I hope you were told that Josh is a child molester. I hope you were told that you did nothing wrong. I hope you were told that you are the one who decides when, and if, to forgive him.
I know you don't believe that what was done to you was child molestation. You say it wasn't rape or pedophilia, either. But, you know you were a victim, so you know something happened to you.
It's tempting to say that words don't matter, that you know that Josh made a "mistake", and that's enough. But the problem is, the words you use to describe the abuse committed against you simply don't exist. You don't exist in your own story. You are just a "victim," brushed off and barely acknowledged, and you spend your time talking about the man who abused you. If he abused you, Jessa, he did something. What should it be called?
I don't know what your family has told you, but it isn't normal for a brother to fondle his sisters as they sleep or while he reads them a story. It isn't natural curiosity. It isn't childish exploration. It is child molestation. And it is wrong.
Perhaps what is even worse is that your parents convinced themselves and you that what Josh did was a "mistake." It was a "bad choice." Did anyone ever tell you that it was abuse? Did anyone ever listen to your rage and your anger? Were you allowed to be angry? Or were you told that this was simply God's plan?
I'm not a Christian, but I know that God didn't create child molestation. I know, sometimes, people do terrible things. But they aren't acting out the wishes of the God you believe in. They are acting on their own desires. They are giving in to impulses and urges, and they are selfish. They aren't pawns in "God's plan," they are autonomous, free-thinking individuals who make terrible choices and abuse their sisters. And God has nothing to do with it.
I hope you were told that Josh is a child molester. I hope you were told that you did nothing wrong. I hope you were told that you are the one who decides when, and if, to forgive him. I hope you were told that your reactions and your feelings are valid, no matter what they are.
But I don't think you were, and my heart breaks and bleeds for you, Jessa. So I will tell you, from one child molestation victim to another; we are part of a terrible club. We joined this club because our loved ones abused us. They used us for their own disgusting purposes. They betrayed our love and trust. But we decide where to go from here, Jessa. We decide how to survive.
I don't know what it's like to be raised like you were, and I don't pretend to. But you are an adult now. Your life belongs to you. You can decide how to live it, and you do not need anyone's permission or blessing to heal the abuse that was inflicted on you. Josh has children now, and while protecting them is not your responsibility, I hope you can show them that there is no humiliation in being abused. There is no shame in being a victim. The shame belongs to your brother and to your parents who did not protect you. You did nothing wrong, and I hope you tell yourself that simple phrase every day until you start to believe it.
In the meantime, I will honor your experience. I will respect your feelings. But I will not back down and wash away your abuse under the guise of a "bad choice" or a "mistake." I will not be part and parcel of a culture that normalizes child molesters while shaming its survivors. There is too much of that in our world already and it is the last thing that a young girl needs to see or hear as she grapples to make sense of her own abuse.
"It wasn't that bad."
"It was just a mistake."
"He didn't mean it."
These are the lies we tell ourselves, to deny our own experience. They are the lies we tell to make others more comfortable with what has happened. They are the lies we tell to protect the people we love. But they are lies, and we owe it to ourselves to speak the truth even when it's ugly and twisted and feels impossible to bare.
The truth is, it was that bad, he knew exactly what he was doing, and he made a decision to sexually abuse you and your sisters. And until you can stare that truth in the face, you will always be a victim. Own your truth, Jessa. Become a survivor.