After facing her own monster head on, Katie Bailey has wasted no time dedicating her life to help others find the courage to do the same.
Katie was 9 years old when her big brother, James Bailey, began abusing her on a weekly basis while their parents worked long hours outside their Syracuse home. The sexual assaults continued until she was 12.
She said nothing at first, keeping quiet about the horrors she endured while her big brother was supposed to be babysitting her, but the pain became too much to bear.
“For 10 years, I felt like I was in solitude, keeping the secret to myself,” Katie, 23, told InsideEdition.com. “Finally, when I said something, there was this network of individuals there to help me through the trial, help me find my voice.”
When she came forward in 2013 after learning her brother had been kicked out of the family’s home, Katie was met with support from her loved ones, police, prosecutors and advocates trained to help her heal, she said.
“I never once got called damaged… ‘damaged’ means broken goods,” she said. “Advocates see you as a gem; you can get cleaned up and polished. Advocates — they’re trained how to ask questions, how to approach people who have been victimized.”
It was working with those people that helped Katie build up the strength to help other sexual assault survivors.
“My passion for this is worth being shared,” she said. “But in order to help other people, I needed to help myself. And I’ve conquered my biggest fear.”
James Bailey, now 31, was arrested in 2015 and was found guilty of sexual abuse in March.
Earlier this month, Katie stood at her brother’s sentencing hearing to explain the effects of his actions, speaking directly to the man who should have been her protector but instead was the source of relentless pain.
"I felt extremely vulnerable, because all my emotions from the abuse and the pain and the suffering I went through — it reemerged," she said. "But I had the right to have a say and my voice was finally, literally, being heard. Even if he didn’t care about it — he was very emotionless, he didn’t seem to care. I felt strong, I did everything I needed to and I got justice.”
James Bailey was sentenced to 32 years in prison, the maximum punishment allowed under law.
His conviction and sentencing has been a weight off of Katie, who said she’s now ready to move on.
She is set to graduate in May from SUNY Cortland with a degree in criminology, her second degree, having already studied criminal justice at Onondaga Community College. And she’s preparing to move, looking for homes in Ithaca with her longtime boyfriend who she said has been a beacon of courage and bravery throughout her journey.
And most importantly, she’s ready to help others, saying she’s going to pursue a career working with law enforcement to help survivors.
“I’ve had both men and women contact me and they’ve said I’ve given them courage,” Bailey said. “The courage you need to find is the courage within yourself. You need to know what you say can and will be heard by the right people. Trust your voice will be heard. Everything I held in for years, I gave to these people — and now my brother is going to prison. And I’m happy."