GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
A screening of a new documentary at Colorado Mesa University, “Miss America by Day” tells the story of Miss America 1958, Marilyn Van Derbur Alter, and how this victim of sexual abuse became a healing inspiration for thousands of survivors; including Coloradans connecting to see the film and heal.
At age 53, Marilyn revealed her secret, she had been the victim of incest from age 5 to age 18.
A panel of childhood sexual abuse experts, and local survivors will tell their stories following the film, and support systems will be offered as well a discussion on the need for a statute of limitations reform.
Christie Somes is one of the survivors of childhood sexual abuse and here mission is to start a conversation with the community about the reality of sexual abuse. “It’s a forbidden subject, it’s taboo, and we need to normalize that discussion, and not give power to the silence”, says Somes.
Executive Director of the WINGS Foundation, Jennifer Stith is also a survivor and says, “The best thing we can start with is recognize how big a problem this is, and that childhood sexual abuse is happening in every community. Unfortunately, including this one.”
So, what is the difference between a victim of sexual abuse and a survivor of sexual abuse? Jean McAllister, lead consultant for the Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors Systems Improvement Project answers with, “There’s someone who’s still here, and still willing to try to recover regardless of what they went through when they were victimized.”
1 in 5 adults experience sexual abuse as a child, according to the WINGS Foundation, and the first step for that one person is to ask for help which may be the most difficult thing to do. “The most important thing any of us can do to help, is when someone discloses to listen to them”, says McAllister.
Somes says, “The very first thing you say to a survivor who speaks out, the very first thing is, I believe you. Then their healing can begin.”
For more information on how you can support those who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, or to find support,and start healing; click here: https://www.wingsfound.org/