A traumatised mum who was abused during her childhood has dropped 108kg after she ditched her addiction to fast food.
Kelley Gunter, 54, has spoken out for the first time about being sexually abused as a child after blaming the trauma for her weight reaching 171kg.
Kelley, who is from Ohio, US, admits she was addicted to eating and would binge on fried chicken and cakes as a way of coping.
After claiming she was raped from the ages of six until she was 14, Kelley says she was left with no confidence and turned to food for comfort.
But after undergoing weight-loss surgery known as biliopancreatic diversion – surgery that reduces the size of the stomach and intestines – along with a body and thigh lift, Kelley looks unrecognisable after 108kg.
She is now sharing her weight-loss story - along with the sexual abuse she encountered - in a bid to help others in the same position.
Mum-of-one Kelley, a motivational speaker, said: “My childhood was riddled with pain and torture due to the sexual abuse I suffered.
"Food was the only thing that would make me temporarily happy.
“I was addicted to eating anything and everything. My health both physically and mentally was awful.
“I ate when I was happy and I would eat when I was sad, it would always be junk like cookies, cake, burgers and fried chicken.
“People would always say ‘you have such a pretty face’ which wasn't a compliment as they were basically saying ‘shame about your body’.
“I had low self-esteem but feared being alone so I began to date the wrong men, I would go for the strong athletic type, someone who could protect me.
“I had my son Alec, now 24, when I was 29, and it was so difficult for me to keep up with him as I was severely overweight.
“I tried hundreds of times to lose weight and failed until one day I didn’t, you never know which time it is going to work for you.
“The heaviest I got was 171kg which is when I decided to undergo surgery as I would die if something wasn’t done and I had Alec to live for.
“The surgery wasn’t easy but I knew I needed it to save my life.
"I am now a completely different person, I am comfortable in my own skin and at peace with who I am.”
During surgery, Kelley suffered with chronic abdominal compartmental syndrome – bleeding within the muscles and was on life support for one week after.
She adds: “I lost the weight after the gastric band but I never healed from the sexual abuse, it sounds insane as I was a social worker for 27 years, but I had never spoke out about it to anyone until 2016.
“I was finally healthy, but I needed something to make me feel worthy again; I became addicted to shopping then gambling and even pain medication for a short while.
“I used to go excessively shop for Christmas and my entire living room would be filled with presents for my only son, to the point he would ask if he could stop opening them.
“It wasn’t until my abusers had passed away three years ago, that I could finally break my silence and stop living in shame.
“I published a book in 2017 called ‘You have such a pretty face’ which was very therapeutic for me.
“It talks about my trauma and weight loss journey including the bullying I went through for being overweight.
“I have always been quick to forgive others and I have finally realised it was time I forgave myself.
“I can’t erase my past, the addictions I developed or the mistakes I made but I can heal, and I can shine a light of hope on others who are suffering.”