After years of appearing on reality TV as devoted members of the Duggar family, Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband Derick Dillard are speaking out against what they say were years of manipulation and greed.
The couple spoke to “Nightline” following the release of Duggar Dillard’s new tell-all memoir “Counting the Cost,” and revealed details about the pressures she feels her parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, put on them during the reality show “19”. Kids and Counting” was on the air.
The show’s wholesome veneer masked a damaging culture of control, the couple said.
“Anyone who makes decisions for themselves and parents do not give their blessing is considered rebellious. So even if you are an adult, even if you have been an adult for a long time, you are married with children, if your parents do not don’t give their blessing, then you don’t honor them,” Duggar Dillard told “Nightline.”
The show focused on the conservative Christian family, their relationships and other daily lives, as well as their strict upbringing on everything from the way they dressed to “courtship”.
Duggar Dillard was a teenager when the series began and would go on to star in the spinoff “Jill and Jessa: Counting On,” with her sister Jessa.
Duggar Dillard has filmed more than 200 episodes and more than a dozen specials with her family, and she says she and her siblings never profited from it.
She wrote in her book that she received a check for $175,000 after she and her husband confronted Jim Bob Duggar and fought over the money.
“People would say…I’m so happy the girls are getting something…and people didn’t know (the show) was called ‘Jill and Jessa Counting On,’ but Jill and Jessa and their families aren’t. gain any financial benefit from it,” Dillard said.
Dillard and Duggar Dillard also claim that their dating and marriage were always under the control of Jim Bob Duggar, who Dillard claims made him manage every aspect of the relationship.
The day before their wedding in 2014, the couple claimed that Jim Bob Duggar surprised his 23-year-old daughter with the signature page of a contract that she said locked her into years of filming.
“I feel like I was cheated,” she said.
Dillard, a lawyer, called the contract a fraud.
“We would not have accepted this based on the conditions that were given,” he said.
The couple said father Jim Bob Duggar was also manipulative after his eldest son Josh Duggar was identified in a sex abuse scandal that destroyed the family’s healthy reputation.
In 2015, Josh Duggar, the family’s eldest son, admitted to molesting five girls when he was just 14 years old, including four of his sisters. Duggar Dillard says she informed authorities about the abuse.
Duggar Dillard said she and her sister Jessa felt like they were forced to give an interview to Fox News after the 2015 revelation to “save face.”
“I didn’t want to be there. I was doing it out of obligation,” she said.
Josh Duggar was never charged for the alleged acts, however, he was convicted of receiving child pornography in 2021 and is currently serving 12 and a half years in prison.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar told “Nightline” in a statement, “We love all of our children very much. Like any family, few things are more painful than conflict or problems between those you love. our children, our finances and our other endeavors. Although imperfect, our intention and desire is to live a life that honors Christ. We do not believe that the best way to resolve conflict, facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation, or communicate through difficulties is through the media or in a public forum, so we will not comment further. As the future unfolds, we will continue to love our family, pray for them, and enjoy every moment we are given as parents and grandparents.
Duggar Dillard said small acts of independence such as wearing pants or getting a nose ring were met with hostility by her parents.
Eventually, the couple, who have three children, stopped filming the spinoff and Duggar Dillard said she had become estranged from her father.
“I think other than weddings and funerals, that was the only time I had seen (Jim Bob Duggar) after Freddie (the couple’s youngest son) was born, probably in the last five years “Dillard said.
The couple said they were focused on raising their children on their own terms.
“You have to give yourself grace…but recognize what you can experience, those positive and negative experiences. They can co-exist. The highs don’t have to be automatically erased by the lows,” Duggar Dillard said.