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SEASON 01 | EPISODE 06

The Blast Zone

As Andrea contemplates what the future looks like for survivors of Munchausen by Proxy, she gets an unexpected message from two young women who’ve lived it. After appearing with Marc Feldman on a podcast, Andrea hears from twin-sisters who survived MBP.  

Liz and Erica Handt were taken from one terrifying situation to another when the foster mom who adopted them turns out to be abusive, telling the girls they had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and dragging them from specialist to specialist. The twins’ story is harrowing but ultimately hopeful as they’re now thriving. 

Listen on: Apple | Spotify

Show Notes

Host Andrea Dunlop:

https://www.andreadunlop.net

For behind-the-scenes photos:
https://www.instagram.com/andreadunlop/

Support the show and get exclusive bonus content:
https://patreon.com/NobodyShouldBelieveMe

For information and resources:
https://www.munchausensupport.com

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s MBP Practice Guidelines can be downloaded here.

More about the Handt twins:
https://lotusesinbloom.com

 

Transcript

Andrea: [00:00:00] Nobody should believe me is a production of large media. That’s L A R J Media. Before we begin a quick warning that in this show we discuss child abuse and this content may be difficult for some listeners. If you or anyone you know is a victim or survivor of medical child abuse, please go to munchhausen’s support.com to connect with professionals who can help.

Andrea: If you are curious about this show and the topic of Munch chasm by proxy, follow me on Instagram at Andrea Dunlop. If you would like to hear a second season of this podcast, the best thing you can do is go over to patreon.com and support the show there. We are gonna have amazing bonus content that we’re gonna be releasing both during the season and in between seasons over there, including extended interviews with our experts and a companion episode from me each week going behind the scenes of the making of that specific episode.

Andrea: Answering any questions for you that come up and also just talking a little bit about how this content is landing out in the world. So go [00:01:00] to patreon.com and search for nobody should Believe me if monetary support is not an option for you right now. You can also rate and review the podcast on Apple and share on your social media.

Andrea: Word of mouth is so important for podcasts and we really appreciate it.

Andrea: People believe their eyes. That’s something that actually is so central to this whole issue and to people that experience this, is that. We do believe the people that we love when they’re telling us something. I’m Andrea Dunlap, and this is Nobody Should Believe me.

Liz and Erica: I’m Elizabeth Hand. I go by Liz.

Liz and Erica: And I’m Erica Hand.

Liz and Erica: We will be sharing about our own personal experiences. Our adopted mother has not been formally investigated or charged for the medical abuse. To our knowledge, though, we have reported our suspicions. To protect identity, we will refer to [00:02:00] our adopted mother as Ursula, and our biological mother’s name is Julianne.

Andrea: Liz and Erica Han are twin sisters who discovered in their twenties that they had been victims of Munchhausen by proxy abuse. They were placed with their foster mother at age five after suffering abuse and neglect at the hands of their biological mother who was suffering from substance abuse issues.

Andrea: Liz and Erica reached out to me on Instagram after hearing an interview that I did with Dr. Mark Feldman on a podcast. When I heard from Liz and Erica, I was really anxious to talk to them because. I just wonder what life looks like after for survivors. How do you live through something like this? How do you get your sense of self back intact?

Andrea: How do you build a healthy life after going through a childhood like this? Tell us a little bit about your first impressions of Ursula that you can remember.

Liz and Erica: Like a normal person, right? Like someone you would see on the street, you’d walk by her. Seems like a pleasant [00:03:00] person. It was that way for quite some time.

Liz and Erica: Um, she did have some really, I’ll say, unique ways of disciplining us. You know, she used like a point system, you know, cuz she, she actually ran a daycare at the time. We would earn points for doing, like, having good behavior and then get points taken away. And if we acted out and then at the end of the week we would be able to like cash in our points for like a pack of gum or.

Liz and Erica: You know, we’d get to pick the movie night for the weekend or whatever. It was a busy household right off the get-go. And so I think her way of maintaining control was through different ways of, um, discipline that didn’t feel like, you know, like a family necessarily. It, we always kind of felt almost like an outsider, like we’re almost, we’re we were always treated like daycare children or foster care children.

