YORK (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Jamie Robie's childhood was miserable.
Robie is the school resource officer at York Middle School. Her job requires her to be aware of the same trauma she endured as a child.
She grew up in the projects in Worcester, Ma. with a mother who heavily used drugs and alcohol. Her mother's negligence resulted in years of sexual abuse from random men towards Robie.
At age 12, she decided she needed to move to Jackson, Maine to live with her father and stepmother.
"To be 12, 13 years old and looking at the lesser of two evils -- it was nothing to see a mirror with a line of cocaine – I had to weigh out whether I wanted to live in that situation with all of these people coming in and out of my home or live with a woman that I knew was going to be physically abusive," said Officer Robie.
Her father worked odd jobs, and was not around often. Her stepmother, Deborah, was physically abusive. She and her siblings called her "Red," because of her hair and fiery temper.
"It was this anxiety piece of what was going to set her off?" said Robie.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that one in three people who are abused as children will subject their own children to the same maltreatment.
At 16, Robie had what she calls a "defining moment:" a time when she was forced to make a decision that "will impact how we navigate our journey," Robie writes in her book, Black to Blue.
Red beat her so badly that she had to go to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast.
"She really beat the ever living daylights out of me. She put me in the hospital. My face was completely unrecognizable. Both eyes – one was completely shut, the other one had a little sliver I could see out of," said Robie.
She said a Waldo County Sheriff's Deputy, whose name she could not remember, took a genuine interest in helping her.
"He could have come and taken the report and just filled out his paperwork and said, 'we're going to refer you to DHHS,' but no," said Robie. "He sat there and said, 'what do you want to do with your life? What do you want to do with your future?'"
Robie told him she wanted to be a police officer, one of the only people who ever made her feel safe other than her teachers.
"In the projects, throughout my life, the police always made it better. Whenever they came, they took the bad guy away and I always felt safe. He didn't even flinch – he said, 'this is what you need to do. Are you ready?' and I said, 'I'm ready.'"
Robie got emancipated. Her grades in school skyrocketed. She went to college, and eventually started working in law enforcement. She was free from her stepmother, and the abuse.
24 years later, Robie teaches a citizenship class to teens at York Middle School. Robie discusses interviewing skills when applying for jobs or internships, as well as "digital citizenship," about appropriate use of social media.
In her interactions with students, she is always mindful for the signs of abuse, similar to what she experienced.
"With my job, I hear things, and I see things, and I know things. Sometimes I go home and it takes me a while to process it because I can connect to that," said Robie. "I have cases now – unfortunately it's not something that's going to just go away."
So she replicates that good deed from her mystery deputy, building positive relationships with the students she sees every day.
"That's when they'll disclose, and you're just like, 'wow, you've been holding onto that for this long? I don't know how you did that.' Those are the tough times for me because you find out the weight that these kids are carrying around and you just never would have known," said Robie.
The chronicles of her abuse shape her life, but do not determine her future.
Doesn't matter what your last name is, doesn't matter what house you grew up in," said Robie. "Your past does not define you. You can make something of your life, just do something that is important to you and matters to you and give it everything you've got."
Robie encourages anyone who suspects abuse to report it, following the "see something, say something model." She said Maine's Department of Health and Human Services has been very responsive in the cases she handles. She also said police, teachers, administrators, and the school counselors have weekly meetings to monitor kids who may be at risk.