Letter to a Jerk

The most recent Duggar family news makes me sick. Angry. Appalled. You can read about it and the full police report here.

Perhaps it rankles most because I myself have been a victim of a man who got away with whatever he wanted to do. I’ve considered posting about this publicly before, but have hesitated. I think now is the time. Why should I protect the dignity of someone who did not protect my dignity?

On this site I have either omitted or changed names of people I refer to in a negative context. I’m not a fan of casually calling people out. On this page, however, I am making an exception to that rule. I am not only going to call out this person by name, I’m going to link to information about him that you can check out. It’s something I found when I googled his name.

I wrote the following as an assignment given me by my therapist in 2013. I have made a few clarity and grammar/punctuation changes to the original. Warning: there is language.

***

Letter to a Jerk

In twelve days… why do I still remember the date? July 28, 2000. Hot summer day, everyone in my house napping except for me. I didn’t hear your truck pull up but I knew you were out there; something drew me to the front door. I liked you. I liked you because you were daring and different and flirted with me and sneaked me country music under my mother’s nose. I kept the bits of gum wrapper you tossed down my neck in Sunday school in a film canister in my desk and pretended to be annoyed that you were always putting your feet on my chair during class. I wanted you. I was such a rosy innocent with no concept of danger, warning signs, or reality. I wanted to go anywhere as long as you were there, be it a tent on the Sahara. I knew you were dating E on the sly but she was out of the way and you were paying more attention to me and surely I could lure you away and you’d marry me instead of her.

Hot but not unpleasant the day you messed around with me. I want to rub it in your face that what you told your mother I did, you actually did. As much as I wanted you, I didn’t have a clue how to seduce you and wouldn’t have dared anyway. I didn’t even take the initiative to hold your hand. You know you lied to your mother, stinking coward. My mom was right. She may have failed to practically prepare me to handle jerks like you, but she did try to tell me you were no good. It was your hand, not mine, that pawed me all over like a… a piece of goods. And I let you do it, because I didn’t know that kind of touching even existed, I was taken aback by it, I didn’t exactly mind it—it wasn’t like you were raping me, I thought, using your own reasoning that anything was okay except actual sex.

I wasn’t good enough for you. I was too pale, too thin. I burned myself out in the sun trying to get tan for you and ate ridiculous amounts of Little Debbie cosmic brownies trying to plump up for you. You noticed, you approved, you flattered me for trying to be something I wasn’t, because your tainted male mind couldn’t see anything aside from the external. That day you took away something I could never get back, my self-worth. When the right man finally came along I felt like I’d already been used, so why not let him do whatever he wanted with me? Yet I held back because I was afraid of being simply used and deserted again.

You charmed me so much that I didn’t worry when you proceeded to disappear for a month and never came to see me again until the day we moved away. I felt no fear while you told me you were having pizza with some other woman that night, rubbing my leg while you told me, playing me the song I liked. Kentucky in My Rearview Mirror. Because I was leaving. But I felt so sure you would later be bringing me back again and we’d get married, because surely you’d forgotten E by now and only wanted me. Stupid, stupid naïve idiot. I couldn’t eat for days after we left. I dropped 20 pounds that first week from being edgy and jittery missing you.

And I continued to dream big happy naïve dreams about our future life together and the beautiful kids we’d have, but a sense of guilt hung over me because while my mom knew I was madly in love with you she didn’t know about that day you “carried on” with me, to use your stupid phrase for it. I finally fessed up to her, not because I was sorry for what happened, only because I’d been hiding it. Then I wrote you that letter that you threw unopened into the garbage that your mom found and had to read to you, then called my mom and read it to her too. And you told your mom that I was the one who took your hand and put it on my breast. The switch in my heart from undying, soppy love to a strong desire to murder you was instant. I never wanted someone to die so much as I wanted you dead then. For months after I mourned the death of the imaginary you that I’d been crazy over, and cried feeling desolate and used and worthless, and I wished and prayed that if you couldn’t do me and who knows how many other women the favour of dropping dead that at LEAST you’d never have any living children.

I hate all the emotional energy I have wasted on a fucking cad like you. You are not worth a drop of my sympathy or even anger. Maybe, possibly, pity. Definitely pity for your wife for catching a prize like you, though I’m sure that with your charisma she is as blinded by “love” as I was to all your glaring faults. I’ve had so much anger at you I can’t even say your name. I’ve called you something else all these years just to avoid it. You’ve been Rod when I write about you, S-‘s brother when I need to identify you to someone who actually knows you. Imagine right now that I’m spitting on your name, Boyd Cletus Conley. Spitting on it because you are a despicable, sick bastard. I still hate you. Or maybe I just hate what you are, because I really don’t have it in me to wish death on you any more. I very much hate what you were, and strongly doubt you’ve changed. I hate that the thought of you is synonymous with curse words that I wouldn’t dream of using in any other context. I hate that I am prejudiced against certain people because they have the misfortune of looking like you and I can’t always handle the sight of them.

