Survivors Speak (Kelley) – A Family of Monsters

Today we will hear the story of Kelley. I have known Kelley for almost 10 years personally, however we met under different circumstance and didn’t realize our connection and deep understanding of each other until a couple years ago. I treasure our connection.

She is a mom to three boys. She is passionate about making a difference in the society we live in. Her belief is that our voices, collectively, can make a difference.  In the workplace, at home and in our communities.  One of her favorite mantras is “Time and talent are gifts to be given”.

She was the President of the Little League and Program Director/Coach of several youth bowling programs. She also Operated a concession stand for the High School and AAA baseball.

Instilling a sense of community and giving back is something that was very important to her as a Mother. She is an activist and willingly put her body on the line for the sake of others. She strongly believes that is our duty in a civil society to stand up to injustice.

She is sharing her story with us from California, USA.

Her Story

I don’t feel I have a family life anymore. My children have lived in Wisconsin with their father since “the divorce”. I say that in quotes because I have been married several times.  But this marriage was of 16 years and tragically ended. I also don’t feel I have a family life because my Mother made sure I was alienated from my very large family (I have 9 sisters and 4 brothers and she has 13 brothers and sisters as well).

Please share as much as you are comfortable with regarding your childhood trauma.

I was molested by a half brother at about 9 and 10 years old. At 13 I was raped at my first high school dance after a party that I stumbled on to. To this day I do not know why I left the dance alone and distraught. I was also molested by a friend’s father at a sleepover when I was in middle school. 

How have your experiences with childhood sexual abuse affected your life? Please share both the good and the bad.     

I didn’t remember the abuse until I was 45. But looking back at the images that come flooding back now I see the patterns of abuse and the role my Mother played in shaping me to be vulnerable to abuse.

One relationship after another filled with psychological, physical and sexual abuse. One husband put me in the hospital 3 times before I finally got away from him. Because of the childhood sexual abuse and an unhealthy relationship with my Mother I never understood what a healthy relationship or sex life was. Sex was an ugly thing for me all of my adult life.

My Mother covered up the abuse. She sent my brother to the Army and (to this day) she protects yet another brother who is a convicted (he plead guilty) sexual predator. 4 years ago he triggered the flood of memories when he found out I knew the truth and what an extremely narcissistic mother has covered up 40 years.

He molested the 5 year old neighbor boys at about 12 years old, when he says he started doing crystal meth. His response to the threat of exposure was to call Mom and tell her he was coming for me and he was going to kill me. Slice me up and put my body parts “in specific places” according to my Mother.

I think my passion for speaking up is a victim’s cry. So to speak. I feel the need to make sure every person knows their voice matters. 

 After years of weekly therapy I have come to understand the shame and guilt I felt because I couldn’t look back and see that little girl who couldn’t possibly know what was happening to her was right or wrong. I saw a victim. I saw the abuse.

The only good I can find is through therapy and healthy relationships – I am a survivor.  


What are a couple things that have helped you manage your C-PTSD from day to day? Talk a little bit about what it is like to live with this mental injury.

I start every day with a reminder by taking multiple anti anxiety prescriptions. 4 to be exact. I have underlying health conditions that add to it but the triggers are still very real and unmanageable.  Without the prescriptions I would be in one anxiety episode after another.

My mind’s weapon of choice is to disassociate. I had an amazing therapist in Los Angeles but the environment I was in was not good for me. When I moved to San Diego I wasn’t so lucky, then COVID19 struck. Therapy sessions are teleconferences and every 6 weeks if I am lucky. I don’t think I have found the right therapist yet. I kinda feel like he is in therapy too.

As a parent, what is the hardest part of parenting after trauma? What is the most rewarding part of parenting after trauma? 

The hardest part for me, and a large role in the divorce was when I didn’t know what was happening to me or why, I had a panic episode in front of my boys. I went through every trigger; fight, flight and freeze. My relationship with my boys was never the same.

Although it is much better now I missed out on so much and will never be a part of those memories. 

What is one thing you want others to understand about being a childhood sexual abuse survivor? 

I have to remind myself constantly that I am worthy of love and I must put my own needs above others. I was silenced and suppressed for so long I didn’t know what self care looked or felt like. I have learned to look back and see a beautiful, fun, energetic little girl who had no idea what was happening to her was right OR wrong, instead of the abuse.

Sometimes I get there.

It’s a long journey filled with a roller coaster of emotions and anxiety but it’s worth hanging tough. 

What advice or reassurances do you have for other survivors who are struggling?

You are not alone.
It’s not your fault.
You are a survivor.
You have choices.

That’s what I try to remind myself when triggered. It helps me to make notes, a post it, of positive reinforcement. 


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