Duck Dynasty star Jep Robertson is done keeping secrets. Ahead of the release of his new book, The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness, the Duck Commander family's baby brother is opening up about the abuse he suffered as a child.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Robertson, 37, claimed he was molested by an older student when he was barely in grade school. "I was 6 and it was on a school bus and it was an older girl," Robertson said. "Back then, the high school students would ride on the same bus as the grade school. There was this girl there that was just real mean...I don't know, but it was a lot of things took place — scary stuff. It was tough."
In the book Robertson co-authored with his wife Jessica, the A&E reality star writes that his abuser made him feel "awkward" and tried to excuse the abuse as "tickling."
It wasn't until Robertson married Jessica in 2001 that he felt comfortable sharing his painful secret. Telling ET that he was often truant from school and would feign illness, Robertson credits his wife with encouraging him to talk through his past. "I think for a while I just tried to bury it so deep that I kind of forgot about it for a while. I think God put that on me for meeting someone like Jessica who went through some hard times herself and I think it made our relationship stronger once we talked about it," said Robertson, who shares three daughters and a son with his wife of 14 years.
"I don't know if I necessarily consciously wanted to [keep it a secret]," the Duck Dynasty star continued. "I was more embarrassed. . . .I think it took me a long time to realize what had happened and how it affected me. Like I've said before I don't think anything that happened to me made me do anything bad. I hear people say that. I do think it affected the way I look at certain things. I was really scared of girls and just women in general, but I think God had a plan for that. I know it sounds weird, but it's helped me now that I have a bunch of girls. I think it helps us really communicate with them on what's right and what's wrong — where you should be touched or not be touched. It's a tough thing to go through, but you just kind of live and go though it and make the most of it."
While his story is very different, Robertson told ET he can identify with what fellow reality TV star Josh Duggar is going through. Earlier this month, a report surfaced that Duggar, now 27, molested four of his sisters, including Jill and Jessa Duggar, and a family babysitter, as a teen. Robertson encouraged the Duggar family to rely on their faith to get through this tough time.
"At some point I think you got to get a tough skin and no matter what anybody says about you, you just got to be like, 'We're just going to keep doing what we do,'" Robertson said.
Added Jessica Robertson: "I think that's what they're doing. I think they're staying close-knit and I think they'll be fine, but it'll be a long road."
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics, and more delivered straight to your inbox!