Tonight's special guest is Kelly Matthews from Birmingham, Alabama, a 55-year-old teacher and survivor of childhood abuse in all its forms. He says, "As I have grown beyond those years into thriving, I have become impassioned about reaching out to others. Having endured profound levels of abuse in my childhood, I believe that my faith, family, and friends have each served as my big rock." From age 5 Kelly’s step-father abused him daily calling him an 'oxygen thief' and physically, mentally, and sexually assaulting him .. even sometimes paying his brothers a quarter to look-out during the sexual assaults. Kelly’s mother also sexually abused him. Kelly recalls sitting in church as his step-father fondled his privates saying that, “providing him, my mother, or any one of his friends with various forms of sexual gratification was my sole purpose for existing.” At age 15 Kelly was violently raped by a man posing as a Law Enforcement Officer. A year later he dropped out of school, left home, and struggled using anti-depressants, drugs, and alcohol. He was placed in a Texas boy’s home where he experienced more sexual abuse including being drugged and filmed in child ography. Kelly struggled with identity issues, and recognizing 'normal.' During young adulthood, rediscovering his faith and accepting that past events did not have to define him was the turning point. He went on to get two master degrees, has been married for 30 years, and has 2 children. Today, Kelly is Program Administrator of Academic Foundations 365, and is now beginning an adult survivors of childhood abuse ministry in Birmingham. His goal is to, “empower adults to step from behind the shadows of shame, fear, etc .. and into a stage of thriving.”
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