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Transcript of the Tough Girl Podcast with Cheryl Hunter - Motivational speaker, best selling author

Sarah: Welcome to the Tough Girl Podcast, which is all about motivating and inspiring you.

I am delighted to be here with Cheryl Hunter.

Cheryl, thank you so much for being on the show.

Cheryl: I'm thrilled to be here. Thanks, Sarah.

Sarah: Over the years, you've helped to transform and change hundreds of thousands of lives through being very open and honest with the experiences that have shaped you, and not all of those experiences were positive.

I would love for you to share your story in your own words of how you became Cheryl Hunter, the motivational speaker, the bestselling author, and the transformational expert?

Cheryl: I think like many people, life takes a circuitous route sometimes. It wasn't that I started out to be an expert in this, but I found myself of the course of life events, becoming an expert in something that originally I never wanted to be an expert in.

I'll explain. I'm originally from a small town, Colorado mountain horse ranch.

A little tiny town where ... It's so remote that you can't see buildings anywhere from the mountain meadow where I grew up, except for the barn. Our horse barn. There was nothing to be seen. It's so remote.

I had dreams of ... I loved it when I was a girl, but as I got to be older, as a teenager, I had dreams of getting out and going to the big city. I concocted a plan, along with my best friend, to go ...

We were going to go to Europe, and I thought I will figure out a way to stay. I'd heard of modeling and the opportunities that that had, and I thought I'm tall enough, I think. I'm on the boy's basketball team. That was probably a function of being in such a small town, but I did start, so I was somewhat good and tall.

I thought what the heck. We'll go, let's see. We'll just see. No sooner did we get to France, but there was a man with a camera around his neck. That was all the evidence I needed. He was a photographer, right? Big nice camera and he came up and asked me if I was a model, told me he could make me one. I thought gee, it's this easy? That's how easy it is to become a model in France? What the? I'll do it.

I went off with him and his friend, and that's where things turned bad. I won't fill in all the gory details. You can figure that out in your mind by yourself, but suffice to say, they held me captive, and finally dumped me in a park, and for whatever reason, they let me go. I don't know why. Left me for dead, and the irony was then, Sarah, once I was physically free, I realized that that was when ... It was almost as if that's when the true captivity began, if that makes any sense. That might sound totally crazy.

Sarah: How old were you at this point?

Cheryl: I was 18 when they took me, 19 when I was brought back, and I decided at the time, I wasn't going to tell anyone what happened. I was not only physically hurt, but mentally in anguish, and embarrassed as well, and mortified that I had had such a bad error in judgement, and I thought it meant something about me, and that I was ruined, and that if anyone knew what had happened they would know that horrible truth about me, so I couldn't tell anyone, and I didn't for well over a decade.

Sarah: Did you head back to the farm? Did you head home?

Cheryl: No, not for quite some time, but I mustard up a phone call to my mom on which I said simply the words, "I'm okay," which, in retrospect, probably terrified her more than anything, and to this day, we've spoken about it now that it's all out in the open.

The point was, I started to realize if I still feel captive after the bad guys, the criminals have gone, then somehow I must be holding myself captive.

What I mean by that is that I started to feel, understandably, anxious and worried and upset and angry, and second guessing and very suspicious, and frightened, and all of these things that it wasn't who I was, as this happy, go-lucky, jubilant teenager.

I started to find myself going down a path, in many ways, that I didn't like and becoming somebody that I didn't recognize. I realized that if i became somebody else, somebody who I'm not, th