Sacred Survivor Retreat – A day for hope, healing and peace for women who have experienced trauma

It’s just one day. A beginning.

Women helping women transform pain to peace is the focus of the one-day Sacred Survivor Retreat in Rochester on Saturday, April 14. It is a day to be with women who have experienced something unwanted, unexpected and life changing.

Trauma is all around us

Did you know that 5 out of 10 women will experience some kind of trauma in their lifetime? Yes, that’s one out of every two
of us.

    Trauma can take many forms: divorce, receiving a diagnosis of a life changing health issue, betrayal, living with chronic physical challenges, childhood sexual or physical abuse, institutional abuse, harassment, rape or assault, domestic violence, witnessing violence, exposure to death or constant threat of death or injury (military service is one example), psychological coercion (cults), and spiritual abuse. It may be an experience that rocked your life and your dreams. About 1 in 3 women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime.

    Look around you as you go through your day. We all know someone who has experienced trauma, whether or not we are aware of it.

Called to act

The event is the dream of Sonja Hallworth and the culmination of the efforts of many women, all with a passion for reaching out to other women to offer opportunities for healing and growth.

    This project started about a year ago when a Cambodian missionary spoke at Sonja’s church regarding the atrocities suffered by young children through the sex trade. 

    That day Sonja became deeply aware of the challenges women face throughout their lives. “I didn’t know how or when I would be a part of a solution. I just knew God had touched my heart in an amazing way.”

    That day was the first in a series of events: a conversation with her mom led to a meeting with a woman who had been to Cambodia herself. This woman told Sonja about the book “Terrify No More.”

    “In that book I read a quote that haunted me: ‘All that is necessary for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing.’ I was doing nothing, and it hit my heart hard again.”

    Still wondering how and when and where to become involved in a solution, Sonja saw an article for training through DFO Victim Services to learn how to be a victim advocate. As Sonja went through the training she became aware of the many different types of trauma.

    “It became blatantly clear that women and trauma were to be my focus. … I began dreaming about a day where women who have experienced trauma of any kind could have a day of peace and hope. I started sharing my idea with everyone I knew, and the response stunned me. In no time, there were 40 volunteers willing to help with this day of hope.”

Move Your Mountain

Do you feel like you are alone in your pain? Do you feel that no one could possibly understand your experience? Do you need a day filled with hope, healing and peace? Consider attending this retreat.

    It will be held at Christ Community Church with some off-site activities at HOPE Ranch. Women of all faith communities are welcome. Survivor-speakers will focus on spirit, mind and body. Activities, discussion groups, music and testimonies will be designed to renew and encourage participants. All activities will be optional.

    Confucius said, “The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Perhaps the Sacred Survivor Retreat will be an opportunity for you or someone you know to begin moving your mountain, one small stone at a time. Maybe you can assist someone in carrying away that first small stone.

    Cost is $25 per person. Scholarships are available. For more information visit or contact Sonja Hallworth at 951-775-4229 or

    Please note this is not intended to be or replace psychotherapy. It is an opportunity to know that you are not alone, and to share ideas about healing and growing through and beyond trauma. Local resources include: Victim Services Hotline: 507-289-0636 and the Women’s Shelter: 507-285-1010

Kit Muellner is the founder and owner of HOPE Ranch, Center for Growth and Healing, founded in 1999.