Accepting Your Truth as a Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.

-Galileo Galilei-

An important step on the healing journey for any sexual abuse survivor is Acknowledgement. This Strategy to Reclaim Hope consists of four major parts:

  1. Acknowledgement helps you accept where you are. You recognize your truth and what you need to do to improve. As long as you push aside the truth you are fundamentally at war with yourself. Suppressing core feelings is both psychologically taxing and physically exhausting.
  2. Acknowledgement helps you know that although the abuse is not your fault, it is your responsibility to get the help you need.
  3. Acknowledgement allows you to courageously take a look at the past traumatic events in your life, the effect they’ve had on you, and know that you can heal.
  4. Acknowledgement is a key to behavior change. It isn’t a one-time thing, but an ongoing process. You have to continually Acknowledge where you are and know where you want to be.

Acknowledgement can be attained through many ways, but we’ve found that writing and talk therapy are good places to start for most survivors.

Writing is one of the safest and most powerful ways to access your deepest feelings. It’s important when you write to stay grounded in the present moment through Awareness. Note the current date and time and that you’re writing about an even that happened in the past. This will help you clearly distinguish between the past and the present.

Even so, there may be some things that you’re not ready to deal with. Don’t force yourself to address anything that you’re not emotionally prepared for. Only go as far as you can.

So where should you begin? Try writing for 15 minutes. Don’t stop, don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just write. Then put the pages away without re-reading them. Every day for a week write for just 15 minutes. At the end of the week go back and look at what you wrote. What truths did you discover?

Another way to find your truth is through talk therapy with a licensed therapist. Sometimes the best way to work through a problem is to talk it through with someone who will understand, but isn’t directly tied to your daily life. As you talk about your experiences you’ll probably Acknowledge some truths you weren’t aware of before.

Leave yourself some time to deal with these truths. Acknowledge where you are now and where you want to be. Keep checking in with yourself this way every once in a while. It’s difficult to make positive changes in your life if you don’t know where you are. Acknowledge your truth, look at what you need to do, and have the courage to take the steps toward healing that are necessary for you.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Jump in With Both Feet

It’s been almost a year since I attended the Younique Foundation Retreat. I couldn’t even begin to imagine my life without such an incredible opportunity.

One of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done was venturing out on my own for the first time in my life and knowing that I would be in the presence of multiple other women and a number of therapists that would all know one thing about me…that I was sexually abused as a child. I had carried so much guilt, shame, anger, and humiliation around with me for so many years, to the point where I had some pretty destructive coping techniques and felt as if I was the one at fault.

The ice broke almost immediately as we all made ourselves comfortable on the huge, welcoming couch. We talked about “normal” life things at first, and as the week went on, we each made closer connections and shared parts of our stories with one another. The therapists were amazing, group therapy was extremely tough but incredibly rewarding and I finally felt like, maybe it was okay to talk about these things that had weighed so heavily on my heart. While each of us went through our own terrible trials, there was something so comforting and reassuring, knowing that each person really understood some of the things you felt and struggled with as a survivor.

Although it was a rough road at first, I now find myself wanting to open up more. Sharing my story doesn’t seem as scary as it once did, and someday soon, I really hope to be in a position to help others affected by sexual abuse.

I’ve struggled with a number of things from PTSD and depression, to negative self-esteem and self-harm issues. I now know those things aren’t my identity. I also know that overcoming those trials is an amazing feat, but very possible! As I’ve overcome these issues, one by one, it makes me realize just how courageous and confident I’ve become.

I will never be able to fully explain just how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to attend the retreat. Not only has it helped me gain knowledge and understanding, but it’s helped bring out my confidence and determination to work through the things that have caused so much pain. It’s nice to finally view myself as a survivor, and to share that empowering word with 7 other brave and outstanding women!

The Younique Foundation retreat helped me take my life back! Sometimes you just gotta jump in with both feet!

 

-Sarah, Survivor

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The 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope After Trauma

It is our mission to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse find healing. We do this through many ways, but all of them utilize the 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope.

Take a look at what these strategies are and what they mean for a survivor:

Awareness

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Awareness is becoming more fully grounded in the reality that the only time something can actually happen is now, in the present moment.

