In this episode of the Women in Podcasting Show Jennifer Henczel Interviews Armed Robbery Survivor Jen Lee, Author of Why I Survived and Host of the “I Need Blue” podcast.
Listen in as Jen Lee shares her brave tale of survival and how she overcame unimaginable challenges. Discover the motivation behind her powerful podcast, “I Need Blue Podcast,” where she opens up about her journey and provides support to others who have experienced trauma.
But that’s not all! Jen Lee has also recently released her new book, “Why I Survived,” where she delves deeper into her incredible story of resilience and offers guidance on how to overcome adversity. Prepare to be inspired as she shares her wisdom and insights.
If you’ve ever faced adversity or struggled to overcome challenges, this episode is a must-listen. Discover how you, too, can tap into your inner strength and resilience to navigate life’s obstacles.
Join us as we delve into the remarkable story of Jen Lee, and learn how you can use your own story to help others, plus:
- Hear Jen Lee’s brave story of survival.
- Find out why she started her podcast.
- Learn what lead her to write and release her new book.
- Hear her inspiring and uplifting tips.
You are stronger than you think!
Jennifer Henczel, HOST & Founder of the Women in Podcasting Show
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[00:00:00] Jen Lee: Hello, this is Jen Lee. I am creator and host of I Need Blue Podcast. I am also the author of Why I Survived and I am the proud guest today on Women in Podcasting.
[00:00:22] Intro: Welcome to the Women in Podcasting. Enjoy inspiring stories, interesting interviews, and powerful strategies from women around the world. Jennifer Henczel Spotlights. Today’s top podcasters, new podcasters and expert guests get tips for leveling up your life, gaining visibility, growing your business. Monetizing your podcast and so much more. We invite you to support women in finding their voice and sharing their passion. It’s all about women empowering women.
[00:00:54] Jennifer Henczel: Welcome everyone to the Women of Podcasting Show. My name is Jennifer Henczel, and I’m so excited to bring an amazing guest to you today, Jen Lee.
[00:01:03] Jennifer Henczel: We first met at Podfest in Florida. And what a thrill it was to meet you in person. And you have got to listen to this episode for Jen’s amazing story. So, Jen, please introduce yourself and tell us a
[00:01:17] Jen Lee: bit of your story. Absolutely. So I’m Jen Lee, uh, creator and host of the I Need Blue Podcast, and I am a survivor of armed robbery in abduction.
[00:01:30] Jen Lee: And that story is how I began my podcast. I am also a survivor of dating abuse amongst other traumas that I go over in my book, but for time’s, I’ll stick with what I talk about in my podcast. So the event occurred when I was a store manager in retail. This was about a decade ago, and it was a Saturday night, uh, 7:00 PM It was still light outside.
[00:01:57] Jen Lee: The store was located in a strip [00:02:00] center, so that means that there was like your big box stores, like a target on one end and mini stores in between. And I share that because it was very busy. And I had, uh, about seven customers. There was, there was nine of us total in the store, including children, and I was working in the fitting room area with the ladies, having a good time.
[00:02:23] Jen Lee: And behind me, I hear, give me all your money. I remember I stopped not quite registering those words because I’m used to hearing, um, does this look good? Can you zip me up? Things like that. So I didn’t initially turn around. And then again, I hear, give me all your money. And so at that point, I turn around and there is a masked man pointing a gun at me.
[00:02:48] Jen Lee: Close enough I could touch it. And I remember I looked at. The gun. I looked in his eyes and I looked at the gun and at that point I realized I need to move. And [00:03:00] so I started to head towards the register area. I saw him wave the gun behind me for the other customers to follow. Uh, and they did. So I get to the register area and I give him the.
[00:03:13] Jen Lee: Dollar bills from the first register, and I remember I did kind of like this van of white where I took my hand like this over the coins to see if he also wanted them, and he did not. I go over to the other register and I do the same thing that I just did. I’m noticing that the customers who are lined up to my right are starting.
[00:03:34] Jen Lee: There’s, there’s crying. Uh, there’s a mom trying to console her children. I hear a gentleman praying who is then shushed by another customer because he was kind of loud. So I’m taking all of this in while also adhering to the robbers. He asked me, do you have a safe? And I said, no, we don’t have a safe. And we did not.
[00:03:58] Jen Lee: He inquired about a door [00:04:00] that was behind me and it was a swinging door that went to our back room, which is what I explained to him. And in that moment, I kind of had a feeling that that’s where he was gonna have us go next. And I had several thoughts going through my mind. Number one. There is a lot of people outside.
[00:04:18] Jen Lee: He is still in the store. He has our money. What more does he want? Right. I ha I had what I can best describe as like this autobody experience where I wasn’t a mom or an aunt or a daughter or anything. I literally became like Mama bear to these strangers. I had this ultimate need to protect that I have never felt in my life.