Liz and Erica: We didn’t [00:04:00] really start experiencing abuse or at least like in your face, physical abuse until we were probably around the age of seven. And then later on in our twenties we started to review our medical records and s and kind of piece together that she was also being medically abusive.

Andrea: What was the story of your health as you understood it?

Liz and Erica: We actually remember undergoing pretty extensive, uh, neuropsych testing at the University of Minnesota here, and that was when we were probably six or seven. I remember when we were leaving to go get that testing done, she was saying, you’re gonna go get tested for fetal alcohol syndrome. Or f a s for short.

Liz and Erica: She said that we have f a s. So that was what we were told, and she actually ultimately used that as a weapon against us to emotionally abuse us as well.

Andrea: And can you explain what some of the [00:05:00] symptoms of F a s are typically and sort of how that would present?

Liz and Erica: So FAS, uh, the symptoms would be learning disabilities, physical deformities, I think usually in the face, but also there are physical deformities with like your heart or lungs.

Liz and Erica: You might have, um, issues throughout your life. It also includes, uh, just other general cognitive and social delays. Um, it can also have behavioral issues. I didn’t feel like we displayed any of that when we were kids

Andrea: listening to Erica and Liz list out the symptoms of this disorder that they supposedly had was incredibly jarring because I talked to them a couple of times now on Zoom.

Andrea: They are healthy looking, beautiful, smart, prototypical girls Next door,

Liz and Erica: we found medical. Records that showed that we were there for two weeks in the care of or at her house. And at that two week mark, she brought us in for [00:06:00] medication for anxiety. And so that’s ultimately how that started. She wanted to put us on medication for anxiety.

Liz and Erica: The doctors didn’t want to start us on anything because they said that we had just gone through a very traumatic event and it’s completely normal to have anxiety, and they offered alternatives. It started there. We progressed to having neuropsych testing done. We progressed to seeing multiple therapists and we would bounce around therapists in our childhood to the point where anything that we said we felt like it would go back to.

Liz and Erica: Ursula, she would, um, threaten their practice. She would remove us from the care of that therapist. She would find a new therapist.

Andrea: What were your conversations between the two of you, like around that time

Liz and Erica: when it initially started when we were seven, we talked about it, but we didn’t really like say, oh, this is wrong, or, oh, this is why.

Liz and Erica: Uh, we were put into foster care in the first place. I remember Erica and I [00:07:00] were hiding in one of our closets out in the guest house, um, with one of our older sisters. I can’t remember which one of us had the Windex, but you know, we were talking about how we would use the Windex to spray her in the face if she came after us.

Liz and Erica: Again, we had those kinds of conversations where we talked about like, how do we protect ourselves, but I don’t know that we actually like, Had true conversations about that was physical abuse until we were like 16 or 17, and she did still attack us, like even at that age, and cops would be called and we’re just difficult children.

Liz and Erica: She accused me of being on drugs. They would usually just chalk it up to like a family dispute or she would use our, our mental illness as. Her go-to of like, these are really difficult children. They were adopted. They have fetal alcohol syndrome, and so whenever police were contacted, that was the story they were being given.

Liz and Erica: They ultimately [00:08:00] took her side because she was so involved in the community. She was a member of the church, super respected. She was a part of the foster care system, uh, trusted by social workers, guardian and litem. So she really positioned herself to be trusted and so that anytime that there was any suspicions raised or police contacted, she would be able to play it up that we had a mental illness and things like that.

Andrea: The tactics that Ursula used on Liz and Erica may sound really different from the tactics that hope used, but this is really the same form of abuse. Again, back to this being a crime of opportunity. Ursula used the tools at her disposal just as hope used the tools at her disposal. So for hope it was physical things, it was feeding issues.

Andrea: It was her youngest being born really premature. That sort of kicked off that pattern of behavior. And for Ursula, it was having the setup of having two little [00:09:00] girls come into her from a biological mother who she knew struggled with drugs, who could conceivably have fetal alcohol syndrome or other developmental delays.

Andrea: This is diabolical. She used the five-year-old twins past, knowing that their mother was a drug addict against them. She had this set up when they joined her household.

Liz and Erica: We suspect that she went with these, um, mental or emotional diagnosis because it’s not really black and white in the sense that. Like there’s not any one particular test to say, yes, you are positive for anxiety.

