One of Chrissy Reynolds’ earliest memories is as a 3-year old, pulling a chair up to the stove so she could heat up ketchup. She and her younger siblings’ stomachs were rumbling, so hungry for food, yet their adult caregivers were not providing anything for them to eat. Somewhere between a toddler and a preschooler, she took on the role of mom and looked out for the younger children.
Chrissy grew up in a city in western Missouri in the 1980s. The ketchup memory is just one of many painful recollections. She experienced unimaginable physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of her biological parents and grandparents.
“When I was a little girl, all of the people in my life at that time – the adults, the people that were supposed to be my protectors – they were my abusers. I just couldn’t understand why the people that were supposed to love and care about me and were supposed to be my family, were the people that were hurting me the most, and were the people that wished I was dead.”
She recounts a story when her biological mother held a knife to her neck and almost killed her. She made a split-second decision to run across the street to the neighbor’s house. At the age of 9, the police removed Chrissy and her siblings from their home. “I never wanted to go back,” she said.
In a new video which debuted at the 2016 KVC Health Systems Hero Luncheon on June 16, Chrissy tells a little bit of what she experienced as a victim of child abuse. Watch it here:
A caring couple provided foster care for and then adopted Chrissy and three of her siblings. (She has three more siblings who were also removed from the home. All grew up within 2 miles of each other and stayed connected.) Her adoptive family provided a safe, stable and loving environment. Chrissy succeeded in school, eventually obtaining her master’s degree in social work.
Today she works in KVC’s Kansas City, Kansas office, supervising a team of case managers who match dozens of children in foster care with loving adoptive families each year. She also works at KVC Prairie Ridge Children’s Psychiatric Hospital, providing therapy to children and teenagers who have mental and behavioral health challenges or have experienced childhood adversity such as abuse or neglect.
She is not only a survivor of child abuse, but is also a thriver. Chrissy works every day as a champion for other children who are in danger.
“If I was whispering to a child that was experiencing abuse right now, I would tell them they will be rescued and they will overcome this. And I would tell them not to give up, to keep fighting. There are so many children that just need a second chance at life.”
KVC is a nonprofit organization that provides innovative, effective and compassionate care. It works in four states providing services like in-home family support, behavioral healthcare, substance abuse treatment, foster care, adoption and children’s psychiatric hospitals. Each year, KVC supports over 6,500 children who have experienced abuse and neglect by caring for them in foster families. KVC also works with thousands more families to teach parenting skills, help meet basic needs, and prevent the need for foster care or other family disruptions.
Every child needs a hero. There are over 400,000 American children in foster care, and approximately 100,000 of them need adoptive families. Learn more about foster care, become a foster parent, adopt a child or sibling group from foster care, donate or volunteer. Everyone can do something to help vulnerable children and families.