InTouch Weekly
June 6, 2015

While Jessa Duggar identified herself as a victim of sexual molestation by her brother Josh Duggar, she was quick to come to his defense — saying people who are calling him “a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist” are going “overboard.”

And this isn’t surprising, according to clinical psychologist Paula Bruce — who has not treated Josh, Jessa or any of the victims, but specializes in child sexual abuse and trauma.

She explains to In Touch Weekly that Jim Bob and Michelle not only neglected to recognize the suffering their daughters experienced, but also failed to view their son as a predator.

“There’s nothing [in Josh’s statement] that acknowledges that this is something sexual and that that sexual stuff came from somewhere and that it had an impact on someone else sexually in terms of their sexual development,” Dr. Bruce tells In Touch.

“I think that there’s an complete failure to understand 1. his own sexuality and 2. the damage that sexual behavior [caused] and that he was a sexual predator. None of them acknowledged that this is predatory behavior.”

In ignoring the extent of Josh’s actions, Dr. Bruce says the family also neglected to properly identify the victims as victims.

She says, “The whole family didn’t and don’t recognize the significant psychological damage done to the victims of sexual abuse.”

And the trauma is more than skin-deep.

Some of the consequences victims of sexual abuse have been found to experience include an increased risk for depression, anxiety, increases for sexual behavior and hyper-sexuality or struggles around sexual behavior, shame around one’s body and shame around being sexual in general, Dr. Bruce says, adding that there was significant damage done to the girls emotionally as well.

“There were not just violated sexually,” she explains. “They were violated in terms of trust within the family, to feel safe within their own family.”


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