An important note about this episode:
This episode contains discussion focused on incest, abuse, and suicide.
An Abusive Upbringing
Nancy Allen grew up in a large, first-generation American-Italian family. With seven brothers and sisters and an extremely involved grandmother, there was limited interaction with people outside of her extended family. Her father expressed his violent temper through physical abuse, and her mother remained emotionally distant. While love did exist within her family unit, the combination of abuse and shame left her often confused and blindly obedient.
When Everything Changed
After Nancy’s father underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery, she was assigned as his after school caretaker. At just twelve years old, she took on the role of nursemaid catering to his needs. Her father began taking advantage of the attention and requested physical touch. Back rubs turned into oral sex, eventually leading to an ongoing sexual relationship. Nancy became his confidant and made to feel special above her other siblings. While her gut feeling was that something wasn’t right, she held onto the shame, guilt, and obedience she was taught to accept.
Terrified, Nancy often found herself hiding to avoid her father’s demands. Eventually, a teacher noticed a shift in Nancy’s demeanor and reported it. After multiple experiences with counselors and still refusing to talk, Nancy confided in her older sister. In turn, Nancy’s world turned upside down. Placed into emergency foster care, she experienced a wide range of conflicting emotions.
Only a few months later, Nancy and her siblings were placed back into the home with their sexually abusive father.
Abuse Shrouded By Silence
By the age of fifteen, Nancy consistently endured unimaginable pain. Her father raped her as he pleased. Unfortunately, no one ever asked how she was doing or if the living arrangement was working. Nancy's father was enabled by this shroud of silence. Nancy remained terrified of being taken away again and the horrifying abuse continued into her twenties.
Learning to Heal
After the death of her father in her late twenties, Nancy learned to rebuild her life. She relied on her husband for support. Together, they grew to understand the value of raising children in a healthy way while giving back to the community. Tragically, Nancy’s husband died as a result of suicide. Again, Nancy’s world crashed down around her. Not only did she grieve the tremendous loss of her husband and father of her four sons, but she also experienced her childhood pain all over again in an intense way.
Over time, her grief and past traumas taught her to ask for help. She learned to look for ways to support others as well. Nancy’s calling in life shifted to providing coaching and support for other incest survivors.
More About Nancy
Nancy now understands the importance of speaking about incest. Although insect is often a bypassed topic within the discussion of sexual abuse, it affects so many. She vows to validate the similar experiences of others through sharing her heartbreaking story.
Nancy’s company, Tail of the Bell, provides a place for incest survivors to turn for support. She fully embraces her own past and uses her story to connect with others also enduring immense pain. Nancy knows that no matter where you come from or what’s going on, there’s always a way to own who you are. She teaches us that it’s okay to be ourselves – no matter what our past entails.