Support Group Report
Adult Female Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre
Tralee Co. Kerry
October 2015 – March 2016
Alice Kavanagh MIACP
Brendan Roantree MIACP
A support group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse was provided in The Kerry Rape and Sexual Centre, Tralee, Co. Kerry from October 2015 to March 2016.
The support group consisted of eight participants. It was facilitated by two KRSAC staff members and completed a total of fourteen two hour sessions.
The support group was promoted and sought members through advertising in the local media, posters on community notice boards and through word of mouth.
Some group members were referred by counsellors in the Centre itself, some were referred by other agencies and some self referred.
The main criteria for joining the group was that group members had previously addressed their issue of childhood sexual abuse through one to one personal counselling either as an ongoing process or in the recent past.
Potential group members were invited to an informal meeting to discuss and assess their suitability to the group and to the group’s suitability to meeting their needs. On successful completion of this screening process each potential member was contacted, offered a place and requested to sign a confidentiality contract.
The main focus of the support group was to offer a safe and confidential space for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to: meet other survivors – share their own stories and experiences – explore their own needs and aspirations – through provision of a safe and confidential and comfortable setting, supportive sharing, discussion and debate and creative exercises where appropriate.
Group members were invited and encouraged to take responsibility and ownership of their group and contribute to its growth and development over the fourteen sessions. Each member would bring their own personal story to the group and consider how best the group support process might enhance their own journey as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
The support group members displayed a sense of growth and development from the beginning. From the first session each member committed to the process of the group dynamic. They were open, honest and congruent – supporting, listening, sharing and caring.
They shared their sad and painful experiences around the ignorance, fear and myths surrounding life as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. They shared their stories of survival, resilience and optimism. Some shared the experience of seeking and achieving justice through the legal system and others shared the experience of living without the possibility of ever gaining justice.
There was also at times a real sense of fun, laughter and enjoyment in the sessions as the group and the members displayed their creativity through art, music, poetry, songs and funny stories.
As the group approached and prepared for the closing sessions they expressed their experience of the group in such positive and grateful terms. Some were sad and sorry that it had to end but all felt it was a beneficial experience in their lives.
Both facilitators had a positive experience of working with the support group. Each session was planned and prepared and following each session they had a fifteen minute debriefing. Following the group closing session the facilitators had a full debriefing session where they discussed their own personal experiences of the group work. They also explored their learning experiences, new ideas and aspirations around working with future support groups.
The facilitators attended four supervision sessions whilst working with this group. These sessions were affirming and supportive and provided an important space for an in depth exploration of their own needs and the groups process and progress.
In conclusion, it is important to state that organising and running the support was a valuable, constructive and worthwhile project. Feedback from both participating members and facilitators indicate it was a resounding success. In feedback words such as useful, assuring, effective, helpful, promising and heartening were used.
It is hoped that in the near future that the experiences, learning’s and ideas from this support group can once again be offered to other survivors of childhood sexual abuse by The Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre.