Before we begin, I find it important to note that Paige is a survivor. When I asked her if she would be willing to do an interview for my blog, she happily, all though cautiously agreed.
Please remember, Paige is a human being, with a heart, and feelings. So, when commenting feel free to be honest, give your opinion, disagree, but please do so respectfully.
The woman I interviewed wishes to remain anonymous, so we’ll call her ‘Paige Turner’.
Paige would like it to be noted:
” I’m not a Younique presenter, or in anyway affiliated with the makeup. I just heard about and attended the retreat, because I felt like I could use some support in healing from abuse”.
A bit of background information…
The Younique Foundation Haven retreat, is a four day retreat for women who were sexually abused as children or adolescents.
According to The Younique Foundation Website , “The four-day retreat focuses on activities that increase the likelihood of healing from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. While many activities are in a group setting (8-12 women) with other adult female survivors of childhood sexual abuse, participants also have personal time to reflect and rejuvenate”.
Paige: Do you just want a breakdown of the things we did? Do you have any specific questions about it?
AM: Yeah! Send me a break down of what went on. And then if I have any unanswered questions, I’ll ask 🙂
Paige: Sounds good! I didn’t keep a super detailed journal, so I probably won’t be able to do day by day exactly. But I’ll give the basics, and what I remember!
Paige: Okay, so here’s my breakdown of the retreat! I kind of broke it down into topics so I wasn’t rambling, or too all over the place. Feel free to use whatever you want from it, and ask me if you have any specific questions!
1.) I applied for the retreat in January. It was pretty straightforward—asked what sort of medications I was on (I’m currently on Celexa for depression), if I was able to go a week without any substances (no drugs or alcohol at the retreat), and basic questions about if I felt I’d be able to be in a group of women I didn’t know for a week, with nothing in common except abuse.
2.) After about a week I heard back, and had a short interview with their intake coordinator. She went over some of the questions on the application, and just made sure I was stable enough to be in the situation of the retreat. I think this part of the application process has given people a bad taste in their mouth for the retreat—it can seem kind of like you already need to have your crap together to get there…when the point of the retreat is to help you get your crap together. I understand why they do it, and that they want to make sure all the girls are in a good, safe environment where they won’t feel overly triggered…but I think they could find a way to improve on this, or at least hook the girls up with a counselor in their area to help them prepare to go the retreat, instead of just turning them away.
So the retreat is held up in the mountains in Lehi, Utah. For those flying in from out of state, they pick you up from the airport. For those that are driving, you’re given a meeting spot, and then you all caravan down together. A lot of people have been kind of concerned about the retreat being at an “undisclosed location,” which seems a little weird. But when I got there, I realized that a lot of the girls’ families didn’t actually know where they were, and they didn’t want them to know. Some of them were from abusive relationships and other varying circumstances, and the foundation felt like it was in the women’s’ best interests to not just show the address online.
It’s four days, and totally free. You are put into a group of eight to ten girls, and you share a room with one or two. You’re assigned a case manager to help you with odds and ends around the retreat, and then given an individual therapist as well. You have the chance to meet with your therapist multiple times throughout the week, and get one on one counseling. Twice during the week, you can participate in “group therapy.” That was totally new to me, but I honestly really enjoyed the chance to be able to hear that other girls had felt the way I had, and that I wasn’t alone in my experiences.
AM: Sorry to interrupt Paige, but the Haven Retreat isn’t completely free. I just don’t want either of us giving out any false information. Any woman interested in attending the retreat must pay their own way there. For some Women that live close by this isnt a deal breaker, but for those that live on the other side of the country, plane tickets can get pretty pricey.
AM: Im sorry to interrupt, please continue Paige.
Paige: Throughout the rest of the retreat, you basically get to pick your own schedule. They have all kinds of classes and workshops going on throughout the day, and you kind of get to tailor your schedule to what you specifically need.
A lot of the classes were totally informational—they had classes on healthy sexuality, healthy eating and improving your sleep habits, healthy ways to manage your stress, etc. They also taught us all kinds of techniques to help us manage our triggers, recognize our worth, and move forward from the abuse.
