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A letter from Kellie Henderson

  • Published Monday, Dec. 13, 2010, at 10:48 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, at 5:04 p.m.

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My name is Kellie Henderson and I am coming forward as a victim of rape, physical and psychological abuse.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, you might ask yourself, why me? Will this pain and suffering ever end?

To those of you out there who feel unsafe due to abuse or rape: Trust me, life’s not over. It can be a healing experience to come forward and talk to someone who can help: a teacher, a parent, a counselor at school, or, of course, the police. Taking that first step is hard but remember that this is not the way to live. Be strong and focus on the goal: being free!

If you think you can’t do this by yourself, I recommend seeking help from a friend. There came a point in my life when I wanted to make a difference, to help others who are going or have gone through what I have. With my story I’m hoping others will come forward. For those of you out there, remember . . . you are not alone!

After being placed in foster care we were sent to a foster home in Kirwin, Kansas. It was the home of John and Teresa Starkey.

The beginning was a little tough, of course, but they opened their home and hearts to provide a place of safety, security and shelter. They were receptive about our feelings about the past. Their daughter gave us clothes, as we only had what we were wearing. Teresa provided home cooked meals every night which made me feel at ease. Finally, I didn’t have to fill that role anymore.

Walking around town talking with John was very comforting and eventually grew into a strong social bond. John and Teresa encouraged me throughout high school and helped me earn my diploma.

I give them special thanks because if it wasn’t for them pushing me and, of course, the foster care system, I wouldn’t be attending college, pursuing my goals and giving back to society.

During my freshman year at Barton Community College, our relationship suffered due to distance and the new environment. I felt I needed to learn to become independent. Very occupied with my first year away, I didn’t make it an emphasis to call John and Teresa routinely.

That probably left them thinking I didn’t care. When I wanted to call I was nervous to because it had been weeks.

Today, we talk regularly and in my heart I know that if I needed a place to stay or someone to talk to, they’d always be there. They invite me to their family events, making me feel loved. Thanks to both of you, John and Teresa.

I also want to give a special thanks to (my friend) Frank Becker. We’ve known of each other for a while but the summer of 2009, we became closer. Frank is a smart genuine, and caring man. He encourages me constantly to strive for academic excellence. Frank also helps me get through college emotionally. He is always there when I need someone to exchange ideas with or when I feel like giving up. A simple “everything will be all right” goes a long way when you’re feeling a bit blue.

I will graduate with an associate’s degree in science in May and I know Frank’s encouragement and guidance significantly contributed to my academic success. Thank you, Frank.

Thank you,

Kellie Mae

READ THE SERIES

PART ONE: For a decade, girls endured the horror at home

PART TWO: Neighbors rescue girls from years of molestation

PART THREE: As shattered lives are put back together, cracks remain

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