How the Duggar Scandal Could Be a Rallying Cry

With media coverage of the Duggar scandal expanding, there is plenty of schadenfreude to go around. It's hard to resist feeling a bit smug, or somehow vindicated, when someone who discriminates against others loses their credibility. On the other side, some steadfast supporters--like POTUS-hopeful Mike Huckabee--are digging in with their own reasons for defending the Duggar family.

The resulting media coverage has focused largely on whether Josh Duggar can, or should, be forgiven. But by turning this into a matter of conservative vs. liberal (or Christian vs. atheist) viewpoints we're missing an opportunity to deal with an issue that affects all of us, regardless of politics or religion.

We're missing an opportunity to come together as a society and have a discussion about the problem of child molestation and sexual assault.

Power and dominance drive sexual assault

Sexual assault is a problem that crosses all social and cultural boundaries. It happens among the rich, the poor and every income in between. It happens in all cultures and nations. It happens among believers and non-believers.

In cases of sexual assault, offenders use their position of power to molest, rape or otherwise abuse fellow human beings. Their power may come from holding a leadership role (such as a priest/minister, teacher, scoutmaster, employer or coach) or from simply being older, bigger or stronger.

Sex offenders prey on those who are vulnerable. They look for easy targets and they are more likely to abuse someone that they know, such as a friend, neighbor or relative. They typically have a distorted view of reality and often convince themselves that their victims are willing participants.

Sexual assault is a misunderstood crime

There are many types of sexual assault and the signs of child sexual abuse can be easy to miss. Children and teens who are sexual assaulted are often unwilling to tell anyone what is happening. They may have been threatened by their assailant, they may be afraid that they won't be believed, or they may be ashamed of what has happened.

People often assume that child sexual assault only includes cases where an adult has molested or raped a minor. An older child or teen (such as a friend, neighbor, sibling or even boyfriend/girlfriend) may be sexually assaulting a younger or otherwise vulnerable child or teen.

Sexual assault that occurs between two minors is just as damaging as assault perpetrated by an adult. It is not a case of experimentation, "playing doctor" or "boys being boys".

Perpetrators of sexual assault often use grooming techniques to gain the trust of their victims and create a situation where secrecy and control will make it less likely that they will be caught. These grooming techniques are also used by human traffickers who force their victims into prostitution, pornography or other forms of sexual exploitation.

How can we stop sexual assault?

Regardless of politics, religion and cultural differences, we can come together to work toward putting an end to sexual assault. Here are some things we can all do:
  1. Educate ourselves about sexual assault. Many organizations offer free information about sexual assault, including ways to identify and report crimes, support survivors and work toward strengthening sexual assault laws.
  2. Be a responsible bystander. Speak up if you see warning signs of sexual assault. That may mean alerting the authorities if you suspect a child has been abused, intervening if you see a girl being cornered or groped at a party, or even speaking out against "jokes" and language that creates an atmosphere of sexual inequality.
  3. Respect survivors of sexual assault. Listen to what survivors have to say without second-guessing or looking for reasons to explain their assault. Learn how sexual assault can affect survivors in many different ways, often leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, eating or sleep disorders, and self-harm. Encourage survivors to try counseling and seek out expert advice when supporting a loved one.
  4. Support anti-sexual assault organizations. Organizations like the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the NO MORE campaign work hard to support survivors, educate bystanders and put an end to sexual assault. Consider donating your time and/or money to support this cause.
The Josh Duggar scandal is continuing to raise many questions about morality, forgiveness and the effects of a patriarchal society. These are important questions and they are bound to bring conflicting answers. However, lets also consider ways that this, and similar cases, can drive us to find common ground in the fight against sexual assault.


  1. I agree that everyone should be talking about the bigger issue here. However, I think that people need to be focusing on how to prevent it from happening at all. It's good to be on the lookout for possible abuse, but let's focus more on what brought about the abuse in the first place. Many people who commit acts like this are sexually frustrated individuals that need help. In my post in defense of Josh Duggar, I discuss in greater detail the psychology of sex offenders. Most of them want to stop what they're doing. They just don't know how.

    1. I agree! I had started to write about that, but decided to save it for a separate post. Our society's view of sex and sexuality has many, many problems. There are issues of sexual frustration/repression, dominance/control, objectification and a lack of empathy (to name a few).

      We need to approach the issue on many fronts. Such as: Educating about abuse, supporting survivors and addressing the motives/psychology of sex offenders.

      It's a complicated issue, and one that won't be addressed if people simply use these cases as ammunition for their political battles.


    1. You make some very good points here. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Thanks! Hopefully us bloggers can help make a better tomorrow.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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