Liz and Erica: Like it’s really subjective in nature. And the other reason is she had a narrative. She was able to look at our background and where we came from, and our biological mother, Julianne, was an alcoholic and she was also abusing heroin. You know, she had this history of substance abuse [00:10:00] and Ursula was able to clinging on to.

Liz and Erica: That narrative

Andrea: because you refer to him as your dad. So that makes me think you had a closer relationship with him than with Ursula. So can you tell me a bit about him?

Liz and Erica: He felt like a normal dad growing up. You know, we would play basketball and we would go take care of the farm animals together. And so I would say we were really close.

Liz and Erica: It felt like he was kind of a buffer. It felt like that was our only. Grasp of normalcy. When our parents did go through a divorce, it was incredibly messy. Um, we were brought up on the stand to testify about why we wanted to live with our mother. We were 14 or 15 at the time. Ultimately, our father lost physical custody and we weren’t able to have a relationship with him again until we were 18.

Liz and Erica: We did try to off and on throughout ages 15 through 18 to have a relationship with him through trying to be placed in his [00:11:00] care. We worked at the local Dairy Queen and our dad would just come visit us at work on lunch breaks because he just wanted to see us. And as soon as Ursula caught wind of that, it led to more abuse, um, more restrictions.

Liz and Erica: So she was fighting any chance of us to be able to have any relationship with him. And he was painted as a bad person. She would manipulate us to kind of believe that he wasn’t a good father.

Andrea: What was going on with Jenna and with the other kids in the house? Was this behavior and this abuse sort of spread equally, or do you feel like the two of you were a particular focus and then it shifted to Jenna?

Andrea: Like what did those dynamics look like?

Liz and Erica: No, I actually think that it got worse as she had more kids. Liz and I were the first foster children to be adopted along with our younger sister, Jenna. But it’s almost as if the youngest kids who were adopted later. Have actually had it worse.

Andrea: [00:12:00] So did you see some of those behaviors with your younger adopted siblings that was manifesting in some of those more sort of classical physical ways, feeding tubes, apnea issues, failure to thrive, that kind of thing?

Andrea: Or was it all sort of in the psychological realm,

Liz and Erica: kind of the common thing that you see with Munch House and by proxy? With the failure to thrive and that narrative that they’re not eating properly or unable to eat properly, it’s almost as if she escalated as the children were added to the, to our family.

Liz and Erica: It was all in the psychological realm for every kid in the house. It was a different spread. Depending on the kid and kind of like the background that they came from and their narrative. I mean these diagnoses of schizophrenia and bipolar, it’s like if you look at the medical history, like their parents may have been diagnosed with that.

Liz and Erica: Again, she was able to clinging on to a narrative that may or may not be true, but you know, she was shopping around for these diagnoses very early on when the kids were young. [00:13:00]

Andrea: I’m glad you pointed that out, that there may be some of. These things that were true because I think sometimes people look at these cases and they make the assumption that you have to disprove any diagnoses that have been made about that child to, in order to prove that there’s evidence of medical child abuse happening.

Andrea: And of course, that’s not the case. It’s a pattern of. Fabricating or exaggerating or inducing conditions. And so there may be something that starts it off or there may be some underlying condition that feeds in into that narrative. So I’m really glad that you brought that up. And I think that what’s really interesting about your story actually is that it, it’s not some of the things that we are.

Andrea: More used to seeing in medical child abuse cases, physical issues, feeding issues, surge, unnecessary surgeries, that kind of thing. But of course, the psychiatric stuff can be just as damaging. You know, it’s creating a false story of, [00:14:00] of your own self and your own health and your own capabilities, and really breaking that bond of possible trust between you and medical professionals and talk about some of this.

Andrea: Baggage that that’s left you guys with and sort of how that part of the abuse, how that affected you guys?

Liz and Erica: It led me to have a general distrust of therapists, I think because a lot of what we would report in therapy would get reported back to Ursula and then would be weaponized against us. Just the long lasting effects of being told that you have this, you know, mental illness.

Liz and Erica: Not only does it build a stigma from your perception, you look at a mental illness as like this terrible thing that the way that it was presented to you your entire life. It’s debilitating. Like I had a really hard time figuring out who I was and [00:15:00] like trusting what I was capable of because time and time again growing up, we kept on being told you won’t be able to do X, Y, Z.

