Woman helps victims become survivors

Published 10:21 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

A Suffolk woman is speaking up about her life experiences in the hope that she can help inspire others who have been through the same thing.

Deborah Harris, 47, runs a Facebook group called “Conquerors of the Battlefield,” where she provides inspiration to survivors of sexual assault, molestation and other abusive relationships. She also is in the process of writing a book, to be called “Justice for My Innocence.”

“I can’t hold in what I’ve been there any longer,” she said. “It’s time for someone to break that silence. Maybe if I break my silence, others will as well.”

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Harris said she was molested from ages 7 to 14. Later, she was raped by a different man, and when he found a letter she had written to her mother about it, he took photos of her nude and used them to blackmail her for sex until she was 29, she said. She then endured two years of stalking before she finally got that man out of her life.

“He told me he was going to kill me,” Harris said.

For many years, Harris lived with guilt because of the attacks.

“I beat myself up so long,” she said. “I didn’t seek mental help I needed. I realize now I damaged myself. We have to accept what happened to us wasn’t our fault.”

Slowly, Harris began to heal from her ordeal. It started when she had her first child at age 20.

“I felt a love when I had her that I never felt before,” she said.

She said she wants to encourage others to seek help.

“As long as we don’t try to heal, it’s only going to get worse,” she said. “I made it. They can make it too. But you’ve got to want to make a change for yourself. You’ve got to want to heal.”

“I’m proud of her, that she’s actually taking this leap forward and sharing her story,” said Harris’ daughter, Kearsha Boykins.

Her son, Curtis Boykins, lauded his mother for raising four children by herself.

“If it wasn’t for my children, I know I wouldn’t have made it this far on this journey,” Harris said.

She got the idea to write a book in 2010. She started working on it in black-and-white composition books and now has a stack of them.

Harris believes there is a reason she has made it this far.

“There’s a reason I’m still here,” she said. “I’m here to open up and help those that have been through what I’ve been through. I really feel a bond with my victimized family. I can meet someone who has been through some of the things I’ve been through, and I feel like I’ve known them all my life.”