Saturday, May 23, 2015

On Duggars and Rugs

There's gonna be so much commentary on the revelation that Josh Duggar molested young girls when he was a teenager, and that it was swept under the rug of a family and church, I am almost loathe to write my own. However, as more and more of it accrues, I feel like it would be ridiculous for me, of all people, to just sit here flipping through cat photos.

The title of this post, though, is misleading because this post will be more about my own experience with incest and molestation than it will be about the Duggars. That's because I am not a member of the Duggar family, therefore do not possess the level of privy to that situation that would justify me speaking directly to or about it.

I do, however, have my own direct experience with an accusation of sexual molestation against a family member. In fact, I wrote a while memoir about it. In verse.

And this whole Duggar situation is bringing it up again. And I have some things to say.

So here we go.

When I was a young child, I behaved in a way that caused my mother to suspect that I had been exposed to sexual contact. Upon asking me a few questions, her suspicions were confirmed and, further, my paternal uncle became the object of her suspicions. She reported her fears to my father.

At some point down the road, my father made a report to an official government authority. The delay caused the court to have some suspicions of their own about my parents - Why didn't they report right away?

I have my own issues with that to this day.

I have several issues, but we'll get into those later.

I was apparently interviewed by a social worker and detailed an act of molestation committed against me by my paternal uncle.

I remember neither the incident, nor the interview. But it's there in black and white. I can read it, and have read it, and it's a mind-blow, I'll tell you. To read yourself as a child saying words you don't remember saying that describe an incident you don't entirely remember happening - LSD can't even send you on that kind of trip.

The result of the official investigation by the official goverment agency was that I had been molested by my paternal uncle and that therefore I should have no further contact with him, and that I should receive counseling, and that he should have counseling.

I never saw my paternal uncle, or most of my father's family, again.

I don't recall any counseling sessions whatsoever.

In fact, court documents reflect that my parents were fairly non-compliant with any follow-up orders from the court.

My parents packed up the trailer, and me, and moved somewhere else and didn't talk about it.  That's what I remember. Rug-sweeping, anyone?

And I, in many ways, remain a broken girl, now a broken woman, single, with a history of failed, unsatisfying sexual-romantic relationships. With a lot of questions.

Here are a few:

If the court determined that I had been molested, why was my molester allowed to walk free and unmonitered? Did they believe me a little bit but not enough? Did they believe he would molest me and no one else? And

What the hell am I supposed to do with the idea that my uncle is an okay, pretty safe guy who maybe only molested me? 

Does this mean that I'm just - what? -particularly molestable? That they feel pretty good that everyone else is safe?

Or that I was lying, but just in case...

Also, why weren't more strident attempts on the part of the agency made to make sure I received the counseling I needed?

This is who I am today, and these are the questions I still have today, and the struggles in my relationships I still have today, and that is with official, unbiased government involvement. 

I can't imagine the smorgasbord of issues I would have had had this incident been handled completely in-house, in-family or even in-church.

Then again, maybe things would have turned out better.  I don't know. I, like everyone else, can only imagine. Even though I've lived as a sexual abuse survivor, I still can't speak directly to the Duggar family or any other case of molestation.

It is particularly interesting to me, though, to watch others try.

What's most upsetting is to watch the emphasis being placed on the perpetrator. Once again, (again, again, again) it's the Sexual Abuser Star Show.  All the psychological profiling, all the discussion of consequences, all the judgments, all the talk is of him, him, him.

I know that this is, in part, because the media has access to information about him, and not to his victims, and they can only discuss what they have information on.

Also, though, this is because evil is interesting.  Evil is entertaining.

If they chose, media could take the opportunity to focus on the victims, without their names, without specifics.

They could use this as an opportunity to discuss what help victims need, not what punishment the offender deserves.

They could discuss how victims triumph and become survivors, not how offenders' dirty laundry eventually outs.

Instead of perpetuating the obsession we have as a society with the bad guy, with figuring him out, with punishing him, with avoiding him, with rehabilitating him, with him, him, him, can we PLEASE one day focus on the immediate victims who have had their lives shattered? When these incidents happen, can we study and discuss and pass around Facebook articles on how they survive, how they thrive, how they build lives that are truly healed and happy?

Because, from one victim to a world obsessed with the perpetrator, that's what I would like to know.


Julie said...

Thank you for writing this, Amber. I really appreciate your candid perspective.

Amber said...

Thanks for reading, Julie.

Corina H. said...

I found your blog through Blondie at On Station Two; this could have been me writing this story, except the part where anyone actually gave a damn enough to contact authorities. But that part about being this old, with several failed sexual relationships (paraphrasing), aye, that hit home. Thanks for putting this out there!

Amber said...

Thanks for letting me know this post matters to someone, Corina. I'm glad this was here for you to read, but so sorry that you can relate to it. I wish there were more help.

Corina H. said...

Amber, may I share this post on my Facebook, with appropriate credit given to you?

Amber said...

Absolutely, Corina! That would be great.

Corina H. said...

OK! Thank you!