An open letter to those posting about Joshua Duggar: a survivors viewpoint #JoshuaDuggar #19kids #SexualAssault

I spent all day yesterday avoiding Facebook. I’m an author, and I use Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms for marketing. So that means is I got no work done. I spent the day watching Hallmark series on Netflix and avoiding social media. I’ve told several people, those whom I would consider friends, but I’m not sure I’ve announced it publicly yet. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I was a victim once but a consider myself a survivor.

Needless to say this gives me a unique perspective. It also means I’m susceptible to triggers, which would be why I spend all day yesterday avoiding social media. Joshua Duggar is the oldest child of a gigantic family. And he made some mistakes, bad mistakes. I feel, given my position, I have a unique perspective on what’s going on, on what’s happening, on what should and should not be happening.

It’s hard to understand why posting something about this is hard. You’re not just sharing the gossip of the world, but you’re exposing friends and family who have been assaulted to something that could potentially trigger them in unwanted feelings and emotions. Each and every time something comes out about a celebrity and sexual assault, I have to avoid all social media. It’s not easy. It’s a disruption to my life, but it’s not only that.

I get to see defenders of whatever party is being accused, and I get to see people who wish desperately violent thoughts on the offender. Neither one is healthy. Neither one is good. And neither one is appropriate. Joshua Duggar is an offender. He admitted it, which frankly doesn’t really happen all that often, so I have to give him props for that. My own abuser won’t admit it. His family won’t admit how often it’s happened or that it’s even happened (and yes, it wasn’t just to me). To them it’s all just in my head, so having your abuser and your abusers family admit that it happened is a way to propel the abused toward healing.

Admitting what happened is a HUGE step toward making something else happen with the offender. That something else is recovery. It’s probably very much like an addiction in this one regard. The temptations never go away, but when you’re recognizing them, they’re easier to deal with and resist. Easier doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. Easier doesn’t mean the temptations will go away and vanish. Easier doesn’t mean forgiveness shouldn’t be given or action against the offender (legal action) shouldn’t be taken.

I, even as a survivor of sexual assault, think people can change. I have to believe that; I have to have hope people can otherwise where would this world be? We’d be stuck in dark, depressing times that don’t function to move forward in any direction. Does that mean I think Joshua Duggar has changed? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think me as a public viewer of the show from a distance can make that determination at all. What I do know is this.

People change. People make mistakes. People have sicknesses that makes them unable to control their temptations. It takes work, hard work and constant work and consistent work to make changes in our own personal lives. Nothing is every “fixed” by a few months of counseling, especially something like this. Admitting what happened is only one step. Taking responsibility is another. Continuing to protect yourself and others from having molestation, rape, assault, whatever happen again, is a step that never stops happening.

So please, to those of you who keep posting about, to those of you who keep saying things, think about this:

1. Each post you make can trigger someone who has experienced abuse in the past.
2. It’s a complicated situation, and making broad statements of death and dismemberment hurts not only society in your negativity but those who have suffered abuse in creating a new trauma, and those who are actually trying to work on their problems (I’m not saying Joshua Duggar is; I’m saying some people are).
3. We do need to talk about sexual abuse. Completely 100% agree on that. But why is it we only talk about sexual abuse when it involves a celebrity? If 7 out of every 10 women are sexually assaulted by the time they finish college (which was a statistic I was given in high school, so it’s probably changed now), which is a RIDICULOUS number by the way, then we NEED to be talking about sexual assault in a very very different way. We need to talk about it realistically and not just when it’s the newest gossip on the block.

Here are some good websites to help those dealing with sexual assault and to help educate those around them.

RAINN
Joyful Heart Foundation
Safe Horizon
Speak Your Silence
Women’s Freedom Center

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alana Terry
    May 23, 2015 @ 10:27:09

    Thanks so much for sharing this. It is so sad that in either preparing to lynch or vehemently defending someone, most people forget to think about the survivors.

    Reply

  2. Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
    May 24, 2015 @ 10:47:15

    Thank you for this post, Adrian. I’m a rape survivor, and have to avoid social media at times as well. I hadn’t kept up with Game of Thrones, so was blindsided last week.

    I appreciate your sensible and sensitive points for people to remember in this debate.

    Reply

    • Adrian
      May 24, 2015 @ 12:22:12

      I don’t watch GoT so yeah no idea what happened there. Thanks for stopping by. Things like this need to be talked about safely.

      Reply

      • Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
        May 24, 2015 @ 12:35:22

        I agree, safely, without name calling or hyperbole, which helps no one.

        The GoT scene was a rape between characters who knew each other. FB was full of the usual date rape crap. Not good for me to stumble across. . .

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