Building Boundaries

During a recent therapy session, I realized I struggle with boundaries–specifically with the family I grew up in.

Instead of setting up actual boundaries, my biggest defense is to not talk. I avoid answering the phone when certain people call, or answering text messages, etc. Because rather than risk hurting someone, it’s easier to not talk, which avoids confrontation.

Why is this?

Of course there’s the fallout from being sexually abused as a child–which obviously violated some very personal, base-level boundaries. No one stopped it either, nor did they help put in boundaries to create safety. Then I realized we didn’t have many boundaries put in place beyond the natural ones in place from our LDS belief system. While those guidelines from church are excellent, we lacked other necessary ones.

We didn’t have set bedtimes, or really strong curfews. No one told me to brush my teeth or do homework. We rarely if ever had dinner sitting at an actual table as a family. We were not allowed to close our bedroom doors (fire hazard and it didn’t let our swamp cooler flow air through the house). Perhaps this speaks more to the dysfunction of my childhood than anything else, but I can see clearly now the absence of structure, rules, or boundaries.

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But how can you set boundaries with people who have violated major and more minor boundaries? How can you avoid falling into those learned roles from childhood or later in life, even after many years have passed?

Boundaries help us feel safe, and if we don’t have them, the world around us feels chaotic and scary.  

Guys….I’m not good at setting boundaries and knowing I need to take a stand to set them amps up my anxiety. Not only that, but I don’t know where to start or how to go about asserting my own needs.

I think this is really important to understand. From the Heal for Life Foundation:

Any type of abuse, physical, emotional, or sexual, is a boundary invasion. Victims of abuse experience a loss of control over their own bodies and lives. Children who grow up in homes that don’t function well in terms of communication or understanding where physical, mental, and emotional boundaries are not respected, often become confused, vulnerable, and insecure. Sadly, these children often do not even attempt to defend their rights to individuality as they have not learned they have any.

Violent acts of assault or trauma, and extended periods of emotional or sexual abuse, have significant enduring negative effects on the development of boundaries.  Children who have been abused often are not allowed to, or are never given the chance, to learn their boundaries. For example, when a child is sexually abused this leads to confusion over the very basic rules of ownership of the body. Instead of learning that their body is their own and no-one else is allowed to touch it without the child’s permission, they learn that their body is to be hurt, abused or manipulated by others. They learn that their bodies are not their own. Their boundaries are variable or non-existent.

Boundaries are not just physical, they are also emotional, mental, and spiritual.

You may need to adjust your boundaries if you notice:

  • You feel uncomfortable or unsafe, but stay in the situation anyway because you don’t want to “make a scene.”
  • You stay around people or places even though you experience anxiety or discomfort around them.
  • You’re always worried about saying no to someone or disappointing them.
  • You agree to something you wanted to say no to, or goes against your own beliefs/feelings.
  • Someone causes you to feel poorly about yourself consistently.
  • You put needs of others above your own, which causes you physical or emotional pain.

Setting boundaries will require us to be firm. It may be really uncomfortable and some people may get offended, but you cannot sacrifice your sense of safety to please someone else. Some helpful phrases may be:

  • No, I don’t want to hug you.
  • You can visit for 1-2 days, but that’s all I’m willing to allow.
  • You may visit, but you’ll have to stay in a hotel.
  • That is not okay and I will not tolerate it.
  • You can’t tell me how to think or believe.
  • No, thank you.
  • You are not welcome here.
  • Don’t touch me.

There are many more phrases you can use that fit your situation. Try role playing with a friend or someone you trust to get comfortable being assertive. With family, it may be helpful to add something like, “if you want any sort of relationship with me, you’re going to have to respect my boundaries. And X, Y, Z are not acceptable.”

Don’t back down. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to protect yourself from more pain and hurt. Don’t stay where you don’t feel safe just to be nice or because you’re worried about hurting others’ feelings. Your well-being is vital.

You are worth it. You deserve safety and peace.


If you’ve successfully set boundaries (or are working on it), I’d love to hear about it–especially because I’m still navigating this myself!


What Happens When You Don’t Believe a Victim

There’s a lot circulating around the news and social media (do a social media search for #kidlit or Richard Paul Evans if you don’t know what I’m referencing) right now concerning sexual harassment, the perpetrators and their victims.

