24 Tamuz 5769
Readers, as a friend to others and as a coach, I'm privy to heartbreaking confidences and information from a large cross-section of society. Some of it is about sexual abuse. I ache to do what I can to help abuse victims to heal, and to prevent new victims.
I'm not a therapist of any sort, not a famous personality. But I am tenacious. I do what I can when faced with any problem.
One of my friends is a grief counselor. He shared an eye-opening book with me, hoping I'd review it for my editors (remember, I'm a journalist too) and help the public at the same time. Entitled "Miss America by Day, Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayals and Unconditional Love" by Marilyn Van Derbur, it was published in 2004.
I read it from cover to cover and experienced a powerful desire to remind the world of this book's existence and the author's deep, healing wisdom.
"Miss America by Day" holds
excellent ideas about
the trauma of sexual abuse
All of it harms
The abusers are criminals. They might be babysitters, clergy, camp counselors or fellow campers, dormitory counselors or fellow residents, parents, relatives or neighbors.
All too often these victimizers enjoy a social status that places them above suspicion. They manipulate that status into predatory power. After all, why would anyone believe the victim's accusations about him or her/them?
Title: Miss America by Day: Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayals and Unconditional Love
Author: Marilyn Van Derbur
Publisher: Oak Hill Ridge Press
Reviewer: Yocheved Golani
Sexual abuse of children and adults must be addressed. By you. Failing to help the defenseless victims is another betrayal. It empowers the abuser. As page 268 reveals, "Silence is the voice of complicity."
The Jewish world has been rocked by this travesty. The Catholic church makes global headlines as abusive clergy are identified by victims in the choir, schools, and other parts of Catholic society. Boy Scout groups, Buddhists, you name it. Camps. Dormitories. Relatives. No religion, school or relationship seems immune to sex abuse.
Religious and mental health organizations around the world have yet to succeed with their efforts to end the horror of potential, current and former sex abuse victims in every area of society. They need to stop the perpetrators.
Miss America by Day: Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayals and Unconditional Love offers insight into the scope of sexual abuse, showing how to stop it. The author is a former Miss America, one among several siblings molested for decades by their high-profile father. Marilyn Van Derbur's book gives a voice to victims too terrified or otherwise unable to cry for help.
The author brings you into her explosive life before and after she revealed to anyone how she'd suffered forced night-time sex with her father. Mom sat outside her toddler daughter's bedroom, dressed in a negligee and feathery slippers, as dad raped their child and her siblings over the years. Insisting to personal acquaintances and to world media that she had a "Perfect Marriage," Mom knew that all of her daughters were years-long victims of her negligence and Dad's rapes.
That charade ended when the author reached adulthood. She left home and providentially met a mentor who helped her to face her past. He enabled Marilyn to share the details with Larry, the man who demonstrably loved and wished to marry her. Larry's unconditional love, and that of his mother, helped Marilyn to heal her psyche. So did therapy and the admissions of Van Derbur's abused siblings. The lessons learned along the author's way to mental health are valuable for anyone who has suffered sex abuse.
Marilyn Van Derbur eventually became a motivational speaker helping sex abuse victims to cope with their memories of and reactions to sex abuse. The genius of her book is its clear presentation of facts about sexual abuse at every level of society and how to stop it. Chapter 30 asks "Do Children Lie?" The heartbreaking answer is: usually not about sex abuse. If that's what the child claims happened, it probably did. Documented statistics in Chapter 31, "Do They Ever Stop?" show that the overwhelming reality is NO, sexual abusers don't stop until they're physically prevented from harming people. Chapter 32 teaches that "The Good New is: Trauma Doesn’t Have to Last a Lifetime."
The author's prose jumps off the pages, the strong voice of an intelligent, articulate adult showing society at large how to end a millennia-old horror. Citing effective methods, she teaches us how to help the victims and how to prevent new ones.
Read it today. Miss America by Day: Lessons Learned from Ultimate Betrayals and Unconditional Love belongs in schools, homes and mental health libraries. Save lives. Share it with someone who might desperately need it.
Yocheved Golani is the author of highly acclaimed "It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry if I Need To: A Life Book for Helping You to Dry Your Tears and Cope with a Medical Challenge" (Booklocker Publishing)