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Margie McKinnon shines a light into the darkness
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Thursday, 16 February 2012 00:00

Margie McKinnon doesn’t want other children to go through what she and her daughters endured.

McKinnon’s father raped her when she was 13. Her daughters were sexually abused by McKinnon’s second husband. Another of McKinnon’s daughters was raped by a stranger.

Cornville resident Margie McKinnon, the founder of the Lamplighter Movement and the author of six books about recovery from childhood sexual abuse and incest, is organizing a blue ribbon campaign to shine a stronger light on the issue during April which is Child Abuse Awareness month.Her father abused her for five years before she ran away from home only to end up moving from one abusive relationship to the next until one day she thought she might not survive the torment of her abuser. It took her five more years to escape, and she said she would have left earlier if she knew how good life could be.

McKinnon wants to call attention to a subject many people don’t want to talk about — sexual abuse of children. Using her organization, she is in the process of helping the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse organize a blue ribbon campaign to coincide with Child Abuse Awareness Month in April.

“I know this is a very large problem,” McKinnon said.

She wants to bring awareness to often unmentioned crime, part of the mission of The Lamplighters Movement, an international program for incest and child sexual abuse recovery.

“It’s a difficult subject for people to talk about,” McKinnon said. She regularly visits social clubs and speaks to audiences about her mission, and those in attendance are often uncomfortable. At one particular meeting, she said a man turned his chair around so he did not have to face her while she told her story.

The taboo nature of sexual abuse also makes it hard for victims, but McKinnon said that’s not the way it should be.

“The same [stigma] isn’t on the victim; it’s on the perpetrator,” McKinnon said, which is why she founded Lamplighters and continues to reach out to communities and individuals in need.

When McKinnon finally decided to take charge of her life and leave those who abused her behind, she struggled with recovery programs. They didn’t work for her, so she found her own path.

She tried a few times to start her own program before she founded Lamplighters. The first chapter of the movement was founded in International Falls, Minn., the place of McKinnon’s birth.

Organizers in International Falls had no idea McKinnon was born there when they contacted her, but McKinnon said it was her life coming full circle. Just before she received the call, McKinnon visited her father’s grave as part of her recovery and told him if he ever wanted her to forgive him, then he had to help her start her movement.

Today, the Lamplighter Movement has 83 chapters in 13 countries including 18 groups in Africa. The program has also moved into several women’s prisons where McKinnon said she could have ended up at times when the abuse pushed her to her limits.

McKinnon is in the planning stages and plans to meet with city officials to move the blue ribbon campaign forward. To help her with her crusade, call her at 649-3826.


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