I have been working on my healing for years. I never thought I would heal. This group gave me a new outlook on my life
— 72 year old survivor of sexual violence
After this group experience, I realized I was still beautiful.
— sexual assault survivor
Sexual assault support groups can be a life changing experience for many survivors and supportive people in their lives. Sexual assault can make a survivor feel as if they have lost complete power and control of their own life. Many survivors say following their sexual abuse (or discovery of) they lost a part of their identity. Support groups remind survivors that there is so much more to them than the abuse experienced. The abuse may be a part of their life experience but their strength, power and resilience can never be taken away. Support groups offer survivors an opportunity to regain a sense of self and speak out on their experiences.
After years of silence, shame, guilt, fear or receiving little to no support, support groups provide survivors the opportunity to connect with others who have experienced similar forms of violence and break down these barriers to living a successful life (as defined by the survivor). Support groups reduce common feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation and empower survivors to continue fighting for their healing. While every survivor's experience is unique, being in a room with people who have had similar experiences can be a powerful form of support and validation. Sexual assault support groups offer a space for survivors to learn coping skills, understand the effects of trauma, and increase their social support networks.
With proper training and development of facilitation skills and preparation, advocates can provide this valuable tool to survivors in their community.