Sexual Abuse Survivor and Internet Sensation MollyAnn Wymer Rebuilds Her Life with 'Hayseed' Humor: 'It's My Mission to Keep Pushing That Comfort Zone'
"There are people out there who have to deal with situations far worse than what I've gone through," she tells PEOPLE, "and I want to help bring joy to their lives
The first thing most people notice about MollyAnn Wymer is her eyes. They’re an impossibly bright lavender-blue, with a twinkle that warns trouble is on the way. The second thing they notice is her mouth, especially when she opens it on Facebook and YouTube.
Since creating her first video in June 2014, Wymer, a preacher’s daughter and single mother of five children from Greensboro, North Carolina, has become a viral sensation on social media, where her “dumb blond” humor has racked up millions of hits as she talks about everything from Krispy Kreme donuts to gun control.
“All right friends, y’all, l know I pride myself on being really real with y’all,” Wymer says on one of her most popular YouTube videos in her best “redneck” drawl. “I have to admit that from time to time in my life, I have caused some drama. No one knows this better than my best friend, and this girl brought me something that has changed my life. I’ve discovered Dramamine.”
Holding up a box of the travel sickness medication, Wymer then deadpans, “When I feel my drama comin’ on, I take this little pill and my drama is contained. It’s all mine. It stays right here. I don’t share it anymore. I just take one of these little babies.”
“That first Dramamine video took three minutes and was ad-libbed,” Wymer, 38, tells PEOPLE exclusively, “and I thought, ‘This is so stupid, I don’t think I can post this.’ But I did, thinking my family would enjoy it. Then when 4,000 people saw it before they did, I panicked. I thought, ‘Oh, no, it’s out there – I can’t take it back!’ ”
One of her latest videos, where she talks about wanting to buy a “protection gun” instead of a “murder gun,” received thousands of Facebook comments, with most people wondering, “How can anybody be this dumb?”
But those who know Wymer best say she’ll soon have the last laugh.
“MollyAnn’s comedy is needed in a day and age of people being afraid to talk about things or offending someone,” Joseph Destafino, 40, an entrepreneur from Stokesdale, North Carolina, and a fan of Wymer’s from the beginning, tells PEOPLE.
“When MollyAnn gets in front of the camera, she gets you every time,” he says. “You never know what to expect. You want to share (her videos), scream it out to others and let them take a minute to figure it out: ‘Is she for real?’ ”
With 120,000 Facebook followers and five of her 20 videos hitting more than 22 million views, Wymer says is amazed that about 70 percent of her fans don’t understand that her “hick from the sticks” persona is all an act.
“It’s rather frightening that the logic buttons weren’t switched on in a lot of folks,” she tells PEOPLE. “I personally cannot convince any of these people that I’m not an idiot. I actually went online one night and tried to reply to the comments, but there were just too many. And people really don’t want to believe that I’m an accidental comedian.”
To understand why laughter is such an important staple in Wymer’s life, you have to go back to her childhood in Greensboro, where her grandfather, an alcoholic and frequent houseguest, sexually abused her from an early age.
“My earliest memory is of sitting on his lap and him beginning things with me,” she tells PEOPLE. “He told me he would kill my mother if I told anyone. And I believed his fear tactics. I had nightmares while growing up that he would kill my mom if I mentioned anything.”
As a teenager, Wymer says she was often awakened in the night by her grandfather, who would climb into bed with her and sexually assaulted her.
“None of my family knew,” she says. “This was my life until I was 15 and he moved out of state. Although he didn’t touch my two sisters, I know there have to be more victims out there. I’m very glad now that he’s dead. When he died in 1998, he’d stolen everything from me.”
After marrying and raising five children ranging in age from 8 to 15, Wymer, now divorced, began having flashbacks three-and-a-half years ago and decided to see a therapist. She told her parents about her grandfather’s abuse and says they were heartbroken and enraged, blaming themselves for what happened.
“I never blamed them, not once,” she tells PEOPLE, “but the night I went to them was a horrible night. I’ve spent much of my life trying to climb out of the dark hole of my childhood, and now I want to speak out about this to support others who have been abused. I fought so stinking hard for my sanity and my life, and I want them to know that if I can get through it, they can, too. They cannot just rise above it, they can kill it. They can thrive.”
That is certainly the case for Wymer, who is now considering standup comedy and is planning to tie some of her future videos to current events and politics. “I want to change the world that I live in,” she says, “and if I can do that by having people think I’m an idiot, well, why not?”
If there is a downside to her growing fame, she says, it’s that she now wonders who she can trust.
“It gets a little harder every week,” she says, “so I’m trusting people who have been with me from the beginning. Two of my girlfriends have stuck by me through my lowest pits of hell times.”
One of those friends, Amanda Dunkelberger, a 27-year-old dental assistant from Greensboro, used to be Wymer’s babysitter.
“Laughing has always been a regular part of the dinner table routine with MollyAnn and her kids,” says Dunkelberger, “even when times weren’t easy.”
“To see MollyAnn in her little two-bedroom house with five small children, no dishwasher, no car, no money and little food, you wouldn’t believe laughter could exist in such a place,” she adds. “But MollyAnn has always made the best with what she has. She’s a woman of strength and I admire how she’s carried herself through the toughest of times.”
Wymer, who says she now lives by the mantra, “the creative adult is the child who survived,” says that comedy has given her a way to “quiet the voices in my head and be grateful for what I have.”
“There are people out there who have to deal with situations far worse than what I’ve gone through,” she says, “and I want to help bring joy to their lives. I actually am very much a hick and kind of a redneck – that part isn’t a put-on. I’m proud of who I am. It’s sad that we’ve all become so politically correct. I figure it’s my mission now in life to keep pushing that comfort zone one laugh at a time.”