Fundraiser gives donors Younique opportunity to help female victims of childhood sexual abuse
Every two years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts a study with high school-aged kids in grades nine through 12 and the most recent statistic show that one in four girls across the nation reported being sexually abused before they turned 18.
In Utah a little more than 11% of girls in that age group are raped before they graduate high school, and 21% of high school girls reported being sexually assaulted in the past 12 months, according to the report.
These stats are part of the reason why The Younique Foundation, a nonprofit from Lehi, is holding a fundraiser in Park City on Thursday, Nov. 5.
Doors for the event, which will include dinner and live entertainment, will open at 6:10 p.m. at the Kimball Terrace, located at Heber Avenue and Main Street. Registration is open at youniquefoundation.org/events.
“We’re excited to do this, and of course in our COVID environment the fundraiser will be COVID appropriate,” said Executive Director Chris Yadon.
Rather than a typical gala, the fundraiser will be smaller and a little more intimate, Yadon said.
“After a nice dinner and some great entertainment, we will call for donations,” he said. “We’re excited to engage our friends in Park City.”
The entertainment will be performed by father-and-daughter vocal duo, Mat and Savanna Shaw, who are known for uplifting songs, Yadon said.
“They are from Utah, and they have one of the fastest growing YouTube channels out there,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch our own (talents) surge across the nation, and the world.”
The money raised during the fundraiser will benefit The Younique Foundation’s programs that include the Haven Retreat, support groups and continued offerings of healing resources for women and families of girls who have been victims of child sexual abuse, Yadon said.
The Haven Retreat is designed for women ages 18 and older who were abused when they were younger, said Shelaine Maxfield, the nonprofit’s cofounder.
“These retreats provide multiple ways of healing so they can choose the ones that are most beneficial to them,” she said. “While it’s hard to talk to people you have never met about something you wish never had happened, by the end of the retreat, they have created a little community of survivors.”
The Younique Foundation began operations in January 2015, said Maxfield, who started the nonprofit with her husband Derek.
“We had been talking about a survivor of sexual abuse we knew and we were so distraught at how her life had been so negatively affected by the incident,” Maxfield said. “She was a child when it happened, and was feeling all of this guilt and shame. Derek just said, ‘Someone needs to do something about this,’ and we decided to dedicate our time and resources we had and would be blessed to have with to help survivors find hope and healing.”
Common physical symptoms of childhood sexual abuse include unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, physical injuries and chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity and cancer later in life, according to Yadon.
Examples of mental health consequences include depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, while behavioral symptoms may lead to substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors and increased risks for suicide or suicide attempts, he said.
Another major challenges facing victims of childhood sexual abuse is how uncomfortable people get when they hear about it, according to Maxfield.
“It has been a taboo topic for a very long time, centuries, really,” she said. “People don’t like talking about it, but it won’t go away until it comes to light. There is a lot we can do as human beings to reduce the risk, but we have to get to a point where we talk about sexual abuse the same way we are taking about car seat safety.”
Educating parents and caregivers about childhood sexual abuse is at the center of The Younique Foundation’s mission.
“A lot of people want to say this is happening somewhere else, or that it’s more a inner-city problem, but that’s not the case,” Yadon said. “It’s happening in Park City as much as it’s happening in any part of the country. This is where education becomes so critical.”
The No. 1 way to help prevent the abuse is for parents and caregivers to maintain a continued and open line of age-appropriate communication with their children, according to Maxfield.
“I think a lot of people feel they just need to have one big sex talk in their children’s lives,” she said. “Many parents still feel uncomfortable and awkward about that, which makes them want to just get it over with. But we feel they need to start these talks when their kids start asking questions or when the opportunities present themselves. That way the kids will feel comfortable about asking more questions, rather than turning to friends and the internet.”
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“We wouldn’t want to be responsible for a massive COVID outbreak, and the Santa Pub Crawl attracts hundreds of people every year who gather in small venues up and down Main Street. We felt it wasn’t good timing.”