Woman shares story of enduring years of abuse as a child - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Midlands woman shares story of enduring years of abuse as a child

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Sherri Ann bounced back from a long traumatic experience that included frequent sexual abuse over a four year period.

She stepped forward Friday and wanted to talk about what happened to her.

She said she wants to be an example to other victims of similar crimes to show them they too can be empowered and live without fear.

"Actually, I think that I took a negative and I made it into a positive honestly," Sherri Ann said.

She is referring to how she has handled the last 16 years of her life after escaping a reign of terror, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of 52-year-old Paul Rawl, Jr.

The convicted sex offender now charged with holding a woman captive at his home in Pelion, drugging, beating and sexually assaulting her for three months.

Sherri Ann says the case outlined by Lexington County authorities this week does not surprise her.

"When I read the allegations that were made thus far, I almost felt like I was re-living everything," she said. "Because down to the T, from being held captive, the latest victim was exactly what happened, you know when I was younger."

Sherri Ann says Rawl attacked her for the first time when she was 8 years old and her mom was away at work.

The sexual assaults continued for years with Rawl threatening to kill her and her family if she told anyone.

Then when she was 12, both her and her mom endured an especially savage round of beatings.

"He was so angry he just beat her until she couldn't move," she said. "And she was, her face was puffed up on one side and kind of sunk in on the other and she kept begging to go to the hospital because every time she'd move she'd spit blood out."

Sherri Ann said when the incident happened to her, all he had was a piece of lumber that he beat her with.

"I considered myself lucky because it was really dark that night, and he was drunk and I'd come to find out there was nails in the other side of the two-by-four, so I could have been much worse off if I'd been hit with the nail side," she said.

Rawl was convicted in 2000 and spent ten years in prison for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

That child, Sherri Ann, is now 28.

An eight year veteran of the U.S. Marines, she is a married mother of two planning on law school. She hopes to focus on criminal law.

"The biggest thing that you can do for yourself is to make a better you," she said.  "And that's what I'm trying to do. And that's what I'd like to help other people do as well."

Sherri Ann is soon starting a Facebook page that will feature a "No Fear Campaign."

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