Most frequently, the perpetrator is someone well-known or well-liked. The victims, for their own mental (and even physical) safety frequently remain anonymous. The public is more inclined to side with the perpetrator–“He would never do something like that!” “I want proof!” “I’m not going to believe an anonymous accusation.” But. But. But.What Happens When You Don't Believe a Victim

And then you know what happens when victims go public? They get torn to shreds by the public jury.

*headdesk* *facepalm* *throws hands up in frustration*

And people wonder why victims don’t want to come forward. Why they live in silence with what happened. Why they don’t call police.

It’s because the blame is going to be put on the innocent, no matter the circumstance, the age of the perp vs. the age of the victim, or the amount of power or authority the perp has over the victim.

Victims of sexual harassment and abuse already fear that no one will believe them, and why would we think otherwise? The track record of the public proves this again and again. And the more famous or liked the person is, the worse the personal backlash.

And those doing the harassing and abuse know they can get away with it.

I recently was called to jury duty for a child sexual abuse case (irony, right?). Though I didn’t get selected as a juror, it was clear the man was trying to prove with his church service his innocence. The touching was an accident; a misunderstanding. WHY DO PERPETRATORS ALWAYS TRY TO TELL VICTIMS WE MISUNDERSTOOD THEIR INTENTIONS?

No. If the contact was unwelcome and unwanted it is sexual harassment, which often can turn into sexual abuse. Hugging, kissing, groping, stroking any part of another person’s body without their consent is NOT OKAY.

I plead with everyone…PLEASE believe it when someone trusts you enough to tell you about an incident of sexual harassment or abuse. Please listen. Please support them. Please try to help in any way you can. The victimization was already difficult enough to live through; don’t add to that pain by not believing.

And if your inclination is to jump to the defense of the accused person? STOP. Take a pause. How many times do we know someone good who does something bad? How often do we find out horrid secrets of someone we respected? Don’t jump in to defend someone who has been accused and risk hurting a victim further. It’s so difficult to speak out in the first place, don’t make it worse.

When we don’t believe victims, we are telling them their words don’t matter, their pain doesn’t matter, they don’t matter. It sends a message that they’re overreacting or that it is their fault. It’s confusing. It’s painful. And we feel so alone, so abandoned, and so hopeless.

And other vicitms will further slip into deeper pain, shame, and silence.

As a survivor of sexual abuse, this current discussion of sexual harassment (and sexual abuse in some instances) is triggering. Not because of the subject matter, but because when I see people, some of whom are friends, not being believed, it’s upsetting. Because I know what it’s like to tell and have someone not do anything about it. To dismiss it without further thought. To ignore the violation against me to protect someone or something else. How did that feel? It hurt. It told me I wasn’t important. It told me I didn’t have worth. It told me I didn’t have value. So I kept quiet for over 30 years.

So before you want to rush to defend a perpetrator or discount the testimony of a victim (whether anonymous or public), STOP. Please listen to and believe the victims. We need your support.

And to those of you who have been harassed or abused, I’m here and will listen and support you. If the first person you tell doesn’t believe, find someone who will. Don’t give up. You have value and worth. It’s not your fault.

Bursting the Bubble

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything new here, and I apologize for that. Everything’s been crazy, including therapy.

Just when it feels like I’m getting closer to being done (is it really ever “done”? I kind of doubt it), something else comes to the surface.

I’ve been working through a few things that don’t directly involve sexual abuse, but more of the aftermath, which led to some introspection on why my anxiety amps up and my frustrations are high around (or even thinking about) certain individuals not involved with the actual abuse, but more the lack of doing anything to protect or help me afterward. Is this person/people a real threat? Or is it more of a perceived danger?

The fact is, I can’t remember much about my childhood or teenage years while living at home. I have vivid memories while at school or other activities, but remembering anything from home is more difficult. I couldn’t recall anything that was “that bad” yet, talking about it, made my energy and inner feelings run wild.

Recently, I reached out to a former teacher/friend who knew me in high school and she filled in some of the gaps, noting that she always sensed that things were “off” and that there were things I wasn’t saying back then, but I had said enough for her to perceive things weren’t exactly good. Bubble.png

But I had created this perfect bubble of a life, one I could control and navigate separate from the life I had at home. I had a job, I was on the speech team, joined some clubs, got really involved with theater–as a cast member on working on multiple crews. I worked hard to have a 4.0 and even played badminton (I wasn’t very athletic, but I made some leaps in this sport. It’s not like what you see in the animated Robin Hood movie. Youtube it. 🙂 ). From the outside, I was a good student, behaved well, and was involved in many positive activities–striving to prove to everyone (and myself) that I had something going for me, that I had worth, and that I was “normal.”

