Local woman takes back her life

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Saturday, April 19th, 2014


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW)-- Stats show nearly one in five women are raped in their lives and almost half before the age of 18.

That's what happened to Heather Orr by one of the people she loved most. We normally don't name rape victims, but Orr was compelled to share her story so this doesn't happen to anyone else.

"The first thing I said was my dad sexually abused me," Orr said. Orr waited 12 years to say those words in court.

"It's empowering. It was very much empowering to be able get up there and say this happened to me," Orr said.

It's a story that captured the world. She said her father, Frank Hertel, sexually abused her from the age of 3 to 15.

In 2000, she reported him and he fled to Germany with her mom and brother. It wasn't until 2012 that she found him.

He was extradited back to the U.S. Hertel was sentenced in Arizona, and just this past March he was finally sentenced and convicted in Ohio.

"Scars are always going to be there. They may heal just like a scar does but they leave behind impressions and those aren't going to go away. It's become part of me. You can make a scar beautiful though and that's what I've tried to do," Orr said.

Now, Orr is a wife, mother of four, and teaches gymnastics to a group of girls. That's one reason why she kept fighting for justice.

"I'm going to take a stand and say no, no more. When you go through something traumatic you have to fight back, and the best way to fight back is to be healthy, and lead a good life, and be happy," Orr said.

After being abused for more than half of her life, she knows it's hard to do, but she hopes it prompts others to speak out.

"You think you're just not worth it anymore, but you are worth it. Everybody is worth it. Speak up and get help. Don't be quiet," Orr said.

On Saturday, people hit the pavement to prevent the same thing in the Take Back the Day 5K. While they were taking back the day, Heather Orr took back her life, and that's why she hopes this never happens to anyone else.

"I'm going to make sure I protect the children in my community because it happened to me. I don't want it to happen to other people," Orr said.

Orr is actually writing a book about her story, and it is appropriately titled My Fight for Justice. Even though the 5K was on Saturday, people can still get involved. The 18th annual Take Back the Night Rally is on Thursday.

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