Cook County - Sexual abuse survivor Susan Kesegich travels around the South telling the story of her tragic childhood. "He would lay on me with my clothes off, force me to perform oral sex, and threaten to kill me if I ever told," said Kesegich.
Kesegich was sexually abused by her father from when she was just five years old until she was a teenager. "He would rape me, beat me, then hold a gun to my pets' heads and say he'd shoot them if we didn't obey him," said Kesegich. "Sometimes he'd actually shoot them in front of us."
Her father continued the cycle of abuse with Susan, her sisters, and children from a second marriage. "My mother didn't even know, and I was too scared to tell," said Kesegich.
Finally, after more than 15 years as an abuser, Kesegich's father was arrested. "He's in the Valdosta State Prison serving 47 years."
Now Kesegich is a victims' rights advocate. Friday, she encouraged law enforcement, social workers, and others who deal with abuse situations to always be on the lookout for violence. "I want you all to know what to look for and how you can better serve these victims," said Kesegich.
Cook County District Attorney Bob Ellis deals with victims like Kesegich every day. He says her message helps him better understand his clients. "We need to be sympathetic, patient, quiet, and make them ascomfortable as possible, so they can open up to us and we can stop the abuse," said Ellis.
After Kesegich's message, the group released a rainbow of balloons, a sign of remembrance for those who've lost their lives to violence, and hope for those trying to move on.