But now, it’s like that perfect bubble is beginning to burst. As little bits of memory push through, the bubble shield that I have controlled, is beginning to get little holes in it and I fear what might be waiting on the other side. As my therapist suggested (and I totally agreed–everything clicked when she said it), it’s like in the last Harry Potter book/movie when they’ve created this magical barrier–a huge bubble–around Hogwarts and as the death eaters cast spells against it, that shield eventually can’t hold them off anymore and all the evil breaks through–all “heck” breaks loose. *cue panic inside my bubble of control*tenor.gif

In some ways, it feels like what I’ve created is all fake, a facade to show everyone just how fine I was, a way I could even control how I saw myself in some ways. What of my life is real? And do I want to remember it? Do I need to know so I can continue to heal? What if I remember it all? Will everything come crashing through, shattering me from the inside out? Will that change who I am or who I think I am?

Sexual abuse has altered so much about me, but the aftermath, the lack of protection and absence of gentle care afterward has also done its damage. I think that’s one major thing people don’t get who haven’t experienced it: just because the abuse is over or was a long time ago, doesn’t mean the effects of it aren’t still heavily present. 

Like so many of you, I continue to fight and find more healing and peace. It’s so hard to be patient sometimes, but I keep recommitting myself to having faith and hope in the process. I know that with God’s help, I can make it through.

Teach Children the Power of “No”

We all have childhood experiences with our parents or others forcing us to hug someone we didn’t want to. But what if we had permission to say “no” when confronted with someone’s open arms?

At holiday gatherings, family reunions, or other events where adults and children will be, inevitably adults will expect hugs and kisses from children, with parents often encouraging the physical interaction. Sometimes the child knows the person well, other times perhaps not.

With a child’s will taken away from them, this makes sexual abuse more available. Before you think this is quite a jump, consider how it makes a child think if parents or other adults are always forcing hugs and kisses on them. How is that much different if someone older than them says they have to touch or be touched inappropriately to show their affection and love to another? Answer: It’s not. Giving Children the Power of _No_ (1).png

Teach your child the power of “No.” 

If your child understands they are in charge of their body and they get to decide if they want a hug or kiss, this is preparing them to say no is someone tries to get them to do something inappropriate. The power of no could save your child from sexual abuse.

As an alternative, parents can teach their child that rather than giving hugs or kisses, a high five, fist bump, or handshake is just fine. Or, they can simply say, “no, thank you” and walk away. They don’t have to have a reason why they don’t want to hug or kiss grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, or close friends. This is helping your child learn that they are in charge of their own bodies.

If someone is upset over this decision, you can explain the reasoning, or just let them know that’s the way it is. I’d much rather offend an adult than risk my child’s safety.

Additionally, your child may be comfortable hugging someone one day, but not so much another day. They are figuring out their own boundaries and learning to make that choice on their own.

Also important is to teach your child to listen to their inner voice or the Holy Ghost. If they have a bad or uncomfortable feeling around someone, they need to listen to that feeling. They need to trust their instincts to stay safe.

Yes, we want to teach our children to love, but there are so many other ways to show love that do not involve any touching. For instance, they can draw a picture or write a note.

Beware if any adult wants to spend a lot of time with your child–particularly unsupervised, or if they are giving your child lots of attention or gifts. This is a big warning flag. Most adults don’t seek close relationships with children who are not their own kids. This could be an indication of grooming–carefully gaining their trust before they start sexually abusing a child.

If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, you may be extra paranoid, wanting to watch or hover over your children. And really, I can’t blame you because I’m the same way. I get anxious when my children are not in sight. I don’t trust people alone with them. Be mindful of where your children are and check on them frequently. If you inner voice says something isn’t right, follow through. Do not ignore that warning voice.

Teach your children about sexual abuse and that they are in charge of their bodies. No one can touch them without their permission. They have the power to say “No” if they don’t want to hug or kiss someone, even if it’s a close relative. Children must know they can tell you if someone even tries to touch them inappropriately. Assure them you won’t ever be angry because of something they tell you.

