Support for survivors of child sexual abuse

Dear Alice,

I was wondering if the support groups for survivors of child sexual abuse would be offered again this fall and if you have already participated if you can do so again.

Still not OK

Dear Still not OK,

For those who have experienced child sexual abuse, seeking out a support group can be a powerful step towards emotional healing. Given that you're wanting to return to the group, it sounds like you found a support group that was impactful for you! By sharing your story and listening to those of others, you may be able to deepen your sense of community and find empowerment as you pursue recovery. If you're a student, reaching out to your campus' counseling center may help you find out whether or not a specific counseling group is being held from semester to semester and whether or not you're eligible to participate. That being said, whether or not you're a student, many communities have resources to support those who have experienced child sexual abuse. 

Even if you find that your school or community offers recurring groups, it may be useful to look into whether continuously attending meets your needs. Often, it’s up to the therapist or program to decide whether or not to allow past participants to come back for future sessions. To determine whether or not attending a group again would be helpful in your recovery, it may be helpful to have a conversation with your mental health professional. Individual counseling may be suggested instead of or in addition to group therapy, depending on your circumstances. They may also have additional recommendations for you based on any progress they've noticed within the group sessions. 

Recovery isn't always a linear process; depending on what is going on in your life, there may be periods of time where you need more support or to lean on different types of support. It’s beneficial to have a sense of the resources available to you so that when you need them you know how to access them! There are a number of resources that are available to provide both in-person and virtual support: 

  • Stop It Now has a list of resources on its website very similar to that of RAINN; however, these resources are specifically intended for adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Some of the services offered include online support groups and individual therapy. The organization also offers resources for partners and friends of survivors that you may consider suggesting to your loved ones.
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline allows you to speak confidentially with a trained staff member. You can also get information about local services (such as support groups) and health facilities for survivors of sexual abuse. The hotline is available 24/7 and can also be reached online via chat room.
  • RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) maintains a list of resources on their website that may be beneficial for survivors of sexual abuse. On this list, the organization includes a section dedicated to services for those who experienced child sexual abuse. These resources include confidential hotlines, referrals to local mental health care providers, and legal support. 
  • Child Welfare Information Gateway continuously updates its webpage with current information on organizations for adult survivors of sexual abuse. Its list includes a number of centers throughout the United States as well as details about what specific services they provide.

Finally, you may also consider reviewing the related Go Ask Alice! Q&As for more information and additional resources, including those for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse and incest. 

Don't give up hope—there may be ups and downs in the process, but healing and recovery is possible.

Last updated Dec 16, 2022
Originally published Sep 01, 1994

Submit a new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

The answer you entered for the CAPTCHA was not correct.