After surviving an incestuous relationship with her father, entering into the foster care system, and losing her husband to suicide, Nancy Allen shows us what it means not only to survive but to thrive. Join us as Nancy bravely shares her heartbreaking story of abuse and the ways in which it eventually led her to support others through their own traumatic experiences. She’s an inspiration, a battle-scarred warrior of the human experience. The Brave Files Podcast

Shrouded By Silence

With Featured Guest

Nancy Allen

Heartbreaking • Integration • Yana

Top Takeaways From This Episode

  • The more we talk about things, the more it gets normalized. In turn, people are more willing to take action.
  • We find comfort in all sorts of places.
  • There’s extreme bravery in accepting help.
  • Celebration can be simple.

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. 

Abuse Discovered

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. 

Giving is Good

As an incest survivor, Nancy supports RAINN. This organization provides much-needed support for victims of rape, incest, and sexual abuse. 

She also encourages us to learn about the non-profit she co-founded, Koru Kids Connections. This organization focuses on providing funds for children on the Autism spectrum to be able to attend high-quality therapeutic programming and camps.

"By keeping quiet, we contribute to the shroud of secrecy that allows abuse to continue."

- Nancy Allen

Meet your Host, <em style="color:teal">Heather Vickery<em>

Meet your Host, Heather Vickery

Heather Vickery is an award-winning business owner and global leader with over 20 years as an entrepreneur. She leverages her entrepreneurial skills and expertise to coach individuals towards greater personal and professional fulfillment by helping them leverage their fear into intentional bravery. Heather says “When we choose bravely, on purpose, we choose bigger, have bigger successes and it’s contagious” A celebrated public speaker, Heather inspires audiences and empowers attendees with the tools they need to live bold and successful lives through creating balance, time management, mindfulness, as well as countless systems, strategies, and boundaries. She’s the author of Gratitude Journal: Shift Your Focus and Grow Grateful: A Gratitude Journal for Kids and Families. Heather is also the host and executive producer of The Brave Files Podcast.

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