Rosemary Trible, author of "Fear to Freedom," which details sexual abuse earlier in her life, has launched a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping others who suffer similar situations.
The organization, Fear 2 Freedom (fear2freedom.org), assembles aftercare kits for adult-age sexual abuse victims and Bear Gear kits for abused kids.
The goal is to show compassion for victims and to provide basic toiletries and clothing since those items are kept for evidence.
"It is through my own dark road of pain that I have become so passionate about helping victims and fighting against abuse," says Trible, also wife of Christopher Newport University President Paul Trible in Newport News, Va. She is president of Fear 2 Freedom.
"In 1975, I hosted a morning TV talk show in Richmond (Va.) called 'Rosemary's Guestbook.' I did a show on sexual assault never realizing I would be the next victim raped at gunpoint three days later," she says.
Since Trible's book came out in March 2010, she's traveled nationwide sharing her story.
"Never have I spoken that so many women have come whispering to me, 'I was molested as a child or I was raped by a neighbor and no one knows my pain,' said Trible.
"I'll never forget an older woman in California who came up crying after I had spoken. As I held her, she said, 'I am 85 years old and I was raped as a 6-year-old. Till this moment I have never told anyone until you, and it has destroyed my life.'
"I have discovered that the greatest pain comes from those who have held their sexual abuse inside and have never gotten the help they need to find hope for their woundedness," said Trible. "If kept in the dark, it is like bacteria that grows, but brought out into the light this terrible trauma can have new healing so that a victim's past does not have to control their present and future."
In a January 2010 interview with Trible, just before her book was released, she talked about the internal trauma she personally endured after the December 1975 rape that robbed her of the joy she found in everyday life. She and Paul had married four years earlier, and he was stepping into his political career, winning the commonwealth attorney position in Essex County, Va., and later becoming a U.S. senator in 1983. To this day, no one, including law enforcement officials, knows who the rapist was.
"I remember tearing up Paul's old T-shirts because that helped me physically release the burst of fear and anger," she said. "I wondered if I would ever feel normal again."
Her book tells the story of how she reclaimed that joy and has been quietly reaching out and helping women living in fear from sexual abuse and other problems such as eating disorders and panic attacks. Her website -- www.feartofreedomjourney.com -- sells the book through amazon.com, and shares her story and the stories of other women.
"I can walk through a hotel lobby and sense a woman in fear," she said.
"It's almost like a fragrance. ... I can sense other women who have been broken. It's been my ministry all these years, to help women so they don't stay a victim."
It's also her mission to help children who have been abused or exposed to violence, using the Bear Gear book bag that includes crayons and paper to describe what has happened as well as other items.
"When victims of violence come to a hospital after trauma from sexual abuse, domestic violence or child abuse, the evidence collection and treatment is now performed by dedicated nurses of SANE, or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners," says Trible.