The Younique Foundation
Nonprofit Supports Sexual Abuse Victims
It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to create nonprofit organizations after experiencing major success. It’s less common for someone to start a commercial business to fund a nonprofit. But that’s exactly how The Younique Foundation came about.
Derek and Shelaine Maxfield, two of the founders of The Younique Foundation, knew someone who was sexually abused. The fact that she carried guilt associated with that trauma — guilt for something another person did — deeply troubled Derek.
“I said, ‘Shelaine, that’s not fair. Somebody should do something about that.’ And I knew that that ‘somebody’ was me, and that ‘something’ was to start another company that could be successful enough to fund that cause,” said Derek Maxfield in a Facebook promotional video for the Foundation. So, after starting The Younique Foundation in 2016, he co-founded Younique Cosmetics, a Lehi, Utah-based network marketing company that reported $40 million in monthly revenue in 2016.
Helping Women Heal
The Younique Foundation has one purpose: to inspire hope and healing in women who were sexually abused as children or adolescents. It accomplishes this goal primarily through its free Haven Retreat, where women gather for four days to receive education, participate in exercises designed to help with trauma recovery and connect with other survivors.
“The typical woman who comes through our program is between 35 and 45 years old,” says Chris Yadon, executive director of The Younique Foundation. “She’s exhausted, and she has usually tried many times to heal but has been unsuccessful. That’s when our services really become relevant and meaningful for her.”
In addition to the retreat, The Younique Foundation provides women with online resources to help them cope and connect with other survivors. Its efforts seem to be making a difference.
David Wood, an assistant professor of social work at Brigham Young University, conducted an evaluation on the long-term mental health of women who participated in The Younique Foundation’s programs.
The study found that participants experienced a 23% reduction of PTSD symptoms — more than double the percentage considered clinically significant — and a 21% increase in overall well-being. Additionally, Wood found that participation in the four-day retreat was as effective as 15 to 24 weeks of group psychotherapy.
While helping women heal is one of the foundation’s primary objectives, the organization is just as interested in preventing future trauma. Studies show that one in five children is sexually abused before the age of 18. In 90% of cases, children know their perpetrator, and 30% of perpetrators are family members.
But parents and other adults can help reduce the risk that their children will become victims of abuse. One of the best ways is through ongoing conversations.
“We work hard to make it safe for the public community to discuss abuse,” Yadon says. “We spend a lot of effort to raise awareness and break down those stigmas. It’s really hard for a woman to raise her hand for help when she’s so stigmatized. It’s unlikely that a person will do much to prevent sexual abuse until they see how prevalent and relevant it is to them.”