One Secret Is Surfaced…

Musical, athletic, beautiful  —yet with the winsome appeal of “the girl next door”—Marilyn Van Derber walked down the Atlantic City runway as the newly crowned Miss America. After reigning for a year with whirlwind spotlight appearances, she embarked on a highly visible speaking career.

As the epitome of self-confidence and composure, this host of 23 television specials served for 16 years as the only female guest lecturer of a major corporation.

Then, 33 years later, Marilyn stepped up to a very different podium, this time to deliver a very different message: “Tonight, I break my silence. . . . It means speaking the unspeakable word.”1 She revealed, “From the time I was 5 until I was 18 and moved away to college, my father sexually violated me.”2

As a motivational speaker, Marilyn had a new motivation—a passion to help other victims break their silence, salvage their lives, and be made whole. Describing her hidden horror has helped other victims reveal their terror and survive their shame. Still there are many victims in the midst of their own secret storm who inwardly cry…

“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.” -Psalm 55:4–5

The Power of the Secret

The secret—knowing the child won’t tell—is the perpetrator’s most powerful weapon in child abuse. God’s strategy for the protector is to surface the secret and thus enable the TRUTH to set the child FREE.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” -John 8:32

Surface the Secret

Victims of childhood sexual abuse are in bondage to “the secret.” Revealing the truth is the only strategy for breaking the power of the secret. To open the hearts of victims, give them loving care and compassion that flow from the Spirit of God.5

  • Pray for supernatural wisdom from God.
  • Provide a safe atmosphere.
  • Ask whether the child is experiencing something uncomfortable or confusing.
  • Listen, reflect, and observe carefully.
  • Let the authorities determine the truth.
  • Communicate that you believe the child.
  • Acknowledge that the offender is wrong.
  • Give assurance that the child is not to blame.
  • Confirm that “telling” is the right thing to do.
  • Provide a safe atmosphere by displaying genuine love and compassion.

“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” -Proverbs 20:5

Click here for the PDF version of the complete Childhood Sexual Abuse Resource Guide provided by Hope for the Heart.