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Jill Duggar says toxic relationship with Jim Bob destroyed by reality show, treatment of pedophile brother

Jill Duggar and her husband Derick Dillard starred in the hit reality series “19 Kids and Counting" and its spinoff “Counting On." They left in 2017, and are now detailing the struggles they endured while appearing on the popular TLC shows in a new book, "Counting the Cost."

Jill Duggar and her husband Derick Dillard have found freedom after walking away from their reality TV fame.

The former stars of "19 Kids and Counting" and its spinoff "Counting On" live on the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma. They’re proud parents to three sons, with two of them attending public school. Duggar wears pants, has a nose ring and goes to therapy — she wouldn’t have it any other way.

The couple are now detailing the struggles they endured while appearing on the popular TLC shows in a new book, "Counting the Cost." Duggar, 32, told Fox News Digital that it’s been liberating to come clean.


"It’s helped us process and disentangle our feelings," she explained about penning the memoir, which hit bookshelves Tuesday. "It’s been a cathartic process… This is not an isolated experience, just for reality TV or for large families… I hope people can relate to it and say, ‘I felt that too. I felt the isolation that breeds from control.’"

A spokesperson for Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. But in a statement ahead of the book’s release, they told People magazine: "As with any family, few things are more painful than conflicts or problems among those you love. … We do not believe the best way to resolve conflicts, facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation, or to communicate through difficulties is through the media or in a public forum so we will not comment."

Duggar’s parents are devout followers of the Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP). The goal of IBLP is to provide others with a "clear institution and training on how to find success by following God’s principles found in Scripture." IBLP’s website claims that "over 2.5 million people" have attended their seminars over the years.

"19 Kids & Counting," which chronicled the lives of the growing Duggar family, aired from 2008 to 2015. "Counting On," which focused on the family’s older children, ran from 2015 to 2021.

"It was like ‘The Truman Show,’" Duggar recalled. "It was hard to live day to day and have a camera in my face. And for some of my siblings, it’s all they’ve ever known. As I got to know the film crew, they became like family, but there were moments that were robbed from me, the private ones. Like when I had my wisdom teeth out. It was a very vulnerable time for me as a teenager when I was put on display because they needed a moment, a dramatic moment. And anytime we were crying or emotionally distraught, the film crew was there because they knew it made great TV."

"If somebody busts their head open, it’s like, ‘This is great TV,’" she continued. "But at that moment, I just felt, ‘This is what I have to do. I have to honor my parents. I have to fall in line here.’ I didn’t really have a choice and I did not like it, but at the same time, I felt this is what I had to do to be a good daughter, to be a good Christian. I had to fulfill this role. But I wished I had more privacy. It’s still a struggle I face with."


Duggar claimed that as the show’s popularity grew, more private moments became "up for grabs." She didn’t want the birth of her son Israel to be filmed, but it put her in conflict with both her parents and producers.

Dillard admitted the pressure they endured took a toll on their marriage.

"There came a point where we just had to draw the line in the sand," he explained. "It wasn’t like somebody came to us as a couple and said, ‘Your parents have this agreement. Is this something you’re willing to do?’ There was never a conversation. And that difficulty was there early on, maybe even before we got married."

"I felt, ‘If Jill doesn’t want to do this, she doesn’t have to,’" Dillard shared. "I felt like I had that power to say no because I didn’t have any reason to think otherwise. The hardest thing for me was this presumption that everyone had a right to all these things. Whether it was our baby’s first pictures or announcements we wanted to make as a couple — that was robbed from us. It deeply affected our marriage to the point where I knew we had to put our foot down… I felt the ability to protect [Jill] and help her do what she felt called to was taken away from me… It definitely created tension."

Duggar’s struggles in the spotlight worsened. In 2015, a police report from the investigation about her brother Josh molesting Duggar and her sisters when they were young went public. Duggar deliberately kept the details of what occurred out of her book, but recalled telling her husband that she felt "terrible… I wish I were dead."

She also alleged in the book that her parents guarded Josh’s privacy to "keep him from being publicly humiliated." During one argument with her father, Duggar said she yelled at him, "You treat me worse than you treat my pedophile brother!"


"When everything came into the public spotlight, obviously that was a very devastating time — it continues to be for me," said Duggar. "I knew I would have to address it writing a book, but it’s not something that I would ever want to expound on a lot… It was a very strange and hard time for Derek and me because we were reeling from the effects of everything being in the spotlight, and then trying to sort out our feelings towards everybody… just grouping, escaping to a farm and trying to start the next planning steps… I didn’t know what to do… I was in a fog."

Josh, 35, is serving more than 12 years in prison on charges of downloading and possessing child pornography.

Tensions grew between the couple and Jim Bob, 58. Duggar alleged she was never paid for her time on the show despite being contracted to have her life constantly documented. After asking to be compensated, Duggar alleged Jim Bob offered each of his children a one-time check of $80,000 to "start their lives." She wrote that Mad Family Inc., her father’s production company, allegedly made about $8 million.

In the book, Duggar said her relationship with Jim Bob "was nearly all hornets and garter snakes."

"I would say it hasn’t gotten a whole lot better," she said about their relationship today. "Our therapist recommended that we focus on ourselves and strengthen who we are and find our voice, find who we are in Christ. We needed to know what our boundaries are as a family. I think it has changed our relationship, and we can set the tone for what we are OK with and not OK with. But I don’t feel there’s been a lot of improvement in my relationship with my father."

"I hope and pray that it does get better," she shared. "I love my dad… That’s why it’s taken me so long to speak up because I love my family so much. And I don’t want to hurt them."


Duggar and Dillard stopped appearing on the family’s reality show in 2017. All these years later, they have no regrets walking away.

"We got to a point where it was like, ‘I’ve had it,'" Dillard recalled. "’We’re not doing this anymore. I don’t care. You can sue us. That was threatened. But I don’t care. You’re not going to win if you sue us. If you want to threaten to sue us, OK, but we’re not doing this anymore.'"

"I wanted us to have more control of our lives," Duggar chimed in. "It was a very strange feeling to finally be free… There was that wonder of, ‘What’s next?’ I knew we had plans and goals, but what would that look like? Are we going to be so detached from our family because we’re not a part of filming? Will they accept us? It was weird to leave. We didn’t want to leave the family. We just wanted to leave filming."


Duggar said therapy has been "a gift" as she continues to navigate her new life. Her faith in God, she said, continues to strengthen her marriage.

"I’m so happy," she said. "I have more control of my life and my future… Filming was the bedrock of my life at that point. All the positive and negative experiences I had are valid feelings. They’re like thorns and roses… It doesn’t mean I don’t love my family. But I want people to know your story matters. Your voice matters."

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