Jill Duggar’s Revelation of How Her Parents Treat Her Is Heartbreaking but Not Surprising
Jill Duggar Dillard is telling all in her new memoir, Counting the Cost, and one particularly heartbreaking revelation about her parents’ treatment of her that should be surprising, sadly isn’t. The past few years have seen Dillard exposing the lies and scandals behind the Duggars’ family of 19 children who appeared on the reality show 19 Kids and Counting while growing up. She also appeared on Counting On, which followed several of the adult Duggar children’s lives. At one point, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their army of children captivated the nation, with their reality show becoming the most popular show on TLC. They touted themselves as a happy, perfect, god-fearing family, spreading the gospel and love of god with others.
However, it was all just a façade. In 2015, 19 Kids and Counting was canceled after news surfaced that the Duggars’ oldest son, Joshua Duggar, had molested five girls, several of whom were his siblings. This was just the beginning of the end for the Duggars. After they tried to continue their television career with Counting On, that show was subsequently canceled when Joshua was arrested and convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography. Since Joshua’s imprisonment, more disturbing details about the Duggar family have surfaced.
Dillard and her husband, Derrick, have been vital in exposing the dark secrets behind the Duggars. Through her participation in the docuseries Shiny Happy People and her new memoir, she has detailed the disturbing rhetoric of Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles that the Duggars adhere to, as well as how Jim Bob and Michelle attempted to cover up Joshua’s abuse, pressured their minor daughters to defend their abuser on live television, and didn’t appropriately compensate the children for filming the reality shows.
Dillard allegedly wasn’t paid for appearing on her family’s reality show for almost a decade and was tricked by her father into signing a contract agreeing to be filmed for five years. Now, her memoir delves deeper into her fractured relationship with her parents.
Jill Duggar Dillard opens up about how her parents treat her
In one excerpt of her memoir, Dillard details how her parents responded to her confronting them about their actions. She recounts a heated encounter she and Derrick had with her parents after writing them a letter explaining why they were so hurt by everything regarding the show and more. They wanted it to be a reconciliation meeting but instead say they were yelled at and gaslit by Jim Bob and Michelle, who accused them of being “disrespectful” and detailed how “offended” they were that Dillard had accused them of verbal abuse. Dillard says that when she began to cry, Jim Bob claimed it was because she knew she was “guilty.” In response, Dillard told him she was crying because “You treat me worse than you treat my pedophile brother.”
At this point, Joshua had abused five girls, been exposed for cheating on his wife via Ashley Madison, and was convicted of possessing child pornography. All Dillard had done was wear pants and get a nose ring, which goes against the rules of her strict upbringing, and attempt to get her parents to take accountability for their actions. It should be shocking that her parents treated her worse than their convicted criminal son, especially because Dillard is one of Joshua’s victims. However, it’s not. Since the beginning, Jim Bob and Michelle have stood by Joshua, from minimizing his abuse of his sisters to writing letters asking for leniency in his sentencing. It’s a phenomenon we see all too often in religious institutions and families.
How religious extremists foster abusive environments
Dillard’s story isn’t an isolated incident, as there have been numerous allegations of cult-like religions protecting male abusers while simultaneously treating every perceived offense from women as a significant crime. In Dillard’s case, Joshua’s sexual abuse was covered up and forgiven, yet the Duggars view women and girls wearing pants as a major sin. Similarly, IBLP is centered around controlling everything women do, while its followers have ignored dozens of accusations of sexual abuse by its leader, Bill Gothard.
Meanwhile, the Church of Scientology has been accused of stalking and harassing Danny Masterson’s victims for coming forward about his abuse. Masterson has since been found guilty of rape, but the Church was more perturbed that these women disclosed the abuse of a prominent member than it was about Masterson being an abuser. Leah Remini has also accused the Church of launching an extensive harassment campaign against her for speaking out against it, while it continually disregards the many allegations of abuse against its leader, David Miscavige.
Meanwhile, Tara Westover, born to survivalist Mormon parents, details a strikingly similar story to Dillard in Educated, in which her parents disparaged her for wanting an education but allowed her brother to abuse her in their home persistently. In one Mennonite community, which inspired Women Talking, victims of sexual assault were discredited or told to forgive their abusers, or face discipline.
These instances raise awareness of how abuse thrives in extreme religious communities, organizations, and families. Women in these communities are viewed as inferior and raised to be submissive. Hence, any sign that they’re questioning the religion or exercising any control over their own lives is viewed as a massive sin. However, since men are supposed to control women in these communities, their abuse of women isn’t considered a sin, or at least not a major one.
Additionally, many of these churches consider leaving the faith or questioning the religion and its leaders to be the ultimate offense. At the same time, they are willing to forgive the abuse of those who remain loyal members. Those within the church accept this rhetoric, and then we get families like the Duggars and Westovers, who are hyper-focused on how their daughters dress while actively protecting sons who are abusers and predators.
The fact that these stories are gaining awareness raises hope of these religious organizations being held accountable for participating in, perpetuating, and covering up abuse. Even if they’re not the actual abusers, parents and religious leaders can still absolutely be responsible for abuse by creating an environment that fosters it. In all the above examples, abuse flourished because of the perceptions of women, parenthood, and control that religion ingrained in these communities and families.
Sadly, IBLP and the Church of Scientology are still active, as are some more extreme sects of Christianity and LDS. However, with stories like Dillard’s that so plainly display the disturbing disparity between how religious extremists treat victims and abusers, the truth behind these cults is slowly being exposed, which could challenge the power and influence they hold.
(featured image: Prime Video)
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