I’m very firmly camped in that last camp.
First off, I’m a victim of sexual abuse. I have never been raped, but my mother’s husband used to grab my ass through my clothes, so I know EXACTLY what Josh’s victims went through. At first I tried to avoid it. Then I tried to normalize it by reciprocating. This is actually a fairly common habit of abuse victims, especially sexual abuse victims. If I play along I am exerting some form of power over the situations and making it normal and therefore okay.
It doesn’t make it okay. It doesn’t make it better. It actually gets things more muddled because then you do the ‘what if I encouraged it? I did something just as wrong!”
You didn’t. On both counts. Hold onto that. Never forget it. It is not your fault. It was never your fault. You coped. You survived. And no one gets to judge you for that. The rest of the world can fuck off.
I made it stop when I screamed at him the summer I was leaving for university. My mother was there and she told him he had to stop after I yelled at him. I don’t yell. Yelling triggers the shit out of me. None of my friends have heard me yell, ever, and I’ve had some of them in my life for as long as nine years.
I’m in the process of letting go, but I haven’t forgiven him. I probably never will. I’m not going to stay angry about this forever, but I am going to feel vaguely disdainful of that man until I die. He doesn’t occupy enough of my mind or my life that I will let him have power over me, even if that power is controlling my hate. But he will always be something I feel negative towards. Like splinters. Or papercuts. So I’m not going to forgive him.
But Josh was just a boy! That’s different, because this was obviously a man.
My first sexual experience I was in grade 2 or so. My family was in deep with a family down the road. The oldest boy was 2 years older than me. Try and remember that 2 years between grades 2 and 4 is a much larger gap, both with regards to physical and emotional development than grades 10 and 12.
I remember him chasing me. I remember him pinning me to the ground and rolling me over so I was on my back. I remember him forcing his tongue through my lips. I remember his tongue scraping against my teeth. And I remember how much my jaw hurt from keeping it clamped shut.
And I told people. I told my mom. She laughed and told me I used to kiss his little brother when we went to playschool together (we were the same age). And I couldn’t make her, make anyone, understand that this was no a simple play kiss. This was no peck on the lips or smack on the cheek. He forced me to the ground and forced his tongue in my mouth.
That was twenty years ago and I can still remember parts of it, how it felt, perfectly.
So Josh Duggar and every single person defending his actions can catch Ebola for all I care. He did something awful. Indescribably awful. Time isn’t going to make it better. It isn’t going to make it go away. He has permanently marked all of his victims. So what if he’s sorry?
There are two reasons to tell someone that you are sorry. The first is because you do regret your reactions. The best I’ve seen in this style of apology is Jonah Hill’s. He wasn’t asking for forgiveness. He specifically states he isn’t asking for forgiveness. He’s acknowledging the harm he has caused and is expressing regret.
The second, which is what Josh is doing, is searching for forgiveness. You don’t apologize to seek forgiveness. If you have to apologize you have lost the right to ask for forgiveness. You can hope for it, but you don’t get to ask for it.
Because when you ask for forgiveness you are claiming that the burden of your crime is greater than the burden of harm that your crime has caused. When Josh Duggar asks for forgiveness he is telling us, telling his victims, that his secret shame of touching girls is more traumatizing than the pain of being a girl who has been touched, and that we need to let him off the hook so he doesn’t have to feel this way anymore.
I will not.
If his victims choose to forgive him, they are doing it for themselves so they can move on. If they choose not to forgive, but to let go while remembering that Josh Duggar acted like a monster, I give them all the solidarity I can.
Josh Duggar sowed whirlwind. His parents and all the people involved in covering this up have created this whirlwind. And even now, they are asking us to focus on his pain, how boys have urges and how women, even little girls, should let boys act on their urges because being a boy is hard. Yes, it is far harder to abuse people sexually than to be sexually abused *eyeroll*.
Kate Reid wrote a song about Robert Pickton, a Canadian serial killer whose total number of victims is estimated at nearly 50. I feel like it applies not just to him, but to all men who continue to be violent towards women, and especially men whose justification for these action relies soley on the part where having a penis makes it okay.
I am truly sorry for his victims and am disgusted that these sexist, homophobic, sanctimoniously hypocrites are still finding supporters in the midst of these accusations.
No More Missing Daughters by Kate Reid
It’s another day
There’s blood in the buckets
You’re burying the bones
You twisted daughterfucker
Chorus: If I had my way I would make you pay
We would post your face
All over town
And everyone around
Would know you were the one
Chorus: If I had my way
You’d be afraid
Pack of angry bitches
We would band together
We would hunt you down
Stiletto heel to the soul
Steel-toe to the mind
There’d be no more missing daughters
No more sisters crying
Chorus: Cuz if I had my way
If I had my way
If I had my way
If I had my way
If I had my way (in another time and place)
If I had my way (these friendly smiles)
If I had my way (would vanish from our faces) I
f I had my way (and release the rage inside)
If I had my way
You’d be dead.