Ep.35-Beauty Triumphs From the Ashes: A Tough Conversation About Sexual Abuse, Abortion and Pro-Life and Love (Part 1)

Today I am joined by Kelly Lester, and the conversation was so in-depth, that we had to split it into two parts. In this episode, Kelly shares her story of sexual abuse, abortions, and how to be a safe place for your children to open up about their lives. Kelly believes in creating a place in your home for your children to feel safe to fail so that when the big challenges of life come up, they can trust you will be there to support them. After a rape and later abortion when she was 15, Kelly had drastic changes in her life. She was forced to grow up fast and deviate from the life she was building for herself. Kelly bravely shares her story and advocates for safe places for young women to share their own stories. Listen in to this tough and important conversation.

About our guest:

Kelly’s story is one that covers so many difficult and painful topics in our world today. Child molestation, raped as a teen, several abortions, drug dealing, eating disorders, homosexuality, pornography, prostitution, and even working in the clinic where she had her first abortion. But beauty triumphs from the ashes, and Kelly is a testament to how God can clean all the dirty parts of a painful life story and make it brand new.

Now a wife and mother of six children, Kelly loves to share her story to give hope to the most desperate situations proving that God can save anybody. She is currently a client advocate for LoveLine Ministries, Director of Outreach for And Then There Were None and Pro-Love Ministries, and a board member for Village Ansanm: Living Stones Ministries.





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Anna Ditchburn:

I know you, you are afraid to speak up. You are scared of what other people think of you. And you blame yourself for what happened to you. I know how it feels. Because I’ve been there. If you found me, I’m so grateful you’re here. This podcast will give you hope. And now I’m your host, Anna ditchburn. I’m going to hold your hand and provide the guidance that I needed the most. It’s time for you to find your why. And turn your experience into your superpower. So lock your door. Put your headphones in, and enjoy. Kelly Lester, welcome to the world’s best Trauma Recovery podcast.

Kelly Lester:

Thanks. Thanks for having me on.

Anna Ditchburn:

Kelly, I’m so glad you came for my podcast, because the topic you are talking about at your speaking engagements is a pro pro life and pro life and abortions. And this topic is very close to my heart. And Kelly, I would love to ask your first question. To start off with a question. What do you seeing happens to the soul of aborted child?

Kelly Lester:as married, so it’s been like:Anna Ditchburn:

Well. I’m getting emotional just from thinking about the oxen, children passing away. Because i i When I left my parents house at the age of 21 When my sexual abuse stopped, I got a dog from Iranian and he became my baby, my child. And he helped me to get through this situation, mentally and physically. Otherwise I wouldn’t survive without him. And it looks like you’re very close to your father. And it wasn’t the only dream he saw. To save you. Yeah. Kelly, would you share this story with us when, when your father’s dream literally was a turning point for you?

Kelly Lester:ls from my father in Virginia:Anna Ditchburn:

But how did you feel when he told you about his dream? Like what what clicked in you that you really realized Enough is enough?

Kelly Lester:ppened. It was like, somebody:Anna Ditchburn:

I believe that God had much bigger plans for you.

Kelly Lester:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, apparently,

Anna Ditchburn:

Kelly, but how everything started for you, because I the daughter of the priest, and having such a heavy childhood, and he thought history because people will, will have this picture, you know, growing up in a priest family, you you, you would think you would be a good girl. What what’s happened? Why?

Kelly Lester:

Yeah, you know, it started at a very young age. I didn’t realize it till later on when I went through some healing and some some trauma processing. But I later found out that when I was probably four years old, I was molested by somebody in my family. And then, so that caused some things you know, not in my not my dad or my mom, but like an extended family. And that caused some things in me some insecurities of shame, you know, that awakened things in me that should not have been awakened as a four year old child.

Anna Ditchburn:

So did you did you speak up? Sorry for interrupting? Did you speak up did people

Kelly Lester:that started it. And then at:Anna Ditchburn:

out, this is divorce is the worst thing ever. Yeah, I can tell you,

Kelly Lester:

it was pretty terrible. And so that just, you know, added and added and added and you know, I’m a teenage young teenager, which everybody’s insecure, and you add all of that to it. And so that led me down, it quickly led me down a path of destruction, you know, started, I became very promiscuous. And then at 15, I found out that I was pregnant. And that led me to have my first abortion. And that was a very marked change, probably affected me more than anything else. I walked into the clinic, a straight A student, nationally ranked tennis player, going to church every time the doors open, you know, and when I walked out, I didn’t want anything to do with God, I quit playing tennis, and I barely ended up graduating high school. I had early acceptance to University of Georgia, thankfully, or I probably would not have gone somewhere because my grades just absolutely plummeted. And started drinking started doing drugs started all of the things just compiled. So it was, you know, although I had a good home, there were outside factors, you know, that affected me.

