Nancy Sullivan


Episode #303

Date October 30, 2011

Run Time 34:33

A close look at the trauma of a child and the healing of the young lady she became. The names of people mentioned in this story have been changed. This episode is graphic and delves into disturbing subject matter.

Song: Take a Risk by Beautiful Vision

Radio Story: Life Worth Living by Nancy Sullivan

Song: Something Elated by Broke for Free




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12 years ago

Jesus Christ, thanks for the most disturbing, bummer of an episode yet. This person’s family, including the mother and brother, are criminals

12 years ago

You know, for something so disturbing, this really didn’t have much of a resolution. I understand that this young woman is telling her story of her own volition, but this is approaching like snuff film/exploitation territory. There wasn’t much of a resolution, it was just a half hour of someone crying and still feeling through the terrible events of her childhood, which are clearly still an issue for her. But to what end — for us listeners to “watch” her feel shame in a voyeuristic way? I know that’s obviously not the point but its kind of what happened.


12 years ago

This was definitely a powerful episode. Thanks for sharing your story.

And in reference to raggy’s comment. I think hearing someone’s view point of something so intense helps us listeners better understand and empathize with them. It hopefully makes people think and not react like her mother and brother if something like this happened to one of our own loved ones.

12 years ago

as a new listener at risk! i can’t think of a better introduction than this story. ‘true tales, boldly told’….yeah…that’s totally nancy’s story. i can’t imagine how brave she must be to a) have lived through all of that but to then b) put it out into the world…and with such honesty. i can’t agree with raggy about there being no resolution. that this woman is still alive and strong enough to tell this story is resolution enough. her life…and generally all lives…are worth living and that she can say those words without irony is inspiring. thank you for this story!

12 years ago

My brother and cousin let me follow them around every summer. We loved on a huge farm with a huge red barn and back hunting shed. My big brother was always around to keep me out of trouble, take care of me when I was hurt and help me keep up with the boys, but he wasn’t always around.
My first memories of playing with my cousin alone are blurry and I can not remember all the games we played but I know they were secret. The first clear memory of our secret games was in the back shed. My cousin put me up on an atv, took my pants off and that is all I can remember until he tied me up with a old plastic bag and told me to tell my brother we were playing “cops and robbers”. I played along, running out to the house, laughing hysterically to really sell the story. The next summer, I was about to turn 8, he flipped me around and was told I have to do it from behind so I don’t get pregnant. It wasn’t until I was 13 that I realized I was abused. I spent the rest of my teen years believing I was a slut, I must have wanted it or I would have stopped him. I became depressed and reckless. I let a group of older boys gang up on me when I was 13 and I believed I deserved it. When I was 23 I found out that my mother was molested by her cousin and uncle, my brother was molested by a family member and my older sister was molested by the same cousin. That cousin is still around and we all pretend nothing happened. After hearing Nancy’s story I am empowered, I will finally speak to my family about what has happened to us, and I will stand up to my cousin. I forgave myself for the abuse along time ago, though I still feel the affects of my childhood. Thank you for this podcast, it was traumatic to hear but it was important to hear. I want you to know that it was not my fault, I have become more than that little girl stuck in a room with a predator and I am a happy person, with a amazing life, a great job and an understanding partner. Life gets better, it gets worse but it’s always changing but it’s always worth living, tomorrow could be the best day of my life. We’ll see.

12 years ago

Hey, that’s the song from Crayon Physics . Very haunting and emotional song, and I think it works perfectly with the story, but I couldn’t help thinking of this game while listening…

12 years ago


Thank you for sharing your story. Having worked in Human Services for almost 10 years now, I can say that after years of relationship building and trust established, many of my clients seem to always have a story like yours at the root of their depression. I have seen the results of both those who evolve to the point that you are now and others who have not. It is so important to have stories like yours shared on a platform like this out there for those who don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Nancy, rather they leave comments here or not, know that you have impacted and will have impact on people that don’t see life worth living to give it another day. One more day.

12 years ago

Thanks for telling this story. It was so hard for me to listen to something that hit so close to home. It’s not your fault, Nancy, and it wasn’t my fault.

12 years ago

Thanks for this broadcast. I’m the father of two girls, five and just-born, and I was deeply shaken and profoundly educated by this story. Setting it out like that was important, and brave. It’s partly the ignorance of family members supposedly in charge that lets such things happen, and later go unbelieved. Bless you.

12 years ago

A brave, hard story. And a story that, I hope, will help people who have gone through something similar. To know that you are not alone is powerful.

12 years ago

I’m new to risk as well, and what a story. Even though the subject matter is heavy to put it lightly, I still could not stop myself from listening and finding out what was going to happen to Nancy. At times I even found myself on the edge of my seat. And her genuine honesty makes the story heartbreaking and riveting. Nancy’s storytelling not only pulls you in and breaks your heart, but she and the way she has structured her prose bring you hope. Thank you for your courage and strength. I’m sure I will think back to you when I need them.

12 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing that story as I listened to this podcast I was nodding along in agreement because my story is very similar, started when i was 5yrs old, by an older cousin(female). Told me i would get in trouble if I said anything. I soon began thinking that was normal to touch like that and got caught once. The older I got I felt just as uncomfortable to be around her and now in my early mid 20’s I still see them and I talk to them like its never happend just because Im so ashamed to mention what was done to me and what ive done. In my teens I did atempt suicide and spent some time in a hospital, i also had a lot of anger. When I struggle with normal thoughts of this I believe listening to your strenghth to speak out and stand strong about what hurt you is powerful and helps me a lot. Thank you so much. I dont know if Ill ever be able to say this to anyone i know but this brings me one step closer to having courage

12 years ago

Nancy, Thank you for having the courage and bravery to share your story. May positivity and love continue to be in your life always.

12 years ago

Nancy, Thank you so much for telling your truth so boldly. Your story of healing will definitely help others find the courage to face their own abuse history and seek help. Kevin, I’m a long-time listener and this brought Risk to a whole new level, thanks for giving Nancy a safe space for her story.

9 years ago

How can anyone leave negative feedback about this story. “Dislike” are so pretentious it hurts. Implying it has snuff film qualities and voyeurism.. she told the dirty details no one has the guts to tell most of the time..which makes it more real and makes for a better story. Not that they should HAVE to go into such details..but to compare it to borderline pornography sickens me. Maybe there was no resolution to the story because there was no resolution in her life to tell. You can’t assume what you would do in someone else’s shoes. But hey – there is always that person who has to be the rebel and critique everything like their opinion is worth a damn. I was abused by an old boyfriend, and I told the worst stories of them all to my fiance, it was hard but it was like a weight lifted off of me when I did.

6 years ago

Thank you for sharing your story. I cried the entire time as it was if you were telling my story. May peace and love follow you always.

6 years ago

Nancy, you are wonderful and strong and I wish you only the very best. You’ve come such a long way and you did it on your own. You are a remarkable and very brave person. Thank you so much!

5 years ago

That was very difficult to listen to, as a mom I can’t understand not believing your child, it’s heartbreaking. I feel such intense hatred of Eddie, I can’t believe her mother and brother would be convinced she’s lying and worried about him and the family. Poor Nancy. Also I feel like distancing oneself from toxic family is perfectly acceptable. I’m glad she’s having a nice life in NYC, it’s the perfect place to go to escape and find your people.

5 years ago

The fact that she went from keeping the story locked in and telling no one, to allowing it to be recorded for a public podcast, says that she has made a LOT of progress. I wonder if her mother, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, have heard it. And if so, has the hearing of it changed them?

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