For so Long My Life Was Devoid of Hope and Peace

Attending The Haven Retreat was the single most amazing decision I have ever made for myself. I am a woman that is well-educated on the prevalence and impact of sexual assault in our society. I know the numbers. I can quote the statistics in my sleep. Yet, never once have I truly believed them. Not on such a deep and personal level.

I have spent my life since my victimization believing some awful lies about myself. I believed that I was worthless. That what happened to me was my fault. That I was destined for a life of despair and abuse. When things would go wrong in my life I would be further convinced of these lies and other lies. Lies that have held me down and held me back. Even when I believed that others deserved better, that others had never asked for their assault. I still couldn’t believe it for me.

My life for so long has been devoid of hope and peace. The Haven Retreat gave that back to me. I walked into a room of women that I would never have pegged as survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I met mothers, sisters, grandmothers. I met women running their own businesses. Authors and Keynote speakers. I met professionals and technical support providers. None of these women screamed victim to me. They screamed strong, powerful, beautiful. And for the first time in years I thought there was a chance that I could be one of them. That somebody could see me that way.

Through my time there I learned the stories of these other women. Each one spoke right to my soul. Each day we were taught new skills to heal and were educated about trauma in ways that even I a psychology major had never even considered. We were loaded with resources and given a website to look back to when we got home in case we forgot. I was fed amazing food, I was pampered, and every distraction was removed so I could focus on healing. I forged amazing relationships. These women have become my tribe, my sisterhood, my girls. We cried our eyes out when we had to leave one another even though we were all able to stay connected via Facebook and our phones. I feel like I have known these women my whole life.

Yet, the best part is the way I have changed. No longer do I believe those lies about myself. I know they will try to reinsert themselves into my life and take over who I am. I will, however, have the best armor to protect me, and that is the love and support of my retreat sisters. Because of this retreat, because of these women and the staff at The Younique Foundation I now can say I am STRONG! I am SMART! I am BEAUTIFUL! I am CAPABLE! I am AMAZING! I can make it through this. He may have broken me, but I will put these pieces back together in a way that will make me stronger and more beautiful than he can ever imagine. Thank you, Younique Foundation, you have changed my life and I cannot wait to go forward.

-Bri, Survivor