OU builds support for student survivors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Virtual support group open to current OU students

Ohio University’s Survivor Advocacy Program (SAP) will begin hosting a confidential, virtual support group for student survivors of sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence and harassment.

The group, named TEAL (Together we Empower And Liberate) to reflect the color that represents sexual assault awareness and prevention, is planned to start by early July and is aimed at building support, community and connection among survivors.

Email newsletter signup

SAP survivor advocate and case manager Kristin “KC” Waltz said that since SAP began, students have expressed interest in a traditional peer support group.

“In a support group, members are equals with shared lived experiences,” Waltz explained. “This can make people feel much more comfortable opening up, accepting support and giving support. Support group participation may help members feel less lonely, build community and reduce isolation. Members can learn from their peers new coping skills and self-care ideas.”

To put together the virtual support group, Waltz and other members of SAP found examples of campus-based survivor advocacy programs that were running or planning to run peer support groups and reached out to them. They consulted with them on how they designed and ran their groups and used the information taken from these programs to design a group that would be specific for survivors at OHIO.

“The goal of this group is to provide students who have experienced sexual or intimate partner violence with a confidential safe space to share thoughts and feelings, connect with other survivors, and learn information to support healing,” Waltz said. “The group is intended to supplement, not substitute, individual therapy and support needs.”

The support group is a confidential, gender-inclusive group open to current OHIO students on both the main campus and regional campuses who have experienced sexual assault/harassment, dating/domestic violence or stalking. Potential members will go through a group screening process with a Survivor Advocacy Program advocate where they will learn about group guidelines and expectations. Due to guidelines with professional licensure, students should be located in the state of Ohio while participating in the group.

Although there will be licensed mental health professionals present as facilitators, this group is not a traditional therapy group and students are encouraged to seek out additional resources and individual therapy support as needed. It will be held virtually, with the potential to move to in-person meetings during the Fall or Spring semesters, depending on the group’s composition and desires.

Students interested in joining TEAL can reach out to KC Waltz at waltz@ohio.edu. To learn more about the Survivor Advocacy program, visit www.ohio.edu/survivor.

Ohio University’s Survivor Advocacy Program provides confidential support and advocacy services to student survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating/domestic violence and stalking. They work to increase student survivors’ access to support and resources through survivor-centered advocacy and empowerment.