. We are ALL messed up and need Him so desperately! Hugs sister. 💗

Bunnyslady said...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for writing this post. I was molested by my cousin when I was 7 and her was 13. I immediately told my Mother, because I was too ashamed to tell my Father. Since my Dad didn't think it was important enough, he forced me to spend time with my cousin year after year at Thanksgiving. Eventually my cousin did the same thing to my step-sister. It took my a lot to get over it, but like you, I have no ill will for him. He was just a kid that did not know what his actions would cause or why it was wrong. My father failing to keep me out of harm's way; that is a different story. I have learned to forgive them both, because that is what I believe the Lord would want me to do. Instead of harboring hatred or bad emotions, I have prayed for them to be forgiven and to find peace in their actions. It isn't easy; but we were all created to be sinners. We just have to remember to ask for forgiveness.

april said...

This is the most thoughtful, thought-provoking, and all-sides-considered commentary that I have read about this situation. I pray that God's grace becomes the focus of the whole story... Thank you for sharing this. I know it must have been difficult.

Julie said...

Took the words right out of my mouth. I pray for healing to always be a process within you. As a victim I know that healing is a constant process and even the slightest things can trigger sad, harmful, and scary memories. I'm glad that you are open and honest about your testimony. Testimonies are to share and show Gods healing power in all situations. Smile today and know that you, Christian woman, are serving our God on a platform all to His Glory!!

Maureen Polderman said...

Ok, so I just stopped by your blog today because I follow you on IG and love your necklaces!! But this totally spoke to my heart and I am thankful for your perspective. I too was a victim of molestation...a 14 year old family member. My parents didn't know for over 10 years, and we are still dealing with the ripple effects in our family. It is a hard situation all the way around. I have experienced shame and guilt, anger, and done a lot of stupid things myself as a result...but I also chose the path of forgiveness when I was 15 years old and I would say th same as you...I would plead for mercy on behalf of the one who abused. This is only by the grace of Jesus in my life and the healing His love and forgiveness hhas brought.

Anyway, thank you for your honesty and making me feel just a little less alone in my decision and belief concerning my own story. It's refreshing and encouraging to know I am not alone in my experience or my response to it!

And I still need to get me one of your necklaces!!

Lee Ann said...

Thank you so much for expressing the feelings I couldn't find words for when the Duggar story broke. It seemed like people thought if they shamed Josh Duggar loudly enough, it would show their compassion for victims of sexual abuse and place them on the "right" side of the tragedy. Instead, it just triggered all my old feelings of shame. No one asks to be sexually abused, and what survivors need is for the issue to be discussed calmly, compassionately, without assumptions. All abuse survivors are different people with different feelings and different stories; we don't need well-meaning people to stand out there and pound their chests and yell about how much they care without admitting that they themselves could just as easily have been victims or perpetrators themselves. We just need a community that is gentle and empathic. And we need to know that even juvenile perpetrators, like Josh Duggar, can be treated with dignity and respect for their essential humanness, not shame. I don't need to live in a world anymore that is filled with shame.

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