Jan Broberg has been a personal friend of mine for years but even I didn’t know the trauma she had experienced as a young girl. Jan was always a source of light, someone who always had a smile on her face and an uplifting spirit. Yet her tale of abuse by a family friend who would kidnap her and transport her to Mexico meanwhile brainwashing her to believe that she responsible for saving an alien world by having a child with her kidnapper. If she did not, she was told she was she would immediately be vaporized.
Jan has shown a tremendous capacity to reach out to others. For years she has been speaking about her experience. She has been featured on ABC News, NBC News, and other outlets discussing her tale of horror. Jan has not allowed what happened to her from following her dream. She has appeared on Criminal Minds (with my beloved Shemar Moore..sigh), starred on WB’s Everwood as Nurse Louise and was in Maniac with Elijah Wood.
She has a grown son and when not working on her documentary resides in Southern California. A lot of people don’t get an opportunity to interview such extraordinary people in their lifetime. I have an opportunity to interview two remarkable people, Sylvia Aimerito, and Jan Broberg. Here is Jan’s story according to her:
- Give our readers just a little background on your book and documentary both entitled: Stolen Innocence.
Stolen Innocence , the Jan Broberg Story, is about my childhood experience from age 10 to 16 when I was kidnapped, repeatedly raped and severely manipulated through brain- washing techniques by a trusted family “friend” and father of 5. He moved into our neighborhood and took his time becoming a greatly loved newcomer. He was charismatic, helpful, fun and unbeknownst to anyone a pedophile with maniacal intentions. He spent two years becoming our best “friend”, grooming me, my family, our church congregation and the business community to completely trust him. The book and documentary tell this story and reveal the subtle manipulations that lead to my disappearance not one but twice. A four-year ordeal and beyond. This man found and taunted me throughout my early adult life and in recent years came to a University conference, with a gun, where I was speaking about my experience to a large group of women and their daughters. He was apprehended and killed himself two years later. We found out that at least 6 other little girls were harmed by him as well, both before and after my kidnappings. He spent one year in Jail convicted of rape of a child in Salt Lake City ten years after my second kidnapping. He spent 19 days in jail and a short time in a mental institution for what he did to me. He went on to molest a number of other pre-pubescent girls including his step-daughters who ran away because their mother would not believe them. We hope telling my story will spare other families and children from the terrorists living next door- we call them pedophiles- and most of the time they are people that we know love and trust! Our film will help people see the subtle manipulations that trick children, parents, communities and congregations. No one is immune.
2. Your mother is the one who actually authored Stolen Innocence, but of course, you were heavily involved in it. Whose idea was it to write the book and why?
I asked my mother to write a history of what was happening at home while I was missing, a timeline of events as things were so jumbled in my mind. I was severely drugged and had wanted to find clarity with how the events unfolded. After I asked her to do this she and I started talking and she started writing. Mom was always a natural writer. She wrote poems and stories for us, her three little girls, and put together pageants and short plays for the community and church. She also wanted to write the story as a family history and to clear her own heart and mind. There were many things she needed healing from and writing was her oasis!
3. Did you ever feel like you should keep this to yourself and what made you decide to share your story with others?
I didn’t want to talk about it for a long time. I told the story to my sister and best friend when I first realized it was all a lie, the mind control, but after that I found I didn’t want to talk about the rape and the gory “icky” details, it was too hard at 16 –but later on, in my early 20’s, I started to share more of the details with my parents and others. Then after getting married I realized that I wanted to help others avoid the nightmare, also realizing that we are so far off base talking about ‘stranger danger’… it’s almost always someone you know and love — this is why I need to get this story out to the masses and start a new conversation around child sex abuse and abduction. We are missing the boat! Then in my early 40’s a dear friend who knew my story asked me and my mother to come to a big conference for educators and tell what had happened. It was during that experience that we met Charles Gil, a renowned superior court Judge, who had dealt with child abuse issues as an attorney and then as a judge. He encouraged us to share the story and publish a book so others could learn from our mistakes!
4. How has the book and the film aided in your recovering from this trauma?
I honestly believe that sharing your story is the first step to healing! You cannot heal with a lethal secret destroying you from the inside out! Talking about what happened is cathartic and it begins to unravel the many areas where you have been stopped or unable to live a full happy life. You are also able to take on responsibility for what happened and that is freeing as well. You no longer live as a victim but can move from that prison to the wonderful world of advocacy. Life begins to be something so beautiful and worth living, especially if you are helping others! There is something magical that happens when people share their stories and know that they are not alone!
