Greg Ossmann wants corporate Cincinnati to help him do something about child abuse.

The director of development and community relations at Mercy Hospital Fairfield brings 35 years of business savvy, professional recognition and a slew of board memberships to the cause. But he has something more "” a victim's perspective and a survivor's strength.

"I go against the grain of what many people associate with child abuse," says Ossmann, 64. "My family was anything but poor. My father ... was a successful guy. My life is not a wreck. I have a happy marriage ... I've done well because I've never let abuse define me. To me, it was a cloud I was determined to rise above."

He's after more than nods of support. He wants others in Greater Cincinnati's corporate community who are victims of child abuse to stand with him and tell their stories to spotlight the problem and ramp up solutions. (More than 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States.) That's why he's speaking out now, a good 50 years after abuse that began at about age 4 at the hands of an often-cruel father in Irvington, N.J.

Asking executives to step up is a tall order "” and discomforting. He understands shame may be the root of the reluctance to come forward. Through therapy, Ossmann has come to terms, dealing with years of abuse that included a backyard confrontation in which his father threatened to kill him, throwing a spear-shaped piece of metal at him that sliced open his leg. Then he was beaten with a belt for trying to get away. "The doctor said it would have killed me if it had hit my back," Ossmann says.

"In the corporate, political and athletic arenas, leaders and players seem to have little compunction talking about their misdeeds involving alcohol, drugs and infidelity. It seems as if they are often praised and/or forgiven by the public. Yet when it comes to candidly discussing child abuse, few, if any, leaders come forward. We need more people to break that barrier."

Why now?

"The tipping point was a grocery store trip where in the span of about 15 minutes I saw an angry father grab a kid in a cart by the neck and say, "¢If you do that again, I'll kill you.' On the way out, I saw a mom and dad, and the dad is screaming at the kid of about 5 or 6. He actually punched him. Imagine if you are doing that in public what goes on at home."

"I am on the board of directors at One Way Farm and ProKids. I've seen horrific things done to children. Being quiet about your own abuse does nothing to help these kids."

How did you come to terms with your abuse?

"In the course of an early, and eventually-failed, marriage, I saw a counselor whose message was: "¢You may not be able to save your marriage but are you interested in saving yourself?' That started it. Later, I found another therapist who helped me"¢"

What has it taught you about coping?

"You need to build your own world. I escaped to athletics, to music and my room. The Beach Boys have a song "¢In My Room' that resonated with me. Find a world that you can build. Find people who can be your friends."

How has it changed your outlook?

"I consciously have dedicated myself to befriending the marginalized. You can't save an entire culture, but you can work with individuals. If you offer friendship and unsolicited kindness, the impact can be long-lasting and formidable."

What do you hope to do by publicizing your abuse?

"I want more business leaders to share their stories, their resources and their time to do a variety of things: No. 1, to create more safe havens for abused children like One Way Farm, where children can get help ... to help them make a world better for themselves first and then better for others; No. 2, to get the court systems to be more responsive, to remove children more rapidly from abusive situations; and No. 3, to better educate parents to manage their anger and frustrations. My experience is that there are some abusers who do change from a transformative event, but the recidivism is staggering."

What can businesses do?

"Companies spend a lot of money on employee rehab and counseling, but how many have employee assistance programs to deal with anger management or child abuse? The victims here are kids. They have no champion. They need us. It's time to step up."