The star of '19 Kids and Counting' and 'Counting On' reveals in her new book that she wasn't paid for her work on the show until she demanded it from her father — and now tells PEOPLE: "I was so conditioned to this belief that we were benefitting from it"
In her debut memoir, Counting the Cost, which is out Sept. 12, Jill reveals that she wasn't paid at all to film the shows, which she says could take up to 20 hours a week, if not more.
The reason? Her father Jim Bob Duggar handled all the financials and negotiations with the network, and she and her siblings did as they were told.
Jill says that for a long time, compensation didn't even cross her mind.
"I think I was so conditioned to this belief that we were benefitting from it, from going on this trip or that trip or whatever," she tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "It was like, well we can buy frozen pizzas instead of beans and rice now because [TLC] is covering these things. It was literally so ingrained in me to be grateful."
Jill, 32, adds that the mentality stayed with her, even when she got married and she and her husband Derick Dillard began exploring the idea of being paid to support their growing family.
"I was talking to a friend about not being paid and and I was like, 'Well, I mean, they did cover grocery trips...' And they're like, 'Are you kidding me?' They were like, 'No that's not normal. That's not paying you.' But I still, it's so ingrained in me to always focus on the positive."
The mom of three boys adds: "It makes sense that somebody would want to push that narrative [of staying grateful], because they're the ones seeing the greater benefits."
That "someone" she's referring to is her dad, who she claims received the money from the show. After asking him about possible payment, she writes that he eventually offered his grown children a check for $80K each.
Jill says that she and Derick, 34, rejected the offer after finally getting a look at the original contracts that her father signed in 2014. In her book, she estimates the family earned about $8 million for nearly ten years of starring on their reality show. After she and Derick got an attorney, they ended up accepting a check from Jim Bob for $175,000.
Still, Jill says it didn't feel like a victory. Her relationship with her parents was only further fractured, something that initially occurred when, she claims, she discovered "Pops" had tricked her into signing a contract stating she would fulfill various filming obligations for the next five years without telling her.
"It was affecting our marriage," Jill tells PEOPLE of the ensuing drama between her and her parents. "That and the awareness of the whole contract thing... I was [cheated] by somebody I thought I could trust."
In a statement to PEOPLE, Jim Bob and wife Michelle Duggar said: "We love all of our children very much. As with any family, few things are more painful than conflicts or problems among those you love. We’ve aimed to deal honorably with our children, our finances, and our other endeavors. While imperfect, it is our intent and desire to live a life that honors Christ."
The statement continues, "We do not believe the best way to resolve conflicts, facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation, or to communicate through difficulties is through the media or in a public forum so we will not comment. As the future unfolds, we will continue to love our family, pray for them, and enjoy every moment gifted to us to be parents and grandparents.”
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As for why Jill is coming forward with her side of the story now — six years after she left the show — she says it's because she wants to inspire other people to speak up when they felt they previously didn't have a voice.
"I didn't want to have to write this story," she says. "I do love my parents. I love my siblings. I struggle with the weightiness of it. But I feel called to do this. I feel passionate about empowering other people to find their voice, and if they do that through my story, great. I want them to feel like they're not alone."
For more on Jill Duggar Dillard and Derick Dillard, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
Jill and Derick's memoir, Counting the Cost, will be available wherever books are sold on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
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