Ernest Dempsey – Child abuse leaves scars on the victim’s life that take years or decades to heal. April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, the
Lamplighter Movement is spearheading a Blue Ribbon Campaign in the Verde Valley, Arizona.
Led by its founder Marjorie McKinnon, the Lamplighter movement is attaching 1000 blue ribbons to informational cards and distributing containers of 20 each to various organizations and businesses in this area. A blue ribbon is the unofficial color to represent child abuse. McKinnon is also being awarded a Ninth Annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Award at a luncheon on May 11th by the NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners). GHN talked to Marjorie McKinnon, author of a series of books on recovery from child abuse, about the Lamplighter Movement and the response it has received so far.
GHN:Marjorie, congrats on winning the Annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. Please tell us a
little about what it means to you?
Marjorie: I’m afraid when I received the first email regarding the award, I thought it was someone wanting money, and/or an email sent to me in error; so I deleted it. Then I received a second email, and deleted it without responding as well. Then Banya Lim, the lady who had nominated me for the award, called. This time I listened. I was sort of stunned and when she said, “I bet you thought it was someone wanting money”, I was a bit embarrassed. I don’t look at myself as a woman in business so I was still a bit confused as to why I was nominated and also why I’m the recipient. But then Banya explained that she wanted to give me more exposure as she felt that what I was doing was very important. The local press had recently done an article on the Blue Ribbon Campaign and The Lamplighter Movement and someone had brought the article to her and told her they wanted me nominated. I hadn’t thought about it before, but someone who writes and sells their books would be a woman in business. So now that I finally understand it all, I am very honored and grateful to Banya for being so persistent.
GHN: How long have you been working, through writings and talks and all that, to create awareness about child abuse?
Marjorie: I finished developing the REPAIR program in 1996. I had been in recovery for from 1987 to 1993, and after six months of post-recovery began the book. I traveled to other parts of the country (NE, OR, AZ) as well as in the LA area and a multitude of small towns in between to interview people who had been sexually abused and/or were a member of the family of one abused to find out what they’d like to see in a program for recovery. It was amazing to see that once I began telling my story, so many people came forward to tell theirs. I went on to teach seminars in the Los Angeles area without much success. This was still a subject that most people, including survivors, had an aversion to. An interview on my experience was taped for a national television network and aired in December of 1998. It was 2007 before I began the Lamplighter Movement, a longtime dream of mine.
GHN: Tell our readers a little about the Lamplighter Movement and your involvement with it.
Marjorie: When I was in recovery, I used to wish that I had a Lamplighter, someone who could show me the way to recover. During those five years, I had tried everything I came across—groups, books, videos, etc—and found that some helped and some made it worse. Toward the end of my recovery, I traveled to my father’s grave and cried and emptied all my rage and anguish at his doorstep. I finally told him that if he wanted me to forgive him, he would help me to get a movement started and get my words published for people who had been sexually abused as a child. After my website was published, the first place I heard from that wanted to start a chapter was International Falls, MN. That just happened to be the town where I was born, delivered by my father in the middle of a snowstorm. They had no idea of this. They invited me to do several speaking engagements in their small community.
The Lamplighter Movement currently has 87 chapters in 14 countries. Two of our chapters are in women’s prisons. I am working on getting all of the women’s prisons to start chapters. 18 of our chapters are in Africa and our newest chapter is in Pakistan. During the years while I was waiting for the right time to start the Lamplighter Movement, I wrote not only the REPAIR series, I also wrote It’s Your Choice! Decisions That Will Change Your Life (by the Loving Healing Press). I also wrote 5 novels and 5 other non-fictions works, (including a memoir) none of which have yet been published.
GHN: Do you write for and talk to only grownups about child abuse issues or do you also communicate with children?
Marjorie: In addition to REPAIR Your Life, during the years between 1998 and 2007, I developed (and wrote) a program for children, called REPAIR For Kids and REPAIR For Toddlers. All three and The REPAIR Your Life Workbook were published by the Loving Healing Press. REPAIR For Teens will be published next month. I am in the process of trying to start Lamplighter chapters for children and for teenagers. My hope and goal is to get schools involved so that we can hold Lamplighter Chapters for both young children and for teens at the school.
GHN: Besides parents and teachers, what other sources can be most helpful in supporting the cause of the Lamplighter Movement?
Marjorie: In the Verde Valley, where I live, I have heard repeatedly that child sexual abuse is rampant. The local radio interviewed me when I first began the Lamplighter Movement five years ago. The local newspapers have interviewed me more than once, most recently on the Blue Ribbon Campaign. The Lamplighter Movement (which has a local chapter) spearheaded this campaign delivering 2000 ribbons to various organizations, businesses and the local high school. It has been most difficult getting the Lamplighter Movement to reach the community as through the years, I have tried to get the word out through the local Guidance clinic, Women’s Shelter (I offered to come in and facilitate weekly meetings but I was told they had their own therapists), the Police Dept., community organizations, as well as the high school, therapists, doctors, the hospital etc. The response and the co-operation have been so minimal that it makes me ashamed of my community. I have been told that the reason is because I don’t have any initials after my name. Local bookstores do not want to carry my book, saying they only want books with a more “positive” subject matter. Since starting the Blue Ribbon campaign there has been slightly more interest than before (see amazon.com for several five star reviews on REPAIR).
GHN: Are there any religious groups and organizations working on preventing child abuse? (and is the current movement also involving them to serve this cause)
Marjorie: I had been told that the people to talk with were the churches. When I first started the Lamplighter Movement, I sent letters to every church in the area, telling them what I was trying to do. I had no response from any. Most of my chapter meetings include me and a good book, once in awhile someone else comes. With the Blue Ribbon Campaign, I am receiving some support, but only time will tell whether it will make a difference. Out of 48 churches called to see if they would put up a flyer and if they would put an announcement in their church bulletin, about half gave me their email addresses so I could send the announcement and the flyer to them. The other half didn’t call back despite repeated calls. The Mayor of Cottonwood (the largest community near where I live and part of the towns that are in the Verde Valley) was a big help, even inviting me to a town council meeting to talk about the Blue Ribbon Campaign. But she is the first one in five years of working on this. We also had one, Only One, of the churches that asked for blue ribbons. They wanted 125. It is my perception that the churches do not want any help.
The community organizations, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis Club etc. Have been extremely supportive (this time around) but five years ago, it was a different story. I think that means, at least I hope, that this subject is coming out of the closet.
GHN: What book of yours would you recommend most for interested readers on the topic of recovering from child abuse?
Marjorie: REPAIR Your Life: A Program for Recovery from Incest & Childhood Sexual Abuse would be the book I would recommend the most.
GHN: And how can readers join the Lamplighter Movement?
Marjorie: Anyone wanting to join the Lamplighter Movement or wanting to start Lamplighter chapters can contact me at Margie@thelamplighters.org. For information on what we are doing and how to start a chapter, visit our website at www.thelamplighters.org.
GHN: Thank you Marjorie for the wonderful work you are doing for kids and families, and of course for sparing us your precious time!