The Haven Retreat is for You. Yes! I Am Talking to You.

Written by Chris Yadon, Executive Director of The Younique Foundation. 

We face an interesting challenge at The Younique Foundation (TYF).  We designed our services for a specific segment of women, but those women often think our services are for someone else.

Let me explain.  When we started planning The Haven Retreat, we specifically wanted to create a place for the “Forgotten Survivor” – the woman who was doing okay in life; the woman who had figured out how to cope with her abuse; the woman who is high functioning; but nevertheless the woman who was still affected, often deeply, by what happened so many years ago.

We wanted this retreat because there are a lot of services for the woman in crisis, but there is virtually nothing for the resilient woman who has figured out a way to cope with the crisis yet still feels many effects. We know that she still deals with the impact of her abuse, and, despite her tremendous efforts, she still feels broken.

We often hear from participants that they almost didn’t apply because they felt the spot should go to someone else, someone more “deserving.” We hear statements like:

  • “I’m doing okay. Let someone else come that is really struggling.”
  • “My abuse wasn’t as bad as other people’s. I don’t want to take a spot from them.”
  • “I’ve moved on. Help someone who is still struggling.”

At TYF, we want the “high-functioning”, “doing okay”, “not as bad as” survivor to know that our retreat is for you.  We built the retreat experience for you. We want to help you move past coping to healing.

Here are two questions you can use to know if The Haven Retreat is for you.

  1. Are you an adult woman who was sexually abused before 18?
  2. Are you coping and even high-functioning but still feel the effects of trauma? (E.g. able to hold a job, run a family, and/or successfully engage in social situations.)

If the answer to these two questions is “yes,” then we are here for you. And we want you to come. You are worth the time, the funding, and the attention.

No matter where you are in your stage of healing: at the beginning, somewhere in the middle, or near the end, we are confident you will find value in what we offer.

So next time you doubt whether or not The Haven Retreat is for you, we hope there is a little voice in your head that says, “Yes! In fact it is designed just for me.”

Take Time to Take Care of Yourself

I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.

-Audrey Lorde-

There’s a tendency for some survivors of childhood sexual abuse to put others first. If you’re worrying about everyone else, then you don’t have time to worry about yourself, about your past, or about any unresolved trauma you may not have dealt with yet. That might work in the short term, but long term it can have unhealthy results.

One of the best way to take care of others is to make sure you are in a good, healthy place. We encourage survivors to take time every day for themselves; we even call the strategies “Dailies.”

Below are the basics of how you can start doing your own Daily:

Give yourself 15 to 30 minutes.

Block out time for yourself every day. Plan it into your day. Make it a priority and don’t accept excuses or let other things get in the way.

Decide what you need.

Every day you’ll have different needs. Think about your mood, your emotional state, your physical activity levels that day, etc. and then answer the questions: What would I benefit the most from today? and How can I put that into action? For instance, if what you need is a minute to yourself, then meditation might be the best way to give yourself that.

 Just do it.

After you’ve made your plan and decided what to do, don’t let it slip by! Whether you decide to do some grounding exercises, yoga, or journaling, make sure you follow through.

Self-care can be one of the hardest things to make a priority. Make the goal that you’ll put yourself first – even if you have to start with doing it just 15 minutes a day. Doing a Daily can make a bad day good and a good day even better. And who can’t benefit from that?

For more information and ideas for dailies, read our Reclaim Hope Workbook found at http://www.youniquefoundation.org/resources.

Maya Angelou: A Celebration of a Survivor

Ms. Angelou is best-known for her writing, her optimism, and her activism. Her voice is a well-known staple of American literature. But it wasn’t always that way.

At the age of 7, she was sexually abused by a family friend. The abuse was so severe that she was hospitalized. This experience rendered her mute for the five years following. Even speaking no longer felt safe for her.

When recalling those five years, Ms. Angelou talked about reading voraciously. She read every book she could get her hands on. She memorized whole plays of Shakespeare, the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, and anything else she could find. When she was ready to speak again, she had a lot to say and many ways to convey it.

Ms. Angelou has said that those five years of silence saved her. She said that “out of evil there can come good” because she read about a wide-range of experiences in those books and found a way to triumph through her own.

