Josh Duggar recently confessed to molesting five young girls, including his own sisters, after keeping his atrocious actions a secret for over a decade. His shocking revelation has inspired victims of sexual abuse to speak out, and one such survivor thinks that there were warning signs that something sinister was taking place in the Duggar home.
People recently asked Deondra and Desirae Brown to share their thoughts about what Josh Duggar did, and Desirae claimed that the warning signs were plain as day on 19 Kids and Counting. Desirae and Deondra previously made headlines by performing with The 5 Browns, their family’s classical piano ensemble. In 2011, the girls revealed that their father had sexually molested them when they were children. Desirae Brown has watched 19 Kids and Counting, and she revealed that the show set off warning bells for her.
“I remember watching the show and mentioning to friends and family that I feel something is off and something will come out,” Desirae told People.
A few of the “red flags” she noticed were “controlling parents, very submissive children and an isolated environment.”
Desirae pointed out that Josh Duggar’s parents created the perfect environment for a sexual predator by isolating their children from other adults who could have helped them. The Duggars are homeschooled, so they don’t have any teachers or school counselors to confide in if something is amiss at home. The 5 Browns were also homeschooled and isolated, and they were brought up in a religious household (the family is Mormon). The Brown siblings’ mother is still married to their father.
During an interview with the Daily Beast, Desirae Brown talked about how difficult it is to speak out about being sexually abused by a family member. It’s likely that Josh Duggar’s victims endured a very similar struggle.
“I was worried our family would get torn apart… I didn’t want to be taken away from my siblings. It all seems so scary, and so it paralyzes you. It is a part of you that becomes damaged—you just shove it away into some back closet somewhere and you try to move on with your life.”
The Brown daughters also know what it’s like to see family members defend their abuser.
“It almost broke us to know that we didn’t get the support from people we had loved and respected our whole lives,” Desirae revealed.
“Abusers are just selfish. In the end, they only want what they want,” Desirae Brown said.
Josh’s selfishness shines through in the molestation confession that was shared on the Duggar Family Facebook page — he muses about how his actions could ruin his life, but he expresses no concern about the futures of his victims.
Unlike Josh Duggar, the Brown sisters’ father was actually prosecuted for what he did, and he’s currently serving 10 years-to-life in prison. There was no statute of limitations in Utah, so the girls were able to come forward long after their father committed his crimes. Now the Brown sisters are working to get all states to remove their statute of limitations laws — if there had been no such law in place at the time Josh Duggar’s crimes finally came to light, he could have been prosecuted for molesting his sisters.
The Brown girls aren’t the only survivors speaking out about the Josh Duggar molestation scandal. Erin Merryn, the founder of Erin’s Law, recently chatted to CNN’s Don Lemon about the Duggars. According to the Huffington Post, Merryn was sexually abused by a family member when she was a child, and her horrific experience led her to push for the passing of a law that “demands sexual abuse education for children.” According to Merryn, Erin’s Law has been passed in 23 states.
Erin Merryn actually went to the Duggar’s house to talk to the family about sexual abuse a year ago, but the family didn’t say anything to her about the molestation that had taken place under their own roof. The Duggars invited Erin to talk to their children after meeting her at a child abuse conference, and she commended them for asking her to encourage their kids to speak up if they’re ever abused. She told Don Lemon that she didn’t sense that anything was wrong during her visit.
“I didn’t have the slightest suspicion that anything – no weird feelings or anything when I went into their home.”
Erin says that she doesn’t “hold onto anger” about what Josh Duggar did, and she believes that his victims are being re-victimized because the media keeps focusing on the scandal.
“This is bringing it all up into their face again,” Erin said. “The best thing we can do is give them their privacy and allow them to heal.”
However, if 19 Kids and Counting doesn’t get canceled, Erin Merryn hopes that the Duggars don’t simply try to sweep Josh Duggar’s sexual molestation scandal under the rug — she’d like to see the family use their show to raise awareness about sexual abuse.
Deandra and Desirae Brown also appeared on Don Lemon’s show to talk about the Josh Duggar molestation scandal, and you can check out their interview below. They offer more insight into the victims’ point of view and the shame and humiliation that they feel, and they share their hopes for the girls who were abused by Josh Duggar.
[Image credit: CNN]