Black and white image of a smiling survivor of childhood sexual abuse

I Know Who I Am and I Am Beautiful

“For 26 years I kept my secret. I kept my shame. I never believed I was worthy of anything. Love, friendship, acceptance.

Then I saw a video of a stranger sharing her “fight song” and I realized, I didn’t have to live like that anymore. That video pushed me to take my first step in the journey to healing. Fast forward one year and I’m still taking steps. Some forward, some backwards, some sideways, but still taking one step at a time. One moment at a time.

Last week, I went to the Haven retreat, I’ve tried to figure out how to express what happened there, but the words don’t do it justice. I have NEVER felt the ability to let my guard down so quickly with ANYONE, let alone a group of strangers. But that’s the thing, they weren’t strangers, they are sisters.

Yes, it was an ugly thing that brought us to that place, but there, in that house, the scars became beautiful. They became reminders that what tried to kill me, DID NOT succeed.

I can never express how much I appreciate the time I had there, the friends I made, the truths I discovered. All I can say really is that now I KNOW who I am and that I am beautiful even with those scars.

I’m a palm tree, so let the storm rage, because my roots go deep.”

Tammy, Survivor

Woman sitting in an office smiling as she writes

5 Steps to Creating Positive Declarations in Your Healing Journey

For survivors of childhood sexual trauma, looking to the future can lead to high levels of anxiety. An important part of healing and reclaiming hope is to be able to plan a positive future for yourself. Part of Faith (the 5th strategy to finding healing) is being able to look toward the future with confidence.

One way to do that is through positive declarations. Positive declarations are sentences that you say to yourself to remind you of the positive future you have ahead of yourself. Here are five ways to come up with your own positive declarations:

1.  Start with a list.

Make a list of positive things you want to see happen in your life. Be as vague or specific as you want, just write down the first things that come to mind.

2. Choose one to represent each aspect of your life.

Think of categories like Work, Family, Personal, Physical, Spiritual, etc. Find the most important aspects of your life and come up with one sentence from your list for each category. Remember to keep the declarations in the present tense, as if you’ve already accomplished them.

3. Write your positive declarations down.

Put your positive declarations somewhere you’ll see them every day.

4. Say them to yourself.

It may feel a little awkward at first, but say the declarations out loud with conviction. You’ll be surprised how empowering they can be.

5. Keep them current.

If one of your declarations is “I exercise for 30 minutes every day because my body deserves it” and you’ve made that a consistent habit, then replace it with a new one that expands on that.

Here are a few examples of positive declarations to get you started:

  • I love myself and I am amazing.
  • I am good at my job and am paid what I am worth.
  • I am a great mom and my children are fortunate to have me.
  • I have the strength to do the right thing.
  • I am grateful for this day and the many possibilities it affords.
  • I am a powerful and resourceful woman.
  • I am attracting positive and healthy people into my life.
  • I view challenges as opportunities to increase my wisdom and strength.
  • I can manage triggers in a healthy way.
  • I behave in ways that promote my health every day.

If you practice your positive declarations consistently, along with viewing your vision board and your future vision statement, you’ll be sending a consistent positive message to the limbic system in your brain (the part that drives behavior). You’ll be amazed at the results you see when you practice a little faith!

black and white picture of a relaxed woman with her eyes closed

My Secret No Longer Has Power. I’m a Survivor.

“I have found such peace inside myself that I just want to share it with the world.”- Maggie, Survivor

Hi my name is Maggie and I am a sexual abuse SURVIVOR.

A few years ago to say those words brought so much shame and embarrassment, I thought if I could run away and put my childhood trauma to rest and never think about it again I was doing good. I have always gone to therapy and different counselors but nothing seemed to help. Until The Younique Foundation found me.

I had been working on my issues for a long time but never really had any aha moments until them. After going to the Haven Retreat, I found others who felt like they were broken too. I discovered I wasn’t alone.

Yes, I was sexually abused but I won’t let that define who I am. I am worthy of love, loyalty, honesty and all the other amazing miracles that happen when you surrender to your fears and learn that there are other ways to cope and thrive.