5. Why a documentary as opposed to big budget film?
The world is hungry for true stories about real people and we thought that a documentary would get the important aspects of our story out to people who may be struggling with a traumatic experience themselves. We also know that Hollywood tends to sensationalize stories like mine and sometimes that can be a disservice because we were a normal family that loved people, trusted our neighbors and wanted the things that most families want. Our documentary will show the subtle signs that my parents missed, how manipulation happens to regular good people and hopefully it will be honest enough that a person watching may suddenly realize that someone in their inner circle is slowly leading them down a path of great destruction, pulling the wool over their eyes. I hope that a documentary like mine will pull people’s heads out of the sand, help them see their own mistakes, and ultimately prevent this sort of thing from happening to the children they love. Over a million cases of child rape were opened last year in the USA. There are over 100,000 children who are being sold for sex in our country, some of them living in wonderful homes but the parents do not know! We hope this will help them see! I’m hoping for a big budget film and series to come next!!
6. Does it ever get easier sharing your story with others and how have others reacted when they find out about this part of your past?
Yes, it does get easier. I have felt such tremendous support from my wonderful parents, sisters, son, friends, X-husbands (seriously) and step-daughters that honestly I could not have made it without each one of them! I also feel that as the healing happens, and it can happen, the ability to tell the story and share it honestly is a blessing for me and for those I touch. I do sometimes get exhausted! It takes it out of me… most people become my friends before they ever know about this so when they find out they are usually pretty amazed. They mostly ask “why aren’t you in a mental institution”??!! I answer by saying that I had ten perfect childhood years before this happened, wonderful parents, a basis of faith and some good counseling as well as self-help books and courses like the LandMark Forum along the way!
7. Part of your story includes brainwashing, what are some common misconceptions people have about brainwashing and what do you do to correct those misconceptions?
Most people think it is like the movies, torture, isolation, bright lights, etc. That it is something that only happens to people who are weak, susceptible or lack intelligence. There is nothing farther from the truth. Very intelligent people can be manipulated, brainwashed, and the tactics are subtle, slow, and found across all races, socio-economic levels, ages, genders and belief systems. It is as simple as someone making a threat to harm a loved one, and that keeps the person quiet. It is sales tactics in a lot of ways. Ever buy a vacuum or a timeshare and had buyers remorse? Ever got entangled with someone emotionally because they make you feel good and compliment you perfectly? Ever kept a secret because you thought you would get in trouble or someone would be hurt or punished? Ever stayed in a bad relationship because you thought you were not worthy of something better or that you couldn’t do it alone? Ever let someone get too close because you thought you would hurt their feelings? Ever go too far on a date because of pressure or fear of saying no? Ever been shamed into not telling as if you were the bad one when you really were the victim? Ever been rewarded for doing something that you knew was wrong? These are simple examples of how perpetrators begin to capture and control you. These are the basis of brainwashing and manipulation. It is slow, subtle, charming, often exciting and ultimately lethal.
8. The kidnapper was a Latter Day Saint like you were then and are now. Did that fact affect your relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and in what way?
First, I am so grateful that I had a strong base of faith. It was one major reason that I did not kill myself at age 16. I knew in my heart that God loved me and that Jesus Christ was my brother. I grew up believing in a long-term eternal view of things, believing that this earthly life was only for a small amount of time. I thought that we would live forever, eternally with our families and loved ones. I truly believed those things as a child and I still do today. I have gone through my ups and downs with God and yet I always circle back around to the love that I feel He has for me in every aspect of my life and the lives of every human being on this planet –no matter what you believe. I have always felt that and know that we are on an eternal learning curve. I question many things but not the LOVE OF GOD… I think this is what I am supposed to figure out on this earth. How to love God, ourselves and others! Every experience I have had has helped me learn and grow and hopefully help others, as well! This horrific experience was survived because I had hope and faith and believed in charity and love and family and goodness at the end of the day.
9. What are your plans for the future?
A series based on my story and a very busy schedule filming as I want to play my mother! A lot of speaking engagements around the globe and perhaps a talk show that features youth and kids as well as adults… get kids talking to kids in their own language
10. Do you have any closing thoughts for our audience?
Be very very wise and don’t be afraid to see what is there to see! Most people know on a gut level when something is wrong or off. LISTEN!!! Then know what to do!! You need to keep a record, do NOT approach the person you suspect, get the authorities involved, file a report, press charges, educate your children! Love them, teach them, give them guidelines and keep them from being afraid — oh, and eat dinner together! Talk, talk, talk, and listen, listen, listen! My parents did this those first 10 years, this is the base that I would eventually come back to! It is what saved me ultimately, pure love, and lots of hope in the healing and helping the process! Living a life that is lead with love- not hate, hope- not despair! Remember that it is almost always someone you know, love and trust so you must see what you do not want to see!