Liz and Erica: You won’t have a normal life because of your. Mental condition that’s a lasting effect all through your life. I’ve, uh, worked really hard with a therapist that I trust to get to the point where I’m at right now, but it was an uphill battle. I’d say like she keeps on trying to put us in this box and we’re not going to stay in that box.

Liz and Erica: Being told from a young age that there’s something wrong with you. You constantly are wondering what it is, and it makes you feel unlovable. It affects your relationships with significant others. It affects your relationships with your friends, your family. And so, like Liz said, it. It takes a long time to go through therapy and find somebody that you trust to really kind of start to repair those wounds.

Liz and Erica: But I don’t know that you can ever fully repair [00:16:00] them. Um, it creates a lot of self-doubt.

Andrea: So even though Liz and Erica didn’t have a name for what was happening to them by the time they were teenagers, they became aware that they were the victims of abuse and felt like they needed to get out. They even tried to formally emancipate themselves from their mother at the age of 16.

Liz and Erica: At that time, we were working full-time. We were attending college full-time. We were also. Participating in sports and so we felt like we were, you know, living a life that an adult could put together at the age of 16. And it’s really sad to look back at those documents that we presented to the court because we’re so clearly manipulated and so clearly emotionally abused in the documents pleading with the court.

Liz and Erica: And pleading with the judge, um, to get us out of the situation that we don’t have fetal alcohol syndrome. But the court system is the same system that placed us in the Carera Ursula. So ultimately we were not granted emancipation. [00:17:00] Eric and

Andrea: Liz did finally make it out of v Ursula’s house two years after their attempted emancipation.

Andrea: They graduated from high school and they moved out the day after. What was the light bulb moment in terms of. Identifying the elements of Muhas and by proxy that you suffered.

Liz and Erica: The light bulb moment was when we were going through our adoption paperwork and we saw the record that said that she was seeking the anxiety medication for two five year olds who had just experienced a traumatic situation.

Liz and Erica: Putting them on medication right away just was an immediate red flag to us. And then from there, We just started piecing everything together. I actually recently requested the records from the University of Minnesota to see if we did get diagnosed with F A s, cuz we never questioned it. So it’ll be interesting to see like what those results come back as.

Liz and Erica: Some of the reasons why we [00:18:00] feel like we were victims of muncha and syndrome by proxy is the socialization part of it, and like her seeking the attention. And the status that she would get by taking care of these difficult children. She really seemed to thrive off of being seen as like this saint. She would get complimented when we were at restaurants by how well behaved we were, but it’s like if you peel back the layers of that it, were they well behaved because they are well behaved or because they were scared.

Liz and Erica: This is Dr. Mary Sanders. She is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford and she is the head of the American Professional Society on the abuse of children’s Munchhouse and by proxy committee. Mary works with both perpetrators and survivors.

Doctor Mary Sanders: So when children grow up believing that they’re ill, that’s their self story.

Doctor Mary Sanders: And that means that they may be [00:19:00] missing school, they may be missing social opportunities, developmental opportunities.

Doctor Mary Sanders: Um, I’ve had kids. Even after the, the abuses come to light, they don’t know. They still believe that they’re ill. You know, they grew up with this self story of very hard for them to move from it. And so, yes, the self story of illness can be very difficult to, uh, debrief the kids from, that’s the, you know, the main issue of the whole, whole life around being ill. And then suddenly, Everything’s changed and they’re being told, you know, they’re not ill anymore or, or all these things maybe didn’t exist and it, it’s very hard to sift through for them and sense of betrayal and, and post-traumatic stress.

Doctor Mary Sanders: Sometimes if they did know, you know, some of the kids were aware that they were being abused and, uh, felt that they couldn’t fight back. So that lack of control too,

Andrea: because it seems to me that this form of abuse so deeply affects your sense of self. [00:20:00] Do you think that maybe having your sister to look at and being so similar and sort of being able to say, I don’t think these things are true about my sister, so maybe they’re not true

Andrea: about me?

Liz and Erica: I think that a lot of our resiliency actually comes from being able to lean on each other and having that shared experience. Because I knew that I could always trust at least one person. I always knew when we were young that I wanted to do more with my life. I had a couple of different examples to reference, um, our biological parents.

