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Kalyn and Lisa Cherry

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Author Interview

Uncovering Kalyn's Secret

By Hannah Goodwyn Producer - Reading this book, puts you in the middle of the Cherry household as daughter Kalyn’s darkest secret is revealed to the family. Unbeknownst to her parents, 14-year-old Kalyn was having relationship with a married man. This man, 30 years Kalyn's senior, went to their church. Over the next four years, Kalyn became attached to him in such a way that her life fell apart when the abuse was exposed.

Recently, Kalyn and her mom, Lisa, sat down with to talk about their incredible story of hope in the midst of immense trials and why they wrote this revealing book. Kalyn, what was going through your mind when your parents first discovered your secret?

Kalyn Cherry: First of all, I thought, “I can keep lying and lie my way out of this.” And as time went on that night, just total panic and terror overtook me to realize there’s no way out of this. It’s coming out, and my life’s over. That’s what I was thinking. And you, mom?

Lisa Cherry: We were just totally shocked, totally devastated. It really was unlike any moment that I can ever imagine having… And Kalyn had never lied, so when it came out, it was a total transformation of her life and our lives. Kalyn, take me through the next few weeks after your parents learn the truth about your relationship with this man. The book talks about how close your family was. But at the same time, you felt so alone.

Kalyn: Yeah. I’ve been over performing on the outside to compensate for all the guilt that I was dealing with on the inside. And so it was just like in an instant, the cover was blown. All the stuff, all the gross nasty stuff that was floating underneath down there just came out. Because there wasn’t anything left to hide, I did just completely shut down. I became non-communicative. I literally was like, curled up in a ball on the floor, and for the next weeks after that I lived in my bedroom underneath the covers in my bed, I didn’t come out unless I was absolutely forced out. I didn’t eat. I didn’t communicate with anyone except literally screaming to my family. “I hate everyone. I want to die. I don’t want to live anymore.” Just total hopelessness. You had a relationship with God during all of this. Did you have any moments where you just felt Him speaking to you?

Kalyn: By the time I was this far in, I had put my relationship with God on the side. It wasn’t active. It wasn’t vibrant. It just slipped away really over those last months. And so during that time, I didn’t completely, like, blast God or anything like that, but I remember just thinking, “God cannot help me.” You know, I was angry whenever my family would pray for me, or play scripture tapes, the Word over me. It made me really mad… because I was in darkness, and I really didn’t want to come out. I didn’t think there was any way to come out, and so it really was just totally compartmentalized. I just set my relationship with God on the side. The book goes into the depression you fell into to the point where you had thoughts of suicide, and started getting into self injury, which is something many teens do to release angst.

Kalyn: Well, over the next months, I developed coping skills to deal with the fact that I didn’t want to live anymore. I had to come up with a way to face each day. And the depression was really bad at some points, where I couldn’t even get up. So if I did get up and live a day, it was a victory for us. But I developed unhealthy relationships, and then cutting was another one of the things that I got into, and it was just that typical response that I hear from teens a lot, now, who struggle with that they felt so much pain on the inside they wanted to relieve it somehow through an external way. So that’s the same thing that I was doing. And I think it’s a common problem, not just for sexual abuse victims. There are incredible statistics on the amount... It’s a sign of some deeper pain; it may not be abuse. It may be something else, some kind of other secret going on. Lisa, you and your husband, were watching your daughter go through incredibly difficult process. You must have been crying out to God every moment of every day. When did you start to see Kalyn start to come back to you guys?

Lisa: It took a long time. I think as we were praying and obviously crying out to God, we were crying out for wisdom. We didn’t understand what was happening. We didn’t recognize that what happened to her was abuse, which is one of the tricky things about abuse. A lot of times kids will blow up, and there’s a lot of external turmoil, anger, rebellion, maybe even substance abuses that kids will have, and that was kind of taking us off down a side trail. Really we needed to get to the wound on the inside, and so that took the Lord showing us that over months.

The first time she began to come back to us was probably about nine months later. It took nine months for her to come out of the denial state. We were the enemy for nine months. At nine months later, she began to just say, “I’ve been hurt by this man. It wasn’t right. Will you help me?” And that was a pretty big day… that she had began to say, “Will you help me.”