Anna Ditchburn:

I resonate with your story so much. Yeah. Firstly, my my first abortion was at 15. And I remember I had two grown up so fast. Yeah, it’s it is the thing. 15 years old, we’re still a child. Like we’re still children. You. I remember when I opened up, what’s happened to me? People, people started to judging me. It’s 15. You, you. You are, like, mature to understand what was happening to you. Why didn’t you? You know, tell anyone? Why didn’t you fight back. But now I’m realizing I was conditioned when my stepfather first first sexually abused me. I was conditioned to obey. So I freeze. And having the abortion at 15 is quite traumatizing event itself. Yeah. And I understand why you turned turn away from God.

Kelly Lester:

Yeah, you know, you think 15 and some ways you think 15 years ago, Akash. You’re a teenager, you’re almost 18 You know, like, but I have children? Who are I have a son who’s 14 and a daughter who’s 13. And I think, like, now I’m like, gosh, when I was their age, this was happening. And I think, how did I even survive it? You know, because they are still I mean, in my children have grown up in a home, that’s pretty conservative, you know, that’s pretty sheltered in some ways. And I think, Gosh, I was them. And how did I get through it? How did I survive that? You know, and, and to think that leaders and adults put it back on me at that point, you know, it really, it makes me angry. It makes me angry that they did that and treated me that way. And it makes me concerned for my kids, you know, hoping that they’re not going to go through the same kind of things that I went through, because you’re still so young. You know, that’s so it’s so young to have to deal with anything like that.

Anna Ditchburn:

Killing now, when you are a parent, when you understand from when you can see the situation from both perspectives. What would be your best advice for parents who are going through a similar situation with their kids? What is the best thing to say? What is the best thing to do for their kids?

Kelly Lester:

Yeah, people ask me that a lot. Like what? And my parents have even asked me, you know, what could we have done differently? You know, people say what are you going to do differently? And, you know, my parents did the best that they could they both came from broken homes and you know, issues and their families. And so they really did the best that they could. But I think the big thing is, we have to be, we have to build relationships with our children, you know, we have to, I don’t mean, you have to be their best friend, because you need to be their parents, I’m definitely not one who thinks, you know, we should be our kids best friend. But we do need to know our kids. And we do need to be aware, and like, I look at my parents, there were a lot of red flags that they missed. And that was because they were busy working and trying to give us you know, a better life than they had or that was because they were busy. You know, everything was like, go and do and not a lot of like, Hey, how are you doing? You know, I see this change in you what’s going on? Or if there was a change, it was like, you can’t wear that you can’t do that. You can’t go there, you know, instead of like, Hey, I see this going on? Do you just like white black now? Like, all of a sudden you just like, or is there something going on that’s making you you know, want to do this, you know. And I think for a lot of parents, unfortunately, they start the relationship, when they see these red flags. It’s like, oh, gosh, now I need to have a relationship with my child. And it’s too late, you know. Whereas you want to start early being a safe place, I say, my husband, and I’m talking about we want our home to be a safe place for them to fail. And so we don’t want it to be where you have to be perfect all the time. Or you have to, you know, yes, we want you to excel. And we want you to do your best and be your best. But I want you to screw up when you’re here. So we can talk through it and work through it and know, you know that we’re going to love you even if you screwed up. I mean, I was so afraid to tell my parents what had happened to me because I thought they would be disappointed in me. Yeah, and, you know, yeah, I thought that they would never forgive me, and you know, all of these kinds of things. And so instead of telling them what had happened, I kept it in, and it piled up and got worse and worse, you know. And then when I did start failing, they got upset. And so it just further like, reinforced what I was already thinking. So we have tried with my kids, our kids to really not have it be that way, you know, to take them out and be like, you know, with my 13 and my 14 year old Hey, I see this going on with you. I see this happening, you know, what’s going on? You know, why is this happening? Why are you doing these things? Why? How is school? How’s your friends? How you know, and having those conversations? Because kids, especially nowadays, they don’t have anybody talking to them? You know, they don’t have anybody checking on them. And so really just trying to be in tune with them and know them, like what are their love languages? You know, what are their personality types? Are they an Enneagram? Three, or an anagram eight, you know, like, figure out about your kids. Study your kids, I had somebody tell me that one time, like you should study your spouse and study your children. So that when those things happen, you can be aware of it.

Anna Ditchburn:

What’s happened with me? When I told my mom, what’s, what my stepfather was doing to me? She said, I’m so, so sorry. Yeah, I knew it. I knew and the person who who created created to kill for your child, if anything happens, just looked away. And I know, it’s not easy for some parents to realize what’s happening to their kids because they just don’t know what to do. And the same with abortion. I told my mom that they had an abortion. The second one in a couple of years. Yeah. Not when it happened. And I didn’t tell you the whole story. Kelly, I’m just wondering, how much of your story of your past Do your kids know about you?

