About the Book

In this long-awaited book, Marilyn Van Derbur, a former Miss America, tells the story of how she was sexually violated by her prominent, millionaire father from age 5 to age 18. She was 53 years old before she was able to speak the words in public, “I am an incest survivor.” She opened the door for tens of thousands of sexual abuse survivors to also speak the words, many for the first time, within their own families and communities.

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Marilyn describes, in detail, what specific “work” she did on her journey from victim to survivor. After learning of a woman’s rape, Marilyn heard a close friend say, “It was a bad 20 minutes.” In the hope that rape and sexual abuse will no longer be as easily dismissed or minimized, Marilyn writes for the first time about what her father did to her and what the impact has been on her adult life.

Using her story as the scaffolding, she shares knowledge and insights she has gained through speaking personally with adult survivors of sexual abuse across the country. Marilyn has been in personal contact with more survivors than anyone in America. She has personally answered over 8,000 letters and spoken in 225 cities. Survivors line up for two to three hours to tell her their stories.

Marilyn’s major motivation in writing the book came as a result of hearing these words literally thousands of times: “When I was 7 and my brother was 13…” Only the ages changed.

The most frequently reported age when sexual abuse begins is between 5 and 6 years old and common offenders are older brothers and teenage baby-sitters (both male and female). Suprisingly, 14 -year-olds comprise the largest number of sex offenders of any age group.

With her extensive research on the long-term impact of trauma and her belief that sexual abuse prevention is the best weapon for keeping our children safe, Marilyn urges parents to talk with children, as young as five, and provides suggested guidelines for important conversations that will, hopefully, evolve into continuous dialogues.

Knowing that vulnerable children are targets, she gives unique ways of building children’s self esteem.

Order now, to read how she responds to: “This happened decades ago.” “How could you forget?” “Are there really ‘false memories’?” “Can ‘just fondling’ cause as much trauma as rape?” “Did you forgive?” “How did you develop a satisfying sexual relationship?”

The major theme that ties the book together is how her marriage continued to thrive during her darkest years of recovery.


Marilyn, in her office
Contact Marilyn for an autographed copy


Praise for Marilyn Van Derbur’s message:

“As Marilyn shared the details of her recovery, it became clear to me that I, too, could conquer terror and shame.” Jena Lei Deere, Atlanta, GA


“Marilyn’s philosophy of parenting changed the way I parented and my relationship with my children forever.” Rex John, Houston, TX

“Not one of the 2,000 women who heard you will ever be the same.” Crystal Cathedral


“I don’t think anyone was prepared for the impact of your presentation.” New York Supreme Court Appellate Division


“Your presentation was the most powerful we have ever had.” Junior League of Dallas


“Thank you for educating me about conversations I must have with my children.” Susan Zimmerman, Golden, CO


“Your talk with the psychiatry residents was the highlight of the year’s course.” Peter Mayerson, M.D., Denver, CO


“We have a sense of awe at your capacity to tell your story in such a meaningful way.” State Conference, Georgia Council on Child Abuse, Inc.


“Marilyn’s wisdom and support is the gift of life to me.” Susan Mary Rose, Monument, CO


“You were beyond my expectations…you really rattled people…” John Shields, Barbara Sinatra Center, Rancho Mirage, CA

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