Incest Survivor and Former Miss America, Marilyn Van Derbur, Speeks With Grace and Humility

“If people aren’t going to believe fifty-three year-old me;

then who by God is going to believe a child?”

~Marilyn Van Derbur, Incest Survivor

This woman is a true survivor. Marilyn Van Derbur is so humble and graceful. She focuses on truly helping survivors of child sexual abuse, trauma and incest.

After remembering what my father and mother did to me, I wrote Marilyn twice, and she wrote me back twice –once while on an airplane.

Marilyn talks in her book, and in her public speeches, about how much work it is to heal, and what the specific steps are. She does not tell people to just wave trauma and rape away like a pesky fly (Like Elizabeth Smart does).

Marilyn recently won the Lifetime Achievement Award, and she deserves it.

You can read Marilyn’s story by clicking below on the link, or buy her book, Miss America By Day

This entry was posted in Child Abuse, child molestation, child sexual abuse, false memory syndrome, repressed memory and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Incest Survivor and Former Miss America, Marilyn Van Derbur, Speeks With Grace and Humility

  1. Thank you for sharing her with us. I know am going to read her book, it shows that we can’t be beaten they may try but her like so many other survivors can go on and make a difference. As I always say you may have taken our childhood, but you did not kill us and i live on happy and successful just to spite you.

    • Alethea says:

      You are very welcome tm.

      I only wish that living well was the reality for everyone who has lived to tell their story.

  2. manuela says:

    I read the article on and couldn’t help notice the attitude and the thoughts of her mother – she knew everything or, at least, she felt instinctively that there’s something wrong – but SHE CHOOSE – to stay in her own little, happy world.
    She choose to think at all the good things about her husband and to ignore all the alarm signals.
    The mother knew – and that infuriates me more than the heinous acts of her father.

    • Alethea says:


      I always feel that those who recognize the mother’s chosen ignorance in incest cases, and how serious that is, to be people who are in touch with reality and very intelligent.

      Marilyn wrote me personally twice, and in one letter, she told me that, even though her mother never lay a hand on Marilyn, her mother hurt her more than her father ever did (by ignoring it).

      • manuela says:

        Actually, I’m not that smart – I just saw beyond her sayings (of the mother) “I’ll just hold my head high, and I’ll remember the good things he did,” she says. “I can’t let it ruin my life.”

        How sweet of her to have good thoughts about her husband, I bet he is “forever” grateful for that……sounds to me like mrs. Dottie Sandusky.

        How thoughtful of her to “wave” the ugly truth like a “pesky fly” in order to keep the smooth course of her life.

        Wow, I am impressed by the defense mechanism of this “lady” – but I guess that someone should to her that she was a lousy mother and human being, as well.

        By ignoring these acts, she actually encouraged the father to continue.

        Totally sad.

  3. little nel says:

    I bought her book years ago. She was so painfully honest.

    I could relate to a lot of her issues. She is a brave woman!

    I remember my mother dragging me to every “psychic” in Los Angeles trying to “fix” me as a young teen. They all “saw” a different reason for my emotional and physical problems.

    Not one of them ever mentioned “childhood sexual abuse.” My problems, according to them, always stemmed from something that I did or did not do. I was cursed with a “revolving karma account” that included credits and debits from “past lives.”

    Those self proclaimed “psychics” made me hate myself even more so I became more depressed and started having suicidal thoughts because of what they “saw” about me.

  4. Alethea says:

    The library should Serieve. It’s been out for a few years.

    Her father’s rapes literally caused Marilyn physical paralysis as an adult. If you can find her audio tape of one of her public speeches, it’s GREAT. She is a phenomenal speaker.

  5. carol in va says:

    Good morning. How awful for her to have to stand by her father in all of those pictures. I remember how I felt when I had to walk down the aisle with my stepfather for my wedding. Thank God she could free herself of the shame. I too after many years shook the guilt and shame but it is a work of progress for all of us.

    • Alethea says:

      Hi Carol. Marilyn totally disengaged from the incest during the day, so she had no “knowledge” of the incest when she posed for those photos with her father. She called it being “the day child and the night child.” The day child had no knowledge of the night child.

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