Liz and Erica: That was a no-go for me. I didn’t want that life for myself. Our adopted parents. Also another hard no for me, didn’t want that life. A commonality that I noticed between both of my experiences was that neither our biological parents nor our adopted parents pursued college at all. And so for me, I. Because I love to learn and because I was good at school, I was like, [00:21:00] logical.

Liz and Erica: Next step, go to college. I think I’ve worked very hard to get where I am today, just putting my head down and getting the work done. I’ve talked to a

Liz and Erica: number of survivors at this point and this idea that the revelation of abuse comes a little bit later in life. In one’s twenties, even in your thirties or forties or beyond.

Liz and Erica: Is really a common theme. Survivors have told me that they felt like their mind and their heart had to wait until they felt stable and healthy enough to be able to even process those memories. This was true for Liz who waited until she was about 23 to start seeking therapy for the abuse that she’d suffered.

Liz and Erica: Erica tried to cope by keeping her focus on her. Education and her considerable accomplishments, but she found that the blast zone of the abuse permeated all of her intimate relationships.

Liz and Erica: I wanna say that I more so did a lot of things with trial and error, so I would find myself in my first [00:22:00] boyfriend.

Liz and Erica: It was a very abusive relationship. You know, I would find myself in, in situations where I was kind of repeating the trauma and trying to relive that trauma and get a different outcome. I also found a therapist, and it was really helpful for me that my therapist specialized in trauma. She was able to kind of explain to me the effects that trauma have on the brain development, and so that was really helpful for me to kind of understand why I kind of was repeating that process over and over with different relationships.

Andrea: Have you confronted Ursula directly? Have you confronted her?

Liz and Erica: Yeah, on several different occasions. We confronted her directly. She denies ever weaponizing f a s against us, but that was literally our entire life growing up. She doesn’t ever apologize. She doesn’t ever admit wrong, you know, each time we’ve reached out to her.

Liz and Erica: She accuses us of starting drama, all sorts of stuff. So we’ve confronted her and [00:23:00] it’s always the same story.

Andrea: So here again is Dr. Mary Sanders.

Doctor Mary Sanders: You know, way back that there wasn’t much out there in the public about this, that there, there weren’t names for this type of abuse. And so these victims really didn’t feel like they had a place to go. And now they do. Victims have come forward in their, uh, adulthood and been able to talk about their stories, recognize what had happened to them, and some have been able to get their medical records and be able to kind of sift through and, and look at the story of illness that was falsified over time.

Doctor Mary Sanders: But, uh, I don’t think any of them have had a parent that I’m aware of anyway, that had a parent that it wa was able to acknowledge.

Doctor Mary Sanders: We need for the perpetrators to be able to get to a place where they can acknowledge that they’ve engaged in this form of child abuse and fully take responsibility. Uh, being able to recognize a need to put their child’s needs first above their own.

Doctor Mary Sanders: When individuals are tend to have what’s called an external locus of control, they [00:24:00] tend to blame others, not take responsibility, get their needs met indirectly using deception. It’s very difficult for them to admit and acknowledge that they’ve engaged in these behaviors, not only to others, but to themselves.

Liz and Erica: We just wanna be clear. Our message is not, you know, we need to hate her, or we don’t forgive her, or we perseverate on, you know, these negative feelings. Our message is that we want other people who experience similar abuse to be able to feel empowered, to make a different life for themselves. And we just wanna be motivating and inspiring to other people who have had the same experience.

Liz and Erica: We have a voice, and when we were kids, no one ever listened to us. And so now that we have found our voice, we wanna continue to use it.

Andrea: What do you want people? To know about Munch housing by proxy, I mean, what are some of the, the things that maybe you guys have seen in terms [00:25:00] of how it’s represented that you feel are inaccurate or some of the things that you’d just like to share from the perspective of being survivors?

Liz and Erica: I think that people tend to see abusers as, you know, like the obvious villain, and I think that it’s really important to demonstrate that it, there is this kind of gray area that you know that something’s wrong when you’re going through it and. You don’t necessarily need to disprove anything like you were saying, Andrea.

Liz and Erica: I think that’s the common misconception is that you have to disprove a diagnosis and it’s not as black and white as people think and as the media portrays it, you know, in our story, Ursula is not a very obvious villain. I mean to us she was, but it was very hard for us to. Overcome some of that and to have people listen to us because of the social status that she carried.

