Amy Duggar King isn’t holding back about her reality TV-famous family.
The niece of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar was often featured on the Duggars’ TLC reality series, 19 Kids and Counting, when she was growing up, cast as the more “rebellious” relative, who didn’t adhere to her cousins’ strict dress code and other doctrines of modesty and obedience.
Now, Amy and cousin Jill Duggar Dillard are speaking out in a new Prime Video docuseries, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, which dives deeper into the Duggars’ controversial lifestyle under the teachings of disgraced pastor Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles, or IBLP, a non-denominational Christian organization that espouses homeschooling, female subservience and conservative values.
Jim Bob and Michelle spoke out against the series on Thursday, publishing a statement to their website about the four-part investigation.
“The recent ‘documentary’ that talks about our family is sad because in it we see the media and those with ill intentions hurting people we love,” the statement shared in part. “Like other families, ours too has experienced the joys and heartbreaks of life, just in a very public format.”
The Duggars continue by accusing Shiny Happy People of painting “so much and so many in a derogatory and sensationalized way because sadly that’s the direction of entertainment these days.”
“We have always believed that the best chance to repair damaged relationships, or to reconcile differences, is through love in a private setting,”Jim Bob and Michelle’s statement continued. “We love every member of our family and will continue to do all we can to have a good relationship with each one.”
When ET’s Deidre Behar spoke with Amy following the release of the docuseries, she didn’t mince her words, describing Jim Bob and Michelle’s statement as “gaslighting.”
“I felt like, in that moment, they could have been humble, and they could have said, ‘We’re sorry for the victims,'” she shared. “They could have done that, but instead, they didn’t. They didn’t.”
“That’s really, really sad that they’re still protecting a pedophile. It’s very sad,” she added. “It doesn’t show any support for the actual victims, and that is what the documentary is all about.”
Amy also criticized Jim Bob and Michelle for expressing their desire to reconcile “in a private setting,” pointing out the hypocrisy of that language in a family that has seen multiple scandals befall eldest son Josh, who was accused of molesting four of his sisters as a teenager and was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison in May 2022 after being found guilty on two counts of receiving and possessing child pornography.
“That is when things get swept under the rug,” Amy said of the statement. “That’s when lies happen. That’s when you can kind of cover up, say, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad.'”
While Amy was close with many of her cousins growing up, she’s had to set “healthy boundaries” for herself in recent years, which means she’s not in contact with many members of the Duggar family.
“I still love my family. I’m not trying to bash them,” she insisted. “I miss the girls, I miss the boys. But I have to protect my family. I have to protect my son, I have to protect my peace. Because this is completely evil.”
She said she’s “so proud” of Jill and her sister, Jinger Vuolo, who have both distanced themselves from the IBLP and spoken out about the trauma they endured growing up.
“I’m so proud of them for the strength that they have to share their stories,” she praised. “I will be their cheerleader for life as long as they’re getting help and being healthy for their families as well. You’ve gotta cut out those generational curses.”
As for the rest of the Duggar kids, including those who are still living under Jim Bob and Michelle’s roof, Amy says, “I just hope their eyes are opened. Maybe the kids will start questioning… and I’m here whenever that happens.”
She’s also tried to be a support sister for Josh’s wife, Anna, but said she’s received “radio silence” on multiple attempts to reach out and inquire about her wellbeing as a single mom to seven kids while Josh is in jail.
“I’ve tried to reach out to her. I don’t know if someone’s monitoring her phone,” Amy recalled. “And it might take a little bit for her to comprehend all this trauma… so I don’t know where she is, mentally. I don’t know if she’s getting help, I don’t know if she’s getting therapy, but you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. That is the sad realization that I had to come to.”
And she doesn’t have any message for Josh, beyond the desire to see him shipped off to a remote location the moment he’s released from jail.
“I hope to God they don’t embrace [him back],” she said. “At this point I think he deserves to be on an island, just far, far, far, away from any beautiful child that he could hurt. It’s crippling to me. I just freeze up, because it’s so wrong and so evil.”
For now, Amy said she’s been “grateful” to do her part to help survivors as a part of Shiny Happy People, calling the series “so eye-opening and impactful.”
“I’m not an IBLP survivor,” she noted, “but I will support those who are, 100 percent.”
Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is streaming now on Prime Video.
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