The Talk co-host Sheryl Underwood dissolved in tears on Thursday’s show after watching Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard identify themselves as two of the five girls their brother Josh allegedly molested more than a decade ago.
Underwood said during the show’s taping that she too was a victim of molestation as a young girl: “I’m probably the only person at this table that went through that,” she began. “I went through that [at] 3, 4, 5 years old – you know something is wrong.”
She continued, “And if nobody listens to you and nobody is going to stop it … whether I’m asleep or not – I didn’t sleep. I learned how to stay up as long as I could. I may sleep at school because nobody is going to protect me, so I have to protect myself.”
While discussing the Duggar daughters, Underwood, 51, said that coming forward “really helped the world, to see what happens to people when they’re in some type of family structure when the people you’re supposed to trust to protect you seem to be your co-conspirator in your violation, [who] seem to rationalize sexual assault and molestation.”
“The thing about this that hurts so much is [pauses to hold back tears] you feel that you have no help. You feel that nobody’s listening or you’re being blamed or this is something that kids do.”
Underwood said she is grateful her older brothers stepped in and took action on her behalf and that “families gotta protect families and don’t rationalize violation.”
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Even as the audience stood to applaud her courage, Underwood acknowledged being a victim of molestation had lasting emotional effects on her: “I felt that I was worthless. For years I couldn’t accept love because I didn’t love myself.”