Liz and Erica: And these people really do position themselves in a status that’s going to benefit them, [00:26:00] and their level of manipulation is almost cult-like. They can get anyone to follow them and anyone to believe them.

Andrea: I think it’s, it’s really helpful that your story is this even subtler version of this abuse, and I mean subtle in its presentation, not subtle in its effects of using the sort of psychiatric.

Andrea: Medical system because that’s even more taking it to a degree of something that’s not gonna show up on a blood test, that’s not gonna show up on an x-ray. That doesn’t really, to be honest, take that much work to fake. It just means someone coming up with a compelling narrative and sitting there and making that report to a doctor or a therapist, and I think it’s really helpful for people to understand this as a pattern of behavior.

Andrea: Because, and, and as a pattern of abuse, I also think it’s really important to keep the focus on the victims and the focus on survivors and on identifying these behavior patterns because it doesn’t matter at the end of the day so much why the person’s doing it. It’s about understanding that pattern of behavior and then being able to [00:27:00] identify it and protect kids from it.

Andrea: What would you guys like to see happen?

Liz and Erica: I just want there to be recognition that this occurred. I just, I want there to be some level of accountability. I don’t know what that looks like, but. I mean, these people are never going to admit they’re wrongdoing, but I think what I want out of it would be just some validation from her.

Liz and Erica: I don’t think that I want any justice through the courts at this point, just because the worst case scenario versus the best case scenario and having to weigh out the pros and cons. And unfortunately, I think that the children in the home now are. In better positions in her care compared to potentially the unknowns of being in the care of other foster parents.

Liz and Erica: So, yeah, I, I think it puts us in a tough situation. I don’t know what justice really does look like in that scenario. I am kind of opposite of you. I’d like to see her without contact with kids, like she clearly is a repeat offender. She’s done it for 20 [00:28:00] years, you know, 20 plus years at this point, and so I have a hard time believing that she could actually change justice.

Liz and Erica: Looks like her being held accountable for what she did, her being held accountable and not being able to have children in her care. You know, I do recognize that there is a wild card that comes into play when you’re placing the child in the foster care system. You know, it gives me anxiety and scares me a little bit to think about.

Liz and Erica: Where could these kids end up? But at the same time, I want her to be held accountable.

Andrea: Today, Liz and Erica are 28 years old and they’re thriving. Liz recently got married and Erica walked her down the aisle. Liz is working as a product manager for a digital experience platform, and Erica is actually working as a pediatric trauma physician assistant at a children’s hospital in Minnesota.

Andrea: They are currently at work on a memoir about [00:29:00] their experiences and are passionate about raising awareness about MUN chosen by proxy. To learn more about Liz and Erica and what they’re up to, please go to the show notes and see a link to their blog and both of their Instagram accounts.

Andrea: I wanna give you an update on where I was with getting an interview with Hope. Needless to say, I’m not a professional investigative journalist, but fortunately my producer Tina, is a longtime news gal, and what she recognized in my communications back and forth with Hope was that even though she was saying no, she had kept the conversation going.

Andrea: And so we both were able to discern that there must be some part of hope that did wanna sit down and have this conversation with me. And I felt like it could be a good thing for both of us. People who are involved in this kind of crime don’t get [00:30:00] treated with very much empathy, and I felt like I was uniquely positioned to have some empathy for hope.

Andrea: I was determined to do whatever I could possibly to have this conversation.

Andrea: Next time on. Nobody Should Believe me. We will dig into the psychopathology of munchhausen by proxy, perpetrators, and attempt to answer the crucial question, can they be saved? If you’ve been listening to this podcast and some of the details sound very familiar to you from your own life, or someone that you know, Please visit us@munchhouseandsupport.com.

Andrea: We have resources there from some of the top experts in the country, and we can connect you with professionals who can help. Nobody should believe me is a production of large media. Our lead producer is Tina Noel. The show is edited by Lisa Gray with help from Wendy Nay. Jeff Gal is our sound engineer.

Andrea: Additional scoring and music by Johnny [00:31:00] Nicholson and Joel Schock. Also special thanks to Maria Paolo. Joelle Noel and Katie Klein for project coordination. I’m your host and executive producer, Andrea Dunlop.