My life now is changing so quickly since opening up. I am starting the process to begin a peer trauma group in my town. I am also hoping to be able to go to schools and educate children.

Once the secret is out it has no power over you. I have found such peace inside myself that I just want to share it with the world.

-Maggie, Survivor

woman doing yoga as she faces the ocean

Yoga: A Way to Find Healing for Trauma Survivors

A great number of childhood sexual abuse survivors experience dissociation. It means that some trauma survivors will disconnect their brain from their body because the memories are too painful. In their book Overcoming Trauma through Yoga, David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper say, “Dissociation is a coping mechanism used to create distance from emotions, cognitions, or somatic symptoms.”

Yoga is a technique that can help you make peace with your body and reconnect with it in a positive way. Practicing yoga regularly will help you become more grounded. Doing this type of workout will access the limbic system (the emotional part of your brain) and engage it in the healing process. This attention can help you unfreeze emotions that may have kept you stuck for years.

TYF Note: To experience some trauma-friendly yoga watch and participate with the video above.

What makes a yoga class trauma-friendly? Some may have it right in their description, but even a regular yoga class can still be trauma-friendly if you know what to look for, ask for, and expect. Below are a few steps to take to ensure that the class you attend is the best one for you.

  • Talk to the instructor ahead of time. Explain to the instructor that you are a trauma survivor or, if that makes you uncomfortable, explain that you have a few questions or requests that will make the class a better experience for you. This will include whether or not you’d like to be touched or physically assisted during class, whether tools like resistance ropes or restraints will be used, and if you are allowed to leave class if you are triggered or become uncomfortable.
  • Arrive a little early. Give yourself a chance to acclimate to the new environment, especially if this is your first yoga class. Place yourself near the door in case you need to leave early. Take a few minutes to practice mindfulness before the class starts, allowing you to begin the class on the right note.
  • Don’t push too hard. If something hurts you or brings up negative emotions, make a conscious choice whether you will pull back or breathe through it. This may be opposite of what the instructor says (especially if they are not trained in trauma-friendly practices). You don’t have to push your limits to benefit from yoga. That’s actually the opposite of what you should be doing.
  • You have options. Some trauma survivors can feel overwhelmed when they feel like they have no choice in a position. If you are uncomfortable you can stop. You can always stop. Put your mental and physical health first and you’ll enjoy yoga a lot more than if you do things out of pressure or obligation.
  • Count to yourself if the instructor doesn’t. Many trauma survivors can dissociate or lose time if they’re in pain or uncomfortable. To prevent this from happening in yoga you can slowly count to yourself to keep yourself grounded in the moment and in that particular yoga position.
  • Remember that healing is a process. Yoga is a tool on your healing journey. Make sure you are utilizing it in a way that helps you heal without hindering your progress. If you think your yoga class is not helping, switch to a different one. Do what you feel is best for you. Don’t allow yoga to become one more source of distress in your life.

Reconnecting with your body is an important part of healing from trauma. Yoga can help you do that in a positive, healthy way. Find a yoga class in your area, or, if you aren’t ready for that step, watch our trauma-friendly yoga video above and start practicing at home.

black and white image of rena, sexual abuse survivor

I Am Not a Victim. I Am a Warrior.

“I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor, I am a warrior!”

– Rena, Survivor

I only opened up about my abuse last year. I always felt so ashamed, disgusting, and that I wouldn’t be believed. I was abused by someone for many years, someone who was supposed to love and protect me.

Before I received the email to say that I had been selected for The Haven Retreat, I had just finished a six-week group therapy course here in the UK. I did not know where to turn to next. The email came at just the right time for me.

I was petrified to make the journey to Utah. I was traveling on my own from the UK, to a country I have never been to. It was so daunting, but I knew I had to go. And I did it!

I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor, I am a warrior! I’ve met wonderful ladies at the retreat, who will forever be my friends. I felt safe and comfortable. Being the only person there from England, I felt so nervous. But everyone made me feel so welcomed.

