Keith Edmonds shared his journey and how God guided his life from a victim to survivor to “thriver.”
When Edmonds was 14 months old, Ronald Eugene Allen, his mother’s then-boyfriend, held his face to an electric heater, which resulted in third-degree burns and scarring to his face.
He had numerous surgeries on his face and endured the abuse and the taunting of schoolmates. As a result, he turned to substances and alcohol to cope until he decided to live life as a survivor rather than a victim.
“My depression continuously led me down a deep and dark path,” said Edmonds who said he turned to alcohol and drugs at 14 years old.
“It allowed me not to feel. I could escape. That was always my escape, but I put everybody at risk for it. I was more worried about myself than anybody else,” said Edmonds, who said he received DUIs and serious injuries because of his drinking.
Edmonds said many victims need people and chemicals to cope and feel normal.
“I did a good job of that. I lived there until I was 35 years old. I was fine as long as I had people around me. I was fine as long as I had alcohol. I was numb. I was living a numb life,” he said.
Edmonds said his journey to survivor took a turn Sept. 12, 2012 – his 35th birthday – after a night of drinking.
“At that point in time, something came over me. I said, ‘God, I don’t know if you’re there, but if you are, I need some help. I looked at life and where it was going, where it was and where I wanted it to be and none of that stuff came together.”
Edmonds said the most impactful act of his life was forgiveness, especially toward his abuser.
“I can tell you that I have truthfully found forgiveness for Ronald Eugene Allen,” Edmonds said. “If I had the opportunity to sit down with Ron Eugene Allen, I would say, ‘Thank you.’ That’s what forgiveness has done for me.”
Edmonds said his path has allowed him to be a voice to millions of child abuse victims and thrive as a child abuse survivor.
Edmonds founded the Keith Edmonds Foundation, which exists to empower child abuse victims through various programs and initiatives, including Camp Confidence and Backpacks of Love. He said his goal is to empower 1 million child abuse victims.
The power of God gives Edmonds his energy and drive for empowering child abuse victims, he said.
“I talk to him like he’s my buddy, sometimes. I talk to him like he’s my dad. It all depends on where I’m at, but I’m not afraid to say, ‘God, be with me in this moment,’” he said. “I’ll work for 24 hours a day, seven days a week if I can make an impact in a child’s life.”