Jill Duggar Dillard Is Risking Everything To Tell Her Truth — And We Love Her For It

"Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets" may come as a shock to those who think of the Duggars as the perfect all-American Christian family. The Amazon Prime docuseries, which will stream from June 2, is an exposé of the popular "19 Kids & Counting" clan and their controversial church. 

Ex-members of The Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) call it cult-like. Founder Bill Gothard demanded perfect obedience to his authority, teaching followers that living by his rules was the only way to please God and guarantee a spot in heaven. As an ex-member explains in the series, the Duggars became a "walking advertisement" for the IBLP through their TLC reality show. Even the producers of the documentary admitted to People they were "shocked" by the "far-reaching ideology" of the church and its toxic culture; they warn there are darker secrets that have yet to be revealed.

Many viewers will be tuning in to "Shiny Happy People" specifically to hear what Jill Duggar Dillard has to say. The fourth of the 19 Duggar children agreed to appear on the series and share her thoughts about growing up in a family where the IBLP's rules were law, and in which her wishes were disregarded for the sake of good TV. It's a huge risk for her to take and with no gain to herself. In fact, she has a lot to lose, and it's hard not to admire her courage and hope her story serves as an inspiration to others.

She may never talk to her father again

Raised in the ultra-conservative IBLP, Jill Duggar Dillard was taught to dress modestly, aspire to motherhood, and obey men — especially her father — without complaint. She never thought to question the Duggars' "buddy system," ban on secular music, and the courtship system under which her dad helped choose her husband, Derick Dillard. But Jill shocked fans when she bowed out of "Counting On" (a spin-off of "19 Kids and Counting") in 2018. She followed up with an interview claiming Jim Bob Duggar restricted the choices she and Derick could make and kept their share of the TV money. She has since gone on to call her dad "controlling" and "verbally abusive" in court documents (via The Sun),

Now, she's coming forward with more allegations. Speaking on an episode of the podcast "Reality Life with Kate Casey," the co-directors/producers of "Shiny Happy People" revealed the docuseries shows Jill saying she never wanted to share the footage of her first son being born. She claims her signature was forged on TLC documents, possibly by Jim Bob, which forced her to let the network use the film. 

If Jill ever had any hope of making peace with her father, the docuseries will likely end them for good. It has to be wrenching for her to realize she may never enjoy a loving father-daughter connection again, but it would have been far worse to let Jim Bob continue to call the shots at the expense of the Dillards' freedom and privacy.

Jill may be cut off from the rest of her family

Through all this behind-the-scenes drama, Jill has maintained a good relationship with her mother, Michelle, and her siblings. She has made appearances at events such as sister-in-law Abbie Duggar's baby shower, and she joined all her sisters for a photo op when sis Jinger Duggar Vuolo jetted in from L.A. for a visit. A regular poster on Instagram, Jill shows support for her sibs by leaving comments or likes on their posts, most recently for Joy-Anna Duggar Forsyth when she had her third baby, Gunner James

The "Shiny Happy People" series could change all that. The senior Duggars may not object if Jill's criticism is limited mainly to the IBLP religious group, but if she makes claims against her family — specifically regarding brother Josh — it could have devastating consequences. The oldest Duggar son is currently doing time for possessing child sexual abuse material. He had previously confessed to molesting several of his sisters, including Jill, before "19 Kids" began filming. When the news about the girls broke, the Duggars gave an interview to Fox's Megyn Kelly. Derick has since claimed Jill was "heavily coached to stay within a certain narrative" when talking about her brother according to reality TV blogger Katie Joy on her Instagram account @withoutacrystalball.

Will Jill confirm that her family protected Josh at the expense of her own well-being? If so, that could put an end to any future family connections. Imagine growing up surrounded by 18 siblings, then suddenly being cut off from that support system.

Jill is a strong survivor

Considering everything she's been through — limited life choices, a controlling father, TV crews following her everywhere, and the trauma of sexual abuse — it's a testament to Jill Duggar Dillard's strength that she has a happy life today. Her social media account shows happy moments of family outings, trying new recipes, raising her three sons, and get-togethers with friends (including cousin Amy Duggar King, another family rebel). Still, the scars may remain. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often report feelings of depression, shame, and guilt, and are likely to develop eating disorders. Being a survivor of the Institute in Basic Life Principles only adds to her trauma. According to the Sophia Society, a deconstruction group for former evangelical Christians, spiritual abuse can lead to emotional and physical symptoms similar to those of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jill didn't have to be a part of "Shiny Happy People." She could have said no to going before the cameras again, refusing to share her pain publicly. But she must have felt it was important for her to speak out and let the world know what she really went through. As she says in the trailer, "There's a story that's going to be told, and I would rather be the one telling it." Perhaps her courage will not only help in her healing but also inspire other survivors of religious or sexual abuse to come out from the shadows.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or someone you know is dealing with spiritual abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.