Kelly Lester:

So my oldest, so I have six. I have a five year old, a seven year old, a nine year old, 11 year old 13 year old and a 14 year old. My oldest for no good bit of it. When when I started becoming more public and started you know, my story came more out there. When you could do a Google search and find my story. I was like Okay, it’s time to tell them and so I’ve shared it with them. My younger two don’t know much of it at all. But yeah, we’ve talked about it and that’s been a really great niche sharing my story with them has been a great way to kind of open conversation with them. Because they know that I get it you know I’m not telling them things. Just as this like mean I don’t want you to have fun I don’t I’m I’m telling you things because I’ve actually been there and actually done it and experienced it and want what’s best for you and don’t want you to have to go through that. And you can’t lie to me because I’ve been there. And so it’s kind of it’s been, it’s been really, it was hard, you know? And of course, you’re afraid, like, what are they going to say? What are they going to think, you know, is this gonna change their perspective of me, and they had so much grace, and like, we’re so compassionate. And so like, you know, for them, because of what I do traveling and speaking, and, you know, knowing what I’ve done, they were like, Mom, you have to do what you do. Because you’ve been on all sides of it. So you have to so it, like, gave them reason for me for why I do what I do. And so that was great, because it cost you know, my job what I do it cost them something mom’s on the road a lot. And, you know, so they don’t get to spend time with me, like some kids do with their moms. So it helps them kind of process that.

Anna Ditchburn:

And I’m sure it made your relationship stronger. Much stronger. Yeah, it did for sure. When I opened up to my mom, and we talked through, it was a huge shock for her. Huge, but I have noticed that me opening up how it hurt to start her own healing journey. Yeah. Because she had a lot of unresolved trauma from your childhood. And from growing up. What were your relationship like with your parents? Did they found out about anything?

Kelly Lester:

So they, I think that they suspected some things. But I was a runner. So when when my dad would say he would know when things were not going well with me, because he wouldn’t hear from me for a few days or a few weeks. I ran I hid you know, I did everything I could to put on a good face of everything’s going well. I am sure that they had some suspicions, but nothing that they ever brought up. They didn’t hear my full story until, gosh, it was probably 10 years ago. So it was a long time before they heard. And then when they heard it, it wasn’t like anything was like, you know, we had no idea. I think it was some comp now. Maybe not the number of abortions, maybe not the extensiveness of some of it, but it definitely wasn’t a complete shock to them. And at the time, when I was going through all of my craziness, my sister who is four years younger than me, was also going through craziness. And so a lot of their attention simply because of age, because she was 14 and I was 18, you know, a lot of their focus was on her. And again, I put on a good face, I made it seem like everything was okay. And so it was they were kind of, you know, split in their ability to. And she got pregnant at a very young age and had a child. And so then now they have a child. So you know what I mean? It was kind of she was kind of a distraction from me, and from what was going on. But I had, I would say that I had a good relationship with them. I talked to them pretty regularly. I now have a great relationship with them. I mean, my dad passed away a little over a year ago. But up until that, you know, had a really good relationship with them. And my mom, my mom was here yesterday, in fact, have had a great relationship with her.

Anna Ditchburn:

Wonderful. Kelly, if you would have an opportunity to go back to your 15 years old self when you just got pregnant. What would you do differently?

Kelly Lester:

You know, that is a really tough question. Because at the time, I didn’t know that there were and to be honest with you at that time, I don’t know that there were resources to help me. You know, like now, nowadays, gosh, it’s 30 years later, you know, there are resources for young unwed mothers, there are programs for you to continue in high school and graduate there are programs for you to go to college, and people to help you, you know, stay in college. There are pregnancy resource centers that help with you know, counseling and parenting classes. And when I was 15 I don’t know that any of those things were there. And so, neither for me. Yeah. While I would love to say to me as a 15 year old, don’t do this. You know, there’s other options out there. If there really weren’t other options out there. And so I would definitely want to have answers for 15 year old me, you know, I would want to have someone to come alongside her and say, Hey, I’m gonna walk with you and help you through this. Because I didn’t have that. And thankfully, again, thankfully, nowadays, we have those things. You know, nowadays, there are a lot more organizations, I work for one of them, you know, that helps women in crisis, and there are a lot more maternity homes, and there’s just a lot more out there. But I would tell her, I think back to the answer the question as best I can, that you think that having this child is going to ruin your life, but you’re going to go down a path that’s going to be far more destructive than having a child would be, and, you know, hopefully, then I could give her a resource that could help her. But it’s hard. You know, it’s definitely women and young girls in those situations. It’s not an easy thing. It’s not an easy, you know, we like to make it so black and white. And it’s not, it’s, it’s really, it’s really hard. It’s a really hard thing.

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