Our Survivor Leadership Retreats create a safe space for survivors of human trafficking to connect, heal and grow as visionary leaders. We meet in beautiful environments as a community to discover what it means to value our voices, create healthy intimacy and rise up to lead with our unique gifts. Each retreat is tailored to the core goals and desires of the women and girls who join us.
Through our last 3 day retreat in Austin, Texas we supported 15 survivors, ages 15 and up, through several workshops, including:
Creating Healthy Relationships
One of the greatest challenges for many survivors of human trafficking is creating a healthy relationship after repeated sexual violence and exploitation. In this session, we learn how to reclaim our self-worth as the foundation for a loving parntership. We identify our relationship rights and responsibilities, explore what we truly need from a partner and how to confidently request what we want.
Through group discussion and creative exercises, we reflect on the core beliefs and patterns that hold us back from what we desire. This workshop provides a deep dive into our “love story” and what we feel we deserve as women.
The Neurobiological Impact of Trauma + How We Heal
Although we can overcome our trauma, it takes time, healing community and cutting edge resources that acknowledge the way our neurobiology is impacted by physical and emotional violence. It is not helpful to tell a survivor that the “past is in the past” and they should simply move on. As Trauma Expert, Peter Levine says, “The past is not in the past. It is in the nervous system.” In this session, participants learn how the brain is impacted by complex trauma, the latest research on neuroplasticity and how they can create a greater sense of safety and well-being. Modalities such as Trust-Based Relational Intervention and Somatic Experiencing are discussed along with practical tools for recovery.
Self-Compassion, the ability to relate to ourselves with kindness and empathy, is the one of core keys to healing. Survivors are blamed and shamed for their abuse by those who exploit them and by our pervasive culture of victim-blaming. Learning to include ourselves in our love for the world helps us become the strong, resilient leaders we are called to be.
Art Therapy + Mental Health
Creative Expression is a powerful healing modality that gives survivors a way to share challenges and desires they may have difficulty expressing through conversation. Working with images and symbols provides a safe way to speak about experiences that feel unspeakable. Art Therapy also affirms the innate creative potential and power of the individual to make meaning of her experience. For those who are interested in sharing their creative expression, we host readings, speaking events and art exhibits to celebrate their work.
Body Mindfulness + Building Resilience Through Gentle Yoga
Abuse teaches us that it is not safe to be in our own bodies. This trauma can result in alternating feelings of disconnection and fear. Gentle yoga and breathwork helps to reduce post-traumatic stress and anxiety, while supporting a sense of safety and well-being. In this workshop, a trained Yoga Therapist offers excercises and poses to work with challenging emotions and create inner peace.
Strategies for Non-Violent Communication
Learning respectful, compassionate communication to express our needs, set boundaries and negotiate conflict equips Survivor Leaders to thrive in personal and professional relationships.
At every retreat, we design immersive experiences for our community to step into leadership. This year, we created the opportunity for attendees to advise the Texas Governor’s Task Force on Child Sex Trafficking on effective policies for trauma-informed aftercare for exploited youth.
We believe survivor voices should be honored and integrated into every level of response to the issue of human trafficking, so we curate experiences where survivors learn they are experts who deserve to be heard.