Saprea is highlighting Mental Health Awareness Month this month and the millions of Americans living with mental health conditions. Many children who are sexual abuse survivors will spend years, even decades, dealing with trauma; and oftentimes these effects include mental health-related issues.
One in four women in the United States is a survivor of child sexual abuse. The impacts of this trauma last long after the abuse has stopped. Survivors are five times more likely than the general population to be hospitalized for a physical or mental health problem. Survivors are also three times more likely than the general population to attempt suicide. As survivors age the risk of suicide attempts increases.
“This trauma is not just something that you get over or put behind you when you reach adulthood,” said Saprea Chief Program officer Betsy Kanarowski. “The effects are real and can have long lasting impacts on the brain, body, emotions, behaviors, and relationships. Many survivors struggle with lifelong shame associated with both the abuse and its effects, and incorrectly believe that they are inherently broken or unworthy and that these feelings of inadequacy will never change.”
“Saprea is leading the charge against child sexual abuse using proven, practical methods for confronting and overcoming child sexual abuse,” said Saprea Managing Director Chris Yadon. “All of our services and resources are free thanks to the generosity of our donors.”
Saprea invites survivors and their supporters to practice self-care to help facilitate mental, physical, and emotional growth. These resources, while created for survivors, can be useful to anyone experiencing mental health challenges.
- Paced Breathing – One of the most effective grounding techniques survivors can use to reconnect with the present moment is our breath.
- Guided Meditation – Meditation can help bring your focus away from anxieties and back to the present.
- Yoga – This practice can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.
- Creative Expression – Healing from trauma, especially the trauma of child sexual abuse, takes time and intention. Doing something creative gives you an opportunity to focus on the process and staying in the moment.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – This relaxation exercise centers around tensing and releasing your major muscle groups to help you notice, appreciate, and relax those muscles.
- Sleep Affirmations – One way to reduce anxiety is to redirect your focus toward more hopeful, soothing thoughts.
Saprea provides in-person healing retreats in Utah and Georgia. “Through evidence-based educational and experiential classes, retreat participants explore practical and accessible steps that support their healing journey,” Kanarowski said.
Additionally, Saprea also offers more than 100 survivor-led support groups in 13 countries. Survivors have found that being part of a support group increases their trust in others, helps them feel less isolated and judged, and can reduce their distress, depression, and anxiety. This support, both given and received, can promote personal growth and healing.