There is power in saying “No.” Teach the power of “No” to your children.

When the Holidays Bring Triggers

I’m always excited as the Christmas season approaches. I think of decorating the tree, putting up decorations–particularly Nativities, and focusing on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I have high hopes for the season to go a certain way, but…When the

…then, something inside me goes off like an annual alarm (right before Thanksgiving usually). I don’t feel good inside my head. Darkness closes in around me, and instead of enjoying the season, I find myself fighting to pull myself out of the depths of unresolved emotions.

It’s odd to be fine one day, and the next suddenly feel upset, hopeless, agitated, and overcome with sorrow and not have any idea why.

For survivors of sexual abuse, this may be the norm. With 90% of childhood sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator is a family member. Holidays often include family, which can cause anxiety in survivors because of the potential to have to see their abusers or be around those who did not protect them or help them when they could/should have. They may have to be in a place or around people that compromises their feeling of safety.

Another aspect that may cause is to struggle during the holidays is that our brain, mind, and body remember stuff that we may not consciously remember. Our body and mind can recall what happened during certain times of year, especially traumatic events like sexual abuse. (Side note, I read a brilliant book on how trauma affects the brain. It was both fascinating and horrible because of how much it explained the aftermath I–and too many others–have been experiencing. It’s called “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.This subconscious remembering may trigger our fight, flight, or freeze response, or bring up emotions from the past, which can be really disconcerting when you’re not sure why you’re feeling or behaving a certain way.

So, what can you do to get through the holidays?

  • Talk to someone close to you (or your therapist) and explain that you have a really hard time around holidays and/or family gatherings. Use this safe person to call or text when you need support, especially during the holidays.
  • You’re the boss of yourself. You don’t have to put yourself in situations where it’s going to compromise your well-being. If you don’t want to go to a holiday event, don’t go. If you feel comfortable saying why you won’t attend, do. But you’re entitled to take care of yourself ahead of someone else’s feelings. (I’m not just saying this while not following my own advice. I didn’t go to my grandpa’s funeral for these reasons.)
  • Make a plan. When triggers happen, you need a plan to keep yourself grounded in the present. Realize you’re in the here and now, not in the past when the abuse was happening (if you are still being sexually abused, please seek help to get out of that situation). Taking deep breaths, focusing on sights and smells around you, and noticing what you can feel with your feet and fingers can help.
  • Take care of yourself. Do things that make you feel good. Exercise, going out with friends, or doing something creative like art or writing is good for your well-being. You may need to allow yourself some extra TLC during the holidays if you’re struggling.
  • Be kind to yourself. Since the emotions stirred because of sexual abuse are not only powerful, but also very negative like feelings of worthlessness or self-hate. Combat these with positive affirmations. Focus on the good about yourself and have others help you see those things if you have a hard time doing it on your own. You are strong, worthy of love, and a resilient fighter.

Ultimately, you don’t have to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing just to appease someone else. You’re in charge of yourself. Don’t sacrifice your feelings for someone who hurts you physically and/or emotionally.

I hope that you might be able to focus on the important aspect of your holidays, rather than suffering alone and hurting because of people and events you have no control over. Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself this holiday season.

The Power of “Me Too”

Yesterday my Facebook feed blew up with friends posting “Me too” to bring awareness to sexual harassment and sexual assault. Some shared a personal experience or several where they had been groped, touched, cat-called, or any other violation of their personal safety. Some simply stated that they, too, had been victimized.

I added my voice to theirs.

Not because I’m a victim or because they are. Not because we’re trying to gain attention. Not because we’re living with victim mentality. Not because men are all evil. This isn’t about whining, complaining, or man-hating (or woman-hating, because it can and does happen to and by both genders).

It’s about standing up for ourselves and giving a voice to the voiceless–helping others who have been violated know they’re not alone. Speaking out helps others extinguish their silence.

It’s about standing up and saying it’s Not OK to be sexually violated–physically or verbally.

It’s about taking our control and power back. There’s power in “Me too.”ip Sip

When you’re sexually abused, harassed, or assaulted, you feel powerless. You feel shame, fear, disgust, anger, sorrow, and feel unsafe. Speaking out takes back the power and allows you to start healing.