[00:04:43] Jen Lee: So feeling that, that need to protect, I, I moved, in other words, for all of the customers to go through that door first. I wanted to be last. Um, so they walked through, uh, I’m, I’m the [00:05:00] caboose, if you will, and the robber stops me again and he says, where’s your? And I said, we don’t have one. And that concerned me because now I know he didn’t believe me because he’s asked me twice.
[00:05:12] Jen Lee: Now we make our way around the corner into the back room, the stockroom where my, my desk is, and we’re all lined up in front of my desk. This dates my story a little bit, but he asked me to pull the landline out of the wall, and so I did. And then from there he asked for our cell. I watched everybody give up their cell phones.
[00:05:35] Jen Lee: I hadn’t given him mine yet. He inquires about a newly constructed room that had been built back there, and that room was used for hangers and fixtures, things like that. Um, that, that you need for a store. When he asked about that room, I knew that’s where he was gonna have us go next. And I knew when I turned to go into that room, you would see the outline of my cell phone in [00:06:00] my pants.
[00:06:00] Jen Lee: So I too gave up my phone. Now we all go into this room again. I went last. He is in there with us. And he points the gun at us and he says, don’t say anything and nobody will get hurt. In the meantime, I still hear the crying, the praying, all my senses are like on system overload, and he asked me a very odd question about the door and, and how it shut or if it locked.
[00:06:28] Jen Lee: I don’t remember specifically what the question was, but I just remember it was very odd. So he again, points the gun at us and says, don’t say anything and nobody will get. And at that point he goes over to the door and he pulls it shut. And I remember the sound of scraping wood, um, because that door had never been shut before.
[00:06:49] Jen Lee: And so that is a sound that I will never forget. So now you have nine people in stuck in this room. And, and by law that is where the abduction [00:07:00] occurs. We are not allowed to, to leave. I look over. Lady, she one of the customers and she is starting to have a hard time breathing. And I go over to her and I remember I took her arms and I kind of pinned her up against the wall because I, I needed.
[00:07:18] Jen Lee: Stability to hold her up. And I looked in her eyes and I was like, baby. I was like, I need you to stay with me. I need you to stay with me. And I tried to get her to regulate her breathing along with mine to kind of calm her. It didn’t work. Slowly, her body is starting to go down to the ground. I call over.
[00:07:37] Jen Lee: There was a gentleman, a customer as well. I call him over. I was like, I need your help. She’s gonna fall. We safely get her onto the ground and she is having a panic. As store manager, I’m trained to listen for the front doorbell when a customer either enters or exits and as we get her to the ground, I hear that front doorbell, and [00:08:00] so in my mind I was like, okay, good.
[00:08:02] Jen Lee: He left. Like that’s what I’m thinking. Right. So now I’m back to the lady on the floor trying to assist her. Fortunately, my sales associate had her cell phone and she had tucked it away in her bra and she pulled it out and I told her, I said, I need you to go behind me and I need you to call 9 1 1 and I need you to then hang up and be fast.
[00:08:24] Jen Lee: Cuz again, I heard a doorbell, I’m assuming he left, but really I don’t know what’s going on outside that door. So she called hung. And I hear a doorbell again. Now I have two doorbells. And at the same time, this, this customer on the ground is now transitioning from a panic attack into a seizure. So like I know how to put a bandaid on, right?
[00:08:48] Jen Lee: And I get asked “Jen, how did you not panic?” And I will say in that moment is when panic started to set in me and I choked it down, um, because, [00:09:00] Watching somebody have a seizure, you feel so helpless. And so I looked at my sales associate, I said, you need to give me your phone and I’m gonna call nine one one because again, I’ve had two doorbells.
[00:09:12] Jen Lee: If it is the robber and he pushes the door open, I want him to see me on the phone and not somebody else. So 9 1 1, they. They were great and this is part of the reason my, my IAD blue also focuses on our first responders because that dispatcher literally, they have a voice of a very frantic person trying to describe the situation in front of them, and then they have to like give directions.
[00:09:39] Jen Lee: And that 9 1 1 dispatcher was amazing in helping me to just get that lady to where she was not gonna get worse. Right. I’m on the phone with her and the door pushes open and I remember I had a moment of, oh my God, right? Thinking that it could very well be the robber. But the moment [00:10:00] that we all realized it was law enforcement, Like, everybody took a breath.
[00:10:05] Jen Lee: It was amazing. It was like, okay, we’re, we’re safe, we’re rescued. Uh, I remember the EMTs came in to assist the lady, uh, and get her the medical care that she needed, and, um, I remember one of the officers looked at me and he was like, you know, you are relatively calm for everything that just happened. And I said, just give me like an hour or two and I’m not gonna be okay.
