By Josh Saunders
A rape survivor who turned to food to cope with the ordeal has lost 10 stone thanks to a generous gift of weight loss surgery.
Madison Wilner, 26, from Houston in Texas, USA, reached 20st 3 (283lb) after being raped by a stranger at the age of 12.
She started dieting in 2007 but, despite numerous attempts, failed to keep the pounds off in the long term.
But three years ago, a family friend offered to pay part of the $15,000 for Madison’s weight loss surgery that would remove 80% of her stomach.
Since then she’s gradually lost weight through a mixture of her reduced food intake, meal preparation and regular exercise leaving her at a healthy 10st (149lb).
Now she’s learning to love herself and says her weight loss has helped her feel endlessly more confident.
Madison, a nursing student, said: “When I was 12-years-old, I was raped and had to have an abortion, it was a horrible time.
“I didn’t know what to do because I was so young and scared, I felt dirty and disgusting.
“I started to gain weight. Food became my comfort, I was never heavy before the attack but after it happened I thought if I became fatter nobody would want me.
“I believed if I was heavier, the chance of being raped again would be smaller and I wouldn’t get hurt again, it was a very difficult and confusing time for me.
“I didn’t tell my parents until I was 17-years-old and by that time it was too late to go to court because there is a six-month limitation to report the crime.
“Over the years, it got to a stage where I realised that it didn’t matter whether I was 22st 3 (283lb) or 10st 10 (150lb), being raped would not be affected by weight.
“Then I tried every diet you could ever imagine, I went through every weight loss programme including weight loss school and even turned to medication.
“A family friend offered to pay for my surgery. They were unaware that I was sexually abuse but they were my angels, their gift was so out of the blue.
“Without a doubt, I never thought I would be here two years ago. I know without surgery the scale would have kept climbing and I would have kept dying a little more every day.
“These experiences have made me who I am today, through all the pain and tears, I’ve finally been able to love myself.
“Getting surgery was definitely not for the faint of heart, it’s not an easy way out, for the last few years I’ve struggled but now I’m proud of all the weight I’ve lost.”
Madison was 12-years-old when she was sexually assaulted by a stranger while she had friends over when her parents were away.
She said: “We had a huge home, so everyone was everywhere, my friends came over and then more people showed up, some I knew, others I didn’t including my attacker.
“I was in my room grabbing a jacket when he plunged at me, threw me on the bed and put his hand over my mouth.
“He told me ‘I wanted it’, he ‘knew I did’ and he was ‘doing what I wanted’.
“I cried the entire time, shaking my head and body trying to get him off me, his one hand on my mouth and the other holding my arms down I was unable to fight.
“After it was over I laid there crying, realizing that I was just raped, I was mortified.”
Madison didn’t feel able to tell her parents and had to undergo the heart-breaking ordeal of having an abortion alone, without any support other than one friend.
She added: “I went to planned parenthood nine times before I went through with the abortion, at that time I was so young and I didn’t open up to anyone.
“It was difficult not being able to talk to my parents about it, I struggled to talk about it for many years because I felt dirty and like it was my fault.”
In the years following the crime, she used food as a crutch to deal with the ‘disgust’ and self-contempt she felt for herself, and more than doubled in size.
Madison said: “It was difficult not being able to talk to my parents about it, I struggled to talk about it for many years because I felt dirty and like it was my fault.
“The more upset I became, the more I would eat so that nobody else would look at me as someone who was attractive.
“I would make fattening food, anything with milk and butter, there was a lot of lasagne, bread, fried food and anything in large portions.”
Over time, she became unhappy with how she looked and tried numerous weight loss attempts without any luck – from fad diets to exercise and even a ‘fat camp’.
At a consultation for gastric sleeve surgery in 2014, Madison was shocked when the scales revealed she weighed 20st 3 (283lb), which encouraged her to have the surgery.
Madison said: “When I realised how much I weighed, I felt like I was going to die, I realised I was dying every day by being at such a heavy weight and had to have the surgery.
“Unfortunately, I had complications right out of surgery and wasn’t able to eat anything for first three months, after a sip of water I was full.”
But after recovering from surgery complications the weight fell off, with her losing seven stone (100lb) in nine months.
To help her weight loss along she prepared healthy homemade meals and exercised up to five times a week.
Now she’s lost nearly 10 stone (134lb) and due to her new-found confidence is starting to love herself.
Madison said: “Being in a public setting is so much better now, I no longer feel like the biggest person in the world and I’ve found more people want to get to know me now.
“When you’re heavy, that’s all people see; they don’t take the time to get to know how great of a person you are, they only see your outsides.
“This surgery has taught me so much about the world and how vain people are, it has taught me that I love people for who they are not what they look like.
“I think learning how to love yourself is one of the hardest things, as you are constantly nit-picking, but I’m getting there.
“I know who I am and what I am now, I want to inspire others.”
Breakfast – egg McMuffin with two hashbrowns and a large Dr. Pepper
Lunch – a Big Mac with a soda
Snacks – cookies, Cheeze-its, Snickers, Milky Way and Dr Pepper
Dinner – large portion of lasagne with bread
Dessert – cakes, cookies, pie
Breakfast – hard-boiled egg and two pieces of turkey bacon
Lunch – 5oz of fish, chicken or turkey with 2oz of vegetables
Snack – nuts or fruit
Dinner – turkey tacos with black bean cheese, homemade guacamole and lettuce wraps