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Carole Mikita ReportingOne of the country's foremost speakers on childhood sexual abuse talked to hundreds on campus at UVSC this morning. Marilyn Van Derbur calls herself a survivor. Her book and speeches across the nation have helped tens of thousands of people to seek recovery and find healing and hope.
Marilyn Van Derbur: "I was an incest victim from age five to age 18. I stand before you today a 68-year-old incest survivor."
Marilyn Van Derbur grew up one of four daughters of a well-to-do Denver businessman. They appeared the perfect family. But a youth minister discovered the family secret of a father's sexual abuse of her and her oldest sister.
Marilyn Van Derbur: "Sobs began erupting from the deepest part of my soul, sobs that went on for decades. I sobbed to exhaustion and then I looked up and I said, 'Don't tell anyone.'"
But Marilyn became Miss American 1958 and a much-heralded motivational speaker. Her story made national headlines, the cover of 'People', and her life's mission changed. Not until she was 53 did she know how to get help.
Marilyn Van Derbur: "And now I turn to men and women and say, 'It's possible, if you do the work of healing. It isn't going to be a miracle, you really need to go back and heal the wounds of your past and that is doable, I have done that'"
Hundreds of students, faculty and visitors, many of them survivors, listened to her story of severe trauma, followed by years of acute physical pain. Some people, she warned, develop addictions to alcohol, drugs, become promiscuous, attempt suicide - often during ages 35 to 50.
Many ask her how long will she do this?
Marilyn Van Derbur: "Until the last breath in my body. We're going to make headway on this and we're going to talk about the long-term impact of sexual abuse on a life, and we're making headway."
Her book is a very useful reference for finding help, talking to your children, protecting your infants. Many experts agree this is a serious, rampant problem even here in Utah.