[00:10:31] Jen Lee: And so that is pretty much how the story, that’s the incident of, of the story. And then what happens afterwards, the trauma and, and going to court. That’s, that’s a whole other story in itself. That is my story of surviving armed robbery and abduction.
[00:10:52] Jennifer Henczel: Oh my goodness. What a story. And so many different levels to explore.
[00:10:56] Jennifer Henczel: So you and I and Paul, my husband Paul, we all chatted [00:11:00] about how storytelling has been really healing in his journey for telling his story. And he was able to use his story to take him from an injured male worker to an international speaker. And you’ve really chosen the path yourself as well. We had to decisively choose.
[00:11:15] Jennifer Henczel: To when we were publicly speaking, to speak about positive aspects like the, the healing and the therapeutic effects of storytelling, telling your own story, people hearing that story and then wanting to tell their story. Right. And so, and you’ve done the same, you know, really staying positive because people don’t realize you’re then sort of having to be a, um, a lawyer’s assistant, you know, with all the insurance and all this kind of stuff for years and years.
[00:11:39] Jennifer Henczel: We had that going on for years. So tell me a little bit about that. The, the how. Sort of use your story explored storytelling as a healing modality almost, and you know how that’s helped you over, you know, progressing from the incident, sort of through your, your, um, restoration and how
[00:11:58] Jen Lee: you’re, what you’re doing now.[00:12:00]
[00:12:01] Jen Lee: Absolutely. Um, interestingly enough, I never really talked about the robbery. People knew it had occurred, it made the front news of the, the local town’s paper and whatnot, but, I just kind of closed myself off to it from having to go to court so many times and in front of a jury three times. It was so traumatic that I think I chosen not to talk about it outside of when I was forced to go and testify or whatever it is that I needed to do.
[00:12:29] Jen Lee: Um, So for me, in all honesty, uh, it was like the summer of 2020 and I just remember watching TV and watching a lot of things going on with our first responders and, and thinking to myself, I, I have a different story, like I have a different experience and I know what it’s like to call 9 1 1 and have them help you and, and have law enforcement show up and rescue you.
[00:12:54] Jen Lee: And I was talking with my neighbor and he was like, you should do a podcast. And I was like, okay. So I don’t even [00:13:00] listen to podcasts. Like I knew. It was like, you just talk, right? I was like, well, I can talk. So it was literally April, well, it was March when the idea came to my head. But April 1st, I went on Amazon, I bought my equipment and from there and, and this was 2021.
[00:13:21] Jen Lee: And from there it just evolved. I remember I put my hand on the refrigerator door one day. And I opened it and it was like somebody smacked me in the end and was like, you need to do a podcast and tell your story. It is time. And I was like, okay. I walked into my husband’s office, I said, well, I’m starting a podcast.
[00:13:43] Jen Lee: He is like, okay, have fun. And so literally, I, I remember saying to God, okay, I don’t know where this is gonna go, but I’m. And it has been a journey that has led it. It has tentacles and you probably [00:14:00] understand that very much and it’s been amazing and I had no idea the impact that I would have on people just from what they tell me about the courage I have to share my story and, and you probably realize that in Paul as well.
[00:14:17] Jen Lee: When you speak, it could be months later and people reach out. It takes them a while to almost process their own, whatever triggers that they felt during the moment, and then they realize, wow, I, I really need to say thank you. And then a lot of them are like, I wanna share my story on your podcast now because you had the courage to do it and I wanna do it too.
[00:14:40] Jen Lee: And it is, you probably know like the most fulfilling moment. Like, I know I’m fulfilling my purpose. Simply by sharing my story, I don’t ask God why I went through the things I went through in my life because I know the answer. It brought me to where I am today.
[00:14:58] Jennifer Henczel: Oh, that’s so wonderful. [00:15:00] So, so once you started telling your story, then things kind of shifted in a different direction.
[00:15:05] Jennifer Henczel: Where you go from, that’s something that happened to me to, that’s something I’m going to use to enrich other people’s lives. Right. And then so when you, so now that you’ve been telling your story and what’s so awesome is your story. Your foot in the door in certain situations to be on podcast to meet people you would’ve never met otherwise.
[00:15:28] Jennifer Henczel: But then you get to talk about other things too that are on your heart. So what are some of the things you cover on your podcast?
[00:15:35] Jen Lee: Oh, we cover all different types of things. Um, so. Human trafficking, domestic violence, which in my book, like I stated earlier, I am a survivor of dating abuse, um, fentanyl.
[00:15:48] Jen Lee: That’s a really big one that I’ve gotten heavily involved in. Um, So you don’t have to be though a survivor of violent crime. So when I say those things, give an [00:16:00] example. Um, right now the episode is Ari, he’s a survivor of nine 11. Um, he was in Tower one previous episode to that was, A gentleman who was a triathlete and was in a car accident and ended up a quadriplegic and joining us in the conversation is his son and daughter.
