I'M A SINGLE mother of five who'd like to thank those who helped capture the Kensington rapist.

There's an epidemic out there that I know about from personal experience.

My heart goes out to the little girl who was raped. I know how the mother is feeling. I have two daughters, and I suffer from depressive thoughts of my own child being raped by someone she knew at age 9. I myself was a victim of a similar incident when I was just 6.

North Philadelphia is full of men preying on young girls. A lot of these men were themselves molested and never got the help they needed.

Yes, there are therapy places all over North Philadelphia where you can sit and talk. But when I thought it was time to seek the professional help I needed, I ran into another wall that pushed so far against me it left me suffocated.

For years I kept this original dark secret about what was done to me. I'd go to family gatherings and put a big smile behind the crying face when I was in the same room celebrating holidays and birthdays.

Then I went to a place (ironically one block from where the rapist was beaten) and saw a therapist.

I told him everything. I had trouble sleeping and my relationship was going down the drain. I didn't have sexual desires. I cried when I shared this information.

I chose to see a male therapist was because I didn't trust men, and I had to get that fear out, and he was a professional, someone who treats people like me: bipolar, PTSD and depressive.

But the monster was out to get me again. After a few months, one day I went to my therapist very depressed and emotional, I was having relationship issues, and I felt defenseless and cold.

I blanked out and felt hypnotized. Then I realized he'd physically taken advantage of me while I was weak and crying, and when he was done, he kissed my forehead.

Then he proposed that we get together at some point. I finally snapped out of my daze, and warned him not to touch me again.

It made me more sick and not want to trust even harder this time. (None of the abuse cases I know about personally ever got prosecuted for various personal and family reasons - plus the statute of limitations.)

It left me with nowhere to turn for help but my room, a pen and paper.

Stories like these abound in North Philadelphia - and elsewhere - every day, but a lot of grown-up women and teenagers don't have the help they need, so they turn to drugs for comfort or a situation where they expose themselves to domestic violence because their self-esteem is so low that they end up in the arms of an abusive man.

AND SOMETIMES they become the abuser themselves - not knowing that simply because they've been through so much that they seek out a man to protect them.

These actions are normal for them - but the minute that man doesn't protect them, they become aggressive and it becomes a cycle. And sometimes - when they get tired of being abused - they turn to other women for comfort.

So, I feel that when

people beat up on these predators around here, it's justice!

Jackelyn LaBoy-Alvardo

Philadelphia