by De Stewart, Advocacy Specialist Sexual Assault Program
YWCA Clark County Sexual Assault Program support groups are here to help survivors heal from the effects of sexual assault and/or abuse. A sexual assault is a crisis. It creates trauma in the life of survivors and those who support them.
Everyone who experiences sexual assault deals with the abuse differently. There can be a range of emotions experienced in the aftermath of sexual assault, from shock, disbelief, fear, isolation, and confusion to a loss of one’s feeling of personal safety and autonomy. Survivors may cope with the abuse in a variety of ways. Some want to forget the assault ever happened and just move on with their lives, deeply burying the pain of the assault. Others want to talk to someone they trust who will be a compassionate, non-judgmental listener. The healing process takes time and does not happen in a linear manner. There isn’t a specific time-frame when a survivor should, “just be over it”.
Though the immediate effects of trauma may lessen with time, the impact on survivors’ lives can last for years afterwards. Support is an important step in mitigating the effects of sexual abuse and can be helpful in moving the healing process forward no matter how long ago the abuse occurred or where a survivor is in the healing process. YWCA Clark County is here to support survivors in that healing process.
Support groups can offer many benefits to survivors whether the assault happened a year ago, or a lifetime ago, no matter whether a participant has experienced one or multiple assaults. Participation in a support group can provide connection with other survivors while helping to shatter the self-blame, shame and isolation that are frequently experienced by survivors.
YWCA Clark County offers confidential, judgement-free, psycho-educational support groups for women who have experienced sexual assault and/or abuse any time in their lifetime. Our groups are free of charge and open to women 18-years of age and older. (We have a group for teen girls as well.) We have a new group forming beginning February 1. The group is a closed group that meets for eight consecutive weeks. Past participants have expressed that they gained a greater sense of connection and valuable tools and support for dealing with triggers that remind them of the abuse, tips for healing emotionally, as well as learning how to communicate their needs more effectively, and found a sense of self-forgiveness.
Sexual assault is a choice made by the offender. It is never the fault of the survivor. Healing is your right as a survivor. YWCA Clark County Sexual Assault Support Groups are here to help. If you feel that a support group would be supportive for you or someone you know contact support group co-facilitator, De Stewart, at 360-906-9151 for more information. Please call as soon as possible as we will not be adding new participants after February 8th.
De Stewart (she/her pronouns) is an Advocacy Specialist with YWCA Clark County Sexual Assault Program. De has been with the program nearly six years, passionately supporting survivors of sexual assault through her community based advocacy and facilitating support groups for both teen and women survivors of sexual assault.