Support groups with women

I've never been to an IRL support group. There are no support groups for men where I live. My therapist recently made me aware of a support group, but it is for people of all genders.

Seeing as I was sexually abused and assaulted by my ex-wife, I'm somewhat skeptical about sharing a group with women. Moreover, I am 100% positive that they will be skeptical of sharing a support group with me. The group meets at the local rape crisis center, which is where I had my first trauma therapy a few years ago. Back then when I went to the group intake session at the rape center, a woman came in, saw me, and left immediately because she didn't expect to see me, a man, there. So my being a man prevented someone from getting help that day. I have worries that, in the same way, I'll show up and everyone else will leave.

And although it would be nice to try and connect with real life people, I have my doubts that women - even traumatized women - will be able to understand my issues, which of course even here, in this group of men, are unique.

Finally I might as well admit that I'm kind of using the chance to go to this group as my method for staying alive right now. And if it has a shitty outcome, I'm afraid of what might happen.

Thoughts and opinions welcome. Has anyone else been to mixed support groups?
 
ASCA is mixed Gender IRL groups - I went once so far - only 2 males, the rest females. Open share, but "crosstalk" was allowed. It was nice and accepting. I hope to go back when I have a free Saturday.
 

dark empathy

Registrant
Strangeways said:
And although it would be nice to try and connect with real life people, I have my doubts that women - even traumatized women - will be able to understand my issues, which of course even here, in this group of men, are unique.[/url]

I could play a lot of unique cards myself, even on this board being one of the only disabled members, possibly the only visually impaired member, and probably one of the few guys who went through sustained gang rape by girls.

The problem though, is just because we didn't fall into a box, doesn't make what happened any the less valid, this is true for you, true for everyone else.

Any man who has been sexually abused knows what its like to be straight out not called one of the majority, much less any man sexually abused by a woman.
So, the fact that your "unique" IE don't fall into society's accepted idea of what an abuse victim looks like doesn't really mean much.

the question though is more whether group therapy is the right thing to do. For others, well unless the group specifies "female only" then too right there should be men there, why should men be denied the same support women get? and after all, its not as if there is a lack of groups of female only survivors out there or support for women.

As to this group in particular, I honestly don't know.
My only attempt at group therapy myself was a week end of recovery in 2010 with Mike Loo. That was nice enough as far as it went, but its not something I'd want to do regularly.
Then again I freely admit, I personally mistrust groups. Some of this is a visual impairment thing, since groups of people tend to be less accepting over all and you can't do the stupid eye contact thing.
Some of this is just a personality thing, since I'd much rather have an intimate conversation with one person share with a big group, despite the fact stage performing is one of my interests.

Also, I've seen on this board various experiences from different chaps who've been with different groups, some very positive, some less.
So, whether this will be a good thing for you personally I don't know, but your decision should be based on just that, whether it will be good for you, not whether you will or won't be unique or will or won't be causing trouble for someone else.b
 
I too have attended a couple of ASCA meetings and while they were in no way unsettling or offensive, the format is structured in such a way that I wasn't delighted with the experience. I may go back, however, just to see if I'm missing something.

On Monday, a woman at an OA meeting I attend expressed an interest in starting a meeting for sexual abuse survivors. I've known the woman for quite some time but we're not close. I spoke with her after the meeting and we had a fine conversation. I don't often mention at these meetings my work with sexual abuse but I believe she knew of my experience. Talking with another survivor was good and it seemed to me we opened to one another in ways we'd never done before. I don't know whether there is a group to be created, though we agreed that there is likely a great deal of sexual abuse among those attending OA meetings. Food is a wonderful way of insulating oneself and making oneself unattractive. That can be useful if you're trying to avoid being sexually used. At the very least I sense this woman and I will have other conversations. She was sexually abused by her father and brother so it is likely she is sensitive to me being a man... but she's seen me in meetings for perhaps ten years, so I may feel a bit more safe than most men.

All of that said, I can appreciate under the circumstances that it would be awkward being in a group with women who are afraid of you. But I'm glad you shared all of this simply as a way of engaging with this group of men who are here to support you. You're not alone.
 
Thanks for your responses everybody. Very helpful to me.

