This post is an summary of the Fox News interview with Jill (Duggar) Dillard and Jessa (Duggar) Seewald about the sex abuse scandal surrounding their family. My summary with the interview with their parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, can be read here.
The Duggar Interview: An Overview (Part 2)
As surprised as I was that Jim Bob and Michelle decided to do an interview, I was even more surprised when I heard that two of the victims, Jill and Jessa, would reveal themselves…let alone do an interview. I think that it was very brave for them to do so. They’re victims, and I believe that they had every right not to speak to anyone on this matter so the fact that they sat down with ANYONE to speak about it is commendable.
These young ladies seemed so young to me. Jill (who is the older of the two, the one on the right pictured above) actually seems a little bit younger than Jessa not just in looks, but in her overall persona. She was also the most overtly emotional. I know a lot of people their age (22 and 24)…Jill and Jessa seem young to me. They feel young to me.
Even though Jill and Jessa look and “feel” young, they held their own in this interview. They stated their opinions/feelings/truth clearly and firmly. They spoke their minds. People might not like what they had to say, but you can’t say that they weren’t outspoken. They spoke with conviction.
Points of Interest
Here are some points of interest from the interview in no particular order:
- Jill and Jessa did the interview because they wanted to set the record straight. They felt that there had been a lot of untruths told in the process of their story and wanted to tell their side of the story.
- Jill pointed out that her parents have always said that they aren’t a perfect family.
- They seemed to corroborate many of the details that Jim Bob and Michelle shared. No big surprise there. There were a few differences that I noted here and there.
- They have forgiven Josh for what he did. Jill shared that Jim Bob told them that Trust wasn’t the same as Forgiveness and that trust had to be rebuilt. Jill said that she (and Jessa by assumed extension) wasn’t forced to forgive him, but that she chose to forgive him.
- Jill and Jessa were 10 and 12 when the abuse happened. They didn’t really know/have a concept of time for how long Josh was in the house with them after the last time he confessed.
- They corroborate Jim Bob and Michelle’s assertion that the victims were asleep or were unaware of what had happened. They said that they didn’t know it had happened until Jim Bob and Michelle pulled them aside individually and talked about it.
- They avoided giving any real details about what had happened.
- They corroborated what Jim Bob and Michelle’s assertion that some of the girls didn’t understand what had happened. I’ve been thinking about that some since the first interview, and I think that I can sort of “see” what they mean. Perhaps it was done in a way that seemed like an accident.
- One difference between what was said in the first interview vs. the girls’ interview was that the touching took place with clothes on. That doesn’t match up with what Jim Bob, Michelle, and the police report said.
- When they went to the authorities, Jim Bob told them to go in and tell their story and to be honest with the interviewers because no one was going to tell anyone what they said.
- When she found out that the police report had been released and that it would be in the media, Jill called her husband and cried.
- Similar to their parents, Jill and Jessa expressed the sentiment that the report was released and reported on because the Duggar family is bing persecuted for their beliefs. They also brought up that the magazine that ran the story was owned by a company that also produces pornography and that it was all an attempt to exploit women.
- They reported that Josh was repentant before he was sent away and came back a changed person who was “humble before God.”
- They said that the social workers had deemed their home to be a safe place for children and that they were impressed with how the family had come through the investigation. This seems to corroborate Jim Bob’s assertion that they were given a “clean bill” from the state. Whether this was a sentiment shared by the social workers directly with the children or something that the parents reported to the children is unclear.
- They received professional counseling.
Jill and Jessa seemed very strong and in command during this interview. For most of the interview, I didn’t feel like I was listening to victims. Jessa was the least emotional, but probably the most outspoken of the two. The fact that they were strong and the spirit that they showed in sharing their story are basically the only positive things that I have to say about this interview.
In saying that those were the only positive things that I could say, I’m not necessarily saying that the interview was completely awful, though it had it’s cringeworthy moments, which I’ll get to.
- I think that it was a mistake for the Duggars to go on record talking about how they are being persecuted for their beliefs and for the political stances they’ve taken etc., etc. They did this in both interviews. I won’t comment on the veracity of such statements, but I will say that it felt out of place in the context of these interviews because it comes off as whining and possibly even blame shifting. I don’t think that it rings true when one says that they’re being persecuted…I think that its an observation better made by outside parties.
- The girls went off on a slight tangent about the ‘tabloids’ and their relationship to the porn industry and how they exploit women. Once again, I won’t comment on the veracity of these statements. I will say, however, that these assertions sounded like malarkey because the way that it was communicated sounded like a bunch of conspiracy theory. I feel that if one is going to make such statements, it’s best to do so with searchable facts from reputable resources.
- They kept referring to the abuse as a ‘mistake.’ I had a serious problem with this. A mistake is something that happens once. After that, it’s a choice. Josh molested FIVE different girls and confessed to it happening on THREE different occasions. I can’t call that mistake. Yes, it technically is a mistake. But I feel like calling this offense a mistake trivializes sexual abuse. The Duggars need to adopt a new word for this incident.
It’s important, that as we relate to the Duggar family (and when I say relate, I mostly mean our discussions on social media, but it can apply in other spheres) we avoid either putting them on a pedestal or tearing them way down.
The Duggars are not perfect people. They are not the epitome of anything. They’re regular people. We shouldn’t canonize them. We shouldn’t be surprised to hear that they have skeletons in their closet. We don’t have to defend them. Our opinion of them makes us good nor bad, right nor wrong, democrat nor republican.
Likewise, there are worse people on earth than the Duggar family. It’s unfair to call them names. It’s unfair to act like they’re the scum of the earth because you disagree with them.
Josh Duggar committed a major offense against God and his family. He and his family haven’t denied this fact.
There are things about this situation that are frustrating. These interviews, especially Jim Bob and Michelle’s interview, have left us with more questions than answers.
As a Christian, I feel the tension of valuing repentance and forgiveness but also valuing justice. As reassuring it is for me to hear that Josh repented and that it was water under the bridge for the Duggars up to this point, there’s part of me that says, “He repented. Great, but what about the victims? How do they really feel? Did the parents do all that they could to ensure the safety of all of the kids?”
I believe that Jesus can take away our sins and renew our sinful minds, but I can’t help but feel concerned that victims are being silenced and harmed by the way we understand and apply this principle. I’m not saying that this applies 100% to this case, but in general.
I don’t like how the Duggars are getting dragged by the media and people on the internet. A lot of what’s being said about them is unfair and excessive. I completely understand why people are upset…I just disagree with how a lot of it is manifesting. Name-calling and attacking their beliefs and lifestyle is too much. Blaming their beliefs and lifestyle is too much.
I don’t like the extreme positions that people are taking in this. Some people act like you’re ignorant if you don’t rip the Duggars to shreds. Others find you suspect if you aren’t entirely sympathetic to Josh and everyone else in the situation. Where’s the happy medium? Can I be appalled by what happened, but not want to burn Josh and his parents at the stake? Can I accept that Josh repented and has been forgiven of his sins, but also question how the situation was handled?
I hope that Jill, Jessa, and the rest of their siblings, spouses, in-laws, and parents can heal and find peace soon.