I have been given the tools I need to continue with my healing journey and for that I will forever be grateful.

Rena, Survivor

woman walking barefoot through a forest

Faith: Taking Steps to a Better Future

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

– Martin Luther King Jr.

The Younique Foundation has five key strategies that are used to help childhood sexual abuse survivors progress along their healing journeys. The fifth strategy is Faith. What is faith?

  • Faith is a force or power that has the capacity to change and create things.
  • Faith is the act of moving forward on your belief that wholeness and healing is possible.
  • Faith is the moving cause or power behind all personal and spiritual growth.
  • Faith is drawing on your higher power; whatever or whoever that may be.
  • Faith is the crossroad where science and spirituality meet.
  • Faith is knowing it’s worth your effort to keep trying.
  • Faith can empower you.
  • Faith is developing greater optimism for the future.

The other four strategies – Awareness, Acknowledgement, Power through Surrender, and Mindfulness – focus more on the past and present. Faith focuses on the future. It empowers you to plan a positive future that you can believe in. You can do this through vision boards, future vision statements, and positive declarations. Stating any goals or hopes in the present tense makes them that much more powerful.

Faith is a critical part of the healing journey. Once you manage your past and practice mindfulness in your present, then you’ll need to have faith in your future. Imagine the person you want to be, visualize it in as much detail as possible. Life is constantly moving; your dreams need to be nourished daily. Just as a plant needs daily watering, so do your hopes.

Have you heard of the Law of Incubation? It says that for every seed that is planted there is a gestation period; a specific, undetermined period of time that the seed needs to establish itself. Just because you don’t see immediate results, it doesn’t mean the seed isn’t changing or the process isn’t working.

The same thing applies to you and your healing journey. If you’re worried that you’re not seeing change, have faith. Be patient and steady. Healing takes time, but you’re making progress every day. Remember to focus on your faith in the future and take it one day at a time.

Woman smiling wide while standing in front of a blue wall

Future Vision Statement: One Step Closer to Living Your Best Life

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don’t much care where-

Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

-Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

Do you ever feel like Alice in Wonderland? Like you want to get somewhere, but you’re not quite sure where? For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, it can feel overwhelming to focus on more than today. But as you find your true self and reclaim hope through your healing journey, you’ll want to start living your life in a more proactive way, allowing you to thrive, instead of just surviving in a reactive way.

Without a goal or vision it’s hard to have direction. We’ve come up with a simple, but thought-provoking, way to envision your future positively and write it down to document it. Dream big. This is your one and only life, so make it amazing!

Take a little time to close your eyes and imagine what you want your future to look like. See it as if you’ve already achieved all your dreams. Imagine everything, even the smallest details. Don’t let that inner critic tell you it’s impossible or out of your reach or that you’re not good enough.

Now, while you can still see that vision clearly in your mind, write down what it looks like. State it in the present tense, as if it’s already a reality. Don’t say, “Someday I want to be a world-class chef,” write down, “I’m a world-class chef at a 5-star restaurant.” Stating it in the present tense connects you with a powerful force in your brain, faith, that begins the process of making your vision become a reality. The very spark of belief is all your brain needs to start the process of creating the future that you desire.

Take that leap of faith and write your future vision statement. Four areas to think about are:

  1. Physical: describe your health, your looks, the aura that you give off, how you carry yourself, the type of clothes this new you wears
  2. Emotional: describe your strength, how you deal with triggers, and the way that you feel in this ideal future
  3. Spiritual: talk about your gratitude to your higher power, your relationship to the world around you, the relationship you have to the spiritual side of yourself
  4. Relationships: write what you are looking for in your relationships, whether current or future ones you hope to have, what you need from them and what you give to them

After you’ve written these down, hang the paper somewhere prominent — a place where you’ll see it, and read it, every day. Take time to read a few of the sentences aloud. Hearing the words will be both empowering and motivating.

Once you know where you want to go, it will only be a matter of time before you find the right path to that dream. And you’ll no longer be like Alice – wandering in Wonderland not sure where to go.