Heatherie Featherie (heatherie) wrote in _survivors_,
Heatherie Featherie

Thinking of starting a survivor's group in my church

This is from my journal, looking for opinions on if there's anything else to consider with starting a support group for sexual abuse/rape survivors.

Dear Pastor Brian,
I have been in prayerful consideration, and believe I feel the pull of God, to share the healing in the area of sexual abuse that I have received from both Christ and counseling, with others. I have noticed that there hasn’t been a sexual abuse bible study, nor have I noticed, or been told of, a sexual abuse ministry at our church. I am prayerfully considering changing that. I say prayerfully considering that because I realize that taking on the topic of sexual abuse is a HUGE thing.
I also realize that this is something that is on topic at Celebrate Recovery, but sexual abuse is such a private thing that I think that people who’s problem is sexual abuse and not addiction may be uncomfortable in that situation and less likely to want to join a support group that has such a broad focus.
I would like to come in and talk to you about this. I have been doing some research on this topic, and have found several resources on possible bible studies we could do. A very highly recommended book that a LOT of websites recommend, and seems to be a standard in Christ centered sexual abuse healing that also has a workbook to go with it, is called “A Wounded Heart” by Dr Dan Allender. There is no video to go with it, but I’ve read the first pages and it seems like a very good book.
There is also a video bible study series called “In the Wildflowers” that seems very good, but it is geared specifically toward women, and I know of at least one man in the church who was severely sexually abused in his childhood, and I’m sure there may be others. I’m not sure if they (or, quite frankly, anyone) would be interested in joining the group, but I’m not sure I would want to exclude them with a bible study that is SO geared toward women. However, a google search toward video bible studies brings up few results of actual video bible studies – they are mostly books, and the above mentioned one seems like the best.
I have drafted a few rules for the group, based on several internet support groups that I belong to, such as confidentiality and safe space rules that I would be glad to come in and discuss with you.
Basically, I’d like to come in and hear your opinions on this matter. If this were something we’d actually do, I would HIGHLY encourage everyone to seek individual counseling. I would go speak to the two counseling centers in town about their rates, and if we can get sliding scales or any type of thing for the people in the groups (I know Unified does sliding scales, but it’s based on income).
Through being in internet support groups, and also being in NA and celebrate recovery, I have learned that there is a tremendous amount of healing in being able to talk to people who have been in the same or similar situations as you, people who ‘get it’. Also, with sexual abuse in particular, the keeping it a dirty little secret hurts us. It keeps us ashamed of something that happened TO us, something that we were a victim OF, something that was NOT OUR FAULT, but society (and many times ourselves) makes us feel like it is. There is healing in realizing that it is not our fault, and it is not something we need to hide. Even if we can’t speak it in day to day life, at least we don’t have to hide it from each other.
And I was wondering if you’d be doing any type of message similar to the ‘sex for sale’ thing you did last year (or anything at all with a sexual damaging theme) that an offer for this group can be incorporated into?
Again, these are just my musings that I would like to get your opinions on. I just wanted to jot them all down on this email so that I don’t forget any of them when we talk.

What do you guys think? Do you think this is something that people would feel safe enough/ comfortable enough joining? I feel God's pull on this, so I'm going to start it anyway. If nobody wants to join it, so be it. I'll start it again (or try to) every time the new class schedule comes around and hope that someone gets up the courage to come. They had to do that with Celebrate Recovery, and now we have 10 members.
There are a LOT of victims of sexual abuse, most who hide it, many who are still in pain from it. It's the getting them to admit it and face it that's the problem.
Are there any other points to consider? Anything else I'd need to do in my research? I realize that I'll need to put a lot of work into this beforehand - this is NOT something I would start tomorrow. I will get several books on the subject and start reading them now. I will get the resource that we pick and read it/do the questions/watch the video now so that I can get aquanted with it myself first. This is NOT something to go into blindly, but both of the resources seem to to be very good. And this is NOT a professional setting - just a support group. Again, I would be STRONGLY incouraging everyone who is in the group to be in constant prayer as well as professional counsling. Counsling would NOT be the group's place, although healing and sharing would.
Tags: religion, support network, telling others

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