A big part of the retreat was helping you feel empowered in your own body. For a lot of survivors of abuse, we just feel kind of gross. There were a few women at retreat who mentioned that hadn’t really let anyone take pictures of them since they were young—they were that unhappy with themselves. They spent a good portion of the retreat helping us to overcome that. In the mornings, there was an option to do yoga to start your day. It was a chance to help us meditate, and be present. So many survivors have issues with dissociation (disconnecting from the present), and the yoga helped us to be there, in the moment, and connect with our bodies. They offered a self-defense class too, which was really powerful for a lot of the women. It’s empowering to feel like you are capable and can prevent abuse from happening again—so that was a huge deal for some of us. A lot of us have a lot of repressed anger, too, and that was a good and healthy release.
For the women that wanted to (I think only a few opted out of this), they did a photoshoot. They offered to do our hair and makeup (they use Sephora makeup, not Younique—so you don’t feel pressured to like or use their makeup), and then had a photographer (who is also a survivor) come and do a photoshoot. It maybe sounds superficial, but the message behind it was awesome. They wanted all of us to have at least one picture of us where we feel confident and beautiful, that we can look to when we’re struggling. This was a favorite for a lot of the girls.
Honestly, the retreat did wonders for me. There are plenty of things I probably left out and have forgotten, so feel free to ask me to elaborate on anything. But I’ve searched for years to find some kind of closure after my abuse. I spent years as a little girl being abused by a family friend, and was then abused by a high school boyfriend. I nearly didn’t graduate, because my depression was completely debilitating. I failed out of college, and was at an all time low. The retreat did so much for me emotionally.
I think what the retreat did very successfully was helping me to realize that I’m probably never going to completely forget about the abuse. When I look back on my past, it’s ALWAYS going to be there. But they helped me to move forward. When I’m triggered, they’ve given me the tools to handle it in a healthy way. It’s helped me to feel empowered, and like I have worth again.
I’ve seen a lot of critiques from people opposed to MLMs—Younique presenters are promising everyone that buying their makeup will “empower women,” and everyone is wondering where those empowered women are. I personally don’t agree with MLMs, I don’t think they’re good business plans, and a lot of people are let down when they realize it’s much harder to make money in them than is actually advertised. But I DO believe that Derek and Shelaine Maxfield’s claim that they want to empower women is genuine. Their cause has totally turned my whole life around, and it’s made a huge difference for me!
AM: Thank you for providing such a detailed overview, i really appreciate it. I do however, have some questions.
AM: First, I just want to say that I am so very glad that the Younique Foundation Haven Retreat helped you so much! It takes a lot of courage just to fill out an application, let alone the rest of the application process. I’m so proud of you!
I’m so sorry you had to go through what you did. It’s not fair, in fact it’s terrible.
1.) I can completely understand the foundation not having their retreat address readily available online, just for anyone. But never disclosing it worries me. I know if I were to attend the retreat, and I couldn’t tell my significant other were I was in the event of an emergency I would find that very worrisome, and so would my significant other. Do you have any other thoughts on this?
2.) What specifically did the retreat do for you emotionally?
3.) Was the Mormon religion brought up at all?
4.) Are you religious at all? Was the step 5 helpful to you?
5.) What kind of follow up counseling does the retreat offer in detail? Are these licensed therapists?
6.) Do you apply what you learned at the retreat into your everyday life?
7.) Do you feel the retreat is a good use of donated funds, why or why not?
8.) What do you think the retreat could improve on?
9.) Do you know if the foundation is licensed?
10.) Did they have any HIPAA notices, like hospitals do?
11.) How is your life now?
12.) How did you hear about the Younique Foundation?
13.) What made you decide to apply to the foundation over other women’s retreats out there?
14.) What made you decide to make that post in reddit? (Paige submitted an AMA post in the r/Youniqueamua sub)
15.) Did you fill out any forms when you first arrived at the retreat?
16.) What activity was the most useful to you?
Paige: Thanks so much, and thank you for being so understanding! I know a lot of people on the subreddit have some hard feelings against Younique, and have had bad experiences…so I felt a little vulnerable talking about it…but I also wanted people to know that it’s not all bad! Haha. I really appreciate you being so kind about the whole thing!