I’ve seen women and men come forward. Some minimize their experience because it “wasn’t as bad as…” No. Listen now: It doesn’t matter if it happened once or multiple times. It doesn’t matter if it was words or touching over the clothes or under the clothes. It doesn’t matter if you were 3 or 73, abuse is abuse. Harassment is harassment. Just because someone may have had a “more severe” experience than you, doesn’t diminish what happened to you. It’s still traumatic. It still requires healing.

As you see this on your Twitter of Facebook feeds, just because someone hasn’t said “Me too” doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened to them. They may not yet be ready to come forward. “Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 6 out of every 1000 perpetrators will end up in prison.” –

It happens to both genders, all races, all religions, all socioeconomic statuses…everyone.

If someone makes you uncomfortable, speak loud and clear against what they’re doing or saying. It’s Not OK. Report it to the police. This won’t stop happening if we don’t fight back.

I’ve not thought much about some of my experiences because others I’ve had overshadowed them. There’s too many to remember, but here are some (***TRIGGER WARNING***):

  • raped and abused by my uncle – age 3
  • laid on top of in a sexual way by a neighbor boy – kindergarten, 1st grade
  • inappropriate contact with cousins – various ages
  • butt pinched by classmate – 3rd grade
  • Molested, groped, and various sexually inappropriate words said to me by brother – several ages that I can’t remember, but for sure age 10-11
  • boy slowly moving his hand all the way up my leg during class – 8th grade
  • boy saying really inappropriately dirty things to me on the phone – 8th grade
  • Dad telling me he had inappropriate feelings for me – age ?
  • Grandpa telling me, with his hand on my knee, that I could be his girlfriend if I wasn’t his granddaughter – 8th grade

It’s not a complete list and I’m sure there’s things I haven’t even yet considered that have happened. I wish I had known what to do in these situations. I wish I didn’t think most of them were “normal.”

What I do now is talk to my children about situations that may arise and help them come up with a plan of what to do when something happens. I talk to my girls, and I talk to my boys. I want to keep them all safe and teach them to not victimize others–inadvertently or on purpose.

So, to you who have silently or publicly added “me too,” you’re not alone. Take your power back. We were once victims, but now we’re fighters–fighting to make things change and stick up for each other and help others realize how bad this truly is.

Me too. It’s not OK.



Then I Fell Apart

The past week or so has been one huge emotional roller coaster.

It started off fantastic with a writing conference I worked on the committee for and taught a couple of classes at. Then I had a bit of a setback on a project, which was upsetting, but I made a plan. I also got to see a couple of good friends from high school and got to catch up a little.

The evening I arrived home, I found out my grandpa had died that morning.

I don’t really care that he has passed on. I feel calloused saying that, but it’s really kind of a relief. But then I realized there’d be a funeral. And all my abusers would be there, contact and non-contact sexual abusers, including my dead grandpa. Just the thought of attending sent me spiraling emotionally. I had an emotional breakdown that night in front of my husband (thankfully, he is really understanding and supports me).

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I’ve decided not to go (my husband agrees). I know it’s not something I can handle right now, nor should I have to. Maybe some family will be offended or hurt, but I just can’t. On some level, I feel bad about this choice because we’re taught to “mourn with those who mourn,” and put aside differences, and be kind, and make amends, etc. It feels like my whole life I’m battling what I “should” do with what I need to do.

As a result of the turmoil, and his death dredging up some more stuff, my EMDR/therapy appointment was extra difficult. I finally reached the point that I have been fearing all along: I completely fell apart and I didn’t know how I could get myself back together, how I could get back in control and be okay. I was panicky, full of anxiety, and fragile. Those feelings I experienced and buried from my childhood were spinning out of control. I wasn’t sure if I could get back to “okay” again. The rest of the day I was in a funk–my oldest daughter told me I was “ten miles away.” Yeah, or a few decades away.

That messy episode earned me a bonus therapy session the next afternoon. I realized a lot of new things (EMDR seems to be one constant stream of realizations from the past), many of which were new awful pieces of my life, like how I’ve tried to paint my life a whole lot better than it was, lying to myself all these years so I could survive. Trying to minimize all the things that happened so they didn’t seem so bad. It’s a lot to take in, and to notice how much I’ve blocked out from my life.

I remember fearing that I wasn’t good enough for Heaven and thinking how I could leave the Church and come back and get re-baptized. How maybe if I did everything right, maybe it’d make up for all the wrongs. My therapist asked what those things said about me, the fact that I knew things weren’t right. I struggled to think up an answer, and when I did–that of being strong and resilient–it didn’t resonate with me. I still struggle to feel that truth no matter how often I or others say it.

