Jeannie Mai’s mom didn’t believe sexual abuse claims for years

“The Real” co-host Jeannie Mai, who revealed in September 2018 that she was sexually abused by a male family member when she was 9 years old, said the abuse led to an eight-year estrangement between her and her mother.

Mai, 40, detailed the years of sexual abuse in a new episode of her YouTube series “Hello Hunnay,” explaining it began when a 16-year-old cousin started to babysit her after school.

“I just remember one day this person sitting very close to me, we were playing video games, and he started to touch my thigh,” she explained in the video with her mother, Olivia, by her side, adding that over the next few days, weeks and months, he would take off her clothes, expose himself to her and force her to touch him.

Mai tried to ask her mom to get a new babysitter, and when that failed she finally spoke up about what he was doing to her, but Olivia said she was “confused” and didn’t “see anything bad about him.”

“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,’” Mai explained to her mom. “In that moment, I was about 15. I remember distinctly those words, ‘I don’t believe you. He wouldn’t do that. That’s your cousin. This is in your head.’ I felt by myself. I even got to a point where I started to ask myself, ‘Did I imagine these things?’”

Because of what happened, Mai ran away from home when she was 16 years old and didn’t speak to her mother for almost a decade.

When Mai showed up on her doorstep years later, her mother listened to every word, saying she felt “so bad” and “guilty.”

“I want to come over to his house and punch him and I want to put him in jail,” Olivia said, adding, “I’m really sorry. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why I loved that boy.”

Olivia also revealed to Mai for the first time that after they reconnected, she went to the cousin’s house to confront him and threatened to call the police for what he did to her.

“I wish you told me that you went to his house. You never told me,” Mai told her mom through tears. “That right there is all I needed to know. 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.”

The episode was first released to People.

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