All this news about the Duggars has been very triggering to me. A lot of what's bothering me is that Jim Bob and Michelle did nothing to protect their children. They continued to allow Josh in the home, around the other children. And then Anna married him, knowing he sexually abused children, and bore him more children, which he will most likely abuse as well. Because sex offenders rarely stop. How many kids has he victimized already? And how many more will he hurt?
I think the way a family responds when a child is sexually abused has a lot to do with the degree of trauma that child experiences.
Here's what I mean. I know a guy that was sexually abused by a neighbor as a child. He told his parents. He felt safe telling his parents and trusted them to help him, regardless of what the neighbor might have told him about keeping it a secret. And his parents responded as perfectly as any parents could have. They told him what the neighbor did was wrong. They told him it wasn't his fault. They told him they were sorry the neighbor hurt him. They told him how glad they were he'd told them what happened.
His parents called the police. They wanted charges to be pressed. In the course of the investigation, it was discovered there were a number of other victims. The neighbor, upon being confronted with the evidence against him, confessed. He plead guilty. There was no trial, because he plead guilty, and he went to prison.
His parents found a counselor that was experienced in treating male children that had been sexually abused. He went to counseling for a while. Said the counselor helped, not only with things related to the abuse, but with other things, too. He went to counseling for as long as he needed to go, then stopped going, but knew if he needed to go back, he could just tell his parents and they would take him back.
As an adult, he does not seem to me to be particularly traumatized by what happened to him as a child. He does not have PTSD. He doesn't have nightmares about it. He does not suffer from clinical depression or anxiety. He isn't ashamed about what happened to him. He doesn't feel guilty about it.
Compare that to what happens to many children that are sexually abused. Compare it to what happened to me. I didn't tell what it happened. I didn't trust my mother to help me. When I told her as an adult, she accused me of lying or being crazy. I expect her response would have been the same if I'd told her when I was a child. I doubt she would have called the police or found me a good counselor.
How much of the trauma comes, not from the actual abuse, but from not being able to tell, from not being believed, from being blamed, from not getting the help you need to deal with what happened? Sure, the abuse is traumatic. But the rest of it just compounds that trauma so much.