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Former Miss America to address abuse at Clothesline Project event

Marilyn Van Derbur
Marilyn Van Derbur
Photo courtesy Marilyn Van Derbur

OREM — The Clothesline Project: Silent Voices, a national violence awareness and prevention program, will be hosted at Utah Valley University Monday, April 5, and Tuesday, April 6, in the Grande Ballroom of the Sorensen Student Center.

Marilyn Van Derbur, author of “Miss America by Day: An Inspirational Resource for Healing from Child Sexual Abuse,” will be the keynote speaker for the event, which also features a T-shirt display created by survivors of abuse or by others in honor of someone who has experienced violence. Van Derbur’s keynote address is scheduled for April 5 at 6:30 p.m.

The UVU Women’s Success Center has hosted the Clothesline Project twice a year since 1998. The display is scheduled in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The clothesline is a witness of the violence in the community and also serves as a voice for many survivors who have been silenced by abuse.

The shirts can be viewed 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day in the Grande Ballroom. Blank T-shirts will also be available, free of charge, for individuals wanting to participate.

“The Clothesline Project provides evidence that incest and domestic and sexual violence exists in our communities,” Peggy Pasin, project coordinator for the Women’s Success Center, said in a prepared statement. “It is a visual reminder of statistics that we often ignore. It gives a voice to those who have been forcibly silenced. Hopefully, it stirs us to action."

Van Derbur, crowned Miss Colorado in 1957 and Miss America in 1958, became a top motivational speaker after her reign. More than 30 years later, she publicly acknowledged that her father had sexually abused her for 13 years as she was growing up. She subsequently authored a book on recovering from child sexual abuse and founded the Survivor United Network.

The Clothesline Project is free and open to the public.To register, or for more information, visit