comScore Duggar Sisters, Jill and Jessa, Speak Out About Molestation | The Mary Sue
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Duggar Sisters, Jill and Jessa, Speak Out About Molestation in TLC Special Counting On

I didn’t really watch much of the Duggar family’s show, 19 Kids and Counting. However, when it came out that the eldest Duggar brother, Josh, had allegedly molested several underage girls, including his sisters, my heart went out to those girls. Thankfully, Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald are now coming to the fore to speak out about what they’ve been through in a new TLC special, Counting On.

One of the things that’s been most disappointing to me regarding the entire Duggar scandal is that most of the focus has been on Josh – how screwed up he is. What a pervert he is. His sex addiction. What his family has to say about him. It irritates me when those who do harm get all the press, while those who suffered at their hands are mere names on a list. Granted, there are some very good reasons why certain victims might choose not to speak publicly – protecting their mental well-being, for starters. However, I wish that the media did a better job of sensitively focusing their stories on the lives changed by criminal acts, rather than putting the focus on the criminals themselves – sensationalizing their horrible actions for ratings and giving them lots of attention so that, no matter what they’ve done, on some level they seem “cool.” Or, at least morbidly interesting.

I’m glad to see, then, that TLC – the network that put the Duggars in the spotlight in the first place – is dealing with this as responsibly as they can, having cancelled 19 Kids and Counting, given the Duggar women a documentary called Breaking the Silence, in which they spoke with other survivors of childhood sexual abuse (while not referring to their own situation at all) in order to raise awareness and in an attempt to make child molestation less taboo to talk about.

Now, in Counting On, they are finally stepping forward about their own situation, and judging by the trailer above, they are doing so with strength, grace, and hope. Also judging by this trailer, it’s likely they’ll spend more time on how media scrutiny of this element of their lives has hurt them, rather than on the incidents themselves – but this is an important conversation to be having as well. How do survivors of trauma want to see themselves presented, if at all? How can we better report on such things as news without being exploitative? How can we care for survivors as a community?

I wish the Duggar women well, and I hope that Counting On both allows them some modicum of closure, as well as serves to inform the conversation about being better humans in our media coverage of survivors.

(via The Hollywood Reporter; image via screenshot)

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