‘Abducted in Plain Sight’ sends powerful messages

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‘Abducted in Plain Sight’ sends powerful messages

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The Netflix documentary, “Abducted in Plain Sight” has recently been publicized immensely through social media due to the controversy it has stirred up. The documentary is about Jan Broberg, who was a victim of a kidnapping by a trusted neighbor.

It starts off by explaining how Jan Broberg met her abductor (Robert Berchtold) and explains the different ways she was groomed by him. Berchtold was the Broberg’s neighbor and attended the same church, leaving the two families communicating regularly. Jan’s mother and father built a friendship with Berchtold rather quickly and trusted him with their children.

Although the Brobergs had three daughters, Berchtold took special interest in Jan, spending more time with her and building an even closer relationship. So close that Jan began to refer to him as ‘B’ and would even tell him how much she loved him.

At just 12-years-old, Jan believed she had found her soulmate (Berchtold) and wanted to spend every minute of every day with him. In the scheme of things, Berchtold offered to take Jan on a horseback riding vacation and her parents, without knowledge of the relationship “B” and Jan had built, accepted the offer.

In 1974, Jan was kidnapped for the first time. What was supposed to be a vacation, turned out to be a horrendous kidnapping. Although authorities were notified, Berchtold was released because Jan was tricked into believing that she had been abducted by aliens and could tell no one of what took place. She was to tell her parents and police that ‘B’ and her just took a longer vacation than expected or her family would be killed by the aliens. When Berchtold was released from the hospital, he was not allowed anywhere near the Brobergs household, but that didn’t keep him from keeping in contact with Jan.

For a year and a half, Jan received handwritten notes from other children at school featuring instructions to go to a specific payphone after school. This was how Berchtold kept in touch with Jan. During these phone calls, Berchtold would tell Jan how much he missed her and told her that the aliens had remained in contact with him and she needed to do exactly what he told her.

In 1976, Jan was kidnapped for the second time. She was instructed by Berchtold to write a note explaining she had ran away, he then picked her up and traveled to California.

Long story short, this vicious cycle ends with Berchtold going to prison. The documentary has stirred up so much controversy because of the naivety of Jan’s parents. They were manipulated by this man to trust him, no matter what the circumstances were.

People have continuously bashed Jan’s parents all over social media, explaining how they were terrible parents because they allowed this to happen. Personally, I think Jan’s parents are partially at fault for her kidnappings but at the same time, they were so brainwashed by Berchtold that it was hard to deal with the situation properly.

This documentary goes into depth and exemplifies how easy a young child can be manipulated. It gives insight to viewers on how not everyone you think you know, is exactly trustworthy. The scenes in which Jan was in the RV after being kidnapped, were very realistic and showed how “B” manipulated her so easily. At points during the documentary, it was hard to watch because of how gruesome and upsetting the whole situation was. However, I would suggest watching it due to the powerful message it gives.

Jan overcame all the hardships she went through as a child and is now a famous actress. She has even written a book explaining the occurrences called “Stolen Innocence.” It shows that no matter what you struggle through as a child, it is possible to still live a good life. It’s also a good message for parents who are vulnerable and susceptible to people like Berchtold. Overall, even though the story is heartbreaking, it has good underlying messages.

20mweber@usd489.com

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