Carolyn Hennecy said one trigger can bring back a flood of pain.
"I go back, I remember fragrances, I remember touches, I remember some of the circumstances of when I was 7, 8, 9 – up to 15 years old," she said.
For eight years, Carolyn said she was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of an extended family member.
She knew it was wrong but said her perpetrator groomed her.
"They intimidate. They tell you, you know, you don't have so much going on," she said. "You're not that important. You're not that valuable. Let me bring you into a better life."
Now, as she hears the testimony in the Jerry Sandusky trial, she calls the victims courageous.
"I admire them," she said. "If I could sit here and look each in the face, I would say you are my hero. You are a hero to all of those who have yet to be brave enough to come out and say ‘me too.'"
The victims have testified for hours at a time, often tear-filled testimony.
"You are having to confront your demons," she said of the testimony. "You are having to confront the person who has robbed you of your innocence. I can't imagine being on the stand and testifying."
Carolyn said she spoke up once during her abuse
"Ironically, I did speak out privately to one of my parents. I was told, ‘We can't discuss this. This could ruin the community, the family, the church, the school,'" she said. "So we're just going to keep this to ourselves and try to keep as much distance between you and the perpetrator."
Carolyn finally spoke out publicly for the first time when she was in her 30s because her perpetrator was out of the picture.
"The perpetrator passed away and I felt I had a little more freedom to be open with what happened," she said.
She now counsels sexual abuse victims.
Carolyn recently received her certificate of designated victim services practitioner. She can now assist and educate on issues like human trafficking, elder abuse, victims with disabilities, and victim compensation.
She said as long as she's capable she will speak out loudly and as often as she can.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?