What were you guys doing? What was happening here at home? With my dad, it took longer. He felt so ashamed and terrible about it, so he really did not tell any of the details about what happened that day in that car until years later. He was uncomfortable with it. She went back to school and became a social worker. They had never passed the funding for it in Idaho and Utah, and when she went and told our story, they passed the funding. So my mother had been very actively trying to make up for what she felt were her mistakes.
After the kidnappings, you still loved Berchtold and wanted to fulfill the promise to save the planet. When did you realize that you had actually been abused and brainwashed for years? I was supposed to have a baby by age 16 to save my family and the planet. I thought that was all real.
I thought they were watching me. I was completely convinced. I wanted to have a baby. I wanted to marry him. It felt real. I barely said hello to my dad. That was that part of the film where we talked about [when] I accepted ice cream from a boy. And then I started to test it. I started to do things that were against the rules to see if anything would happen. I accepted a group date to a homecoming dance and I came home from that dance and nothing bad had happened.
I remember just sitting in my bedroom and not knowing what to do. They were just so all over the place. It was almost relief, of course, but at the same time, when you have a purpose and all of a sudden somebody takes that purpose away from you … I was literally the savior of a dying planet.
Now what? Who am I? And what I have done to my dad?
Broken in Plain Sight: A Story of Truth, Healing, and Love [Paperback]
You feel all this shame. I hardly talked at all about the sexual abuse in detail. It was my friend Caroline who probed and probed. She was relentless. Just clawing my fingernails against the carpet. It was coming out like a purge. As you were telling your friend, you were telling yourself for the first time. And then some things came out more slowly and in more detail over time. My main source of healing was the fact that any time that I did want to say something, whether I was screaming at them or crying hysterically, they just acknowledged, accepted, listened.
They just acknowledged my feelings and listened. I had a foundation. I knew that I was loved. I knew that I could trust my parents. No matter what, till my dying breath, in every fiber of my being, you are my sweet, wonderful daughter and I love you with every, every fiber. Even when I was so horrible to him. It took seven years for all of that to happen. What do you remember about the conversation with your mother when she admitted she had a relationship with Berchtold?
Having an affair was totally out of her belief system, so it was with all of that tenderness that my mom told me about that experience. And she has maintained this story to this day — she only had sex with him three times. In all of the documentation, it says that she met up with Berchtold eight times, but she says she only had sex three of those times. My dad saw through him. He knew something was wrong.
They were a united front again. I think that triggered the second kidnapping. I had a couple of good counselors along the way. You have to go through the feelings. I lost my early teenage years when I was supposed to have crushes on boys.
The Art of Letting Go (to Heal a Broken Heart)
And I was so sad and upset. Why did you do that, Dad? That advice was really good. One of the other big pieces in that puzzle was going into a program, the Landmark Forum.
- The Startup Pitch: A Proven Formula to Win Funding.
- Nobody Better, Better Than Nobody.
- A Challenging Time.
- The Art of Letting Go (to Heal a Broken Heart).
I was I can see it. I can learn from it. And I can help others from it. And it really had a very powerful and positive effect on my life. And then, being active in my church was also a really important piece of my healing. Teaching a Sunday school class on love and what Christ represented to us in terms of perfect love and perfect service and perfect sacrifice.
I think that is what made me really want to help others.
People would hear about my story and ask me to speak in front of groups. I always knew that sharing my story was important for whatever reason. Talking about it is important for anybody who is trying to deal with and overcome a terrible experience in their life. I could get on stage and I could cry, and I could scream, and I could be somebody else.
Art, Love, and the Healing Ambiguities of Shirkers
And that was my therapy. As you started healing, what understanding did you come to about your own parents? What was it about their upbringings, faith, or culture that allowed for them to so blindly trust in the way that they did?
My dad grew up in Pocatello and my mother grew up in an even smaller town, American Falls, Idaho. They grew up in small, protected towns. A master manipulator also targets people. They have a sixth sense. I was a little pleaser, you know? I had been around adults a lot and I wanted to please them. Those are the reasons why a person would target my family, as opposed to somebody that had grown up in a big city.
Our home was an open door. We had friends from every walk of life in our house. What was it like to face Berchtold in court so many years later? That was pretty scary. I mean, I had gone on with my life and tried to do the best I could. We discussed Russian literature, my acting career that was grinding away to nowhere, his travels, the languages he knew, his work, his family history.
More from Movies
I felt a twinge of disappointment after leaving without exchanging information, though it had a sort of melancholy correctness. He was more resourceful, and he messaged me on Facebook—a profile under a pseudonym. He was established, successful, easy to Google. We went on a date. Or a friendly lunch? Or a date. I was broke and awed by the fancy meal and wine—during the day! And we discussed art and travel and culture, and he told me I was brilliant and beautiful and so incredibly special.
An incredible thrill. Things fizzled after he unexpectedly appeared at my job and I received a series of discomfiting emails. Even so, we met a few more times over the years. Each encounter left me disappointed, sometimes disgusted. But whatever red flags appeared, I felt some inexplicable pull to reconnect. At the ripe age of 26, I have fewer of these experiences.
And while I relish the newfound equality in my relationships, I occasionally find myself yearning for those unequal power dynamics—for the way I was made to feel special and exceptional, like a prize, and for the fact that while there was clearly something off and paternalistic about my interactions with these older men, they introduced me to books that have become cherished favorites, made me want to dive fully into intellectual life, to pursue my art with gusto.
The End of the World Again. A video essay about Mortal Engines, as part of Scout Tafoya's ongoing video essay series on maligned masterpieces. This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr While the gun barrel sequences in James Bond films have not changed a great deal visually, one element that has evolv