Why Jill and Jessa Came Forward as Brother Josh Duggar's Victims

Jill "wanted to tell the true story of what had happened to her," a source tells PEOPLE

Jessa and Jill Duggar
Photo: Courtesy Jill Dillard

When Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald came forward as victims of their brother’s molestation in a tell-all interview on Fox News last week, critics accused parents Michelle and Jim Bob of persuading their daughters to defend eldest son Josh Duggar.

However, a source close to the family tells PEOPLE that the focus was always going to be on Michelle, 48, and Jim Bob, 49, until Jill stepped forward. “She, too, wanted to give an interview. Her parents were concerned because they felt she had been through enough, but she was clear – she never wanted this information public.”

Indeed, the girls were more upset during their interview by what they felt was a violation of privacy than by Josh’s actions, which they insisted had been forgiven years earlier, before cameras even started rolling on 19 Kids and Counting (then 17 Kids and Counting) in 2008. As a family, “we’ve already moved on,” said both Jessa and Jill on The Kelly File.

“Since [the information] was already out, [Jill] wanted to speak out because so many stories were full of false and sensationalized information,” the close family source continues. “She wanted to tell the true story of what had happened to her, how she watched with admiration her parents’ thorough response, and how wrong it was for the records to be released to the public.”

After Jill made her desire to come forward clear, “Jessa immediately spoke up and said, ‘I won’t let you do this alone. I’ll speak out, also.’ ”

RELATED VIDEO: How Jill and Jessa Are Really Coping

Now that they have come forward as two of Josh’s five victims – four were his sisters and one a babysitter – the girls are “glad their story has been given an opportunity to be voiced,” says the source, even though “what they thought would remain a private part of their lives has been shared with people they never would have otherwise shared it with.”

The future of TLC’s 19 Kids remains unclear, but Jessa and Jill are simply looking forward to their lives regaining “some semblance of normalcy,” as another source close to the situation previously told PEOPLE. The girls identified themselves “to avoid endless games of, ‘Which ones did Josh hurt?’ ” and are looking forward to getting back to “[sharing] their happiness with people,” to “reminding people how good they still know life to be.”

Following a period of social-media silence, Jill and husband Derick are doing just that – on Tuesday, they shared new photos of baby Israel David following his two-month birthday.

Jessa, too, returned to social media on Wednesday: The expectant mother shared an ultrasound photo of her unborn child with husband Ben as Josh’s victims continue to take back control of their lives.

For more on how Jill and Jessa are coping after coming forward as victims of childhood molestation, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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