Acknowledgement

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Acknowledgement helps you accept where you are. You recognize your truth and what you need to do to improve.

Power Through Surrender

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Power Through Surrender is knowing what to fight and more importantly what NOT to fight.

Mindfulness

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Mindfulness is the ability to focus on empowering thoughts and feelings while choosing to co-exist with non-productive thoughts and feelings.

Faith

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Faith is the act of moving forward on your belief that wholeness and healing is possible, even if you may not see it yet.

 

 

black and white image of Michelle smiling

Bravery is the New Me

I had shared my story with only 3 people in my life and was encouraged to apply for The Haven Retreat by my cousin who is a presenter for Younique Products. I did so with confidence that I would not ever get the opportunity to participate. Then I got the call! I sat in disbelief. However, I knew that I needed to do this – for my family and for me.

I had been in such a dark place for so long that I wasn’t sure how much longer I could continue to walk through this life not feeling anything. The day that I decided to go, was a day that I was changed forever.

On the outside, my life was amazing! I have a great job, a wonderful husband, and amazing kids! I had just completed my masters. But on the inside, I was dead. There was nothing left of me. I was just a shell going through the motions of having a great life. There were no feelings – the retreat, the staff, the sisters I made – changed all of that for me.

Walking through the door on that first day I was filled with nerves, I was sure that this had been a mistake! But then I was greeted by my caseworker, and there was such an immediate sense of love that you can’t help but feel a little more at ease.  That feeling of love and peace grew, I began to feel safe and then something in me shifted. I felt not only love, but acceptance, and in that love and acceptance there was a sense that I wasn’t alone, and never would feel alone again! I found in that moment that I could speak my truth, that I could find peace, and that I could face those things that had been hidden for so long.

Feeling like I had taken the first step in a long overdue recovery was incredibly empowering. I felt worthy, I felt that I mattered. That there was a better way to live. And I deserved to enjoy my life.

I am finally free of the guilt and shame that I have carried for too long. Being at the retreat helped me to see that I have value! That I am beautiful!

I was given tools to understand myself, my triggers and my emotions are better as I navigate this journey of healing. I feel empowered to be brave and to fight for the person I deserve to be.

 

-Michelle, Survivor

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Faith and Addiction: Your Future Can Be Better

If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

Too often thoughts of the future can be fraught with anxiety for survivors who struggle with addiction. Faith is the ability to look to the future with hope connecting with a power greater than yourself, drawing strength from that power. As you work your way through the other 5 Strategies to Reclaim Hope you’ll be able to work toward Faith and the ability to plan for a healthy and healing future.

Healing and overcoming addiction takes time. Imagine planting a seed. You don’t expect to wake up the next morning with a full grown sunflower. You know that it takes time, nurturing, sunlight, and water. Your healing journey is the same way. Even though you can’t see the flower of your progress, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t budding roots.

One of the best indicators of Faith is the ability and desire to set goals. You can do this by writing a future vision statement. Take a minute to write down the things that you want to see for yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in relationships. Think through each of the categories carefully and write down your goal in the present tense.

For example, you wouldn’t write “I will run every day.” Instead you’d write, “I run each morning.” The more specific you are the easier it will be to visualize and actualize in your everyday life.

How can you use Faith in your everyday life as you struggle with addiction? Every time you need to make the difficult choice of NOT indulging your addiction you can use your vision for your future as an anchor to keep you motivated. Stop for a second and say to yourself, “If I want this future, I need to make this choice today.” Having Faith in your future can be a powerful boost toward your recovery and healing.

Don’t be afraid to plan for the future in a positive way. Imagine the way you want your life to be, and do something every day, no matter how small, to move toward that goal. Through Faith you’ll be able to see the path you can take to healing.

black and white image of Stephanie, a survivor of sexual abuse

It Is Time to Live My Life to the Fullest

I can’t imagine that a year ago this month, I applied for the retreat not knowing I would be lucky enough to attend. If there was anything that I could give all of the survivors out there, it would be the opportunity to attend The Haven Retreat.

