In 1998 Debra Puglisi Sharp’s husband was murdered inside their Newark home. The attacker, a crack addict, brutalized her after shooting her spouse. She was kidnapped, bound, beaten and raped, then held hostage for five days. Convinced she would die, Puglisi Sharp attempted to befriend her captor, and then, while he left for work, she managed to loosen the ties from her wrists. She found a phone, called 9-1-1, and miraculously, she was rescued.
Her survival triggered conflicting emotions. “I can’t explain it,” she says. “It was almost euphoria. But how can you be happy when you’re thinking of your husband of 25 years, who has just been murdered?”
Now 62, remarried and living in Lewes, Puglisi Sharp works part-time as a homecare nurse, and plans to travel nationwide speaking to victims of violent crime. Her mission is to turn pain into purpose.
She wrote a book, “Shattered,” 10 years ago, and is working on another. Her work with victims enables them to “take the scab off an old wound that has not healed [so they can] work through the pain that has been buried beneath the surface,” she says.
Her advice: “Focus more on the blessings than the struggle.”
If you knew you had only one year left, what would you do?
“I would spend more time with my children and grandchildren. I would travel some with my husband, Bill. I would cherish more of those special moments of being together.”