We live in a society built on appearances. Children are taught to fear the creepy, weird looking dude down the street or watch out for someone who looks/acts/speaks differently than they do. We are trained to embrace those who seem like “us”. When news comes out regarding a disgraced public figure, the outcry is “but he has a family”, or “I never saw that coming” or ” this couldn’t be true”.
We don’t want to believe that something awful, something twisted could be inside such an innocuous shell. Because if evil dwells in him or her, could it be inside our friend? Our children’s teacher? Our youth leader?
The answer is yes. Predators don’t look like predators most of the time. Rapists don’t look like rapists. Abusers don’t look like that one actor with the creepy eyes that always plays the crazy husband on Lifetime movies. The real world doesn’t work that way.
Pedophiles look like the guy down the street. Like your Uncle Bob. Like the lady who runs the cosmetics counter at Walgreens. They look like PEOPLE.
And fun fact? The US Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2010 that 1 in 5 girls, and 1 in 20 boys would be the victim of sexual abuse. Keep in mind that only about 1/3 of sexual abuse cases are ever reported. (Do the math here, it will make you sick.)
According to the US Bureau of Justice statistics, 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker. More than 34% were family members. Only 7% of the attackers were strangers. We are taught to fear strangers, we are taught “stranger danger” when the bigger threat is most likely closer to home.
When it comes to the media storm the Josh Duggar story has created, there is outrage on both sides. While I have tried to understand how some feel that they need to defend this person because what he did was “so long ago” and he has “expressed remorse” and “paid his dues”, I can’t. Because really, has he? Let’s take the emotion out of it and look at facts.
- Adolescent sexual abusers generally have some common traits. Many have an inability to control the impulses and desires stemming from normal hormonal changes in puberty, whether from lack of a natural sexual outlet, a learning disability, or mental challenge.
- For up to 80% of these perpetrators, they themselves have been sexually abused, and this is what sex is to them. This is what they have learned. There is a power-control-sensory connection that is hardwired from the abuse. They tend to take the powerlessness they felt at the hands of their abuser, and turn it to someone they can feel powerful over. Add in the physical part, which feels good, but the brain says is “bad”, this can create a huge guilt/desire cycle.
- The triggers that go along with a systemic abuse of several (at least 5 from what the published reports state) young girls over the course of more than a year would not just go away. A few months of hard work and a lecture are not going to suddenly take away the need to touch, the need to exert power from this boy/man who needs it.
The fact is, this was never “dealt with”. Nobody with any actual experience dealing with sexual assault (except maybe the state trooper who had a thing for kiddie porn, and I’m thinking maybe he’s not the best choice for a mentor in this case) was brought in to counsel these girls and let them know first and foremost that THEY DID NOTHING WRONG.
THEY. DID. NOTHING. WRONG.
The parents did everything wrong. The cover ups hurt everyone. Except them. And yes, covering up this abuse hurt their son, because this is now a man who has had to live with guilt, shame, and feeling he has no way of coping with. Who knows how much damage has been done? Who knows how many women are going to come out of the woodwork and say that he did it to them too? There will be more, I am willing to bet on it. And it could have been stopped. Josh could have seen a real counselor, gotten into an effective program designed for teens just like him. Learned how to deal with triggers, and redirect impulses. Learned coping mechanisms. Same as an addict does in rehab. You wouldn’t ask someone to give up heroin after a stern lecture, would you? And believe he or she was clean because he or she showed remorse?
How many of you have experienced addiction? Or compulsive behavior? How easy is it to stop?
What makes this any different?
It’s not. Except nobody wants to believe it’s true, because if it is, then you know someone it’s happening to. And you know someone who’s assaulting another person. Or a child.
But it can’t be him, or her, right? They’re so nice. He drives a Mercedes. She plants flowers in the yard. They have the best cookies for the church 4th of July picnic… those kinds of people don’t exist in your circle, do they?
Except they do. And there are women who are victims of Josh Duggar. For every person out there screaming that he’s being victimized, please remember that the real victims here are the girls whose voices never mattered. And don’t believe for one second that a day goes by that what happened to them doesn’t taint one small piece of their happiness.
People who do bad things show remorse all the time. Usually right about the time they get caught…