I never meant any harm: on the Duggars, vicarious exoneration, and judging abusers by their intentions

Karrie higgins

Note: Part one of my husband’s story appears here: I had a nightmare: on the Duggars, Christianity, and abuse.


My mother-in-law touched down in Salt Lake City like a tornado twelve hours after I called–reluctantly–to inform her that her son is in the hospital with a mysterious illness.

“It could be meningitis,” I told her, though deep down I knew the culture would come back negative.

That morning, when I woke up to an empty pillow on my husband’s side of the bed and a voice mail from an ER in a suburb forty minutes away, I dry heaved before I hit play, envisioning a morgue drawer sliding open and me saying, “Yes, that’s him.” I was certain he had careened off the road or crashed his Honda FIT into an electrical pole.

For two weeks, he had succumbed to mysterious “spells,” crossing his arms over his chest…

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