A particularly successful method of working with survivors of sexual assault and trauma is by bringing survivors together in groups. Groups are an effective tool in providing support, validation, connection, healing, empathy, and giving hope. At the core of all sexual assault is disempowerment and disconnection. To assist in recovery, empowerment and connection is key.
It is amazing to witness the transformation that many survivors make because of these groups — because they realize they aren't alone, because they realize that people care, because they learn that it wasn't their fault, and yes, because through connection and validation there is hope. Often times the relationships and sense of connection that members develop between each other may be some of the most positive and supportive relationships in their lives.
Because these groups can have such a profound impact on survivors of sexual assault, it is therefore vital that as advocates we possess both the skills and knowledge to effectively facilitate groups. Hence, the purpose of this manual; to provide a roadmap of sorts, to navigate through the world of psychoeducational support groups.
It is important to note that this manual is considered a basic guide and has been written with beginner facilitators in mind and offers the reader some practical guidance and recommendations for both the facilitation and design of psychoeducational support groups. Much of the information presented here has been gathered from existing research and literature as it pertains to groups, from the OCVA support group standards, as well as from the experiences of those who assisted with the writing of this manual.
It is recognized that those who have been doing this work for awhile bring their own expertise and we therefore encourage you to pair your own wisdom and experience with the information presented here.