Starr speaks with a southern drawl, that accent unique to South Alabama where they call their fathers “Deddy.” But that drawl does little to soften her story. The first part is sure to leave you reeling, wondering how any one person could have made it through all that. Your heart won’t want to believe it because it’s just not fair for someone to experience those things and have to keep on living.

But, Starr did. And she kept going until she found a place of peace and comfort — until she found God.

What Nobody Talked About

You might think Starr was doomed from the start. Her parents married, but not because they were in love. Her momma got in trouble, as they used to say, when she got pregnant with Starr.

It was the 1950s in small-town Alabama, just outside then racially charged Montgomery. Starr describes her parents’ marriage as a tumultuous, with multiple affairs on both sides. Then her mother got pregnant by her father’s best friend and gave birth to Starr’s sister.

Starr remembers those years well. Her father’s friends often came to the house and molested her. And when they weren’t messing with her, men Starr’s mother invited to the house did.

“They were just people that my mother knew and Daddy knew,” Starr says. “Way back then, in the early 60s, it wasn’t like it is today. All that stuff was just kept secret. Nobody talked about it. Nothing was even done about it back in those times.”

Starr’s parents divorced. Her mother kept Starr’s little sister, and her father took Starr to live with him and his mother in a mobile home parked in his sister’s yard. And in that mobile home, an uncle repeatedly molested Starr until she learned to lock herself in the bathroom to get away from him.

Her mother rarely visited, and Starr says her father was too busy being a firefighter and having a life of his own to properly care for her. Her grandmother raised her until she became too old and feeble to keep up with a teenager.

They never went to church or talked about God — that wouldn’t come until later, after Starr had gone through a slew of heartbreaks and tragedies that would suck the life out of most people.

Love and Marriage

When she was 16, Starr married a boy and dropped out of school. She thought her marriage would be an escape from her miserable home life, but she was wrong.

“It wasn’t long before I knew that was a mistake, because what do you know at 16?” Starr says.

Her husband started drinking, and Starr was still dealing with the trauma of her childhood she had carried into her new marriage. Three years later, when an insurance collection man knocked on her door, she was looking for an escape. She invited him inside, and the two hit it off so well they started an affair that lasted a decade.

But it was a far-from-happy chapter in her story. The insurance collector did not sweep her off her feet and carry her away from a loveless marriage. He was already married, with two children.

“It sounds like one of the Lifetime movies of the week, doesn’t it?” Starr says. “After five months, I had sex with him, and that’s how I got pregnant with my daughter.” Her husband knew the baby wasn’t his, but he raised her as his own.

Starr thought her insurance man would one day leave his wife, so she continued their affair. Two years later, Starr found herself pregnant again. As with her previous pregnancy, Starr had been taking birth control pills, and her insurance man was again the father. But this time, she made a different decision. Starr had an abortion.

“I couldn’t let my sin find me out a second time,” Starr explains.

Despite using birth control, Starr became pregnant three more times, and three more times she had an abortion.

Eventually, Starr got her wish. Fed up with his infidelity, her insurance man’s wife divorced him. Starr divorced her husband and married him.

“I thought it would be all wonderful if I got divorced, and he got divorced, and we got together — that everything would just be a Cinderella story,” Starr remembers. “That was my mindset at that time.”

Then she got pregnant. Again.

She was elated at the prospect of having another child with the man she loved — except her now-husband did not want another child. He wanted her to have an abortion, and she wanted to please him. Since she was already too far along to have an abortion in Alabama, she drove to Atlanta to get a late-term abortion.

Angels Among Us

At the Atlanta abortion clinic, Starr paid the fee and met with a counselor. But during the meeting, she broke down in tears, telling the counselor she didn’t want to have another abortion. The counselor hugged Starr while she cried.

Starr remembers the one moment that changed everything for her. A window behind the counselor’s desk overlooked some dumpsters. The counselor pointed to the bins and told Starr if she went through with the procedure, her baby would end up in those trash bins.

“I know in my heart that God, He put that woman in there,” Starr says. “I believe in my heart that that was an angel that He sent in there to stop the killing.”

She went back to Alabama to have the baby, but her husband wasn’t happy. For three days after their son was born, he wouldn’t even visit her in the hospital.

“I was just so happy … that God gave me this chance, after killing four children, that He gave me this chance all over again to have a child,” Starr said. “I couldn’t believe that He blessed me that way.”

Continuing the Journey

Starr got pregnant again —still on birth control pills — and had another baby. So she had a tubal ligation. But it failed, and she had her fourth child. By then the marriage was over, and the two divorced.

Starr hit rock bottom. Her marriage was over, her sister had died from AIDS, and she found herself contemplating suicide.

At the library one day, she picked up a Christian magazine published in her area. One story asked readers if they’d ever had an abortion, and it asked if they needed healing from it.

Starr couldn’t believe what she was reading. Back then, people didn’t talk about abortions the same way they didn’t talk about child molestation. There was a phone number, and she summoned the nerve to make the call.

Starr says she was too emotionally disturbed to go to group therapy, so she saw a counselor one-on-one until she was stable enough to go to group therapy.

“That just opened up everything,” Starr says. “It took almost two-and-a-half years I had to see her to just get balanced out and straightened out from all the mess …”

Meeting Jesus

That’s when Starr heard about Jesus for the first time. Even though she lived in the Bible Belt, she had never gone to church or read about God.

“That is the first time I got to know Him, and He came into my life,” Starr remembers. “That is when I started to live again.”

At the post-abortion support group, they gave Starr a Bible and a workbook for her to study. And she had to do homework by finding answers to workbook questions in her Bible.

The final challenge was Starr’s defining moment. For graduation, the women had to write letters to the babies they had aborted. In the letters, Starr told her children she loved them, and she apologized for what she had done. She also said she couldn’t wait to see them in Heaven.

After she wrote those letters, Starr says she was finally able to start healing because she knew Jesus still loved her.

“My life has been totally changed ever since then,” Starr says. “It’s like I’ve been totally reborn in my heart, and I live every day now for Him.”

It’s been years since Starr realized Jesus loves everyone — even women who have had four abortions. She’s a self-described very happy 60-year-old with four children who never caused her a bit of trouble.

There’s no pretty bow to wrap up this story — nothing like how she fell in love again and found her Prince Charming. No, this one is still ongoing. Starr is still learning about Jesus and how He loves all the sinners. She’s still recovering from all the trauma and still dealing with the scars, but she’s still going.

And that’s what matters.