Jill Duggar Speaks Out in ‘Duggar Family Secrets’ Docuseries: The Biggest Revelations About Her Famous Family

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Jill Dillard is the latest Duggar daughter to speak out about growing up in her ultra-conservative Christian family.


A new Prime Video docuseries, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, shares with viewers how the 19 Kids and Counting family became a reality TV sensation before scandal shook the foundation of their deeply held belief system.

Like her sister, Jinger Vuolo’s, recent book, Shiny Happy People starts with a focus on 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.

“IBLP and the teachings draw in people like my dad, who want this control,” Jill notes. “It can foster this cult-like environment. I absolutely think people would be drawn to that.”

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar raised their 19 children under Gothard’s teachings and have continued following the IBLP lifestyle, despite the fact that Gothard resigned from the organization in 2014, following over 30 claims of sexual harassment from former employees. Despite the pastor’s denial of any wrongdoing, the allegations further tainted his reputation for many.

The charges against Gothard hit close to home for the Duggars, when eldest son Josh 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.

The family also confirmed in 2015 that Josh inappropriately touched four of his sisters and one babysitter when he was a teenager. Jill and sister Jessa were two of the victims, and Shiny Happy People explores how the conservative, sheltered lifestyle of the IBLP can create a “breeding ground” for predatory behavior.

“Having a voice about what you think, and how you feel, and being able to voice and say no about things, was stifled and not encouraged in the IBLP setting, in my family,” Jill shares in the series.

Read on for some of the biggest revelations about the famous family in Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.

There was a darker side to Duggar family life that wasn’t shown on camera.

Jim Bob Duggar was a devotee of Gothard since high school, and raised his burgeoning family following the guidelines of the IBLP.

“IBLP and the teachings draw in people like my dad, who want this control,” Jill notes. “It can foster this cult-like environment. I absolutely think people would be drawn to that.”

The Duggars became a reality TV spectacle for some of their lifestyle choices — particularly their ultra-conservative fashions. However, parts of the IBLP curriculum were purposefully kept off camera, including the organization’s touting of corporal punishment for children and “blanket training” for babies, which involves placing the child on a blanket and physically punishing them if they try to crawl off.

When asked if she ever saw her cousins being punished or hit with rods, cousin Amy Duggar King tears up.

“They called it encouragement,” she recalled. “They literally said, ‘You need to come into the room, and we need to give you some encouragement.’ But it was in like, the sweetest tone ever. ‘Do you need some encouragement? I think you need encouragement.'”

Jim Bob Duggar controlled his children through the reality show — and it continued when they became adults.

Shiny Happy People makes it clear that, in true IBLP fashion, Jim Bob Duggar is the one in control of his family and their finances — even as his adult children leave the home and start families of their own.

In fact, Jill alleges in the series, the father of 19 kept his kids in the dark about the contracts they were signing for the reality shows. Jill and husband Derick Dillard claim they unknowingly signed their lives away the day before their wedding when Jim Bob presented them with a new contract amid the whirlwind of preparations.

“I just saw the signature page, it was like, on the end of the kitchen table, like, ‘Hey, we just need you guys to sign these.’ Everybody was signing then,” Jill recalls. “We were literally running though the kitchen, and it was like, anyone you could grab on the way through… I didn’t know what it was for.”

“What we found out later, was that it was a commitment of your life for the next five years, to the show,” Derick explains.

Jill darkly notes, “They had their negotiations, they had their business meetings, it just wasn’t with us.”

What’s worse, the couple shares, is that Jim Bob and Michelle were allegedly signing fraudulent contracts that listed Jill and her siblings as minor dependents, even when they had aged into adulthood.

“I reached out to TLC to ask for all contracts that I had been involved in,” she shares. “My parents had signed for a bunch of the kids who were no longer minors, including myself.”

Screenshots in the doc show contracts that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar reportedly signed on behalf of their “minor children” as recently as 2012, however, as Jill points out, “I became an adult in 2009.”

“As the kids aged into adulthood, they’re still listed as minors,” she notes of the contracts, “and nobody fixed that.”

Jill didn’t want to give birth on camera — and wasn’t paid when she did.

When it came time for the couple to welcome their first child, son Israel, in April 2015, Jill recalls attempting to tell production that she didn’t want the show cameras following her when she gave birth.

“I knew for sure,” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Nobody’s in my delivery room, nobody. And nobody’s there for the labor, watching me. I don’t want any of that.'”

However, Derick explains, “We basically lost. They’re gonna get what they want.”

What TLC wanted was a two-hour special focused on the birth. The couple recorded themselves on handheld cameras in their hospital room as Jill labored for days, “so they still got the footage.”

The couple claims they were kept in the dark about compensation from the special, learning later — when they asked TLC for payment to cover their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses — that all money allegedly went through Jim Bob.

“[TLC] said they paid the family,” Derick recalls. “‘Paid the family’ means we don’t get anything, at that point. They said, ‘Well, we paid your dad, so take it up with him.'”

“I never received any payout,” Jill adds. “No check, no cash, no nothing — for seven and a half years of my adult life, I was never paid.”

