by Sue Ann Rybak

If you’re an adult who experienced sexual abuse as a child, know that you are not alone. Every eight minutes, a child is sexually assaulted in the U.S., according to the United States Department of Human Health Services.

It’s the reason a Philadelphia Police Officer assigned to Northwest Philadelphia decided to write about her personal experience. To protect her identity, she decided to write the book “The Shadow in My Eyes” under the pseudonym Deborah Rose. The book, which she co-authored with Charron Monaye, tells the horrific, shockingly true story of how at 12 years old, she was taken to Fairmount Park by a police officer and sexually assaulted.

The highly-decorated and respected perpetrator made it clear that if Deborah ever told, he would kill her family and her. For eight years, Rose endured unimaginable physical, sexual and mental abuse until she found the courage to tell.

Rose said she strongly believes that “no matter what you have been through, you’re here for a reason.”

“If you’re living and breathing, then you’ve already survived,” said the survivor of childhood sexual abuse. “We can’t live for today if we’re being consumed by our past. Our heartbeat is not voluntary –  it’s involuntary. We must continue to live for our purpose. I hope that my story – my experience and my strength – inspires, motivates, and heals someone.”

When Rose decided to share her story and write a book about her own personal experience, she told herself that she was a “victor” not a “victim” and it was time to start living life.

She said she wanted people to know that there is life after abuse.

“You don’t have to be consumed by the tragedy that happened to you,” she said. “I used to ask ‘Why did this happen to me?’ And now I say, ‘Why not you?’ So, I can be the person who pulls someone else out of the fire. If you see someone else succeed who came out of that kind of abuse, it gives you unlimited opportunities that you could do the same. And that is the legacy I want to leave.”

When Rose first met her abuser, he was her mentor. He was her karate instructor and a close family friend.

“I would see him in his uniform all the time,” she said. “I thought I want to become a police officer just like him and do karate.”

In her book, Rose wrote that as a child, she admired the work the police did because their uniform made them “a target for abuse, assault and murder.”

She said she “found it to be an honor that a person would put on a uniform vowing to protect and serve even if it meant they would be a target.”

Rose recalled in her book how her abuser used to blame her for the rape. He told her repeatedly that while she was stretching in karate class, she “opened her legs up to him.”

“I was 10 years old when I first started his class, but for years I blamed me and drove myself crazy trying to figure out how I could have stretched differently,” she wrote. “I waited eight years to tell because of the imminent fear that he instilled in me as a child. I was petrified that he would kill my parents, hurt my brothers, and kill me like he promised.

“To this day, I thank God the jury could see the truth behind my tears and know that no child asked to be ‘made a woman’ at 12 years old,” she wrote.

In the book, she recalled his words: “I will get rid of your bodies –  I know how to do it without getting caught. No one will ever find you.”

But when her mentor became her abuser, Rose wrote, “my desire to become a cop did not change; my mission did.”

On June 29, 2009, she graduated from the Police Academy and fulfilled her dream of becoming a police officer, Rose said it was one of the proudest days of her life.

After saving herself from her abuser, a “bad” police officer, she said she was on “a mission to become the opposite of what I knew a police officer to be.”

As a police officer, she said she is careful never to abuse her power.

“I wear my badge with dignity and pride,” she said. “I uphold my oath, and I truly understand what it means to protect and serve. My fear took me to my purpose and for that I am grateful,” she said. “There are so many people in this world that are suffering in silence or don’t know where to turn for help. I am here to tell you someone is listening.”

Rose recently began working with Northwest Victim Services, 6023 Germantown Ave. in Germantown, by speaking at many domestic violence events.

“If you need help on starting your journey to become free from bondage due to your victimization, come to Northwest Victim Services, they are the best certified to help,” she said. “All you have to do is speak out and stand up. We can stand together.”

Melany P. Nelson, executive director of Northwest Victim Services, said Rose’s story gives victims courage to ask for help.

“Empowering and educating survivors and victims of domestic violence can change someone’s world rapidly,” Nelson said.

If you are or were a victim of domestic violence and you need resources or therapy, please contact the Northwest Victim Services office at 215-438-4410 Ext. 101. Rose’s book can be bought in print on amazon for $14.99 or downloaded on a Kindle for $3.99.