I know if I were to attend the retreat, and I couldn’t tell my significant other where I was in the event of an emergency I would find that very worrisome, and so would my significant other. Do you have any other thoughts on this? So they don’t have the retreat address information posted online, but they DO give it to you before you get up there. That way, the girls that want to share where they are can, and the ones who are keeping it a secret can keep it that way. 🙂
What specifically did the retreat do for you emotionally? I think that the retreat does a really good job of educating you on what actually goes on in your head when you get triggered. For me, it was just always so traumatizing–I’d be totally fine one minute, and the next I could barely function. It made it hard for me to handle school, I had to take half days at work all the time because I’d get off track and couldn’t back on. So when I’ve already got these bad feelings about myself from the abuse, I felt even worse because it was STILL affecting me, and I kind of just hated myself, really. One of the biggest things the retreat did for me was help me change my way of thinking. They teach a lot about what is actually going on in your brain when you are triggered, and how your survival instincts take over, and pull you back into the moment of abuse.
One of the five strategies, and I personally think the most helpful one was #3, power through surrender. It basically teaches you that when you’re triggered, it’s okay, and it doesn’t make you bad or incapable of moving forward–it’s just your body’s reaction to try to keep yourself safe. They teach you tons of grounding techniques to pull you back to the present, like deep breathing, meditation, and other mindfulness exercises. That was super helpful for emotionally, because the next time I was triggered, it was MUCH less traumatizing. I realized what was going on, realized that it didn’t make me bad, and I was able to move forward much more quickly. And it’s just gotten easier and easier since then.
Was the Mormon religion brought up at all? Not at all. At least not by the staff. One of the girls at the retreat was LDS, and mentioned her faith a few times. But so did the girls from other religions and backgrounds as well. I’m pretty sure Shelaine Maxfield is LDS, but I had no indication on whether or not any of the staff were. They were really professional, and never brought it up.
Are you religious at all? Was the step 5 helpful to you?
I am religious! A lot of the girls there were not, but I am. I honestly thought the five steps were really helpful. The last one is faith, which I think some of the girls were a little hesitant to talk about, because they weren’t religious. But when they taught it, they talk about faith as a strong belief in a bright future, and a faith in your ability to heal. So if you feel like you get that ability from whatever God you worship, then that’s cool for you. But it also applied to the girls that weren’t religious, which was nice.
What kind of follow up counseling does the retreat offer in detail? Are these licensed therapists?
At the retreat you do some simple talk therapy with licensed therapists. I think they had two (possibly three?) at the retreat, and each girl was assigned one of them. They did a few sessions of personal talk therapy with each participant, and then they offered the option of group therapy twice throughout the week. Once you get home, they have case workers that help you find therapists in your area, and will coordinate with them to get you all set up. They also help you if you want to find self-defense classes, yoga, etc. Basically if they taught you something at the retreat, they’ll find someone in your area to help you keep up on it. I also got a notice a month or two ago that they’re working on starting up support groups around the country that will be totally free, and available to anyone, whether or not they’ve been to the retreat.
Do you apply what you learned at the retreat into your everyday life?
Overall I do. They give you a really nice little workbook (I’m pretty sure you can download it for free) that has lots of exercises to help you keep up on everything. There’s tons of different ideas in there, and I’ve kind of narrowed it down to a few that resonated with me. For example, I love to journal. So they give me ideas on how journaling can help you with your mental health and self-care. I use their deep breathing and grounding techniques for whenever I’m triggered, and a lot of them I just use when I’m stressed overall. I feel like they’ve really improved my mental health since I got home.
Do you feel the retreat is a good use of donated funds, why or why not?
I honestly do feel like the retreat is a good use of donated funds. I’m not 100% sure on how all the donations work, just that they have to get 1/3 of their donations from donors, and then the Maxfields can double match every donation. I think portions come from the makeup company, but definitely not the 100% or even the 10% that some presenters just claim. That’s just silly and bad information on their part. I’m pretty sure they have a team that is dedicated to philanthropy and seeking donations–then the Maxfields are able to double match any donation received because they make money off the makeup company. So as far as I’m aware, they donate 2/3 of the money that keeps the foundation going from their personal funds. Which is pretty cool to me. I noticed after looking at the Younique reddit that people have some hard feelings against them–but I think they are doing their best.
What do you think the retreat could improve on?
I think the retreat could definitely work on being more accessible to people in other areas. There were girls in my group from all over the world, but some of the girls definitely had to pay much more than I did to get there.
I’ve heard that they are working on building other locations so they can reach more people, but in the meantime, it makes it hard.
I think I might have mentioned this in my last email, but I also know some women have been hurt because the retreat didn’t feel they qualified. I get that they need to make sure people are stable and able to be in the retreat environment, but I think rather than turning people away, they could maybe help them find a therapist in the area that can help them prepare to go.
