Saskatoon woman wants to help young people who have experienced sexual violence
A Saskatoon woman is using her experience with sexual violence to help other young people on their healing journey.
Linzi Stoddard began the You are More Project last week aimed at helping young people reclaim what was taken from them after their experiences with sexual violence.
“I felt there was a gap in our community that needed these type of resources and that our youth really needed the community to support them and show up for them,” Stoddard told CTV News.
Through its events, the You are More Project explores mental and sexual health, being an ally and how to reconnect with your body and communities through movement.
The first virtual event was held Thursday and Friday. It featured a series of speakers from local organizations and businesses as well as breathing exercises, meditations and yoga practices.
Stoddard said her healing journey didn’t happen overnight.
“It took about 10 years before I was able to talk to anybody about it or really recognize what happened and how it was impacting myself, my body and my mind. But when I did start talking to people, I realized that it did have such a big effect on my life and who I was and who I was becoming,” she said.
“I really took my healing process and tried to figure out what I needed, what my body needed to be able to heal and move forward from that experience and be able to let it not decide and dictate my life, but be able to take that power back.”
When Stoddard decided to face her trauma, she said she began going to local gyms and later realized the power of community support.
“Through that community support, I was able to not only own my own body but take back that power and have that support behind me so that when I needed it, they were there to have that welcome and safe space.”
Stoddard said part of the reason she started the You are More Project is to help connect other young people to those places that made her feel safe and helped her to heal.
“I just knew that more youth needed to know what these community leaders are here for, what their businesses can do for their healing processes and how they really can have an impact on their lives.”
Ryde YXE Cycle Studio is one of the organizations that had an impact on Stoddard.
Co-owner Shaina Lynden said helping people like Stoddard is part of the reason why Ryde was created.
“That’s part of the biggest thing for Ryde is building that level of community support and engagement and just feeling like you’re in a safe place amongst a community that is willing to support you,” Lynden said.
“When you engage in healthy fitness-related behaviours, you are going to be experiencing that growth, not just physically but mentally and emotionally, and you’re doing it while being surrounded by a support system.”
Members from the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) Victim Services and Child Abuse Unit are also taking part in the initiative. They gave presentations as part of Friday’s virtual event.
“It is important to the Saskatoon Police Service to provide information to the public to help better educate victims to the criminal process, as well to show support to the victims. Anytime we can do this helps serve the community, and build and strengthen relationships,” SPS said in a statement to CTV News.
Stoddard said everyone’s healing journey is different and that it is important to remember that one’s experience with sexual violence does not define them.
“It does not define how worthy you are or how loved you are. This isn’t something you should be ashamed about, it is not something that you did wrong and that it’s something that happened to you. So, just know that you are more, you are worth more and you deserve more.”