Three charities have united to form a community support group for female victims of sexual assault.

The Women’s Resource Centre, in partnership with Scars and the Centre Against Abuse, launched the Sexual Assault Survivors Support Group, which is the brainchild of Christine Jones, a survivor of sexual assault and advocate for sexual assault awareness.

The launch comes as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, observed during April, comes to a close.

Ms Jones said: “As a survivor of sexual assault, I have searched for over 20 years for support and healing. Recently, I became passionate about creating a space for survivors like myself to come together and support one another.

“Survivors of sexual assault face unique and often isolating experiences. Despite the best intentions of those around us, it can be difficult for others to truly understand the depth of emotions and challenges that come with this trauma.

“I decided to reach out to these charities because they each offer specific resources that are beneficial to survivors. We hope that together we can create a space that will serve as a beacon of hope for those who may feel overwhelmed and alone.”

The support group, which is open only to female survivors of sexual assault, will meet on the third Wednesday of each month beginning on May 17 at the Women’s Resource Centre office.

All sessions are private and confidential, and are led by survivors. Participants will have access to therapeutic services provided by the Women’s Resource Centre and the Centre Against Abuse.

Juanae Crockwell, the executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre, explained how the new service aligns with her charity’s mission and strategic goals:

“Our mission is always to enhance the lives of women in Bermuda and support groups like this are another service that will equip and empower women to live their best and healthiest lives.

“As we pivot to support women in transition, it is essential that we create safe spaces, building community and providing access to resources.

“Peer-led support groups are proven to be beneficial by giving members the opportunity to express their feelings in a safe space, receive helpful information and also help others through their experience.

“Specifically, for survivors of sexual assault, the Women’s Resource Centre understands there are unique challenges they face and we are committed to supporting them as they navigate the effects of their trauma, rebuild themselves and their lives, and thrive through healing and growth.”

The WRC will provide group members with access to therapeutic counselling and other resources for support, the CAB will assist with one-on-one counselling support, crisis care advocacy and court advocacy, and Scars will provide an essential education and prevention component.

Laurie Shiell, the executive director of the Centre Against Abuse, said: “This falls directly in line with our goals for this year of providing more training and establishing support groups for survivors.

“Studies show that when a support group is led by a survivor, they are more effective. We welcomed Ms Jones’s vision as a survivor for this support group and we were excited about the opportunity to work closely with her, WRC and Scars to provide the expertise that the group will require.”

Ms Shiell said that her charity’s mandate is to offer support services for adult survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. She said that support groups represent one of many pathways for survivors to gain structured social support after experiencing sexual abuse.

Ms Shiell added: “CAA recognises that each sexual assault survivor has their own journey that they are working through, and it is our hope that this support group will provide sexual assault survivors with healthy coping skills that will assist with diminishing their trauma.

“We must understand that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault, and that this crime leaves survivors with an array of trauma impacts. It is through this lens that we as a community will be fully able to support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable.”

Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder and executive director of Scars, added: “As a survivor and thriver of childhood sexual abuse myself, it was natural for me to say a quick ‘yes’ when invited to be a part of this support group.

“Support is one of the empowerment skills we teach in prevention and I look forward to partnering with a strong and passionate group of women who are dedicated to helping and supporting other women with their journey of healing from sexual assault.”

Survivors interested in more information can call the Women’s Resource Centre on 295-3882 or e-mail

The Royal Gazette