Jessa Lauren Seewald (née Duggar; born November 4, 1992) is an American television personality. She is known for being part of the cast of TLC’s reality show 19 Kids and Counting. She co-authored Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships with her sisters Jana Duggar, Jinger Duggar, and Jill Dillard.
Early life and education
Duggar was born in Tontitown, Arkansas, the fifth child of Jim Bob and Michelle (Ruark) Duggar. She has 4 older siblings and 14 younger siblings, including Josh and Jill. Duggar was homeschooled as a child.
Duggar began her public life as a member of the family featured in the documentary 14 Children and Pregnant Again (2004) which talks about daily life of the family from the “time they wake up” to the “time they go to sleep”. The documentary aired on the Discovery Health Channel. Another documentary, Raising 16 Children was produced on the same channel in 2006, when Duggar’s sister Johannah was born. This was followed by another feature, On the Road with 16 Children about family cross-country trip.
On September 29, 2008, 19 Kids and Counting (formerly 18 Kids and Counting and 17 Kids and Counting) began as a regular series based on the Duggar family.
With three of her sisters, Duggar co-wrote Growing up Duggar, a book published by Howard Books, in 2014. The book describes growing up in the Duggar home, social relationships, and their religious beliefs.
Marriage and family
On September 16, 2013, a courtship between Duggar and Ben Seewald was made public via an announcement on the family’s website. The couple met through their church. On August 15, 2014, the couple announced their engagement; they were married on November 1, 2014. On November 5, 2015, Seewald and her husband had their first child, a boy, Spurgeon Elliot.
Victim of sexual abuse
In a June 2015 interview on The Kelly File, Seewald identified herself as one of the girls sexually abused by her oldest brother, Josh Duggar, when he was a teenager. She described the abuse as “mild inappropriate touching”, saying it occurred while she was sleeping and was “fully clothed”. Seewald further stated she became aware of the abuse after her parents told her what had occurred following her brother’s confession. Describing the abuse as “very wrong”, she decried those referring to her brother as a “child molester or a pedophile or a rapist…that is so overboard and a lie really”. Regarding the police reports describing the abuse while she was a minor being released to the media, Seewald said, “the system was set up to protect kids…it’s greatly failed.”