After talking and doing more EMDR work, I settled in on one thing pertaining to being sexually abused: That wasn’t my agency. Those acts against me had nothing to do with my actions or what I did or even wanted. Someone did that to me, against my will. That was their agency, not mine. That was not my agency.

So much of my life has been a normal response to an abnormal situation–trying to normalize the abuse, trying to minimize all the things in my life that were so wrong. From the time I was so tiny, I was doing what I could to survive. I thought of the little ones I see in the Sunbeam class (3-year-olds) in Primary at church. What if someone hurt them the way I was hurt before I was even that old? The thought sickens me and breaks my heart. The innocence, how they could not defend themselves against an adult.

Being sexually abused is not your agency; it’s someone else using their agency in a very hurtful and damaging way. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and God does not condone it. He will help us overcome, He will heal us, but it will take time. Keep working, keep praying, keep believing.


I believe, eventually, we’ll take the broken pieces of ourselves, and be even more spectacualr than we are now. Like the art of kintsugi that I shared about here, with patience, care, and work, we can be whole and stronger than we once were. And our value is so much more than we know.





Reclaiming Hope – The Haven Retreat

Reclaiming HopeThis past week, I was able to attend The Haven Retreat put on by the Younique Foundation for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

I signed up a couple of months ago, but the last week leading up to it, I was really anxious, scared, and nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know the other women who would be there. I only knew I’d be there with other female childhood sexual abuse survivors.

The first day, we did Kintsugi, which is a powerful metaphor for victims of sexual abuse. It’s a Japanese art form. The idea is that from a broken life (the bowl), we can become stronger (the gold lacquer). We took a bowl and struck it hard with a hammer. It broke into several large pieces as well as some tiny shards. 2017-08-07-14-38-09.jpg

Taking special glue and mixing it with gold powder, we then put the pieces of the bowl back together again. It took patience, work to fit the pieces together, and many of the pieces no longer fit. In fact, my bowl even has a hole in it.

It made me think that perhaps, as I become stronger and make beauty out of my broken pieces, some old aspects–people, emotions, beliefs about myself–no longer belong in me, can no longer be part of my life. The gold replaces it, or rather new emotions and beliefs, new people, new knowledge and experiences can fill in the missing pieces and make me stronger and a better, more valuable person.

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We also participated in a drumming circle. I know, I know…sounds crazy. But it was fun. I mean, I was totally uncomfortable at first, all my introverted-ness showing. But the power from the collective group of 24 women was amazing to feel. Therapeutic in a way I can’t yet explain.



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Each woman also received a makeover and had a photoshoot. This was a first for me as well. It was fun, yet awkward, haha. 🙂 They’ll send us the official pictures in a few weeks.


I attended classes on overcoming shame, understanding forgiveness, restorative sleep, healthy body image, nature experience, and art journaling. We learned tools for grounding techniques and meditation. For me, because I’ve been through a pretty comprehensive group therapy prior to this and because of my own research, not a lot of the educational parts were new to me, but still an important refresher course.

We also participated in Muay Thai–an emotional experience to watch as women reclaimed their feeling of power after sexual abuse has made us feel so powerless (And a pretty legit workout!). We did yoga on two of the mornings, which no matter the shape of my body, always makes me feel strong as I hold those poses, and helps me calm my anxiety.

And the location and place we stayed were absolutely gorgeous.

We were taught important, eye-opening information about how our brains work; that even though we aren’t currently being sexually abused, our body and brain remembers, our soul remembers, which is why we can be triggered. Just because the abuse isn’t happening, doesn’t mean everything feels fine now. I loved realizing that sexual abuse survivors have normal responses to an abnormal experience.

The food was AMAZING. I noticed I felt so good physically, which is a good reminder that how we treat our body impacts how we feel. And when you’re dealing with hard emotional things, like trauma from sexual abuse, nutrition can make a huge difference in how you cope, and your mood.

Above all, meeting all these brave, strong, survivor women is the best. Realizing you’re not alone, making connections, finding strength to fight for healing, and creating a new group of friends who understand you better than others, is irreplaceable.

