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Lending his voice - and face - to survivors of child abuse

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Keith Edmonds shared his emotional and inspiring story at Lebanon Noon Rotary on Tuesday. Edmonds, founder of the Keith Edmonds Foundation, insists he is not a victim of child abuse - but a survivor.

In 1978 Edmonds was a 14-month-old baby. His single mother and her boyfriend, who was not his biological father, went to dinner one night. The boyfriend allegedly drugged his mother and when they returned home, abused Edmonds.

Edmonds said he was crying in his crib when the boyfriend entered his room and held his face to an electric heater.

He put a rag over Edmonds' face and left him in his crib to die.

The next morning, his mother and her boyfriend rushed the baby to the hospital. They were taken into separate rooms for questioning.

Edmonds underwent reconstructive surgery and his chance of survival was low.

"It was touch and go for a few weeks," he said.

Edmonds was taken into state custody while his mother proved that she was not his abuser. Although he was reconnected with his mother, the physical and emotional scars of his abuse lingered well into his adulthood.

Edmonds said he became an alcoholic, charged with DUI in 2004 and later flipped a company vehicle five timings while driving under the influence.

"Two out of three people in substance abuse programs faced child abuse," he said.

Edmonds won his battle at the age of 35 when he became a Christian.

"That's when I truly became a survivor," he said of the turning point.

Edmonds not only took control of his life - he dedicated it to being a voice for child abuse victims nationwide.

He explains that 66,000 cases of child abuse were reported in our state in 2015. Nation wide there were 4 million reported cases - and that is not counting the victims who have not yet been identified.

"It's a very real topic," he said.

The Michigan-born public speaker recently launched the Keith Edmonds Foundation in Wilson County. One of their first initiatives is "Backpacks of Love" - which is working to provide children taken into custody with necessities like socks, shampoo, diapers, blankets and more.

"These kids might not ever go home. They are taken without their stuffed animals, without their toothbrush," he continued.

For more information or to donate, call (615) 651-0714.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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