Michelle Duggar Supports Jill & Jessa In TLC's 'Breaking The Silence,' But It Doesn't Look Like She's Changed Her Opinion On The Molestation Scandal
TLC's sexual assault documentary Breaking the Silence featured a small segment that included three members of the Duggar family, but they didn't say much. Allegations against the Duggars' oldest son, Josh, came out earlier this year confirming that as a teenager, he sexually assaulted five underage girls, including his younger sisters Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald. Jill, Jessa, and their mother Michelle Duggar were shown attending a Darkness to Light seminar on how to prevent sexual assault, and while Jill and Jessa could be seen writing notes and taking part in the seminar, Michelle's appearance was surprising given how little she said. Obviously Michelle Duggar supports Jill and Jessa, but whether the seminar actually changed her views on the scandal is less clear.
Jill and Jessa offered several comments on sexual assault prevention, including how they were learning for their own children, but Michelle didn't exactly get specific about why she and her girls were at the seminar. She did, nonetheless, say she hoped the seminar would highlight the necessity of speaking out about sexual assault and expressed gratitude that she daughters were at the seminar, noting that they needed to learn more on the topic.
I was so glad that my girls and I were able to do this together and that we could just be in support and encouragement to each other to be able to gain more information about this important topic.
As a mother, Michelle seemed to be supportive of her daughters, but it's hard to imagine that she wasn't just following a script of sorts. Since the story of her daughters' abuse broke, Michelle has kept mostly tight-lipped besides admitting to Fox News that Josh "inappropriately touched some of our daughters." But besides that interview, Michelle hasn't said much more about the scandal, and the Duggars seemed to skirt around it in the documentary, too.
In a June 4 opinion piece, Salon's Jenny Kutner reminded readers that the Duggar family is "a family of extremists" who don't really seem to understand that sexual assault still qualifies as such, even if the victims aren't aware it's happening. Kutner was referring to comments the Duggars made to Fox News' Megyn Kelly during the exclusive interview, which implied that because their daughters were asleep when their older brother assaulted them, his actions may not have affected them.
He said he was just curious about girls, and he had gone in and basically touched them over their clothes while they were sleeping. They didn’t even know he had done it.
Kutner said that this kind of comment leads to the kind of victim-blaming accusations that so many sexual assault victims have worked to eliminate. The "he didn't know better" attitude is something that could be dangerous if continually promoted, Kutner said.
As far as taking action, all of the blame can't be placed on the Duggar family alone. And, as ThinkProgress reported, TLC waited two whole months to cancel 19 Kids and Counting and ran a marathon of the hit reality series after the news of the sexual assault came out in the media.
Now that the Duggar family is the subject of a whole new scandal involving Josh's use of an Ashley Madison account, it will be interesting to see what comments continue to emerge (or not) in the coming days. Hopefully Breaking the Silence will be an opportunity for the Duggars to do just that — truly open up about what happened and why nothing about it was OK.