Opening up for the first time about the molestation he was victim to when he was just six years old, Duck Dynasty‘s Jep Robertson said the experience affected his life for years afterward.
Talking about the molestation in his new book, The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness, Jep said it all went down on the back of a school bus.
An older girl started sitting next to me. She seemed sweet at first. She’d come sit beside me, like a motherly figure almost. I remember her being sweet and taking care of me. I liked to sit in the back so she’d come sit with me… After a while the girl started doing strange things. She’d take my hands and push them up under her shirt and tell me I was tickling her. Then she started making me pull down my pants. It was awkward. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew something wasn’t right.
Elaborating to Entertainment Tonight, Jep said he was too embarrassed to tell his parents:
I didn’t want to go to school. I had a lot of absences. My mom always thought I was sick… I think for a while I just tried to bury it so deep that I kind of forgot about it for a while,” he said. “I think in the end I didn’t want my mom and dad to think they did anything wrong, and they didn’t. It was just one of those things that happened, and I think it took me a long time to realize what had happened and how it effected me.
In addition to shutting down about the whole experience, Jep said it caused him to distrust women.
“I was really scared of girls and just women in general, but I think God had a plan for that. I know it sounds weird but it’s helped me now that I have a bunch of girls,” said the father of three girls, who also credited wife Jessica Robertson for helping him come to terms with it all. “I think it helps us really communicate with them on what’s right and what’s wrong — where you should be touched or not be touched.”
Although Jep and Jessica’s book has been in the works for a while, its release comes shortly after the Duggar family confirmed oldest son Josh “inappropriately touched” four of his sisters and one family friend. As both the victim of molestation and someone whose family show has been on the chopping block because of a scandal, Jep said he understands what the Duggars are going through.
“I think we as a family just stuck together and prayed a lot,” he said, noting he doesn’t personally know Josh Duggar or “what’s in his heart.” He added, “At some point I think you got to get a tough skin and no matter what anybody says about you, you just got to be like, ‘We’re just going to keep doing what we do.'”
Jep and Jessica’s co-written book will be available on June 23, the day before the new season of Duck Dynasty premieres on A&E.