The numbers are real and they are staggering. 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before age 18. That’s an estimated 42 million women in the United States alone who are survivors of child sexual abuse. Chris Yadon knows these numbers can change, but people need to hear the facts. He is the Managing Director at Saprea, an organization that empowers healing for individuals who were sexually abused as children or adolescents through retreats, support groups, and online resources. Learn more about their story, how they educate the public on best practices for prevention, and the incredible impact it’s having in our community.
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Today we had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Yadon. Chris is the executive director of Saprea (formerly knows as the Younique Foundation), a nonprofit public charity that exists to liberate individuals in society from child sexual abuse and its lasting impacts. Saprea was created to make sure these individuals have the resources they need to overcome their trauma and live a happy, successful life. In this podcast excerpt, Chris Yadon explains Saprea’s “true north statement” and explains the way the nonprofit serve victims of sexual abuse.
Take us through the process a little bit. What do you do specifically to help survivors of sexual abuse?
I’m going to go back to what we call our “true north statement.” We focus on liberate on liberating both individuals and society. That word is very calculated, and I’ll come back to that in a minute. When we’re talking about individuals, we’re talking about our healing services, and that’s what you’re asking about. And also in that statement, we talk about lasting impacts. Meaning, child sexual abuse is not so much about the incident, as horrific as the incident is itself or the series of incidences, but the real negative impact on a survivor’s life is actually 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road, 30 years down the road. The most common diagnosis is post traumatic stress disorder. So, most survivors, even if they’re not diagnosed, do experience post-traumatic stress symptoms.
The best way I can describe that to you is using an analogy. We can all relate to being startled by something and feeling the nervous system engage. The blood starts pumping. The breath starts going, and our body is prepared to respond. So, imagine you’re walking through a forest, you see a bear, you know exactly what’s going to happen. Your body’s going to engage to fight, flight or freeze. Now, imagine that happening in a non-survival situation. Now image that happening every day in a non-survival situation. Then imagine that happening multiple times during the day. Now, you’re starting to get a glimpse into what post traumatic stress looks and feels like. Many of these survivors are being triggered regularly. Not because their perpetrator is right in front of them but because they smell a smell that reminds them of their perpetrator, they see a sight, hear a sound, something from your five senses engages that trigger.
That survival response releases all sorts of hormones in the body. And because our bodies, are not designed to deal with that level of stress hormones at that frequency and that intensity, the body starts taking a toll. There are a lot of physical issues that result from sexual abuse or other early childhood traumas, not just mental health issues. So, our work focuses on how to get a survivor on the path to proactively manage their post-traumatic stress in a way that’s empowering to them. We do that through retreats, which are four days in person where they receive, uh, significant psychoeducation and experiences to help them learn how to move forward, followed by a nine-week asynchronous course online.
We also do support groups. Communities are really important to healing. Those support groups that come together to help one another learn how to manage those symptoms.
Visit saprea.org to learn more.
► You’ll also like: Episode 28: The Catalyst for Healing, Education, and Hope with Shelaine Maxfield