Foundation helps women heal from sexual abuse

One in four girls will be sexually abused by the age of 18.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Ivanhoe Newswire) – The statistics are shocking and hard to hear. One in four girls will be sexually abused by the age of 18. That’s 42 million women in the United States who are survivors of child sexual abuse.

The physical and mental effects can last decades.

One woman is helping others to stop suffering, speak up, and free themselves from the trauma they’ve been living with all their lives.

“The sexual abuse started when I was five. That’s when my dad started molesting me. It happened every day. It went 'til I was 16,” said Kim Stewart, an abuse survivor. It took her the next 40 years to face the trauma of being sexually abused. Kim grew up feeling many of the symptoms most survivors experience, and like most survivors, she struggled to talk to anybody, even her husband, about the abuse. “I shut that down and didn’t feel,” said Stewart.

At age 47, this mother of five connected with the Younique Foundation — a non-profit that brings survivors of child sexual abuse together. “Women are ready to heal, that they’re wanting to heal,” said Shelaine Maxfield, president, board chair, and founder of The Younique Foundation.

She and her husband Derek started The Younique Foundation — initiating the discussion on something that is rarely talked about. “It’s a really taboo topic, and we’ve found through this work that a lot of adult survivors never really got the attention and the therapy and the help that they needed as children,” said Maxfield.

The foundation uses retreats and support groups, along with online resources, to help women address their trauma. They set goals, learn self-care, manage triggers, create healthy relationships, build support systems, and overcome shame. “Everything that we teach at our retreat is specifically created to help them find hope and healing and to be something they can continue to do at home, which is life-changing,” said Maxfield.

“I knew right away that this was an answer to prayer,” said Stewart.

The Younique Foundation has held 160 retreats, helped 3,300 survivors and created 57 support groups worldwide. The four-day retreats are held throughout the year in Utah and Georgia and are free. You can find out more information on them, as well as find online resources for survivors here.

Contributor(s) to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor. To receive a free weekly email on Smart Living from Ivanhoe, sign up at: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk

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About the Authors:

Stephanie Serna is a weekday anchor on Good Morning San Antonio and GMSA at 9 a.m. She joined the KSAT 12 News team in November 2009 as a general assignments reporter.