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The Haven Retreat

Last week I went on the Younique Foundation's Haven Retreat for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I felt incredibly inspired and empowered and now feel confident in my healing journey. I feel happy. I feel strong. I am a survivor. I love myself.

The Haven Retreat was a truly unique and transformative experience. Very rarely do you put away technology for days and instead focus on yourself and on your healing journey with other survivors. Simply being around a group of women who have been through the same thing as you, who get it and who understand, is so incredibly powerful. I was inspired, uplifted, and encouraged by these women.

On this blog post, I'm simply going to write some of my favorite things that I've learned. If after reading this you believe you might be interested in attending the Haven Retreat please reach out to me. It is open to any survivor of sexual abuse whose assault occurred at age 18 or before.

Prior to reading these I would like to emphasize that these are personal realizations and do not reflect absolute truths for anyone else. Additionally, these thoughts came directly from my personal journal during the retreat. It is possible that some of these thoughts may be incomplete or incoherent to another reader, but I hope that at least one of these thoughts impacts someone in a positive way. Please enjoy.

When I prioritize myself I love myself.

A person's perception is their reality and trauma like sexual assault literally alters your brain function and therefore your perception. Your reality is distorted. It is normal to be triggered, to feel uncomfortable, and to sometimes be out of control with your emotions. This is the trauma.

You are not meant to always feel unsafe. You are made to feel at peace and eventually you will.

It is okay to let yourself feel.

Evolution has conditioned our brain to be negative. Assuming the worst and planning for what could go wrong kept our ancestors alive. We have to condition our brains to think positively. It does not come naturally simply because of biology. Be patient with yourself.

You feel most like yourself when you take time for yourself.

We must feel in order to heal. What we resist will persist. It is intuitive and instinctual to express your emotions. Think of a child or yourself as a child. They express their needs, their wants, and their concerns openly. We should allow ourselves a similar amount of openness.

Do not objectify yourself. You are worthy of what you want and of love. You are not made to satisfy others. This is not only sexual, but applies to pleasing others and choosing not to live for yourself.

I love all the wonderful things my body can do.

Check in with yourself.

Don't apologize for who you are or for sharing parts of yourself with others. Say "this is me" to the world and own it.

You cannot please everyone. Do not let anyone else dictate who you are.

Keep hope that the love you deserve exists.

No one is inherently bad. I am not bad.

When we feel shame we can neglect ourselves, distance ourselves, self-destruct/sabotage, people please, feel rage, act out, feel the need to be perfect, self-criticize, self-blame, criticize others, or be hyper-aware of others' opinion of us. We are not meant to feel shame. We are not meant to be this way and because of trauma sometimes these behaviors emerge. They can be fixed.

Practice self-compassion.

I can be changed by what happened to me but I refuse to be reduced by it.

The only moment I have control over is this moment here and now.

Law of incubation- like an apple seed, everything that we are meant to be and want to be is already contained within us, we must only help it emerge.

Assertive communication- honestly and authentically expressing our values, opinions, and beliefs without undue anxiety.

Nobody can ever truly understand you, but it is up to you to help them through communicating with them. Communicating is a need and when we choose not to communicate we are neglecting our needs.

It is appropriate to ask for anything you want in life. You have the right to ask for anything you want. It is your responsibility to express what you want and what you need.

Forgiveness is for you and about you and it is not up to you to explain to anyone why you choose to or choose not to forgive someone. It is okay to forgive. There is no reason you should feel guilty for forgiving.

Your cells are constantly changing and regenerating so you are feeding new cells each time you eat. Feed them well and you will feel well.

Sexual rights must be respected, protected, and fulfilled.

You are capable of so much more healing than you could have ever imagined.

You are NEVER obligated to do something with your body that you do not wish to do.

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything"

My mantra: I am a woman who practices self-love, acceptance, and compassion and who extends that grace to others."

I want a good life and I will create that for myself.

Thanks for reading! Here's a little bit more about my experience:

One of my favorite activities was Muay Thai. I completed the 100-Punch challenged and felt my power come through in each punch, not just physically, though. I realized in that moment that I had an emotional and mental strength I had never before tapped into. I hope that each survivor finds a moment to feel that strength.

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