I was abused by a family member (adopted father) for a very long time. Although we reported the offender when younger, he didn't get stopped until I was a young adult.
I am from a medium size town and I have an unusual last name. My family was held up as pillars of the community. A religious family that had adopted x amount of children and was so godly and great. My abuser had won Father of the Year.
A police report was filed when I was in my early 20's by my sister. It had been a long time coming and I was fully supportive of the decision. I didn't live in the town and lived very far away having escaped when I turned 18. What I didn't realize is that it would become a news story for our local press.
It immediately hit the news when he was arrested. TV news cameras camped out on my childhood home. Due to our unusual last name plus good doer status in the community, it was a media shit storm. I was very lucky that this was pre Facebook days and other social media.
My adopted mother made statements that sounded very similar to the Duggars. Ass covering statements that invoked God and other things. My abuser had also gone to religious "therapy" when he got caught the first time. It didn't help. It just taught him how to better coerce our silence with religious guilt. Both my sister and I were told regularly that we needed to forgive and move on and that we would be poor and other things if this ever came out. Kind of hard to do when you are still being abused.
I'm sure the Duggar girls have been given similar messages. The gravy train will come to an end if they speak up or say anything. I both understand their silence and also find it troubling.
The media coverage was relentless. There was a story every day while the trial was going on. I was silent through out. Sordid details about my abuse were printed in the newspaper. I ended up in therapy which I really needed, but this was the breaking point. Not only did you have to repeat painful details to the police and trust me, you leave out things because some things you just bury really, really deep...but now the public gets to read all about them.
It feels so shameful. Your friends, ex boyfriends, frenemies, doctor, teachers, random strangers all know intimate details about your life.
I was lucky to have an immediate strong group of friends who surrounded me and loved me through all of this. There were friends who didn't know how to react but for the most part, I was loved. These were post childhood friends and are all still good friends who I consider family.
Everyone from my childhood was a cone of silence. I knew they were talking about it but no one asked me directly about it. Even now as an adult, years later, I get people who skirt around the issue. It's the elephant in the room. I know you know but we pretend like it didn't happen. People are naturally curious but I would rather you ask me directly. I had to have some very frank conversations with my BF from HS. She just didn't know how to deal with that information. I think she felt guilty about not knowing. I explained how her home and family were an escape for me and that she had nothing to feel guilty about.
For a long time, I felt like a freak show. That I had this invisible scarlet letter on me. Sure I had gone on to be a successful adult but I had this asterisks next to my name. Damaged goods. I'm not damaged goods.
The news coverage lasted through two trials. In the first one, a plea bargain was struck and he was going to prison for 16 years. The US Supreme Court (yes that one) ruled that there was a statute of limitations for adult survivors. It invalidated a huge number of charges. It was devastating. A new trial saw another plea bargain for reduced years. I believe there should be no statute of limitations.
My abuser is no longer alive. He went to prison, got out on good behavior and then was killed by a drunk driver. My adopted mother is still in a world of denial. Angry at me for "ruining" her life. When my abuser died, it came out that she had never divorced him.
I feel for the Duggar girls. They are damned if they do, damned if they don't. They are trapped in a media circus where they have no say. Everybody gets to talk except for them. I hope they are surrounded by love and support. I send nothing but sympathy and empathy to them.
Comments are closed on this story.