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MISS AMERICA MALLORY HAGAN: An advocate for child abuse prevention

April 8, 2013

By: JANINE MITCHELL

jmitchell@nhchildrenstrust.org

Imagine a family stressor of tragic sexual abuse – causing turmoil, depression, and post traumatic stress for years, and many to come. But, finally, you feel comfortable enough talking about it, discussing and healing with family. So much that you decide to take action – to really do something about it.

Upon competing for Miss New York City, Mallory Hagan’s family granted her permission to share their stories through her platform, Stop It Now: Preventing Child Sexual Abuse.  Though she was not abused, many of her female family members were sexually abused as children, and as a loving member of their family she was also affected. In her teenage years, she witnessed them coming to terms with what happened to them in their childhood.  Now, as an international role model, Mallory admits the attention gets tough.

“They struggled with it for a while. But, we’re all kind of growing and learning together. It’s been an experience, because I did win Miss America. We thought that this was something I would speak about on a local level.  Now that it’s national, they’re excited, but it’s also a bit challenging,” she says. Being thrown into the spotlight, Mallory now has the chance to collaborate with national child abuse prevention program and NH Children’s Trust’s partner, Prevent Child Abuse America and a sexual abuse prevention program, Stop It Now.

With the challenges, she says, comes a great sense of unity within her family.

“It’s really brought us closer together,” she says of the stressor. Though there was a happy ending to Mallory’s story, she understands the many voices she now represents nationwide because she’s met many. Before the fame, glamour and sponsors came with the title of Miss America, she spent quality time with inner-city children at the Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center near her home in the borough of New York City.

“I went in and entertained the kids … and it was always an impactful experience because you know that the family is there to get help and they’re there to do something about making life better,” Mallory explained. “A lot of parents fail to remember that when their children get older they will understand and be grateful for their strength and courage, though it may be hard to do in the moment.”

This hits in Ms. Hagan’s gut.

As Miss America, she a powerful, independent 24-year-old with a successful career as a cosmetics and fragrance marketing guru in her near future. But, something rarely talked about among the career-driven pageant titleholders, Mallory absolutely hopes to be a strong mother.

“I hope that when I’m a parent I continue to be open and honest with my kids - as I’m encouraging other people to be (with theirs,)” she says of her motherly potential, confirming her down-to-earth, gracious personality, “I think it’s incredibly important to be honest with yourself and with others. You get so much more out of life if you’re just true to who you are.”

And, though her status admittedly provides her with a much taller pedestal to speak from, Mallory actually looks forward to passing on her title as Miss America.

“When you have a national (celebrity), be it an athlete, a musician or a Miss America, it makes peoples ears perk up and listen. If we encourage one, 10 or 1,000 people to have the conversation (about preventing child abuse) at least it’s happening,” says the advocate.

When asked how she could possibly keep herself grounded being “royalty” and all, she laughed and joked, “It’s a whirlwind I knew was coming if I won. But, it’s not hard to keep myself grounded - my mom would kill me otherwise!”

Thank you, Mallory, for your dedication to ending child abuse before it starts.

Get to know Miss America Mallory Hagan a little better through this Huffington Post interview done just a few days after winning the national honor.