Beautiful is a term that I never thought I would use to describe myself. It’s something I told myself I was not, it’s something that I didn’t think anyone else would ever think of me as. Years of abuse at just 9 years old left me feeling broken, damaged, confused and worthless well into my teen years. I picked up bad habits, trying to numb feelings that I didn’t understand and unhealthy relationships that never made me feel like I was enough. For years I faked a smile and went on with life.

I graduated college, received national rankings in collegiate soccer, yet none of that filled the emptiness within me. None of that cured the loneliness I felt in a crowded room. The blame I had placed on myself had won, my abuse had finally conquered my soul, and there was nothing left inside of the shell that I had become…so I thought.

The Haven Retreat was an unexpected blessing in my life. For the first time in 32 years, I was surrounded by people who understood me. I was in the care of amazing women who fully supported, nurtured, and helped me begin to love the journey that I was starting. The morning of day two, I sat outside, in awe, of the picturesque scenery and something inside of me triggered an emotion that I had never felt. Sitting there by myself, in my own silence, I felt calm, I felt at peace, in that moment, in the first 24 hours I knew I was going to be okay.

In just four days I was finally able to say the words “it’s not my fault” and truly mean them. That’s something I would hear all the time, but they were always just words. But that day and every day after it’s been a feeling. I can’t express my gratitude for The Haven Retreat. A guiding light in my darkness and one of the reasons I can look at myself in the mirror and truly believe that the person staring back is beautiful in every way!

You don’t have to suffer alone in your silence. Reach out…speak up…take a chance on yourself and I promise you that you will be “sailing your ship” in no time!

-Sarah, Survivor

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