Later, after Jill and Derick started asking more questions about being compensated for their work, Jim Bob allegedly announced that he’d decided to give some of the older children a lump sum payout of some of the profits from their reality fame.

“Some of the boys are getting to the point where they want to start businesses and stuff, so I think it’s good timing, and blah, blah, blah…” Jill alleges her father saying. “But, in order to receive that, you had to sign another deal with my dad, and his production company, Mad Family, Inc., that would be like, forever.”

“We were automatically, like, we’re done,” she adds.

Jill has major regrets about her Megyn Kelly interview.

Jill and Derick recount how, in 2015, Jim Bob’s PR representative, Chad Gallagher, encouraged Jill and Jessa to sit down with then-Fox News personality Megyn Kelly to do damage control surrounding Josh’s molestation scandal. In Jill’s words, “to try and get it to the point where, like, TLC would be cool with moving forward with this show [19 Kids and Counting].”

However, despite the fact that both girls insisted at the time that “nobody asked us to do this,” Jill makes it clear throughout the series that doing the interview and having to relive those allegations was, and continues to be, incredibly traumatic for her.

“The Megyn Kelly thing, I don’t like to even talk about it,” she shares. “Because it’s not something that I’m proud of. If I hadn’t felt obligated to do it for like, one, for the sake of the show, and two, do it for the sake of my parents, I wouldn’t have done it.”

“In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done the [interview],” she adds. “I felt like I was in a place, again, of like, bearing the burden and the weight of [my family]. Even though you volunteer, you feel obligated to help.”

In the interview, at the time, Jill made a point to say what she and Jessa endured was “very mild, compared to what happens to some,” insisting that Josh’s victims were asleep and didn’t even realize what had happened to them. However, her cousin, Amy Duggar King, offers a different version of events.

“Jill has strength and tenacity,” Amy shares. “She is not one to just keep quiet and silent. And so she’s the one that really did something about Josh, and hit him the night that he tried to do something to her.”

This scene is one where Derick speaks up the most vehemently, calling his wife “collateral damage” in her family’s PR strategy.

“The whole Megyn Kelly thing, I would not call it voluntary,” he says. “Basically being called on to carry out a suicide mission. You’re gonna destroy yourself, but we need you to take the fall so we can carry the show forward. Because the show cannot fail, and they were gonna do whatever they could to get return on investment. If that meant collateral damage, that meant collateral damage.”

Ultimately, TLC canceled 19 Kids and Counting anyway. Jill tearfully recalls, “It didn’t save everything. It wasn’t enough.”

Jill didn’t want to participate in the Counting On spinoff series, but felt pressured by her family’s needs and expectations.

After Josh’s scandal, Derick explains in the series, TLC had to pivot. They couldn’t focus on the younger kids or the Duggars’ home life, so the next best plan was to create a spinoff series, Counting On, that focused on the older Duggar girls and their growing families.

Jill recalls wanting to say no, but not knowing how.

“We’re being pressured to come back, she shares. “I didn’t want to, but at the same time, I’ve never said no to my family before.”

“It’s this whole umbrellas-of-authority thing,” she continues, referring to an IBLP doctrine that places a man over his wife and family, under only God above him. “That was ingrained in me. I felt like, if I said no, I’m not obeying my parents, and bad things are gonna happen to me.”

Jill was prepared to testify at Josh’s child pornography trial.

Despite how painful it is for her to recall the abuse, Jill said she was prepared to testify at Josh’s trial, as prosecutors wanted to use the previous molestation allegations to prove a pattern of behavior.

“Nobody, obviously, wants to testify, but I was prepared to testify against my brother,” Jill recalls, however, “I guess they got what they needed from somebody else, and didn’t have to have me testify.”

Jill steers clear of speaking too much about Josh, and it’s evident that the memories are still loaded with emotion — more so because of how her trauma played out as scandalous entertainment for the public.

“I kind of don’t really wanna talk about all that. Just because… it’s really hard for me,” she says when asked about the molestation allegations. “Nobody ever should have known about it, so I don’t like talking about it.”

Jill remains on the outs with her family.

“Everything within the family dynamic has shifted, and not for the better,” Jill says of where things stand now between her and the rest of the Duggars.

“My dad does control a lot of things within the family,” she notes. “Family relationships were already kind of rocky.”

“We’re very much on the outside with the family,” Derick agrees.

Despite the tension, Amy says she sees “night and day difference” in her cousin since Jill stepped back from IBLP lifestyle.

“If you were in ATI or IBLP, unfortunately, a lot of times you have to go through hell,” Jill shares. “Because it’s not until then that you would risk everything to get out of those situations.”

“Eventually, you start making your own decisions,” she adds, pointing out her newly acquired nose ring. “It’s piece by piece, little by little, to do what you need to, to survive.”

A statement at the series’ end provides Jim Bob and Michelle’s only comment on the series. Through Gallagher, they said that they “love each of their children tremendously and always desire each live their God-designed lives to the fullest.”

Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is streaming now on Prime Video.


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