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Duggars, Triggers, and What To Do Now

I’ve been trying to write a blog post since Thursday, but writing about good and beautiful things became impossible for me after the Duggar sexual abuse story came to light.

As longtime readers will know, I was in the same religious cult as the Duggars from age 15-25. I experienced firsthand the systematic brainwashing, abuse, and cruelty that crushed spirits, obliterated personalities, violated bodies, and left many of us traumatized with deep fear, shame, guilt, and grief.

Thankfully I was able to get away from that and start over. I found a safe home in Australia with people who love and support me unreservedly, an amazing husband, counselor, and dear friends who have helped me emerge from that darkness into a world of courage, freedom, peace, and love.

But when the Duggar story came out, it not only sparked anger and grief over Josh’s abuse of his sisters and others, it set off a series of triggers that brought a flurry of flashbacks to the darkest moments of my life when I was stalked, groped, abused, and betrayed. My body reacted as if those things were happening now instead of years ago, crumpling in fear, insecurity, and shame. Instead of writing about pumpkin harvesting adventures with Bear, I had to pull in close the walls of my world and remind myself that I am safe now, loved now, free now. I had to breathe through anger, frustration, grief, and loss, letting myself feel whatever I needed to feel without judgment or condemnation or shame, until I could find my bearings again.

I was not alone. Many of my fellow survivors were blindsided by these revelations. Not because we were surprised. We weren’t. The twisted teachings and isolationism practiced by this Cult virtually ensure abuse of all kinds have and will take place. So no, we weren’t surprised, but we were gutted. I think we all keep hoping that one day these stories will stop. That the Doug Phillips, Bill Gothards, and Josh Duggars of this world will no longer be able to harm those around them. That the sick teachings they embrace and promote will be exposed for the lies they are, and that anyone conditioned to believe them will be able to break free and find healing, safety, and real love that always protects and never harms.

I’m in a better place tonight. I can face this situation without debilitating grief and anger. I can rest and think about, “What do I do now?”

Love well.
Consistently remind myself and others that we are worth protecting and worth loving. The more we love ourselves and others, the more unloving people stand out and we can protect ourselves from them.

Respect and hold good boundaries.
Honor whatever boundaries the people in my life set, whether I understand them or not. If I truly value them I will do whatever I can to ensure they feel safe. And if I truly value myself, I will make sure that I only spend time with those who respect the boundaries I set for my own wellbeing.

Look for the good ones.
There are always bad people in this world, but there are so many more good ones. I’ve been thanking Bear all weekend for not being a bastard. It makes him laugh, but I really, truly mean it. Tonight I made a list of all the good men I know. Men who don’t rape, beat, abuse, or neglect. Men who proactively love, respect, and protect. My list grew longer and longer and I wanted to dash around the world and give them all big hugs and say thank you.

I can’t fix Josh or heal his victims, none of us can, but we can be love, show love, and link arms with love wherever we find it. And maybe all that love will shine into the dark places and be a beacon to those who need it.


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lisa | renovating italy - Link arms with LOVE, and slowly knit a place of strength. I love knowing that you are in a good place now with your gorgeous Bear (I can call him gorgeous right lol). sending love xxx

Feeding the Light and A Few Simple Lunches » Rambling Tart - […] said, “You seem very peaceful this morning, very happy. I think it has everything to do with telling your story. You aren’t afraid anymore.” He’s right. I can’t describe the exquisite […]

Bethany K. White - Thank you, Krista. Your words resonate and brought me comfort. I’ve been struggling deeply with this and unsure of how to process. Your words gave me loving guidance. Thank you.

Rachel Friesen - I’ve been trying all week to come up with an adequate response to this brave and beautiful post, but have come up short. I am so sorry you had to go through this, and so glad that you found a safe haven to recover from it. May your list of good people ever continue to grow. Love and prayers.

Amanda McInerney - Congratulations on rising above such a dark past, Krista. I’m so happy that you have found the peace, love and respect we all deserve.

Liz Posmyk - Dearest Krista, I’m so happy that this is behind you. This storm has passed and you have your beloved Bear xox

Ken Powell - OMG, so this is the past you have alluded to before. All we can send is virtual hugs and express the joy of hearing that you are well on the way to recovery. xox

Kate Bailward - *All the hugs I have to give*

Nagi | RecipeTin Eats - Hi Krista – this was really touching. I have goosebumps. I’m so glad you have come through and are so much stronger for it. Thank goodness you are ok! 🙂

Tracy A. - Wonderful, strong words Krista.you are your own best medicine.

Hotly Spiced - I’m so sorry to hear this. I actually hadn’t heard of this cult before but yes, it seems it doesn’t matter which cult you get caught up in, the abuse is the same. I’m so glad you have moved on from your horrific past, that you are now in a fantastic relationship with a wonderful man and that your world is surrounded with beauty and peace. It does take time to move on but little by little and step by step… xx

budgetjan - I’m sorry I didn’t know that part of your story Krista. Remember you are a good person and surrounded by love now. 🙂

Nancy - Krista I had no idea. How terrible that these triggers keep coming up unexpectedly for you. But now you’re free and far away and you have Bear to hold on to. I’d so happy you have good people in your life – and especially good men xx

Tandy Sinclair - Oh Krista, I am so sorry and I can say that as I have been in your place. I found a lot of healing my having sacro-cranial therapy. It shifted all that negative energy which I know can be debilitating. Big hugs xx

Coffee and Crumpets - I didn’t know this about you until today and I’m so sorry for what you went through. I am happy though that you are now safe and surrounded by people who love you and us who value you as well. You are a strong woman, Krista and your words inspire and help me understand. Take care my friend, much love xxx

Anna Johnston - Krista, this post is inspiring. What a treat you can look back at the awful place you were in, and now forward to the wonderful place you are in and see only beauty and find gratitude. I am so ridiculously proud of you my friend, many never grow past their past. Sending you big warm hugs and all the loves. Thank you for sharing you with us. xo

Beck - Three excellent action points!! I know those are chapters best kept as a distant memory and times like this brings it all back up to the forefront of the mind, unfortunately. So glad you have your grounded and faithful Bear to have and to hold! We are lucky gals! Sending you love and hugs….

Margo Millure - *HUGS*

mlleparadis - i wondered about you when this story came up. i didn’t really know who the duggars were – still don’t but why they have a reality show i don’t understand. thank you for being so open and honest about your situation. there is far too much of all of these kinds of abuses going on in the world and shining a light on these groups is so important. so glad for you that you’ve been able to get out and to make your own world and your own light here on the web and in your own corner of australia. big hugs and kisses.

Bethany Bassett - It was A Weekend for me too. I begged out of social events to stay in bed; it was just too hard to pretend I was a normal person rather than someone who grew up in an environment where sexual abuse can be waved away. (And this without getting into other forms of abuse.) As always, it’s so comforting for me to know I’m not alone in this lifelong trigger-vulnerable state. Thank you for being here. Thanks for your list as well; I might have to take you up on the idea of making a Good People list! Much, much love from me.

Andi Perullo de Ledesma - This is so poignant dear! Thank goodness you are in a safe place. Also, husband??? Did I miss you got married? CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maureen - Warm hugs, my sweet friend. Nobody should experience what you have. You’ve seen the darkest of the dark but you’ve come through into the light and you’re not going back. You are free and you are whole and you are loved by your Bear and all of us too.

Breanne @ This Vintage Moment - These are the best words I’ve read about this situation, and the most hope-filled. You are such a beautiful, strong woman and I am thankful you are in my life. XO

bellini - I am glad to hear that you are in a stronger place Krista with love all around you.

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