I gained 15 sisters who unfortunately have the same thing in common with me. But the most important thing is, I found myself. I had no idea who I was until I began driving back to Texas and soaking everything in. I was able to return home and be Stephanie.

The Stephanie that was created 34 years ago to do something great. I am no longer ashamed and I am no longer silent. I was silent 17 years. I now stand at the top of the mountain that we are not at fault, we deserve to be heard, to be loved, to matter. I learned so much while there, and realized so much was tied to my trauma and I had no idea. If you are on the fence about going, don’t be. GO!

Let this change your life like it has changed mine. I came home and started EMDR therapy, I have been raising awareness in my local community, and I plan to bring awareness to our nation.

I could never repay the foundation for what they have done for me and my family. I am a better Wife, a better Mom, a better person. All I can do is give back and encourage others to go spend the best 4 days of your life surrounding yourself with others who will be your sisters for the rest of your life and have your back when you need it the most.

There aren’t words to describe how wonderful the staff is and the home is like something you could only dream of. Go take your life back. This life is amazing and I can’t wait to live it to the fullest!

 

-Stephanie, Survivor

 

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How to Use Mindfulness to Overcome Addiction Caused by Trauma

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

– Joseph Goldstein-

Mindfulness can be beneficial at any time and for any life. This is especially true for trauma survivors struggling with addiction.

As you try to overcome your addiction and deal with your past trauma it can feel overwhelming and impossible. Mindfulness can give you peace, hope, and help strengthen your prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain that responds to logic) in dealing with the limbic system (the part of your brain that responds to pleasure).

The way to look at Mindfulness is to see it as the ability to focus on empowering thoughts and feelings while choosing to coexist with nonproductive thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness allows you the power to choose what you focus on and how you react to everyday situations.

But how can you use Mindfulness to overcome addiction?

When you have an urge to use or engage in addictive behaviors, the limbic system tells you to go and have it and hurry! Your prefrontal cortex, however, will tell you that it isn’t going to help and that you’ll actually feel worse after you give in. So obviously you want to strengthen your prefrontal cortex so that it can manage your limbic system. That’s where Mindfulness comes in.

If you practice Mindfulness regularly then you’ll be able to make a conscious choice to NOT give in to the limbic system. Finding things that ground you, like yoga, meditation, or vividly imagining yourself making the right choice will allow you to strengthen your prefrontal cortex.

So when you are in a situation that may trigger your addiction, step back from it and CHOOSE.

You may say to yourself, “I am feeling upset and I think that eating will help me feel better. It may for a moment, but then I will just feel worse. I choose to focus, instead, on the positive things I can learn from this experience.” Take a moment and practice Mindfulness each day so you can rely on those grounding thoughts and feelings every time you feel your will slipping.

black and white image of Carrie smiling

The Worth of a Soul is Great

“The worth of a soul is great.” 

-Carrie, Survivor-

“I was able to attend the Haven Retreat in April. This is a day that I will never forget. I was so ready to find my voice but did not know how or where to start. At the age of 46, I had never talked about my abuse.

I am a Wife, Mother of 4, Mother-in-Law, Mumzie, Daughter, Sister, and a Cosmetologist but never felt worthy of my life. People would look at me and say I want your life. I would just think if you only really knew! (I do know I have a good life)

The morning of April 18th as I walked through this amazing door into the most beautiful house I knew my life would be changed forever. I finally felt free! I felt the peace that I had been looking for! I knew I was in the right place at the right time for me to start my healing journey.

I could finally validate the little girl inside of me. The staff that greeted me were so kind and genuine. I had never had so many strangers connect with me and want to see the best for me and my family. I was educated for the next four days about why I do the things I do; how come I think the way I do. Now, I have the ability to change those negative thoughts and feelings!

I learned how to find my voice! I made some goals and wrote them down. I put into action the lessons I learned to help me be the best I can be! I can say I am happier today because I took a leap of faith and trusted the Younique Foundation! I will never be able to express to the Maxfields and to all their staff how thankful I am for what they do everyday to help others reclaim hope! The worth of a soul is great.”

Carrie, Survivor