Until It Happens to Us

Perhaps the pain of social smearing is more common than we think

Wendy and I have received an outpouring of support since posting More to the Jeub Family Story, our post concerning our daughter’s accusation of abuse in our home. Can you relate?

This is one of several posts concerning "public smearing," and I am leading a Patreon Campaign to fully address this most important issue. You may read my public posts here, and consider becoming a patron to this good work:

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We expected some support, like friends expressing their sorrow, prayers and love. But several shared personal stories of their own. One even shared a bit of her story on our public Facebook page:

This mom didn’t block her name at all. How brave! There is an overwhelming amount of shame for parents who have spent years and years raising their children with wholesome, loving principles, only to have them turn away — or worse, to have them turn and attack their families with false accusations. Even if the accusations are outrageous, you still feel humiliation and responsibility for your kids and their invented narratives of their upbringing.

For years I wanted to keep my story under a bushel, so I don’t blame parents at all for wanting to keep their story private. The pain is overwhelming. Check this private message out, used with permission but kept anonymous:

I am heartbroken for your family and am praying for strength, Truth, protection, and reconciliation for you all. I have a 20-year-old son who has reacted to our family in a similar way to your daughter. It is hurtful, but I can’t imagine having to deal with family issues, which should be private, in the public eye. Please know that you sharing this has been an encouragement to me, so God (as He always does) is using your story for the good of those who love Him. 

I’m so happy to hear this family is getting their lives back together, as is ours. I bet there were many dark and lonesome days as they wrestled with the loss of their children. This mother is right: these issues should be private. But then again, there is a place for a public modeling, a support group of sorts, to share our similar stories. We can learn much from each other.

I attended a tournament in Denver yesterday. Three moms (who apparently saw Tuesday’s post) approached me to encourage me, and all three had stories that identified with mine. One had a daughter-in-law who regularly ostracizes her; another had a niece who suffered from severe depression; and another was in a current struggle with her oldest child’s Facebook rants of false memories. All three are privately holding a heart-wrenching story of family division, of an evil growth of hatred that has infiltrated their homes.

Is social smearing in families more common than we think? I guess so.

Here’s a dark reality of public smearing that I will certainly write about in the future: some actually believe your accuser. No matter how far-out and bizarre the fabrication may be, there are hints of truth in it (and your accuser knows how to play these truths) that draw people — perhaps loved ones — into the narrative. We received a note yesterday from one such “believer.”

Before I share this note, let me emphasize what it’s like to be a “famous” family. We’re not Oprah-famous, but Wendy and I developed a significant niche of our own over the years. We were on television, we’ve written books, and we had our share of speaking events at conferences and churches across the country. We had a tight-knit group of friends, but we had even more friends who “sort of” knew us. They read our book, perhaps met us at an event, and maybe spent some time at a social or even at our house with our family. They sometimes — perhaps more often than we wanted to think — believed Cynthia’s accusations of abuse.

Consider this note sent yesterday to Wendy (used with permission, emphases added):

“Wendy, I wanted to say hi and to acknowledge that my heart has gone out to you during the issues with Cynthia. At first, I will admit I believed her. As time progressed, it became clear that she was not mentally stable and I was sure that she had misrepresented things. We, too, have been through quite a trial when our child began revealing “reclaimed memories” (of events that truly never happened)…”

Wendy shared this with me, in tears. It is so relieving to hear from people who, over time and honest reflection, came to see the truth about the Jeub family. Wendy and her friend have been conversing, and here is another comment she shared (emphasis added):

“I never believed the whole “recovered memories” thing really happened…until it happened to us. Then, through all that, I realized what had been said about you all wasn’t true. Thank you for your article. It means so much to me. And I’m so sorry I believed the lies.”

Before our trial I figured people accused of lies should just walk through the trial with their chins held high…until it happened to us. It is such a heavy burden to carry, much more difficult than you think.

“Bear one another’s burdens and self-fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). If you are one who have carried a cross of shame and humiliation bred from hatred unbecoming from whom you truly are, I’d like to hear from you. Post below, post on our family Facebook page, or send me a personal note. We need to encourage and support one another as we face Hatred in our homes.