The stories are heartbreaking. In her new memoir, Counting the Cost, former reality star Jill Dillard (née Duggar) makes numerous troubling claims about her father, Jim Bob Duggar, painting him as a domineering and emotionally abusive man who for decades used faith to wield financial and emotional control over their family. She even alleges that Jim Bob and her mom, Michelle, consistently supported son Josh — who molested five girls, including Jill and three of her siblings, when he was a teen, cheated on his wife, and went to prison in 2021 after being convicted of child pornography crimes — over her. “Watching the way my parents protected my brother … it’s still hard to swallow,” Jill admits, revealing she finally confronted her dad, telling him, “You treat me worse than you treat my pedophile brother.”
It’s a stunning accusation. And there are many more bombshells in the book Jill, 32, cowrote with husband Derick Dillard, 34, including claims that Jim Bob stole money from them and banned them from the Duggar family home. Jim Bob, 58, and Michelle, 57, immediately fought back, saying in a statement on September 11, the day before the book’s release, “We love all of our children very much. 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…” Publicly, they’re projecting an image of loving parents, working in solidarity to heal their family, a source tells In Touch, “but behind the scenes, Jim Bob and Michelle are seething. Not only has Jill humiliated them by sharing private family information, but they feel she’s depicted them as monsters. For Jill to tell her story without their consent is seen as a betrayal. The shocking thing is, in Jim Bob and Michelle’s eyes, this book will harm the family more than Josh’s abuse scandal did.”
Jill says that for years, she tried to work things out privately with her father. After discovering she and Derick were allegedly “tricked” by Jim Bob the morning of their wedding into signing a contract to appear on her family’s reality shows without earning a paycheck (while Jim Bob raked in more than $8 million and bought “a fleet of private aircraft,” Jill claims), the couple attempted to negotiate to get their share. But when Jill and Derick finally got her parents in a room with a mediator, she writes, Michelle accused her of being “disrespectful” and Jim Bob demanded she apologize for calling him “verbally abusive.”
Ultimately — after her relationship with her parents deteriorated even further amid the protracted battle — Jill and Derick ended up with $175,000. “I never knew that victory could feel so hollow or so overwhelmingly sad,” she writes.
As they continued to butt heads, Jim Bob allegedly threatened to reduce Jill’s inheritance, banned her from visiting the family home when he wasn’t there, and confronted her after she decided to wear pants (he even gave her a book about dressing modestly) and pierce her nose (he called it “a huge mistake” and said she was ruining her life), leaving her “embarrassed” and “humiliated.” As Jill writes: “He despised how I was dressing in ways that put sexual thoughts in guys’ minds. Instead of his Sweet Jilly Muffin, I was now a threat to the rest of his children and a threat to his authority.”
Since then, Jill has found healing in therapy. She’s also now making decisions for herself, like using birth control, occasionally drinking alcohol and sending her older kids — she and Derick share Israel, 8, Samuel, 6, and Frederick, 1 — to public school instead of homeschooling them, according to her parents’ ultraconservative Christian belief system. While she’s received support from some of her loved ones, other siblings have made their displeasure clear. “Some family members have reached out and said, ‘Well, if you’re trying to reconcile, this is not the way to go about it, writing a book.’ And I was like, ‘Well, that’s not my reason for writing the book,’” Jill says.
She wanted to tell their side of the story — “to use our voice to show others there is hope beyond the pain,” she writes. Since challenging Jim Bob for their share of the family’s reality TV earnings, “we’re very much on the outside with the family,” Derick said earlier this year. Jill confirms she and her parents are essentially estranged. “I’ll see my mom at sister get-togethers for brunch or birthdays,” she said in September, adding, “Dad’s relationship is a little more complicated.”
Jill isn’t expecting anything to change, but she’s made her peace with it. “Jim Bob and Michelle are so focused on their image and their standing in their community. Jill believes they prioritize that over their family’s happiness,” says the source. Jill doesn’t want to live her life that way. “We have kind of just had to make our own decisions,” she says, “and realize that you can’t change people.”
In Touch Staff