Jan Broberg talks to PEOPLE about how she maintained a relationship with her parents, despite her horrific past

By Steve Helling
May 01, 2019 05:09 PM
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Courtesy Top Knot Films

Jan Broberg is used to public scrutiny.

After sharing her harrowing story in the Netflix documentary Abducted In Plain Sight, the 56-year-old actress received an outpouring of sympathy — but her parents became targets of widespread scorn.

The film, directed by Skye Borgman, told the unbelievable story of Broberg being abducted — twice — by a pedophiliac family friend, Robert Berchtold, who raped and abused her for years.

Incredibly, her parents waited days to report her first abduction to the police — and allowed their daughter to maintain contact with Berchtold after his arrest. Two years later, he abducted her for a second time.

Courtesy Jan Broberg

In the current issue of PEOPLE, Broberg talks about how her abuser was able to groom her entire family, including developing separate sexual relationships with each of Jan’s parents, Mary Ann and Bob Broberg. Those relationships helped him to earn their trust and buy their silence when it came to the abuse he inflicted on Jan.

Broberg tells PEOPLE that she has had to work through complex emotions with her parents. “We did family counseling,” she says. “In my early 20s, my anger took over.”

“My parents didn’t deny or downplay what they’d done,” she says. “They said, ‘we made the most terrible mistakes.’ They took responsibility for it. They listened to me and they didn’t try to defend themselves.”

Courtesy Jan Broberg

For her part, Mary Ann Broberg, now 81, acknowledges those mistakes.

“I really felt he manipulated me in so many ways, and the whole family too,” she tells PEOPLE. “If I could go back and erase anything from my life, it would be him. He was a master at making everybody feel he was their number one priority.”

Mary Ann recalls how her daughter would express her feelings of betrayal and anger. “There were times when she was so irate she would say ‘we can’t talk about this anymore, you don’t understand what i went through,'” she says. “So we would say, ‘take a break and when you want to talk more we can talk more.'”

Jan Broberg was able to maintain a relationship with her parents, despite the trauma. (Bob Broberg died last year.)

“We never felt like she didn’t love us or care for us,” Mary Ann tells PEOPLE. “She always thanked us for being there for her. She had a few rages in those teenage early years. I thought it was a good thing for her to express her anger.”

Jan Broberg continues talking with other victims of sexual abuse.

“My message to everyone who has gone through abuse is ‘you are strong,'” she tells PEOPLE. “You can overcome what happened, but you may need some counselors along the way. You don’t have to be a victim.”

For more on Jan Broberg’s journey, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere this Friday.