LEMONT – Lemont resident Judy Ferraro is known to family, friends and colleagues as a successful businesswoman with an energetic personality.
She has worked for years in the recycling industry, consulted as a business trainer and even performed as a comedian with Second City and Improv Olympic.
But until recently, few people knew she was a sexual abuse survivor.
Ferraro has written a book titled “If I Catch You, I Will Kill You,” recounting her sexual abuse by a neighbor that started at age five and how it has affected her life and relationships.
Ferraro said it was not until she was an adult that she told anyone about the abuse and that it was years after that until she went to therapy to help with the healing process.
She said even now it can be hard to talk about.
“It makes people feel uncomfortable, and people who are abused don’t like anyone to feel uncomfortable,” she said.
Ferraro said she was driven to write the book after watching an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” where actress Mackenzie Phillips talked about her own childhood abuse.
“When I talked to other people, they were saying things like, ‘Oh she was doing that for monetary gain’ or that ‘she was screwed up,’ ” she said. “Nobody really understood why she was doing that, but I totally understood why she was doing that.”
Ferraro said that when a follow up episode featured people saying Phillips was lying, she became angry.
“To be abused is betrayal itself,” she said. “But to tell somebody and them not validating or saying ‘I understand you, I’m sorry’ and talk to you a little about it is another betrayal – sometimes worse than the abuse itself.”
As a columnist for an industry magazine, she used her emotions as a catalyst to write about her experience.
“Immediately, it was a book,” she said. “When I started writing, I titled the chapters.”
Ferraro said she has found strength in telling her story and has given strength to others as well.
“I said when I started writing this ‘If I could help 10 people, I’d be happy,’” she said. “I have already touched at least 100 that I know of.”
Ferraro recently spoke at an event for the Northern Region Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalition.
Jennifer Samartano, a prevention specialist with Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, said those in the audience were moved by her story.
“I personally am inspired by Judy just by her telling her story, which is so helpful,” she said.
Ferraro said speaking to crowds about her sexual abuse in a way that is not uncomfortable is difficult.
“I can get up and do improv in front of a hundred people,” she said. “But Wednesday (at the meeting) I was a little nervous.”
Ferraro lives with her husband of 20 years and 19-year-old son. She attends Christ Community Church.
She said her book is not something a lot of people in Lemont know about. But those she has told – such as Lemont Police Sgt. Therese Thompson, who she mentions in the book – have responded positively.
“I’ve had a lot of support from people in the community as I was writing the book and discussing it,” she said.
Buy the book
Judy Ferraro's book, "If I Catch You, I Will Kill You" is available at Anderson's Book Shop in Naperville and at www.Amazon.com, as both a book and a Kindle download.