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Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 07Can They Be Saved?Andrea delves deep into her questions around the psychopathology of Munchausen by Proxy perpetrators. Floored by the similarities in the many cases she’s researched: she talks to two of the world's...

There’s Hope
Season 01 | Episode 08

There’s Hope

Share this episodeSEASON 01 | EPISODE 08There's HopeAndrea has made an intense connection with Hope Ybarra's family, and asked experts, doctors, and the detective so many of her burning questions about Munchausen by Proxy. But she's become increasingly...

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Season 02 | Episode 01

Blunt Force Instrument

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 01Blunt Force InstrumentMeet Andrea Dunlop, accomplished novelist and mother, as she embarks on a journey to understand the series of events that tore her family apart. In the first episode, we learn how Andrea first...

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Season 02 | Episode 02

What Do We Do About Brittany?

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 02What Do We Do About Brittany?Heather Harris was one of many friends who was concerned about Brittany’s desperate need for attention for her daughter’s medical issues, and her inconsistent reports about Alyssa’s eating...

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Season 02 | Episode 03

Where There’s Smoke

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 03Where There's SmokeDetective Mike Weber dives into the digital rabbit hole of Brittany’s online activity and makes a discovery so shocking it turns his investigation on its head and reveals the depths of depravity...

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Season 02 | Episode 04

All In

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 04All InIn this season of Nobody Should Believe Me, we've heard from Sheriff Bill and Laura Waybourn about their concern for Alyssa- who was a distant family member of theirs. Now, we take some time to get to know this...

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Season 02 | Episode 05

Tangled

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 05TangledWe hear more about Alyssa’s turbulent journey to become a Waybourn, as the family fights through a system that doesn’t know how to deal with medical child abuse. The Waybourns face the daunting task of...

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Season 02 | Episode 06

The Trial

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 06The TrialYears after being separated from her daughter Alyssa, the Brittany Phillips case finally heads to trial. Dawn Ferguson, the prosecutor on the case elucidates the challenges of convincing a jury that a mother...

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Season 02 | Episode 07

Megan

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 07MeganIn the wake of obtaining shocking public records about her sister’s case, host Andrea Dunlop decides to divulge the details of the second investigation into her sister, Megan Carter. Seated alongside Detective...

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Season 02 | Episode 08

Only the Beginning

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 08Only the BeginningIn the aftermath of Brittany Philips' conviction, Alyssa faces a daunting new reality: the path to recovery. The long-term physical and psychological effects of Munchausen by Proxy abuse cast a long...

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Season 02 | Episode 09

Pandora’s Box

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 09Pandora's boxIn this gripping episode, we delve into the heart-wrenching account of Jordyn Hope, another survivor of medical child abuse. Taking a brief departure from Alyssa's story, we shine a spotlight on a far more...

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Season 02 | Episode 10

Everything Everything Everything

Share this episodeSEASON 02 | EPISODE 10Everything Everything EverythingIn the finale of Season 2, we finally hear from the person at the center of our story: Alyssa Waybourn. Despite the immense challenges she has faced, Alyssa shines as a beacon of...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 01

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 01Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release) Warning: This content includes references to suicide and child abuse. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, help is available. Call or text...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 02

Shelter

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 02Shelter As the Maya Kowalski case heads to trial, we dig into the massive trove of documents about this case and begin to unpack what we know about what really happened during Maya Kowalski’s fateful stay at Johns...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 03

In a Heartbeat

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 03In a HeartbeatIn our third episode, we look at a central piece of the story that was left unfinished at the time of Beata Kowalski’s death: the police investigation into her for medical child abuse. Along with...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 04

Retaliation

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 04RetaliationNote: This episode contains sensitive content related to child abuse and suicide. Listener discretion is advised. Beata Kowalski’s tragic death by suicide in January of 2016 is at the center of the $220...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 05

The Women

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 05The WomenIn the flattened version of the Maya Kowalski story that has dominated the headlines, Beata Kowalski is a mother who fell prey to age-old biases against women. This story attaches itself to the well-documented...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 06

The Believers Part 1

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 06The Believers Part 1In today’s episode, Andrea seeks an outside perspective on the controversial Maya Kowalski case. Laura Richards, host of Crime Analyst and cohost of the Real Crime Profile podcast, joins Andrea to...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 07

The Believers Part 2

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 07The Believers Part 2As the Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens trial barrels forward, new information comes to light each day about what really happened to Maya Kowalski during her time in the hospital. In part 2 of...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 08

Trial of the Century

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 08Trial of the CenturyWith a verdict in the case days away, host Andrea Dunlop unpacks some of what’s happened so far in the Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens trial with lawyer and trial consultant Jonathan Leach....

