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Headshot of Dilek Acar is Missouri’s 2019 Mother of the Year

Sexual, Physical and Emotional Abuse are All Around Us

May 30, 2024

Headshot of Dilek Acar is Missouri’s 2019 Mother of the Year
Dilek Acar is Missouri’s 2019 Mother of the Year

Today is the first time I am speaking publicly about my story and I must admit I am terrified. I am a survivor of horrific sexual and physical abuse which has shaped how I have allowed people to treat me and how I treated myself.

Once Oprah started the conversation in the early 1990’s I realized I was not alone. Sexual abuse of children exists, and it exists in all types of families. From outside appearances my family seemed picture perfect, but no-one ever realized the house of horrors I actually lived in. Although I was barely surviving, I was always dreaming of having my own large family with lots of children just like the The Brady Bunch and The Waltons. I prayed that one day the constant terror, loneliness and fear of never being loved would be replaced with the fulfillment of love that having my own children would allow.

I did not let what happened to me define me or get in my way, I was determined to make a better life for myself and my daughters. I was there for every dance recital, soccer game, and math competition providing a loving and supportive environment for my daughters and their friends, teaching kindness, respect and compassion.

As my daughters were getting older I realized that I was setting an example for them on how I was allowing myself to be treated and that I needed to make a change. It was time to make those difficult decisions, addressing the whispers you hear but never really listen to. I started to stand up for myself, to trust my instincts and believe in myself. After yet another Oprah show she taught me that “forgiveness is letting go the past can be any different”. I repeated that over and over until I forgave myself and all those who hurt me.


I focused on all things positive and started living in a state of gratefulness. The moment my girls were born I knew I had a purpose and a reason to live the best life I could. I was so grateful to have them.


After many years living in sort of a fog of survival and struggling both financially and emotionally, I realized all the horrors I lived through actually made me stronger and more empathetic. I then used my experiences to help and empower others. I advocate for all causes related to children, I love giving and helping out in any way that I can, and I love bringing people together. I always say that the best gift I ever gave my girls was the gift of giving.


It is very difficult to have this conversation because most people immediately judge. Sexual, physical and verbal abuse still exists and in forms no one really sees. It is important to bring awareness to this topic. Nobody deserves to be beaten, bullied, or abused in any way as illustrated by the recent “Me Too” movement.

As a single mom I have built a successful real estate business, raised two beautiful daughters, who both married incredible husbands, and just last year I reunited with my first love who I was forbidden to be with at the time. I am now living a dream come true.


2019 Missouri Mother of the Year, Dilek Acar is a mother, community builder and entrepreneur. A daughter of Turkish immigrants, she earned a BA degree from Ohio State University and devoted her early adulthood to supporting her husband’s career as a professor and researcher. However, after 24 years of verbal abuse, she found the courage to divorce her husband and, with no support, she built a successful real estate company. A survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse, Dilek is passionate about supporting and empowering women. A natural matchmaker, she is recognized for bringing people together. Dilek considers her greatest accomplishment to be her daughters, one in training to become a child and adolescent psychiatrist and one an early childhood educator, both of whom share Dilek’s commitment to the importance of raising healthy children. Even though Dilek is viewed as a successful business owner and community builder, she still struggles with self-esteem and confidence, though seeing herself through her daughter’s eyes has helped her grow in this area. Read more about Dilek here…