Her life was one of triumph. She made clear in her words, both spoken and written, that she was a champion for the downtrodden. In her 86 years she published books, essays, poetry, movies, plays, television shows, and songs. She recited a poem at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won a Grammy for the best spoken-word record.

Her words have a way of inspiring and uplifting. Here are a few of our favorite quotes by her:

At The Younique Foundation, we know from experience that you can not only survive, but thrive, despite the trauma of your past. There are supportive survivors all around you. Strong and supportive people, like Maya Angelou, can exist in your life – you just have to find them.

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I Am Worthy and I Do Matter

“I am worthy and I do matter. We all do!”

-Shelby, Survivor

Once was more than enough! My abuse didn’t happen over the course of many years or instances. One time changed my young mind body and soul forever. Knowing that many had it worse than me, I went through life thinking my trauma didn’t mean anything because it was only one time. I discounted my pain for years, but I was never more wrong.

It doesn’t matter whether it happened once or a hundred times we still deserve to break free from the nightmare. It wasn’t till The Haven Retreat that I felt worthy and deserving of a healing journey. With all of the things I learned at retreat I look to my future with pride and a smile knowing there is a beautiful life to be lived. I am strong in the fact that the darkness of my past has no power over my present and I have the skills to protect my future. I am worthy and I do matter. We all do!

-Shelby, Survivor

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Can’t Attend The Haven Retreat? 5 Ways You Can Heal from Home

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

-Helen Keller-

The Haven Retreat is an amazing opportunity for many childhood sexual abuse survivors to find healing. But what about those who aren’t able to attend? At The Younique Foundation, we want to help ALL survivors. Below are five ways that you can start or continue your healing journey right where you are:

1. Do one thing today for YOU.

Healing starts small, with one step every day. Take one step toward your healing today. It could be something as simple as saying aloud, “I am a survivor.” It could be taking 30 minutes to yourself. Maybe it’s buying yourself a new journal. Whatever you need, pick one thing today and DO IT.

2. Read our blogs.

Since you’re already here and currently reading this, you’re obviously one step ahead. Our blogs are a weekly reminder of the things you can do to heal. Take time to read any of them that interest you – or even the ones that don’t – you never know what might help you until you try it.

3. Read through Reclaim Hope: Empowering Your Life Through Five Strategies.

This book will help you build the groundwork for finding your own way to healing. It is currently available on our Resources page.

4. Utilize our resources.

Speaking of our Resources page, we are constantly adding things that can will help survivors on their healing journey. These include videos, ebooks, and one-page breakdowns of the classes we teach at The Haven Retreat.

5. Find a licensed therapist.

There is only so far that you can go on your own. If you think you’re ready to take your healing to the next level, look for a licensed therapist in your area. Not sure where to start? We have a helpful blog that might shine some light on that for you.

We want all survivors of childhood sexual abuse to find healing, not just those who can find their way to The Haven Retreat. Hopefully, with the five things listed above, you’ll be a little better prepared for your own healing journey.

I Let My Doubt Fade Into Peace

“Every doubt I had, every insecurity I felt, every single
thing I’d worried about simply went away.”

-Diane, Survivor-

There was a moment, not that long after I walked through the front door, where I just had to stand still and silent for a moment and let myself feel it all. The unknown usually feels pretty scary to me but oddly, I didn’t feel scared. The feeling that first hit me was a feeling that seems to be without words to describe it. It was like all these people were really new to me, but I’d known them forever.

The house was a house I’d never been in, but it felt like home. The energy was in full swing, but it was calm. Every doubt I had, every insecurity I felt, every single thing I’d worried about simply went away. All of those worries were replaced with a desire to just take it all in. Take in the education, the beauty, the amazing opportunity I’d been given, but mostly to take in the love.

Oh my gosh, the love. It’s a heart, soul and brain filling kind of love that seems to come from really long lasting friendships or relationships that develop over time, but for me, it happened on Day 1 of the Retreat. The relationships I formed with my new sisters are lifelong relationships, the kind that come from a mutual respect, love, admiration and desire to really love another person.

These women are not victims, they are the bravest survivors you’ll ever meet, trust me. Every person who’s ever had their life changed by childhood sexual abuse, should find themselves in the arms of these survivors. You’ll find strength, resilience, bravery, humor, and you’ll find love. 

-Diane, Survivor

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