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To All of Those Who Have Reached Out…

I just want to say a HUGE thank you to every one who has written me, shared my essay, tweeted, Facebook-ed, commented on Salon, etc. over the past few days.

Your messages of support mean the absolute world to me - I was really scared to publish this essay and you've all made me very, very glad that I pressed send.

To everyone who has written because they experienced something similar: THANK YOU. I am reading your messages and will respond to all of them (it might just take me a while). Also, remember: you are not alone.



  1. I really appreciated your Salon essay. I’ve been watching 19 Kids and Counting on youtube for the past three months. I guess I got curious about the Duggars’ fame at a time that coincidentally lead up to their greatest scandal. In spite all of my Duggar TV binging I never knew in this detail the problematic aspects of their spirituality. I especially appreciated how well you break down the system of power and control that perpetuate abuse and shame in this (and other) cultures. I pray that some of the Duggar kids realize there is a wide world and have access to resources and organizations that can help ease their transition into the outer world.

  2. Gloria says:

    Like most, I was surprised at the Duggar child sexual abuse scandal. Perhaps sex education for everyone involved, the parents, Josh and the victims, could have prevented the destructive incidents. Building awareness in very young children begins with openly talking about inappropriate touching by ANYONE. A family that is so afraid of sex that they insist on side hugs only, kissing only at the marriage altar and total submission by all the women in the household to a man (or male members) is doomed to all kinds of psychological abuse, including sexual.
    I agree with your other statements that ALL religions, not just the fundamental varieties, promote power and control of one group over another.

  3. JPB says:

    HI Brooke-I read your article in Salon and found it interesting. I do question many of your statements about this or that being done in these homes as if an order came down from above. People make choices and sometimes they are made for good reasons, like to keep order in a home. There is nothing wrong with intentional parenting. Many of the problems in our society today are because of irresponsible parents and the lack of respect their children bring to the world. I would not fault these people for raising hard working, law abiding children!
    Sexual abuse can happen in any home. The statistics are staggering. You state you are not surprised? If it can happen in any home, why not this home? All children have God given sexual curiosity. I think it is important to note what this family did do right. How many families would go through the measures they did? First they removed their son from the home and got him in a program to help him. Then they told the girls, and got them counselling from licensed therapists. When their son returned they took him to the police. Then they worked hard to bring the children together and encourage forgiveness. I hardly see these young adults now carrying the emotional burden of this past wrong. Honestly, there are FEW people who would go through all these measures to help their children. Most people sweep “under the rug” and try to pretend it did not happen. This is where you see kids ” acting out” later. So to imply that they brought this on and were irresponsible…….is just irresponsible.
    I am not a member of this camp. I am observing. I am sorry if your upbringing caused you pain. No parents are perfect, but most do love, and most will admit later if they could do things a little different they would. Don’t allow your pain to turn you from a healing God and Father who made you, and loves you! Reconcile with Him and your family and remember the words of Jesus “Come to me all who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest”.

    • mike says:

      I’m not sure what’s worse – the creepy Duggars themselves or their cult following that’s putting in hours of overtime spreading misinformation trying to defend and minimize their behavior

    • Kathy says:

      JPB, I feel you miss the point. This essay attempts to educate the public about the abuse and harmful effects of religious sects in general, particularly how the group cultivates an environment of abuse towards women and children. Since you have quoted scripture, read this one, Matthew 7:15, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they’re are ferocious wolves.” Christians are called to be discerning. The way you dismissed Brooke’s views as she just didn’t have a perfect upbringing is hurtful, and demonstrates you know nothing of cults, sects and/or abusive groups and how they absolutely create environments ripe for abuse. Educate yourself about how these groups control and therefore, the people involved don’t actually make choices. You need to educate yourself on such things before dismissing someone’s pain so flippantly by implying that person is just ‘bitter.’ That’s a ‘slap in the face’ to anyone who has ever been raised in an abusive group and worked hard to overcome. Hopefully, by reading this essay, you will realize that these groups really have nothing to do with God, other than God is just the tool used to control the hearts and minds of the people in the group.

  4. Michelle says:

    I just saw your Salon article tonight. Thank you for articulating what was also my experience in Gothardism. You said everything that I have wanted to say but couldn’t find the words. Trying to explain that world to an outsider is nearly impossible, but you did it so well. Thank you, thank you!!!!

    Another “unbreakable”,

  5. vicki says:

    you are one special lady. my heart goes out to you for all you have been through, while at the same time my heart swells with pride for how you have flourished in spite of it all. that was the best written explanation I have heard to date. God has given you a great gift to be able to reach out and communicate the truth. No matter what any one ever says, always know you have many people out here that believe in you. I would be proud to have you as a daughter. God bless you precious. if you ever need encouragement, do not ever hesitate to write!!

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