I thank God that I was underage and you were savvy enough to not try to go further than you did [tweaking and fondling my breasts and sticking his fingers between my legs], but it doesn’t make your actions any less disgusting. There is no such thing as a little violation. They’re all disgusting and damaging. You are disgusting and damaging. I have managed to move on to a man who actually touches me because he loves me and wants to stay with me forever. The difference is astounding. You might try it sometime.

Someday maybe I’ll be in Kentucky again. In my mind I like to envision that I run into you someplace and get the opportunity to punch you in the face. Never mind that I couldn’t actually do it. In reality I would make cold, cold eye contact and pass by. If you were to apologise unprompted for your bad behaviour I might just faint from shock, because that’s not the type of person I knew you as. Would I forgive you? I would. I’m too nice not to. Most of the time I don’t think about you at all anymore except when July 28 rolls around yet again, and even then you usually only get a passing thought. But deep down, all this is still there.

[end of letter]

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Me on the day we left Kentucky, with our U-Haul behind me. September 2000.

Basically what I want to say is this: People who claim the name of Christ need to ACT like Christ. The Duggar family has built an empire around their high moral standards. Now they are trying to gloss over the heinous behaviour of their oldest son. That holds about as much water as saying “boys will be boys” when it comes to pornography. Sin is sin! Let’s call it by its right name and treat it like the awful thing it is. Let’s hold our sons, brothers, and fellow church members accountable instead of trying to cover up for them. I’m not saying we don’t forgive, but I am saying that we need to deal with these situations more effectively.

We need, as Christians, to stop brushing aside crimes against women. We were created to stand side-by-side with our men, working together in committed love: not be trampled by them, used, and thrown away – and then left bearing the guilt of the perpetrator.

The culture of Mennonitism at the Rod and Staff church was such an oppressive thing that there were lots of deviant sexual things that happened that got hushed up and brushed under the rug, and I understand the reason for that to some extent. You’re not taught adequately about sex and then when something happens you’re not prepared for it. You don’t know what to do with the crazy hormones of teenagerhood. I imagine that the same applies to all ultra-conservative facets of Christianity.

I have forgiven Boyd for what he did to me. The anger and rage in the letter above is not something I experience now. I do, however, still feel very strongly that he needs to man up and take responsibility for his actions, no matter what it costs him.

And I believe that the same goes for Josh Duggar. To the victims of his crimes I say: YOU ARE LOVED BY GOD. You are worthwhile. You have been violated, but many of us are praying that you will be healed and find the counselling and help that you need.

And with that, I will step off my soapbox.

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7 comments on “Letter to a Jerk

  1. Lisa Reynoso says:

    I think you are right about many of the ultra-conservative groups. My mom didn’t really prepare me for the real world. By some slip of fate (or providence of God, I’d prefer to think), I was never molested in any way by anyone. But it certainly wasn’t because I was savvy and well-prepared. I was so naive, and if a guy had tried, he could probably have had me too. There is a place for sheltering, but at some point kids need to understand things, and they need to learn it from their parents. Because if they don’t, they’ll learn it somehow–from their public-school friends or from some jerk who takes away the most precious thing they have.

  2. Your story was sent to me . . . because I once was a Crockett gal. I am so thankful that you are finding healing, joy and music again! I pray with you for revealing of truth, for God’s purging and for repentance. May God do a mighty work of revival in all hearts, and bring healing not only to the victims but also to the molesters for they need God’s healing as well once they repent.

  3. […] friend Jael wrote this post as a response to the news about Josh Duggar. It’s an honest, heartfelt story and I’m so proud of her […]

  4. pjeanneus says:

    You wrote, “There is no such thing as a little violation.” I understand how harmed you have been by an adult predator. I have been harmed by five people, two of them under the age of fifteen. Neither who were under fifteen molested others as they became adults. The stats are that most who molest are between the ages of 12 and 14. About 15% of these become serial predators as adults. I doubt most are raised in conservative Christian families, but some are. That is not the point. The point is that when we see the teenager reporting his own behavior, apologizing, and trying to make amends: when we see the victims forgiving and reconnecting in a loving, caring way with the person who harmed them, then IT IS NOT OUR PLACE TO JUDGE AND CONDEMN THAT YOUNG TEEN. Indeed, in my own case, forgiveness and restoration of the family relationship was the best thing I ever did in my life. I was actually responsible for two who harmed me being restored to Jesus Christ, and his loving forgiveness. I hope something I have written here will be helpful to you. Sounds like the man who harmed you should have gone to prison. But if you pray for “those who despitefully use you” then you will be healed even if they end up in hell. Wishing you all the best.

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