“Your Family Let You Down” Sheryl Underwood Talks Duggar Molestation, Shares Her Story

June 8, 2015  |  

We were all deeply disturbed and troubled to hear that Josh Duggar, now 27, had molested five young girls, including four of his sisters when he was 14-years-old. There were police reports to corroborate the story and later we learned that TLC, the network who aired “19 Kids and Counting,” for nine seasons, knew of Josh’s past issues with molestation.

When news hit, in addition to calls that asked for the show to be canceled, there was the news that the Duggar family was going to be sitting down with Megyn Kelly for an interview with Fox News. In this 30 minute interview, both Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar revealed that Josh initially touched his sisters over their clothes while they were sleep. He was the one who told his parents what he had done the first time.

It wasn’t until the third time, when Josh admitted again that he had touched one of the couple’s younger daughters, while she was awake, that they decided it was time to take action. They spoke to friends and sent him to an unlicensed, Christian training center. When asked by Fox’s Megyn Kelly why they didn’t seek treatment for Josh after the first incident they said that “as parents you’re not mandatory reporters.” They almost mentioned that they thought, initially, that most of this was about a young man’s curiosity. But they did feel that at this Christian counseling center, the man had really touched their son’s heart.

There was also an interview with two of Josh’s victims, his sisters Jill and Jessa Duggar. They said that they didn’t remember the assault because they were both asleep. Both Jill and Jessa said that they had forgiven their brother and felt violated by the media for bringing their childhood molestation into the forefront.

Sheryl Underwood of CBS’ “The Talk,” felt like the parents had made excuses for Josh and his behavior, twelve years ago, and had actually re-victimized their children by not doing enough to protect their daughters from their son. She had a particular interest in this story because she had endured this type of abuse in her own life.

Here’s what she had to say.

“Let me just say this. I’m probably the only person at this table that went through that. And I went through that, 3,4,5 years old. You know something is wrong. And if nobody listens to you, and nobody is going to stop it, whether I’m sleep or not–I learned how to stay up as long as I could. I may sleep at school because nobody’s going to protect me. 

Aisha you said that it didn’t help them to do this interview. What it really did was it helped us, the world to see what happens to people when they’re in some type of family structure, when the people you’re supposed to trust to protect you seem to be the coconspirators in your violation. Seem to rationalize sexual assault and molestation. 

And the thing about this that hurts so much is you feel that you have no help. You feel that nobody is listening or you’re being blamed or this is something that kids do. And I thank God for my older brothers who took an action on my behalf, let me just say that. 

It took me years to have to learn to love myself because I felt that I was worthless. I felt that I was less than. I felt that I deserved this or brought it on myself because of what was coming toward me from my parents. These parents are wrong. 

And for the years that I couldn’t accept love and I couldn’t accept what I was made to have: the beauty of a great relationship with someone who loved me back because I didn’t love myself. Families gotta protect families and don’t rationalize violation.”

Later, Underwood spoke to “Entertainment Tonight,” saying that perhaps the girls really do remember more than they’ve told their parents because she still struggles with it today as an adult.

First, I was kind of mad at myself because I couldn’t control it. But then I was like ‘Maybe it’s not for you to control. Maybe this family, maybe they need to see what this is still doing to me. So you think your children don’t know and you think your children don’t remember but maybe they haven’t. Because I can’t control it when it’s not even about me.

Something was screaming in me, Help somebody else. Don’t let somebody else go through what you went through alone. 

I think [them defending their brother] is a defense mechanism. You need to put it square where it was. Your brother did something wrong, to you. And, the way I’m looking at this, your family, let you down.

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