LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – 22News is highlighting the finalists of our Remarkable Women campaign. Kathy Picard has been nominated for the important work she does for child sex abuse victims and survivors.

“I came out with my personal story, ‘Life with my idiot family.’ It’s a true story of survival, courage and justice over childhood sexual abuse, and that book was published in 2017,” said Picard. She endured ten years of childhood sexual abuse by her step-father, someone she had been led to believe was her biological father for much of her upbringing.

“I was sexually abused from the age of 7 until I was 17 years old. I’m 60 years old now, and you never forget but I don’t let it take the place of who I am today,” said Picard. Today, she is an educator, author, advocate and inspiration. “I go to the colleges, universities… I’m actually a part of CIT which is crisis intervention team, I go out and train the police officers.”

Kathy also dedicates time to reading to children. Her second book, “I love you so much that…” aims to teach children about what safe, appropriate love looks and feels like. Kathy knew that sharing her story through her writings and with her voice could help save lives.

“I really wanted to share it because my abuser, my step-father, told me, ‘Don’t tell. Nobody’s going to believe you, you’re going to end up in foster homes, your sisters are going to be taken away, your dogs will be taken away.’ So I think by being told not to tell, and now I’m an adult and now I realize that what he did to me is wrong. So now it is time to tell and I haven’t shut up since,” said Picard.

Kathy’s advocacy goes beyond education. She was a crucial force in changing statute of limitation laws in the Commonwealth.

“Here in Massachusetts, a survivor now has until the age of 53-years-old to go forward. Back then, they didn’t have this length of time,” said Picard. “and when the law changed, I took my stepfather though a four-day jury trial in federal court in 2015 and I won my trial.”

Kathy is passionate about helping others who’ve been through the same situation, to bring perpetrators to court and help victims overcome the pain they’ve endured. She believes that breaking the silence and talking about sexual abuse paves the path to change.

“Your past need not defy you. That is so important because a lot of people, if they’ve had a terrible past like I have, you know don’t let that stop you. Be that change, go forward and don’t let it stop you.” said Picard. “I’m never going to be rich, but when I do pass, I’m going to leave a legacy behind.”