A year of social distancing and pandemic precautions hasn’t stopped us from supporting survivors. YWCA Dayton’s online support groups have continued to provide survivors of sexual violence with weekly opportunities to safely receive care and connection.
Entirely text-chat based, participants can enter the group “room” through any internet-connected device and speak with trained facilitators and fellow survivors. Held in partnership with RAINN, group chats are free, confidential, and anonymous, and monitored by trauma-informed staff to ensure safety for all who join.
According to Megan Garrison, sexual assault program educator, HelpRoom has been an incredible resource for reaching survivors uncomfortable with in-person support or who don’t want to identify as survivors, and will continue to be, even after the pandemic is over.
“This platform allows for such anonymity that those who might have been anxious about coming to a support group have a space to still receive valuable support,” she said. “With social distancing, having support groups that you can attend from home has become so valuable.”
Isolation brought on by PTSD is common for survivors of sexual violence, a potential trauma response exacerbated by the conditions people have experienced over the past year.
“A sense of isolation and lack of connection has been more prevalent since the pandemic began,” Garrison said. “It’s exactly why the YW sexual assault program continues think creatively about ways to safely offer support groups, prevention courses, and touchpoint calls to meet our clients’ needs.”
Participants can join a HelpRoom by visiting https://affiliate.rainn.org/helproom/ywcadayton. Six groups are held every week for survivors and their family, friends, and/or loved ones:
- Survivors of Sexual Assault Support Group
- Mondays @ 10-11 a.m.
- LGBTQIA+ Identifying Survivors Support Group
- Tuesday @ 10-11 a.m.
- Friends and Families of Survivors Support Group
- Friday @ 10-11 a.m.
- Sexual Health HelpRoom
- Wednesdays @ 10-11 a.m.
“No one survivor reacts the same to trauma, or to the healing process,” Garrison said. “Survivors need a safe space to sort out the conflicting emotions they feel without being labeled or having their identity displayed.”
Click here to learn more about our online groups and how we’re supporting survivors during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and beyond.
If you, or someone you know, has experienced sexual violence, help starts with a call. 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 937-222-SAFE (7233).