Then, it was still a long battle, because we had a lot of complicating things that had come on top, and she wasn’t ready to talk a great deal about it. So we’ve learned a lot about fighting very serious battles with teenagers, that they don’t usually turn overnight. But staying in there, and walking and the kind of love that it takes, and the wisdom of the Lord is really what our book’s about… how to have the right balance and maintain your place as a parent, and then going back after their wounded heart. Kalyn, what happened during those nine months that lead you to reach out for hope?

Kalyn: You know, I look back, and I can’t explain what happened except that it was just a break in the spirit. I know there were so many people that were praying for me, and standing, believing that I was going to come out of the denial, and rebellion that I was in, and the anger toward my parents especially.

I just remember waking up one day and being like, “Oh my goodness. How did this happen? What happened in my life?” And I was sitting in a Dairy Queen parking lot. I do remember that… my Dad just decided when this happened that he was going to go after my heart. He had lost my heart he realized, and he just, he did. My Daddy’s love really was what brought me back eventually to realize my parents were going to be there, no matter how much I said, “I don’t want to, get out of my life”, I was crying out for their help, and they refused to do what I wanted them to do. They refused to leave me alone, and Dad had taken me out that day and just very casually asked me how I was doing, and I remember just looking up at him and saying, “Dad, this was wrong. I’m really sorry. Will you help me?” And it was like the scales had just fallen from my eyes for me to be able to see that. Like my mom said, it was a long process after that. But it was a great victory to be won that day. What encouragement would you give to a teen who feels in a similar situation where they don’t want to reach out to their parents because of whatever’s been going on in their lives?

Kalyn: Well I would just want to tell them that there is hope, and there is an answer and truth always brings freedom. So whenever I got to the point of realizing I have to face the truth, no matter how ugly or how bad it is, I’m going to have to face it… I’m not going to see any improvements until I do. Then that’s when I had to make that step, that hard step. And there were other steps toward truth that I had to make. But I would just encourage them that your parents will likely, if they’re parents that care about your life, care about you, they’ll be there for you. And whether it’s a parent or pastor, go ahead and tell somebody. Go ahead and ask for help. It certainly will open the door in your own heart to say I need to get healed from this. What about for parents of teens who are in a seemingly hopeless situation?

Lisa: Keep standing firm in the Lord. We didn’t see an overnight turn. I wish we would have, but it was a matter of understanding that God’s word is true, that He really is there just to stay in us in difficult times, and so we had an opportunity to learn things about God’s love... I remember just weeping and saying, “God, I don’t see how I can keep loving her. It’s just too painful. It’s too difficult; she’s too rejecting.” And I really felt like He just impressed on my heart that He was going to teach me something about His love. Through that whole thing you can find power from the Lord to continue to love a child that’s very unlovable and then the wisdom that you need. That’s one thing that we want our book to do, we felt like the Lord really gave us some great tools about how to walk through this kind of a battle.

All over America today, we talk to parents that are facing very serious teen issues. It’s a very difficult hostile culture. Our kids could be ensnared by many different things, maybe Internet, maybe pornography, might be different kinds of substances abuses, and those wounds have a similarity: It causes a parent to want to just back up, and give up. And if you do that, then you’re giving in to the enemy’s plan for your home. But if we stand up, and face it courageously in the power of God, He’ll give you a battle plan strategy for your home.

The other thing I would just encourage parents is to understand that in the difficult, hostile culture we live in, we have to be alert to the warning signs. I come from a nursing background, so I could tell you things about how to identify a serious infection, how to see if your child had meningitis; but you know I really didn’t know the warning signs that your child was struggling with abuse, or something else... It’s more common than what we want to recognize. So that’s one thing we’ve done in our book is we’ve included tools for parents to recognize, not just abuse, but recognize depression. See depression in her case while she’s spent time kind of hiding out, it was very angry. And it was almost hard to see it as an adult being depressed, because she just became defiant. That’s a hallmark for adolescent depression, and I didn’t really understand that. So we me made a lot of mistakes in how we handled it, and we’re hoping that our book can help give parents the tool to be alert, send a warning signal out that, “Hey, we have to be wary of what’s going on,” but also equip parents with how to handle it spiritually.

Hannah GoodwynHannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.

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