AM: Honestly, it breaks my heart to think of how many women were probably turned away. I dont think its right that the Younique Foundation, just turns these women away like that.
Do you know if the foundation is licensed?
I don’t think I know enough about what is required to answer this question!
Did they have any HIPAA notices, like hospitals do?
I believe so. I’ll try to track down my paperwork to give you a better answer on this one, but I think so. I know the staff is required to follow HIPAA policies. For the participants, we all agreed to not post pictures that included others, or to mention the people we met at retreat by name. I don’t remember if we signed on this, or if we just all stuck to it because we know it’s a hard boat to be in, and we’d never want to out someone else whose family doesn’t know, or…any other reason really.
My life is way better than it was before. It’s improved my marriage a LOT, and I feel a lot less stuck before. My family relations have gotten a lot better, too. For a long time I hated going to family events, because anytime my dad (he’s not in my life anymore, and allowed a lot of my abuse) was brought up I would just feel sick. I’d find myself disassociating whenever I was with them, and eventually just stopped seeing them. We’re all on really good terms now, and I dissociate very rarely. When I DO, I know how to get myself back. I’m generally happier, and feel much more like myself than I have in years.
How did you hear about the Younique Foundation?
A friend of mine attended the retreat, and posted about it on Facebook.
What made you decide to apply to the foundation over other women’s retreats out there?
Honestly, I didn’t look into a lot of other retreats. I tried different types of therapy throughout my life, but I never really saw the appeal of a retreat. I pictured a lot of women crying in a room together for a week, and that didn’t sound appealing to me at all. When my friend posted such a positive experience, I decided to give it a try. It was close enough to me that it was at least do-able, so I thought it’d be worth the drive. I’m sure that a lot of other retreats give women similar experiences, but this was just the one I tried!
What made you decide to make that post in reddit?
I was talking to someone about the retreat earlier today, and it made me curious to look up the reviews. I was really surprised to see some of the negative opinions people had on it, and I wanted to offer a different perspective. I saw a lot of posts asking “Where are these empowered women that they keep talking about?” or “I bet they prey on vulnerable women to make them sell their makeup.” I just wanted to share that I hadn’t had that experience at all. The company may have its flaws, but I think their goal to help abused women is genuine.
Did you fill out any forms when you first got to the retreat?
There was a registration folder that they gave us when we first got there. Sadly, I don’t think I have it anymore. I’m pretty sure I got rid of it with clutter a few months ago. But I’m pretty sure it included the basics–address, contact info, emergency contacts, etc. I think there was a form laying out any allergies or food preferences, so the chef could cater to you. There was a permission slip to let them photograph you if you participate in the photoshoot. They don’t have permission to share the pictures, unless you request it to. (On their website you can “Share your story,” where you tell your experience, and you can give them a picture to post with your review). I’m pretty sure there was a HIPAA form, because all staff is required to adhere to HIPAA policy. I think that was about the extent of it.
What activity was the most useful to you?
I really liked the hands on activities, like self-defense, mindfulness practice, and yoga. In my opinion, you can get talk therapy in most places. I mean, I’m glad that they included it, but you can find a therapist anywhere. But it was nice to have guidance in exercises that helped you feel comfortable in your body again. A LOT of us really struggled with that, and those things were really helpful, but also simple enough that I could keep practicing them at home. As far as mental health goes, their workbook is really good.
Paige:I hope those answers are okay–if you want me to elaborate on anything I said, I’m happy to! And sorry it’s taking me so long to get back to you–thanks for being patient!
AM: You did great, Paige! Thank you for being so thorough, and speaking about something that is so tough to talk about.
Paige: Just one other thought I had while I was reading through your blog: I saw the post about Albie’s experience applying for the retreat, and I hope she would know that I am in no way trying to diminish her experience or opinion. I’ll admit that the intake coordinator who called me for screening part of the application process wasn’t particularly warm. I was a little surprised and caught off guard by her, because she was a little more blunt than I thought was appropriate, considering the topics we’re discussing. It’s an intimidating thing to even apply for the retreat, and a big step for a lot of us–I think they should be more sensitive about it. I was honestly a little nervous that I’d run into “Doris (as Albie calls her)” at the retreat, and was really relieved that I didn’t. All the staff that was actually there was really warm and friendly, but it sounds like Doris probably needs to work on her bedside manner.
Thank you for sharing that, Paige. Ill make sure Elle Beau
gets the message over to Albie.