[00:16:19] Jen Lee: And I am telling you, you will laugh, you will cry, you will feel inspired by this family. It is absolutely amazing. And now that I’ve started season three, I really am. I, I wanna put even more of a positive spin on the stories and really focus on the healing, like you said, and, um, just where you are today.
[00:16:44] Jen Lee: And it’s been really amazing. Oh, that’s so inspiring.
[00:16:48] Jennifer Henczel: And what we’ve found really impactful, and I’m sure you’ve found this also, is that sometimes people get stuck in their story. And so when they see our example, and you as well, and I’ve seen [00:17:00] people respond to your story this way, that you’re showing from A to Z as far as you know, where, what happened, where you were at, and now where you’re at now, and how you’re changing lives basically.
[00:17:11] Jennifer Henczel: And so that’s so inspiring. And so now what’s really exciting is you have turned this into a book.
[00:17:19] Jen Lee: Tell me all about that. I did. I have a copy right here too. So there’s a, a visual. So this is my book and it’s called Why I Survived, um, how sharing my Story Helped me Heal from Dating, abuse, armed robbery, abduction, and other forms of trauma.
[00:17:38] Jen Lee: And yes, it just launched a couple of weeks ago. Uh, I have been talking since 2006 about writing a book like many people, uh, cuz that is when the dating abuse story ended and I had started to write it. And then about five years ago, I decided to rip it all up and I was like, whoa, this is prohibiting me from healing.
[00:17:59] Jen Lee: So I thought [00:18:00] if I just ripped up all these pages, that it would just all go away, right? All the trauma and emotions and everything, but it didn’t quite work that way. And so now I’ve gone back into my memory and just really pulled, um, what I can remember. I do it month by month. It’s kind of. How much you still remember?
[00:18:19] Jen Lee: Right. So for me, my healing journey in regards to the dating abuse and being public about it has just started. So it’s really interesting because I’ve, I’ve pretty much healed myself, gone through the process of the armed robbery and abduction, but now I’m almost starting over to a certain degree by dealing with the dating abuse.
[00:18:39] Jen Lee: I’m excited and nervous about it at the same time, but I put this book together and it ends on a very positive, inspiring story so that others know that they’re not alone. Not everybody wants to listen to a podcast. They like traditional forms of getting their information like a book. And so I felt it was [00:19:00] really important to, to take this and, and put it into print.
[00:19:04] Jen Lee: Oh, that’s
[00:19:05] Jennifer Henczel: so incredible. And this was just released. So I’m gonna be ordering a copy also, and I’ll put a link to your book in the show firstname.lastname@example.org. And so, Jen, do you have any closing thoughts or inspirations for people if they’re, you know, if they’ve been thinking about their own story or maybe today they’ve started to think.
[00:19:26] Jennifer Henczel: You know, I don’t know if I have a story. Some people say that, well, I don’t know if I have a story like you because they haven’t been like, Paul crushed by thousands of pounds, or, but like, you armed robbery. But like you said before, you don’t need a really dramatic story. It’s all about, you know, where you were and what took you to the next level in any kind of process.
[00:19:43] Jennifer Henczel: There’s all kinds of different things. So what, what kind of inspiring words do you have for people for sharing their story and their
[00:19:49] Jen Lee: message? Absolutely. So number one I learned is don’t compare your. You know, your trauma is your trauma and it affected you the way that it affected you. [00:20:00] So if you have the story, chances are you do because that experience affected you in one way or another.
[00:20:07] Jen Lee: So don’t compare. That would be one of the first things that I would say, and I had to learn that myself. Um, and then I end each episode by saying, you are stronger than you. And that is so true, and it doesn’t have to be surviving armed robbery abduction or, or being crushed to recognize that you are strong.
[00:20:28] Jen Lee: Being strong is defined. It’s very individual. It’s defined individually for you just coming out insane. I might have a story, it might have taken you years just to get to the point that you could just say that one sentence, you know, don’t underestimate. You are stronger than you think. That is definitely one of my favorite sayings.
[00:20:53] Jen Lee: Oh, I love that so much. Gen power. That’s right. So these
[00:20:59] Jennifer Henczel: [00:21:00] Jens gently. Jen Hensel, we are changing the world one story at a time. So I want you to connect with Jen Lee, hear more about her story, get her book, and we’ll have links to everything about Jen Lee in the show notes at Women and Podcasting Show. So thank you so much for being here and so bravely sharing your story
[00:21:19] Jen Lee: today with us.
[00:21:20] Jen Lee: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate every opportunity I have to. Bye for now.
[00:21:28] Jennifer Henczel: Bye-bye.