There is an event coming up in the Duggar family household that could spell destruction for the brand and the new series. Soon, one of the children will have the opportunity to change the lives of the family forever, by coming forward and telling her story.
Before we get into the details, let’s be clear: only two of Josh Duggar’s victims have come forward, and in this story, there will be no naming of further victims. It’s known that four of the victims were Josh’s sisters, and, thanks to information included in the police report, those who have wanted to dig into the identities likely have a pretty firm awareness of which children were molested, but in this story, we will not guess or assume.
Instead, we’re looking at one of the female children who was in the household at the time, and an important event coming up for her, and how it could affect the Duggar family’s attempts to minimize everything that happened — without discussing whether or not this particular young female was a victim. Regardless of whether she was, she was a member of the household at the time, and, as such, knows things that her parents have not released to the public, and may not have reported.
In the coming week, this young female will have a new opportunity to spill the family’s secrets, if she should so desire, and to break away from a religious group that teaches outdated and misogynistic views of a woman’s role in the world.
That event is her 18th birthday, and the female in question is Joy-Anna Duggar.
According to the Duggar Family Blog, Joy-Anna will be 18 on October 28. For most of her life, television cameras and a show have been a major part of her existence. However, so have the religious views of the Duggar family, which include a female being subservient, obedient, modest, and always putting forth a cheerful face.
It pays, at this point, to recall the story of another child born into a family with extreme and controlling religious views: Nate Phelps, whose family members operated (and many of them still do) the notorious Westboro Baptist Church. Nate told Salon that the night before his 18th birthday, he counted down minutes until midnight, knowing that once he was legally an adult, there would be nothing his family could do to drag or force him back. It was the moment he turned 18 that he slipped out, and began his life outside the family’s belief system. Today, Phelps is an activist for the rights of the very people his father hated most, and has spoken out many times about the beliefs he left behind.
Could Joy-Anna Duggar’s birthday be a similar moment in the life of her family?
There is little to tell us how the younger Duggar family members feel about their upbringing. So far, those who have come of age appear to have held onto their family’s faith, and the two married females, who have come forward as victims of their brother, have been defensive of the family and the way that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar handled the entire molestation saga.
However, according to The Atlantic, over 40 percent of Americans say they no longer identify as the religion into which they were born — a statistic that likely bears bad news for the Duggar family. With 19 kids, there’s a better-than-fair chance that some will leave the family’s extremely conservative beliefs behind, and when they do, some may decide to speak out about things the Duggar parents would prefer to keep hidden.
Why might Joy-Anna be the first to do so?
Here’s what we know about her:
In 2002, when, according to In Touch, Josh Duggar admitted his deeds to his parents, she was the youngest of the five daughters in the household. By 2006, when the police report was taken, one more Duggar girl had been born, but she was only a few months old. There are also six Duggar boys who have not yet turned 18, but were born by the time the 2006 police report was taken, several of whom were old enough in 2006 to understand something was going on, and who might decide to speak out when they turn 18.
She’s the only Duggar female left who was in the household in 2002, and has not yet turned 18 — the only female left who could want to speak out about her brother’s actions prior to the 2006 police report, but choose not to do so because she’s still a minor and under her parents’ rule.
Again, we will not speculate here on whether Joy-Anna Duggar was a victim, but she was old enough, in 2003, when Josh admitted to a second round of incidents, to be aware that something was going on in the home, and to likely feel the effects of it, whether or not she was a direct victim.
On October 28, Joy-Anna will be 18. She will be the ninth Duggar child to become a legal adult, and ten more follow her. If she happens to be the child who, like Nate Phelps, is waiting for legal adulthood to leave behind the Duggar family faith and tell the true story of living with Bill Gothard’s teachings, her day is coming in less than a week.
The Duggar children’s internet connections are closely monitored (even into adulthood), and so far, only four of the offspring have (public and official) social media accounts. These are the three married adults, and Josiah, whose Instagram account, which is rarely updated now, seemed to be more of an advertisement for a series of potential episodes about his courtship than an actual personal account.
It’s likely that a Duggar child still living with his or her parents, particularly if said child is underage, would have a struggle to speak publicly if he or she wanted to do so. If ever one of the children is going to come forward, however, turning 18 would likely provide the greatest possible safety net for doing do.
In just five days, Joy-Anna Duggar will turn 18, and if she is the child who will finally speak out about the Duggar family, she’ll have her best opportunity.
[Image via Duggar Family Instagram]