Almost anywhere you live, you can find a group for people who have been sexually abused. But how do you know whether a group is right for you? And how do you know whether the particular group you’re considering will be a positive experience?
The Pros: Those of us who have been sexually abused as children tend to think we’re one of a kind. It’s a huge relief to be in a safe group and discover that all of us who were traumatized as children share the same issues. “You mean I’m not the only one who feels shame? Can’t trust appropriately? Has trouble being a normal sexual adult? etc. etc.”
The Cons: Groups can be triggering. You may end up being re-traumatized by hearing others’ stories. As a result of childhood trauma, we tend to be very easily influenced by others’ stories. It’s easy to confuse someone else’s story with your own. (We’re also easy to hypnotize. On the positive side, we’re very creative with visual imagery etc.)
Finding a Good Group: Check out the group’s rules. Is your privacy assured? How does the group strive to create safety?
Women Recovering From Abuse (WRAP): This is a professionally run group out of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Besides being in the company of others who share your issues, the leaders emphasize education about living with trauma and give you tools for healing.
The Lamplighter Movement: This came to my attention through Shelagh Stephen a contributor to this website. This is an international movement for incest and child sexual abuse recovery. The purpose of the network is to empower and support victims and survivors.
The movement has three chapters in Canada (Kitchener, Thunder Bay and Vancouver.) If you’re not near those centres, you can be a “stand alone chapter” – a chapter composed of just one person. To be a stand alone member, email Margie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Margie will pass on your information to anyone asking to join the Lamplighter website. The same contact will connect you to Kitchener and Thunder Bay chapters. For the Vancouver chapter, email email@example.com. Shelagh founded the Vancouver chapter.
Their website is www.thelamplighters.org.