Recovering from violence is hard – so our Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence (CSSV) team works hard to bring as many moments of joy to survivors’ lives as possible. Starting this fall, participants in our sexual violence support groups were able to opt-in to receiving monthly care packages delivered discreetly to their door.
“The idea came from a need to further connect with everyone during the pandemic,” explained Jacie Womack, sexual violence survivor advocate. “Due to COVID-19, all of our support groups are currently being held virtually, and we wanted to let survivors know that even if we aren’t face-to-face, we are all still together.”
Staff curate a different box every month to keep contents fresh; past items have included stress balls, personalized journals and pens, and “freedom bears” – special stuffed bears that allow you to put a note inside the bear’s heart, and then dissolve the same paper in water when you are ready to watch the words leave the page as a symbol of inner healing. Also included are items that encourage self-care and reflection, like inspirational coloring books and colored pencils.
By year’s end, the CSSV will have sent more than two dozen care packages, including some holiday-themed versions. Each support group averages about 10 attendees, kept intentionally small to allow plenty of time for sharing and discussion.
“Our support groups are a way for survivors to come together to reflect on their experiences and form connections. All support groups are facilitated by trauma-informed, confidential advocates, and we’re proud to partner with Womanline to help facilitate,” Womack said.
Groups give survivors time to be in community with each other, sharing both challenges and triumphs they have – and are – encountering, and find a safe space to be themselves.
“Members of our support groups quickly become close-knit, and share in celebrating, encouraging, and challenging each other. They loved the idea of receiving something monthly from us as well,” Womack noted.
“It’s also important to note that sharing your story is not a requirement to attend our support groups. Some members find it helpful to share a lot, while others find it helpful to sit and take in the words of others. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to participate. Joining is always the hardest step, but we are here with you if you are ready to take that step together,” Womack said.