When news broke on Wednesday that Josh Duggar, the oldest son on TLC’s hit show “19 Kids And Counting” was one of the many cheaters looking to have an affair through Ashley Madison, my thoughts went quickly from disgust to concern for his wife of nearly 7 years, Anna.
For those of you following the Josh Duggar scandal, you know that in May, police reports surfaced revealing that as a teenager, Josh sexually molested 4 girls under the age of 14 — several of them his younger sisters.
As details of the story emerged, people were outraged not only at Josh’s actions, but at the family for hiding them.
When Anna finally broke her silence in a statement to People, she said, “Josh really is someone who had gone down a wrong path and had humbled himself before God and those whom he had offended. Someone who had received the help needed to change the direction of his life and do what is right.”
Let’s just say the public reaction to Anna’s commitment to Josh was not positive.
Online comments included, “Of course she’ll stay — she knows nobody else wants a dummy like her,” “She is dumber than a box of rocks,” and, “Have a little dignity and self respect, woman! Grow a backbone and teach your children how a real woman is supposed to act.”
It’s easy to lack compassion for Anna because it appears she knew full well of his past before marrying him and now that infidelity has been added to the story, people simply can’t understand how a wife could stand by her husband’s side in light of these horrific revelations.
But I understand — because I’ve been in the same situation she is in.
When I was 21, I got married to a man with a drug addiction. I married him because I believed he’d changed his ways — but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Just like Anna, I remained a virgin until I got married, which caused me to miss many red flags. These missed red flags led to being raped on my wedding night.
In the months following our wedding, I learned my husband’s past drug use wasn’t the only thing he’d been hiding from me; basically his entire past was a lie. He didn’t grow up where he said he did, he didn’t have the college education he claimed he had, and his (now estranged) parents didn’t have the careers he told me they did.
When I told my parents about my situation, my father told me divorce was not an option. “We will pay for marriage counseling, but we will not support you in a divorce,” he said. “You cannot move in with us because you need to work things out with your husband. As Christians, we do not believe in divorce.”
So, I tried to work on my marriage.
Not because I wanted to, but because I had no other choice. Just like Anna. As Anna’s brother, Daniel Keller, posted to Facebook, “My parents are preaching stay w him. They’re more interested in how their daughter getting a divorce will make them look than they are in trying to truly get Josh some help and getting Anna and the kids out of there till he has gotten that help.”
For me, by the time things reached a level that involved a horrific amount of domestic abuse, I was trapped. Like Anna, I had no college education to fall back on. And as a stay-at-home mom with no job, no access to my own money, and no family to support me in a divorce, I stayed.
And just like Anna, I started to believe that my husband’s issues were my own fault. Manipulated by my husband’s lies and shunned whenever I made efforts to get help, I started to foolishly believe that his bad behavior was a result of me not being supportive enough.
“I can’t believe he’s doing this” quickly turned to “I can’t believe I made him do this” — just as it does for many abuse victims.
Yes, Anna Duggar is an abuse victim.
She’s being abused by her manipulative husband and a family that’s failing to save her from a terrible situation.
“Anna will not leave Josh. No way is she leaving him. It would not come as a surprise if ‘on some level’ Anna tries to ‘absorb some of the blame’. She will have the support of Jim Bob and Michelle and everyone else in their circle in terms of staying with him and making this work. Divorce is not even something that will be discussed,” a source tells People.
Anna is standing by her husband because she has nowhere else to stand. She has no family coming to her rescue because they’re all too busy rescuing Josh. She has children to feed, clothe, and house, under a roof that’s owned and paid for by her husband.
She’s staying with him because her family has trained her to believe that saving her marriage comes before saving herself.
Even worse, Anna has publicly stated before that her parents knew about Josh’s past before they even got married.
Anna’s parents knew that their daughter was marrying a child molester and didn’t stop her. (Let that sink in for a minute.)
I stayed married to my husband, my abuser, for 8 long years and during that time, many tears were shed behind closed doors where I could wipe them away before walking out the front door and plastering a smile on my face.
Was I happy? No, not even close. But my family expected me to fix my marriage and that was that.
By the time I reached the end of my marriage, my husband was a full-blown meth user and dealer. He was hiring women off of Craigslist for sex and raping me whenever he pleased. He was living a double life I knew absolutely nothing about until the minute he drained the bank account, abandoned his car, turned off his phone, and simply never came home one night.
My family never, ever helped me leave him.
Did I marry him? Yes. Did I continue to stay with him? Yes and looking back, I wish I hadn’t.
But was it all my fault? For a long time I thought that it was but I know now it’s not.
Anna, unfortunately, hasn’t realized that yet.
So, Anna, if you’re reading this, don’t worry about the negative things people are saying about you. This isn’t your fault.
You’re just another victim and you deserve better than what Josh and your family are doing to you.
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