This article discusses sexual assault. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call RAINN’s national sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673 for confidential support.

MILWAUKEE — From ages 5 to 15, Candace Sanchez said she was sexually abused by two family members. 

Healing from that abuse, she said, has been a long journey.

“It’s a lifelong healing process,” said Sanchez. “I am 51 years old and I’m still healing.” 

Now, as a survivor, she’s taking her experience and offering encouragement and support to others through a podcast. 

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

“No matter how much trauma I went through, hope was my foundation,” said Sanchez. “It has a lot to do with my faith. It was instilled in me at a very young age.” 

The podcast, “Unspoken: Conversations with Candace,” is a space where guests can talk openly about “taboo” topics in order to spark difficult and uncomfortable conversations. 

Sanchez said it’s a safe place and a platform for survivors to share their stories and find healing.

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

She said by sharing her own experience, she has given other people hope. 

“They realize that they’re not alone,” she said. “They realize that if she can heal and she can thrive, then maybe I can too. It’s offering that hope.” 

Sanchez is also a published author, life coach and motivational speaker. She’s dedicated her life to helping others reach their full potential, no matter what challenges come their way.

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

“It takes a lot of courage and strength to be vulnerable,” said Sanchez. “I feel like the more I talked about it, the easier it became for me.” 

There is power in sharing your truth, she said.

She encourages others to speak up and find the help they need to continue to thrive. 

On April 26, Sanchez is being honored with the 2023 Thrive Award at the Hope Shining Blue event. 

The award, established in 2014, recognizes a sexual assault survivor who is healing and thriving in life, and whose work in the community benefits survivors and promotes awareness of sexual assault issues.

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

For more information about Sanchez and her podcast, you can visit her website.