Latin America has its first Finding Hope Support Group in Puebla, Mexico, thanks to the help of one passionate supporter and three inspiring survivors.
“Although I have not been sexually abused in my childhood, I have experienced violence,” said Marlene who inquired about starting the group. She initially saw a post on Instagram about The Younique Foundation and reached out for more information with the intention of starting a book club. This led to her signing up to attend an interest meeting for Finding Hope Support Groups. And “the rest is history.”
These volunteer support groups are clinically designed to be led by survivors for survivors. Since Marlene is not a survivor of child sexual abuse herself, she reached out to three survivors she knew and asked if they would be interested in creating the group. And so, Marlene, Andrea, Sofia, and Lilian, worked with the Spanish Language Team at The Younique Foundation to learn how to start a group.
The Younique Foundation provides a support group script, an educational book and workbook, informational videos and numerous other helpful resources. Marlene helps promote the group in her community by also making residents aware of the Foundation’s child prevention resources for parents and caregivers.
“Finding Hope Support Groups are a safe place for survivors of child sexual abuse to connect with and heal alongside fellow survivors in their own communities. The groups have three priorities: safety, community, and education,” said Karen Brown, Community Outreach Manager for The Younique Foundation.
"It is not easy to open the door of the past. It was and has been very difficult to face this,” said Andrea, “but I am willing to heal and help women who went have experienced.” To date, 13 survivors are attending the group.
Sofia said there is no organization in Puebla that could help women deal with child sexual abuse. “This represents a great opportunity to provide mutual support to survivors. My daily work is focused on children, so I have an idea of the vulnerability of children, coupled with the poor communication that can occur in families in any context,” she said. “For me it is important to communicate my experience to others and give them confidence to be a point of support for the whole family."
According to Lilian, who attended the Foundation’s retreat as part of a Spanish-speaking pilot, the support group is helping her take a difficult event in her life and turn it into a blessing and hope. “It is my life’s purpose to be able to share the strategies and the path of healing with more women who carry such a heavy weight and do not know how to lighten it.”
Brown said one benefit of these support groups is that they promote a level of understanding survivors might not feel in everyday interactions. This sense of validation and belonging can lead to other benefits, such as:
- Reduced depression and/or anxiety symptoms.
- Decreased feelings of isolation.
- Increased connection with and trust in others.
- Improved self-confidence.
- Heightened sense of empowerment and hope for the future.
“To break into the Spanish speaking audiences and see our efforts get to the people who need it is so rewarding,” Brown said. “We currently support Finding Hope resources in English, French, German and Spanish and we want to have support groups in every country where those languages are spoken.” The Younique Foundation now has support groups in 11 countries offered in English, Spanish, French, and German. Countries with Finding Hope Support Groups include: Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Scotland, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States, and now Mexico.
The Younique Foundation has created website dedicated to Finding Hope Support Groups. Survivors interested in learning more or searching for a group are invited to visit https://findinghope.org/de/.