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What are Sexual Abuse Support Groups?

Sexual Abuse Support Groups

Receiving connection from others is central to healing from child sexual abuse. Saprea Support Groups are evidence-based and clinically informed sexual abuse support groups for individuals who experienced abuse at or before the age of eighteen. Because of the nature of child sexual abuse, survivors can often be left with feelings of shame, judgement, isolation, and loneliness. Saprea Support Groups are at the heart of providing a safe space for individuals to combat these feelings through connection with other survivors.

Healing and support can be found many places. Reaching out to friends and family and attending therapy are incredible forms of support where it is safe and possible to do so. But as helpful as a therapist may be, they are only one person. And friends and family, no matter how well-meaning, may not understand the full impact of what you’ve been through. Survivors who attend Saprea Support Groups share how a sexual abuse support group has helped them build community with others who more fully relate to their experiences.

People in your life, they get tired of hearing words like ‘trigger,’ and that you’re having a hard time. But people in group understand, you know? They understand it doesn’t go away. You can’t just talk about it once or twice and have it go away.
—Toni, Saprea Support Group Leader

Additionally, our sexual abuse support groups can help expand healing for survivors outside of therapy, or when therapy isn’t currently possible. Our chief clinical officer, Dr. Betsy Kanrowski describes her experience with a client.

My client started attending a Saprea Support Group, which greatly augmented her progress in therapy. She identified how attending a support group gave her something I couldn’t. It provided her with a community that ‘got it,’ that could share in return and offer relationships that were not possible between clinician and client. I felt secure in knowing she had ongoing support through her Saprea Support Group.
—Dr. Betsy Kanarowski, Chief Clinical Officer

Saprea’s sexual abuse support groups can be a free healing tool available to survivors looking for resources to help with their post-traumatic growth.

How Sexual Abuse Support Groups Work

Saprea Support Groups were developed with three important benefits in mind—safety, community, and education.


Each group is run by at least two group leaders with the help of a script. The support group script provides a confidential, consistent structure for group leaders and participants as they learn and share. During each meeting, sexual abuse survivors review meeting guidelines, complete check-ins, cover educational content, share insights, and experience healing and grounding activities.

These sexual abuse support groups are not a place to process past trauma. Processing past trauma is better suited for private or group therapy environments that are supported by a licensed clinician. Rather, these peer-led groups are meant to focus on how past experiences are showing up and impacting a survivor’s day-to-day life. The script is a key part of keeping these groups future focused.


Community is one of the most healing aspects of participating in a sexual abuse support group. Many survivors may have had feelings like: “No one understands how my abuse still impacts my life,” or “If people knew my past, they wouldn’t want to be around me anymore,” or “I feel ashamed of some the decisions I’ve made in an effort to cope with my trauma.” Support groups can help survivors know they are not alone, and that they are not the only one experiencing these feelings. Even if the experiences of other group participants differ, being around fellow survivors can help individuals to establish trust, experience a sense of belonging, hear a variety of perspectives, and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

It’s about love and understanding, and I just feel more whole when I’m with them.
—Fran, Saprea Support Group Participant


As part of each group, participants will cover trauma-aware, evidence-based curriculum through videos and activities. Support group participants will cover topics like, trauma and the brain, overcoming shame, coping skills, and healthy connections. The content of our education is based on our experiences at Saprea providing services for thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse. Third-party research shows that these services lead to significant decreases in post-traumatic stress symptoms and increases in life satisfaction.

How Can a Survivor Connect with a Group?

Saprea’s sexual abuse support groups are available in English, French, German, and Spanish. Interested individuals can connect with a group through the Find a Group page. Survivors do not have to be past participants of our Saprea Retreat or Healing Webinar to participate. On our site, interested individuals will find options for in-person and online groups. There are scripts specifically catered to each of these formats. In-person groups can be a great option if you like to gather face-to-face and want the shared connection of a similar geographic region and culture. While our sexual abuse support groups are expanding all the time, there may not currently be an in-person group meeting close to you. In this case, an online support group might be a great option. Additionally, online support groups might be better for survivors who feel extra support being in the familiar environment of their home.

If you are a survivor and feel ready to start a group in your area, in-person or online, you can learn more on our Saprea Support Group landing page. Knowing if a sexual abuse support group is the right fit at this time is a personal decision. To learn more, survivors and supporters can visit our FAQ page or join a live interest meeting hosted by our team.

About the author


Annie Hartvigsen

Global Outreach Strategist
Annie Hartvigsen has worked at Saprea since 2018 in a variety of roles focused on community outreach and engagment. She holds a Masters of Arts degree in Art History and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature. Annie has always felt a drive to make public programs more accessible to community members, whether that means expanding programming or helping the public connect with existing organizations and services. Outside of work, Annie is either at a movie or playing in the outdoors.