Sexual Abuse Support Group Offers a Safe Community for Students

Byline: by Laura B. Hans

Posted: January 17, 2012

Teh Health and Wellness Center and the local organization, Women in Need (WIN) are hosting a sexual abuse support group on campus.

The support group is called "Never Shame." The next meeting is scheduled for Fri, Dec. 2 at 12:00 -1:00pm in the Prayer Chapel on the bottom floor of Lenfest Commons. All groups are free and confidential. The groups provide a safe environment to talk with women who have, or are currently experiencing sexual abuse in their lives.

Lack of abuse support network on campus

A student began the support group in November after noticing the lack of a support system. She approached, Director of Counseling, Cindy Shoemaker with the idea to create a support group. Shoemaker is overseeing the group and Linda Dougherty of WIN is working with the student as a co-coordinator.

Offering support to women of sexual abuse

The purpose of the group is to offer an opportunity for women who experienced sexual abuse as part of their past, or are currently dealing with sexual abuse, to come together in a safe environment and find support. "If students are not comfortable with attending the group sessions, the Wellness Center can provide individual and confidential help, or we can also provide referrals to resources in the community," says Shoemaker.

Many people who have been sexually abused may have feelings of fear, guilt, anger, shock or shame. Having a support system can help deal with these emotions.

"When I suffered from abuse, I did not have a support system. I had no one to lean on and help me through my healing. Over the years, I realized how much of a difference this would have made for me… I have come to the realization that one of the reasons so many are unable to heal is because they feel ashamed. Sexual abuse is one of the most invasive and ‘private’ abuses I can think of. So many victims are embarrassed and ashamed. Because it is so awful and perverse, that stigma is placed directly on the victim," the student coordinator says.

"The group is a step towards not being ashamed. While anonymity is completely respected and no one will be made to go further in participation than they are willing to, I hope I can plant a seed to let these women know that they have nothing to be ashamed of and they are beautiful, despite the ugliness that was forced upon them," adds the student coordinator.

How to get involved in the group

Any female student with questions concerning the group, or those with an interest in attending can email the group directly at or contact the Health and Wellness Center at 717-264-4141, ext. 3235 or for more information.

The group meets on Fridays at 12:00pm, but the student coordinator is open to changing the date and time to accommodate member’s schedules next semester.

"There is no pressure. No one is put on the spot to talk. Some people can be open and others can just listen. We’re very open to whatever group members need," the student coordinator says.

The group, Never Shame, will send an all-campus email providing more information for next semester. Please contact the Health and Wellness Center or for more information.

Last Updated: April 20, 2013

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