Jeannie Mai has opened up about the most personal and difficult of topics.
In footage from The Real co-host’s YouTube series, Hello Hunnay, Mai sits down alongside her mother and talks about the reason why the two didn’t talk for many years.
While explaining this past rift in their relationship, Mai reveals she was sexually abused by a male family member starting at the age of 9.
“We’ve talked before that we had a major falling out when I was about 16 until I was 24,” Mai says in the clip below, adding:
“I’ve never actually talked about that incident with my mom since then. We’re talking for the first time about how that affected us.”
From there, the 40-year old explains that this abuse began shortly after her second brother was born — and her mother was forced to take on a second job in order to help pay the bills.
“We needed to find a babysitter, so we called upon a family member,” Mai says. “He came over every single day and stayed with me after school.”
Mai never names her abuser.
She simply says he was "16 or 17" at the time he committed this actor and that she really looked up to him at the time.
That is, of course, the following took place.
“I just remember one day this person sitting very close to me, we were playing video games, and he started to touch my thigh,” Mai details in the chat with her mom below.
Just truly awful stuff.
Jeannie goes on to say she rationalized this experience by convincing herself that because he was a family member, it was okay.
“I was also just stunned because I had never been intimately touched like that so I couldn’t tell if it was wrong, I just knew I was noticing it."
As the days progressed, however, Mai says the touching progressed into him taking off her clothes, exposing himself to her and instructing her on how to touch him.
Like we said: just awful stuff.
“I remember him pulling me into that shower and it was the first time I have a seen a grown man and what he looked like,” she says here. “I remember him telling me to touch him in certain ways.”
“This happened every day for a few weeks, and then it turned into months and I remember one year going by. I didn’t say anything because I was afraid.”
Around the age of 13, Mai finally told her mom what had been going on.
She pleaded for a new babysitter.
But her mother didn’t understand what her daughter was saying or refused to believe it — even years later when the abuse became even more "aggressive," according to Mai … and she once again tried to speak to her parent about it.
“I began to get angry because now I’m telling my mom that he’s taking off my clothes and you said, ‘I don’t believe you,’" she says.
Her mother admits in this video that she was in denial about the relative.
"I felt by myself," Mai explains, adding that she left home at the age of 16 and didn’t talk to her mom for nine years.
“All I can say is I’m really sorry,” her mom says in response, telling Mai for the first time that she finally confronted the abuser many years later and he begged her not to turn him in to the police.
“That right there is all I needed to know,” Mai says through tears. “That you believed me and you listened and that you would go and try and do something about it.
"I just needed your support. I feel like you just set something free inside of me because you believed me.”
Mai and her mom have repaired their relationship and the former concludes that she has shared her story in order to help or inspire others.
“We hope that this can help you connect more with your mom, grow better and closer to your family and help your heal however you need to inside,” she says.