SAN ANTONIO – For 11 years, Rose Kelly was physically, emotionally and sexually abused by someone who was close to her. At the age of 21, she escaped the abuse and set out to pursue her educational goals.
Next month, the Army veteran will graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Kelly is using her story of strength, survival and perseverance to inspire and help other survivors of abuse.
The terror in Kelly's childhood began when she was 10, living in La Pryor approximately 100 miles southwest of San Antonio.
She said the isolation exacerbated the pain she felt.
"To not receive help from others that knew what was going on," she said.
She had to drop out of school at 15 years old.
"Part of the reason was (my abuser) would drive around the school to check up on me," Kelly said. "He told me he was paying janitors to spy on me."
At 21, Kelly moved to San Marcos to get her GED diploma, pursuing her dream of getting the education she felt she had been denied.
"That was really where everything changed for me and I began a new future," she said.
Kelly began a career in security and corrections and then served three years in the Army. Her military service was cut short when she was diagnosed with lupus.
Kelly said that as a gunner in the Army, her lupus prevented her from operating some of the heavy machinery.
Kelly will receive her bachelor's degree in communication with a minor in sociology and plans on moving to Arizona to pursue her master's degree. Her ultimate goal is to earn a doctoral degree from the University of Arizona.
"I don't want people to be bogged down by such emotional pain for the rest of their lives," Kelly said. "I would like to eventually found a nonprofit for abuse survivors, in their communication styles, in romantic relationships, so they can have a better quality of life."