I am so grateful to the people who worked hard to start the Younique Foundation (watch a video about the Maxfields here: and those therapists, chefs, case managers, and others who give so much more than time to help abuse survivors find healing and strength.

This was just a quick rundown of everything. Perhaps in the coming weeks and months I’ll share some things in more detail. As this past week settles, I’m understanding more about myself and my healing process. Perhaps even some new breakthroughs!

If you are a female (I hope there is something like this for males in the future!) survivor of childhood sexual abuse or know someone who is, please use this information and find out more about The Haven Retreat. (And it’s FREE. You just have to get there.) has many resources for survivors on their website as well as ways you can help fund this cause.

You are not alone. There is hope. Healing will come. Reclaim your hope and power. You can choose boundaries. You get to decide the course of your life and who gets to be in it.

You have value. You have worth. You are strong, brave, and amazing.

More about The Haven Retreat.



You are Not Forgotten

I was listening to my scriptures this morning while getting ready for the day (basically the best way for me to get any scripture reading in…because kids and life) and a verse jumped out at me like it never has before, though I’ve read it or had lessons on it many times before.

The verse is 1 Nephi 21:15 (also found in Isaiah 49:15): “For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee…”

First I thought about many recent tragic news stories where children had been forgotten-...yet will I not forget thee...-.png in cars, and how indeed, sometimes mothers/parents do forget their children because of one thing or another. (I am in no way judging these parents; I can only imagine the heartache and regret of such a tragedy.) Most often, however, a mother–especially one who is nursing a child–could never forget her child.

But the scripture says, “Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” It is more likely that a mother would forget about her new infant than the Lord would forget about us.

I don’t get emotional often (because of abuse or personality, I don’t know which at this point), but this hit me hard.

In general, people often feel forgotten by our Heavenly Parents and Savior Jesus Christ. For survivors of sexual abuse, that feeling can be intensified, sometimes because we’ve shut off feeling anything as defense mechanism. The reality is that we are never forgotten by Them, even when it feels like we are.

And His love is boundless. No matter what we have done, mistakes we have made, or our lack of faith or hope, He still loves us. He still wants us. He still remembers us. The next verse says, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands…” He won’t forget us, he can’t. It’s permanent. We are permanent. His love for us is permanent.

We are in the process of stretching and growing, and that is painful. We get hurt by others and sometimes do the hurting. We may feel abandoned, alone, broken, like a lost cause, worthless, and forgotten, yet we are not.  We are in the constant thoughts and care of our Creator.

“…yet will I not forget thee…”


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Survivors’ Retreat

I recently learned of a retreat for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It’s put on by The Younique Foundation (and, no, you don’t have to sell the stuff to go. But it’s also open to those who do). At first I though, “yeah, probably not something I could actually go to. Besides, I’m mostly OK and I’m still in therapy, but functioning.” But then, I started looking into it more seriously.

Here’s the lowdown:

  • It’s FREE. Lodging, food, classes…everything. Free. You just have to get yourself there, either to the meeting spot or to the SLC airport (they’ll even pick you up!).
  • The only requirement is that you were a victim of childhood sexual abuse between 0-18 years old and that you are now at least 18 years old and female.
  • The retreat takes place in a canyon in Utah, nestled in the mountains where participants can feel safe.
  • Several classes are offered–yoga, nature walk, cooking classes, journaling, group therapy, and some other cool sounding stuff.

Most of this info, I got from a video about The Haven Retreat. <—–You have to watch this! And then this is the Younique Retreat Walkthrough.

I sent in the application to attend. Then they follow up with a second form to gather a little more information. Next, you’ll receive an email with possible sessions to attend. It appears that they do these retreats 3 weeks out of each month, starting on a Monday and ending on a Thursday.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since. Survivors' Retreat.png

Even though I’m a bit scared/nervous, I’m also really excited to experience this and push myself forward into further healing.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in therapy or have yet to take that step, this retreat is for you. It doesn’t matter if your abuse happened one time or repeatedly over years, this retreat is for you.

I’m going in about a month and half from now. I can’t wait. I’ll do another post after I’ve attended to let you know how it goes. 🙂 And if you go (or have gone already), I’d love to hear your experience.

Here’s where you go to get started: The Haven Retreat application and additional information.

I think this is a beautiful thing to offer victims of childhood sexual abuse. It seems unbelievable, but it’s real.

Go. Sign up and take advantage of this resource.

Do it for yourself.