In February I started volunteering as a facilitator for a psychoeducational support group for victims/survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones. The group is run through Ramsey County Sexual Offense Services, and is one useful tool, among many, that can help victims find support and understanding of their victimization. Once victims and secondary victims have been interviewed by a staff member of Ramsey County SOS, they can come whenever they want to the weekly meetings.
The people who come to group are amazing. They have heart-breaking stories to tell of rape, childhood sexual abuse, gang rape, incest, attacks by strangers, and acquaintance/date/spousal sexual abuse. They may not have told anyone else in their lives about what happened, but they come and share their stories, their support, their emotions, and their insights to others. Even though the group is confidential, it takes so much courage for them to come to group and to listen and share. The members who have told people in authority about their victimization have many times come away feeling blamed, betrayed, and not believed. I am so thankful Ramsey County SOS has created a safe space where survivors can speak in a safe environment.
Every time I go, I am astounded by how brave the members are. At the same time I am in awe of their courageousness, I am also overcome by how much pain there is in the world. How can a parent do something like that to their child? A friend to their friend? A partner to their partner? Even a stranger to another stranger? I get angry hearing their stories; I get depressed. Yet, I do walk away from every session leaving those negative emotions in the room because I am even more overcome by the beauty of the human spirit.