Unless you live in a cheese-lined cave without wifi, you know that Josh Duggar recently confessed to molesting multiple young girls when he was a teen. Honestly, that didn’t shock me. What is making my stomach turn over this whole situation is the fact that A LOT of people are defending him. I keep seeing Facebook posts from multiple “friends” who think that Josh should be forgiven because he was a teen when this happened. And now that he is an adult, all of his abusive behavior should just disappear because he apologized and found Jesus. Well, that might work for Josh and his family, but I know for sure that time has not healed the horror his victims experienced.
My teen step-uncle molested me when I was a Sesame Street watching pre-schooler. I know that sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer or Dr. Phil, but it is actually my reality. He was the first of two pedophiles in my life. He was 13 when he first began touching me inappropriately, and 17 when it finally ended.
I remember the first time Arnold (not his real name, of course) forced me to perform oral sex. I was 3 and I was sitting on his lap in the recliner just outside of my grandma’s bedroom. Her room was directly off of the living room. My mother and I were staying at my grandmother’s house at this time. I don’t think anyone was home. It was dark. The big, old floor model TV was on, tuned in to some 1970’s show. I don’t remember the show, just the noise of the TV and the flickering lights. Arnold was babysitting me. I will leave out the graphic details. I will just tell you that I was very frightened, and I started crying. This made him angry, and he shoved me off the chair and stormed from the room.
Some time after that, I was alone in the kitchen with my grandmother. While we were standing in front of the refrigerator, I tried to tell her about what was happening with Arnold. Her sparkly blue eyes turned cold and blank. She told me never to talk like that again. I shut up immediately and never said a word about it to her again.
We moved back to Florida not too long after this. When I was in third grade, Arnold came to live with my mother and me in Florida. From what I could overhear when my mother talked to my grandmother on the phone, Arnold was having trouble in school and was too much for grandmother to handle. So, the adults thought it would be a good idea for Arnold to live with my mom and me.
Since we lived in a two-bedroom apartment, Arnold slept on the spare twin bed in my room. Previously, Arnold’s bed had been home to my stuffed animals. They were relocated to a garbage bag in the closet, which I wasn’t happy about because I thought they would suffocate.
There were two big incidents that I remember when Arnold lived with us. The first one occurred one day when I had to come home early from school for vomiting. I remember the grown-ups thinking that I vomited because I got overheated on the playground or something like that. I thought that sounded silly, but I had learned that as a kid I shouldn’t question them. Mom picked me up and brought me home. When Arnold got home from high school she went back to work.
I was lying on the black and white couch when Arnold said he wanted to “play a game.” I had been watching TV and snacking on the potato chips he had given me. I had eaten quite a few when he started his old tricks. He unzipped his pants. I immediately started to feel sick. I’m sure he must have said something first, trying to persuade me that this was a good idea, but I don’t remember any of that. I just remember vomiting potato chips. He smacked me for puking on him and the couch, and I started crying from the vomiting and from being smacked. To this day, I still cry when I puke. Neither one of us mentioned any of this to my mom when she got home.
Shortly after that, Arnold abused me for the last time. I had a bad dream and woke Arnold with my crying. He told me to come over to his bed. I’m not sure why I complied, but I did. At first he held me and comforted me. I started dozing. The next thing I remember, Arnold was on top of me, with his pants off. He was pulling down my pajamas telling me, “It’s ok.” I didn’t think it was ok. I don’t know where I got the energy, but I got out from under him and ran into my mother’s room.
My mother’s boyfriend went into my room to get Arnold. This is actually ironic because a couple of years after this my mother’s boyfriend became my second abuser. But on this particular night, he played the role of hero. I’m not sure what happened or where Arnold slept the rest of the night. I heard yelling. The next day, I was sent to school, just like any other day.
After school, Arnold was sent home on a plane. Before he left, he was sitting with my brother, who lived with my father. Arnold and my brother, Timothy (again, a fake name) were close in age and always got along well. They were talking about how horrible it was that Arnold had to leave. I was relieved and couldn’t wait for him to leave. Timothy was angry with me, and blamed me for this. He asked me why I “lied” about this. I was stunned. I really couldn’t believe that my big brother was not taking my side, but I didn’t want to tell him the truth. I’d already learned from my grandmother that no one really wants to hear the truth about sexual abuse.
Arnold is in his 50’s now and I still hold him responsible for what he did to me as a teen. I don’t know what he has done as an adult, and the truth is it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t forgive him if he cured cancer, saved all the baby seals, adopted all of the homeless kittens, or found a way to make kale taste like vanilla cupcakes. He still violated me. He took my trust and my peace of mind. He is the reason that men make me nervous. Even now, 40 years later, men scare me. I feel incredibly safe with my husband, my son, and a couple of close male friends, but other than that, I am on edge if I am somewhere alone and a male approaches me. My “uncle” taught me to fear men when I was 3. He was never punished for this. The police were not called. No jail time was served. People tell me I should forgive him, and move on. I’ve moved on to a happy, normal life, but I will never forgive him. I bet Josh Duggar’s victims know what I mean.