Brie Lybrand is your typical all-American girl. Blonde and bubbly, the 27-year-old former beauty queen was cheerleading captain at her high school, studied acting in college and now hosts her YouTube channel, "New Orleans Beauty Guru".
The videos she posts to her 9,226 subscribers are frothy and frivolous, with titles like "Curly hair products that rock!", "My Jewelry Collection" [sic] and "The best foundations". So, when she said she was posting a different kind of video last week, it was an understatement.
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Pageant star Brie Lybrand accuses dad of raping her
Beauty guru Brie Lybrand in an emotional video blog on YouTube accuses her father of raping and torturing her.
In the 12-minute video, titled "A message to my rapist" , Lybrand explains the catalyst for the shocking clip.
"I just got an email from YouTube saying the man that raped me for most of my life subscribed to me. The man that took my virginity, robbed me of an innocence, has subscribed to me on YouTube and is watching my videos," she says.
"I never got to testify in court and say what it feels like being tied up and chained and tortured for hours… My father, Steven Bressler, molested, tortured, and raped me from the time I was four till I was thirteen years old"
Visibly distressed, the barefaced Lybrand says she also witnessed her father repeatedly try to kill her mother. On one occasion, as her mother attempted to protect their daughter, he "beat her teeth in - took them all out of her mouth and I watched my mother in a pool of her own blood."
Lybrand says she has not seen her father since she was 13-years-old, but holds three different guns to the camera as a warning to keep it that way. "I don't have to be afraid any more. Let me show you my weapon collection, dad. I carry guns everywhere I go in case you show up."
The video was picked up by Reddit on Monday and has since garnered attention around the world.
While the response to the clip has been largely supportive, some have questioned the video's veracity pointing out her acting ambitions.
According to IMDB, "Brie is a professionally trained actor and singer from New Orleans, LA. She received her Theatre degree from Tulane University, with a minor in History… [She is] always one to look for more opportunities to hone her craft."
It would not be the first time an actor has pulled an elaborate hoax for the sake of their craft. In 1991, Fairley Arrow faked her own kidnapping to boost her flailing career, while Joaquin Phoenix spent the better part of two years behaving like a lunatic for his 2010 mockumentary, "I'm still here."
But, Antonia Quadara, manager of the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault at the Australian Institute for Family Studies, strongly cautions against jumping to the conclusion that Lybrand is being untruthful.
"The majority of disclosures [about sexual abuse] are delayed," she says. "Typically, abuse occurs in a family setting and is typically over many years. For children to disclose the abuse there are many things to weigh up… and it's often a question of 'what will happen to the family if I disclose?' … or 'will they believe me?'"
When and if they finally do speak up, "the reactions to those disclosures really matter. Negative reactions have huge consequences, can inhibit people from seeking subsequent help… and send a message to other victims that they won't be believed… Disbelief sends a very powerful message to the community."
That Lybrand chose the very public platform of her YouTube channel to disclose is not unusual, given it is her normal forum for communication, says psychologist, Judith Kennedy. "On face-value, it looks fairly genuine. It's a knee-jerk reaction to noticing this person appear in her world… he's a threat to her and [the clip] is self-protection and an attempt to frighten him."
Kennedy believes the impact of expressing herself so publicly is positive. "It's a good thing it's out there. She's done a bit of a public service… Most people learn not to talk about abuse… but, one of the things in coming to terms with a ghastly past is knowing that you can survive it."
Survive it and thrive in spite of it, is a point Lybrand is keen to emphasise in the clip.
"I've grown up to be a great woman… Even though I will be forever damaged because of you, you haven't gotten the best of me... I met a wonderful man who understands, who is there when I have to cry and when I have to be upset on father's day when I didn't have a father… I had a monster."
In Australia, as many as one in three women and one in six men are victims of sexual abuse. "The rates are extraordinary," Quadara says. "We should check our reactions [to such disclosures] against the statistics and understand that sexual abuse … is extremely prevalent."
Since releasing the video, Lybrand was quiet on her Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts. She has now updated her twitter account to include pictures of her beaten mother and images of court documents.
My Mother. 8-23-91 beaten by my father. twitter.com/MyRedSolara504…— Brie(@MyRedSolara504) November 7, 2012
Court documents. twitter.com/MyRedSolara504…— Brie(@MyRedSolara504) November 7, 2012
Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.