Childhood sexual trauma: What happens when the predator is your brother?

If you are alive and awake, you’ve likely read or heard about Josh Duggar, of the television show 19 Kids and Counting, molesting his sisters and a babysitter. From the television interviews, released police report, and news reports, it appears as if Josh admitted, in real time, at least 5 instances of sexual assault. While there is far too much parent bashing in the media, by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar’s own admission, they did not report the crimes perpetrated upon their daughters and babysitter for at least 18 months, and Jim Bob, in particular, was told each time Josh molested again. Today we see more of the Duggars on television talking of their son Josh being crucified by the public, and we hear less about the victimization and repeated sexual abuse of their daughters.

Parents' Job

Josh was 15 at the time, a child, whose parents protected him the best they could. They tried to help him. That is the job of parents: protect your children and help them. All well and good. However, Josh’s sisters were even younger and more vulnerable. They needed even more protection than their brother, a predator living among them. They needed help. Michelle and Jim Bob did not protect them, and did not help them.

According to their account, and to their credit, they put rules in place like not letting boys babysit the girls, not letting them out of site, and not allowing “hide and seek.” What they didn’t do is report the sexual assault to the police, which would have stopped it. What they didn’t do is protect and help their daughters. When a predator, who by definition preys on the vulnerable, is living under the same roof as the victims, the victims are not protected. The public may never know, nor should we, in my opinion, whether and how many times Josh continued to molest during the 16 months before reporting the crimes to the authorities. But to be sure, Josh the child sexual predator had means and opportunities – parents have to sleep sometime.

Three Crimes

Crime number one is the daughters’ molestations as they were perpetrated. Crime number two is that Mr. and Mrs. Duggar did not protect their daughters, after the fact, by reporting that their young daughters were molested and removing Josh from the home. Crime number three is still happening: the Duggars are rallying around Josh, minimizing both the fact of the molestation and the impact by inserting qualifiers about it not being rape, Josh made a mistake, it happened over the clothes, just for a few minutes, and while the girls were asleep.

Child molesting is child molesting. You’re not a little bit molested. You’re molested. Whether or not their young daughters were awake, wearing clothes, or remember it, make no mistake, it has harmed them and will continue to harm them. Being molested by their brother will live with them forever. And so will their mother and father minimizing it.

What can we do?

What can you and I, as parents, do differently? Value our children, believe them, report their molester – regardless of, and especially if he is their brother in the same house; don’t minimize the crimes, pain, and impact of the trauma.

And we can call someone for help. Right now. Not in 16 months.

If you suspect your child, or a child you know, has been molested, protect them. Help them. Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), anytime, day or night, in any of 200 languages.

If you are a child being molested, believe it and know that no one has the right to molest you. Call the Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453), and then press 1 to talk to a counselor. Call anytime, day or night. They will help make it stop and give you support. All calls are confidential.

And as always, I’m here. You can reach me in Seattle at Balance Insight, 206-790-7270.

Thanks for reading, and be well.

~ Robin