55 minutes | Sep 12th 2020

How to Talk to Your Ward About Sexual Abuse | An Interview with Chris Yadon

Chris Yadon is the executive Director of the Younique Foundation in Lehi, Utah, and a former stake president. Their mission is to “inspire hope in women who were sexually abused as children or adolescents by providing healing services through educational retreats, support groups, and online resources. [They] educate and empower parents and caregivers to protect children from sexual abuse through community and online resources. [They also] advocate for open discussions about sexual abuse through community dialogue and social awareness.” The Younique Foundation was founded by the same founders of the Younique Beauty Company due to their desire to fight against sexual abuse and it’s devastating consequences.

Highlights

2:20 Background of the Younique Foundation.
4:27 How did you get involved in working with Non-profit organizations?

  • “We need to become experts in combating pornography.” Finding a connection between pornography and sexual abuse or exploitation.

7:05 Statistics – realizing the magnitude of sexual abuse

  • 1:4 girls and 1:6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

9:00 What constitutes abuse? “any unwanted coercion or force into sexual activity”
10:50 Where does sexual abuse come from? Who is doing it?

  • 80-90% of sexual abuse is coming from trusted family relationships in other words someone in the family or someone the family knows.
  • 10-20% is perpetrated by unknown individuals aka “stranger danger”
  • What is often uncomfortable and hard for families to realize is that it is usually people in your circle ( ie.coach, teacher, uncle, older sibling, older sibling’s friend, a person at church, etc…)

12:00 Other foundational knowledge for leaders in the church.

  • It happens in the church. It happens to church members.
  • It happens to families that are engaged with their children. As a parent, you can do everything “right” and it can still happen.
  • It happens in every race, religion, culture, every socio-economic group. The statistics do not change from one group to another.

13:15 Is there a correlation of sexual abuse to the church’s culture, structure, or habits of the church?

  • The church as an organization has been putting a tremendous effort into addressing and preventing abuse in positive ways.
  • How individual congregations can apply the church’s policies and guidelines can be more problematic.
  • Sexual abuse is typically a crime of opportunity.
  • 16:00 When a leader stands up against abuse it gives members permission to speak openly about their experiences.
  • Distinguishing between a secondary issue (behavior) versus the primary issue (trauma).

20:00 Combating pornography

  • In almost every case of pornography addiction or compulsion, there were some early trauma issues (death, divorce, sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect)
  • A church leader’s role is not to combat the root trauma but to refer members to professionals who can

23:10 As a leader how approachable am I? How do I start talking about it?

  • Have conversations of healthy sexuality that include sexual abuse as part of that conversation.
  • Be direct. Educate parents on how to educate their children.
  • The use of professionals in committees to aid leaders.

28:05 How do leaders get to root issues so members can receive the proper help they need?

  • Listen first. Don’t dig into details initially.
  • Ask good secondary open-ended questions. ( “tell me about when this started”, “What was going on in your life the first time this happened”, “tell me more”, “help me to understand”, etc.)

30:00 3 things a survivor of sexual abuse needs to hear.

  1. You are not crazy. I believe you.
  2. There is hope and healing.
  3. Resources that can help.

32:50 Repentance at its core is change.

  • You can’t stay at the behavior level and expect true and lasting change

34:10 What can youth leaders, Elders Quorum, or Relief Society Presidents do to help?

  • Be a safe place.
  • Arm yourself with the capabilities to handle these situations

36:30 Creating opportunities for disclosure

  • Building relationships are more critical than the environment

39:25 Does a leader need to report a disclosure of sexual abuse to the bishop?
42:55 Resources and Prevention

  • See the church’s website for additional links and resources
  • Defend Innocence by The Younique Foundation is a resource for parents to learn how to reduce the risk for sexual abuse towards children.
  • Seek “supporter” resources

54:00 How has this journey led you to be a better follower of Jesus Christ?

  • A compassionate desire to help instead of merely judging the behaviors.
Resources and Prevention

The Younique Foundation
Church website: Protecting Members and Reporting Abuse
Defend Innocence