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 09

The Verdict

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 09The VerdictAndrea and special guest Bex (aka our Florida pediatrcian friend) process the shocking verdict in the Maya Kowalski trial. After 9 weeks of testimony, the jury awarded the Kowalski family nearly $300 million...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 10

The Verdict Part 2

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 10The Verdict Part 2Andrea checks in with lawyer and trial consultant Jonathan Leach hours after the Kowalski verdict comes down. They talk about the judge’s decision to disallow testimony from the defense on medical...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 11

Star Witness

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 11Star WitnessAs we continue to process the far-reaching implications of the shocking verdict in the Kowalski case, we take a closer look at Maya Kowalski’s testimony and what we know about her. She’s emerged as a...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 12

System Override

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 12System OverrideWith the jury's stunning $242 million verdict in favor of the Kowalski family, host Andrea Dunlop looks at why this case has struck such a nerve on both sides of the political spectrum. She examines why...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 13

What Now?

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 13What Now?Just when we thought the endless saga of Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens was over...it turns out it might only be beginning. In this episode, lead attorney for the Johns Hopkins All Childrens defense...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 14

Media Circus

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 14Media CircusThis week Andrea examines how the harrowing and complex story of the Maya Kowalski case turned into a pop culture moment, and spread dangerous misinformation in the process. We continue our conversation...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 15

The Trials of Dr. Sally Smith (Season Finale: Part 1)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 15The Trials of Dr. Sally Smith (Season Finale: Part 1)In an exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, host Andrea Dunlop travels to Florida to speak to the embattled child abuse pediatrician about her life and work and...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 16

Bad Press (Season Finale: Part 2)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 16Bad Press (Season Finale: Part 2)In the second part of our exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, we discuss how the media coverage of her reached a fever pitch and turned her life and career upside down. We explore...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 17

Dangerous Women (Season Finale: Part 3)

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 17Dangerous Women (Season Finale: Part 3)In the third and final installment of our exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, she shares her side of what happened in the Maya Kowalski case, revealing how perilous Maya’s...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
SEASON 03 | EPISODE 18

What Jack Knew

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 18What Jack KnewAs we prepare to launch Season Four next month, we’re revisiting the subject of Season Three—the landmark Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children’s verdict, in which a jury awarded Jack Kowalski more than...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 19

What Happened to Beata?

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 19What Happened to Beata?This week's episode delves into the intricate details surrounding Beata Kowalski's death, which was central to the Kowalski's lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children's, as well as the...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 20

Kowalski Case Update with Ethen Shapiro

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 20 Kowalski Case Update with Ethen Shapiro Join Andrea as she delves back into the ongoing legal battle of Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, with Ethen Shapiro, the lead defense attorney for Johns...

Welcome to Hutchinson
Season 04 | Episode 01

Welcome to Hutchinson

Share this episodeSEASON 04 | EPISODE 01 Welcome to Hutchinson Welcome to Season 4 of Nobody Should Believe Me! This season we are following the story of Jordyn Hope as they unravel the secrets of their childhood. After revelations that they were abused as a...

Welcome to Hutchinson
Season 04 | Episode 02

“I Brought You Into This World I Can Take You Out”

Share this episodeSEASON 04 | EPISODE 02 “I Brought You Into This World I Can Take You Out” While visiting their hometown, Jo reconnects with their older sister, Crystal, to have the deeply honest and heart-wrenching conversation their mother never wanted...

Welcome to Hutchinson
Season 04 | Episode 03

Not Without My Daughter

Share this episodeSEASON 04 | EPISODE 03 Not Without My Daughter As we dig deeper into Jo’s history, we tackle one of the many confusing aspects of their childhood: their paternity. We navigate the many twists and turns around the father figures in Jo’s...

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