When she lived in Ontario, Mary Keefe had a lot of difficulty trying to find the right support group to help her deal with her past.
A survivor of child abuse who has called Corner Brook home for years now, Keefe recently found an international organization that seemed to fit the bill.
Now, she is helping to organize a local chapter of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, an international self-help group for adults who have survived neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse when they were children.
The group is planning an open session for adult survivors in Corner Brook next week. Keefe declined to make public the exact time and location of the meeting, asking anyone interested in participating to get in touch with the group for those details.
Space is limited and, so far, Keefe said around eight people have come forward to self-identify as a child abuse survivor interested in being part of the group. After the open session, it will be up to each participant to decide if they want to stay with the group, which will then become a closed group.
The reason for that is Keefe believes participants will become more comfortable with one another as time goes on and be more willing to open up during their weekly discussions.
If there is enough interest, or more people come forward after the group is closed, consideration will be given to starting another group.
Keefe declined to discuss the abuse she experienced as a child, saying she didn’t want the focus to be on her or her story. The broad-based approach of the methods prescribed by the Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, she said, emphasize the fact every person’s story is equally important and valid, regardless of the facts and sensitivities involved with it.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult to pigeon-hole one type of abuse versus another,” said Keefe. “Or, perhaps you’re in the process of recovering memories and you’re not entirely sure what happened to you as a child.”
Keefe and another facilitator have done some web-based training on the Adult Survivors of Child Abuse program and will use materials, including the “From Survivor to Thriver” manual for the group’s sessions.
The self-help group is in no way meant to replace the professional help some people may require to deal with their past, but Keefe said it can be complementary to their healing. If it comes to light during the sessions that someone does need more professional help, Keefe hopes the group can encourage that and point the person in the right direction.
'From Survivor to Thrilver'
Adult Survivors of Child Abuse self-help-group:
— Anyone who self-identifies as an adult survivor of child abuse is welcome to attend, regardless of your story, or where you are in the healing process.
— Participants must be age 17 or older.
— For more information, or to register (spaces are limited): email email@example.com, or call (709) 639-8522
— For information about the ASCA program: http://www.ascasupport.org/index.php
Source: Adult Survivors of Child Abuse