Abuse victim’s message to Netflix viewers
The woman at the centre of the shocking Netflix documentary about her childhood abduction and abuse has a stark message for the viewers left reeling by her unbelievable story.
Jan Broberg was just 12 years old when she was molested, raped and twice abducted by a man in his 40s who befriended her parents through the Mormon church.
Social media has gone wild over the horrifying true story related in Abducted in Plain Sight, struggling to comprehend the "disturbing", "infuriating" and "insane" account told by Jan, her friends and family and the FBI detectives who struggled to save her.
Robert "B" Berchtold took her to Mexico in a motorhome in 1974, convincing the young girl she was part-alien and that her "mission" was to have a child with him and assaulting her around 200 times in total.
But while many have loudly proclaimed their anger at the parents and community who failed to protect Jan from the paedophile, she insists she wants viewers to take away something else.
"I think what's hard about that for me is it feels like they picked out the wrong thing from the documentary," the 56-year-old, from Idaho, tells news.com.au.
"They're seeing a seven year story … The grooming is taking place, with all the different players and people … that's all happening for two and a half years before anything happened.
"You're seeing this reduced down to 90 minutes."
Jan's parents Bob and Mary Ann were so brainwashed by Berchtold that they allowed him to sleep in her bed, after he enlisted a fake therapist to say it would help his recovery from abuse by an aunt in his childhood.
He drugged her with sleeping pills and molested her under her parents' roof for around six months.
When he abducted her, the Brobergs were so under his spell that they didn't report her missing for days. Even after the FBI tracked the paedophile down to Mexico and found he had married her (the legal age there is just 12), they still didn't want to press charges - and after serving 45 days in prison, he abducted her again in 1976.
Berchtold had gained a hold over the parents by luring each into separate sexual relationships, and Mary Ann admits in the documentary she was besotted with him.
"I've protected my mum a little bit," says Jan. "She gets on her own Facebook page and everyone's like, 'Oh you're so amazing, you're so brave, you're so courageous, you're so honest. So I'm glad she can read those comments.
"We told her a little bit, I said, 'Mum, there's always going to be a handful of people who don't see the whole picture, they only see your mistake, your affair, your short-lived affair with him, they don't see the bigger picture, they just blame you.'
"And she said, 'oh, I expected that', and she said, 'You know, I'm OK, I'm at peace … I tried to do my best to make amends and make things right and I did everything that I could as soon as I realised, oh he's not after me, he doesn't love me, it's my daughter.'"
Mary Ann co-wrote a book with her daughter and retrained as a social worker, helping children into foster care and adoptive homes, and lobbying to get Idaho on the national register for missing and exploited children.
"My mother went on to do a whole bunch of wonderful things for children and I think part of that was just to overcome her own maybe guilty or shame at not having seen clearly - but it's not uncommon," says Jan.
As for her father Bob, his confession that he masturbated Berchtold in a car was one of the most traumatic parts of the documentary to film, according to director Skye Borgman.
"It was so incredibly emotional and I - we just cried together, because it was just such a powerful thing that he shared with us," Skye tells news.com.au. "It really also just, it made everything make a little bit more sense to me, that I saw there was this act that was so blackmailable."
Bob died in November, and Jan says she is relieved he isn't here to experience the tremendous backlash from the internet.
"I knew how much shame he had carried that, you know, what to me is also you know a boys' locker room experience, and I said, 'Dad, everybody has something they've done that they would never advertise to the whole world, you were brave enough to say it so that somebody else might take a moment and pause and think, 'Is this really where I want to go and what I want to do? You didn't know and you were manipulated.
"Did I want my dad to suffer through that pain and shame over and over again and have people make terrible comments about him for the rest of my life? I mean he's dead now, I have to live with it. No. I didn't want that and that was really hard for me.
"My dad was a great man and should be talked about in a whole different way.
"However, it's got people talking, this film has done its job. What I wanted was for millions of conversations to be started that otherwise never would have happened, because it is in conversation that the truth can start to be revealed, that things can actually change."
Jan is still a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, but says she approaches the teachings with more scepticism, and would encourage everyone to do the same with every leader or institution in their lives.
"Why don't we know more and why don't we ask more questions and what is it that keeps us blind, from seeing what's happening in our own home, neighbourhood, congregation, or community." she asks. "And people don't see it. That's what I was angry about, why can't we talk about this, why don't people see it?"
With the help of counselling and her "wonderful family", Jan went on to become an actress and regularly speak at conferences for educators and counsellors about her experience.
She even had to face Berchtold in court 30 years after the abuse, when he tracked her down to one event with a gun.
"All of a sudden it was like a complete moment of healing, of knowing who I am, of coming into my own power and knowing exactly why I was telling my story, and it was, as I said in the courtroom, to protect other children from monsters like you," she says.
The abuser killed himself a year later.
Jan hopes her documentary will help to protect some of the other 800,000 children in America who are still abused every year, 40 years later.
"Since the '70s and '80s when people started to finally report, (the numbers) have gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, not less, maybe because more people report but not everybody reports, either," says Jan.
"These things don't get reported because it's inside of the familiar, and we love to talk about sex trafficking and stranger danger and stranger abduction and kidnapping - they're a small percentage compared to this - because this is just too icky to talk about, it's just too much, we don't wanna see it, we don't wanna talk about it."
Remarkably, she has thrived after her traumatic ordeal, and has only a message of forgiveness for abusers.
"I look back on these experiences and I do know that they have shaped who I am and they have made me a more understanding, empathetic, loving person - not the opposite," Jan says. "Part of that is choice. I want to attract light, goodness, hope and happiness.
"I think most people are trying their best and they are good.
"I think people may need help when they have gone through abuse to make sure they don't abuse others, and there's a handful of people that might be truly evil or bad but I don't think that's how human beings really are.
"I think there's a side you see that's bad and ugly and not good but I really feel, for the most part, people are good and they're trying their best.
"I want the paedophile who wants help to be as supported as the child who's now an adult to be able to find the counselling and help, to heal and move forward into a wonderful life. I would like that for everybody."
Abducted in Plain Sight is out now on Netflix.
If you are seeking information or support relating to child sexual assault, call Bravehearts national information and support line toll free on 1800 272 831, Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 . In an emergency always call triple-0.