I've decided to go. I'll be hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. If they don't want me there, it's going to be their problem and not mine - if the group is truly open to everyone, then I'll have just as much right to be there as they do.

On the other hand, I am completely ready to support anyone willing to accept support from me. Likewise, maybe at least one other person there will be willing to support me, and I'll gladly accept anyone else's support.

We'll see what happens.
 

MACH123

Registrant
I too have attended a couple of ASCA meetings and while they were in no way unsettling or offensive, the format is structured in such a way that I wasn't delighted with the experience. I may go back, however, just to see if I'm missing something.

On Monday, a woman at an OA meeting I attend expressed an interest in starting a meeting for sexual abuse survivors. I've known the woman for quite some time but we're not close. I spoke with her after the meeting and we had a fine conversation. I don't often mention at these meetings my work with sexual abuse but I believe she knew of my experience. Talking with another survivor was good and it seemed to me we opened to one another in ways we'd never done before. I don't know whether there is a group to be created, though we agreed that there is likely a great deal of sexual abuse among those attending OA meetings. Food is a wonderful way of insulating oneself and making oneself unattractive. That can be useful if you're trying to avoid being sexually used. At the very least I sense this woman and I will have other conversations. She was sexually abused by her father and brother so it is likely she is sensitive to me being a man... but she's seen me in meetings for perhaps ten years, so I may feel a bit more safe than most men.

All of that said, I can appreciate under the circumstances that it would be awkward being in a group with women who are afraid of you. But I'm glad you shared all of this simply as a way of engaging with this group of men who are here to support you. You're not alone.
According to one of my early therapists, a pshychologist who was an expert into the field, OA meetings are sexual abuse survivor meetings. He told me the percentile of women overeaters who had experienced CSA was in the 90's according to his work.

I've always wanted to try group. The sexuality/gender thing is an phuck up though? My therapist runs WOR and wanted me to go but I was like forget it. That's where I'm at still.

When I stopped going to AA meetings a few years ago, I was really uncomfortable even holding hands when they'd pray at the end and if I was able I stood back outside the circle. I just can't do it look I'm like "do not touch me."

I'm very touchy feely with my wife though. Still I'd like to do it but I'm not going to start it? I just can't invest the time. I would like to start it maybe and then walk away. There is a place right near my house where they'd let me do it I'm pretty sure and my therapist might even get involved?

I'm so busy already though. I don't really want to "go public" either? Idk. I think about it a lot and never do anything. There are meetings but in the city, I'm in the burbs and I don't go out at night if I can help it lol.
 
When I stopped going to AA meetings a few years ago, I was really uncomfortable even holding hands when they'd pray at the end and if I was able I stood back outside the circle. I just can't do it look I'm like "do not touch me."
Yeah, I get this. It took me months to be comfortable enough to try mixed-gender yoga. And then the group hug at the end ... that took me MORE months to be semi-OK with. I still can't do the individual hugs after the group hugs.

But I am almost completely sure there will be no touching in this sexual assault survivors' group.
 
The hugs I share after OA meetings with women in the fellowship have been a balm to me... with time I've allowed myself to receive the love on offer there... not a sexual thing but an open hearted thing. I believe honestly, that the work I'm doing right now around CSA is possible in large measure because these contacts have allowed me to push through my shame, the shame of being defective. As I've shared my abuse experience with these OA friends they've received me with loving kindness. In fact, a small group I meet with away from meetings has two women who experienced sexual trauma as children and one woman who was emotionally abused and neglected. Your friend is right MACH123, 12 Step rooms are FILLED with people who have abuse in their early years. SLAA, SAA, OA likely have the preponderance of CSA but AA has its share as well. When I attended SLAA I only attended men's meetings but since I've experienced CSA at the hands of men too, that isn't automatically as safe space for me either. Life really is a minefield for a survivor.
 
I have been asked to share briefly tonight at 12-step group (large group mixed-gender - 200-400 people) - will divulge my CSA status (talking about my healing from the "hyper-vigilance") - I know of a few CSA-ers there but I am sure I will be meeting more after sharing (many smaller "share groups" so I do not know the stories of most there)
 

Tom E.

Registrant
I too have alluded to my sexual abuse when talking at 12-step recovery groups ( AA, NA, SAA) . I've never been to a support group specifically for survivors of sexual abuse. I'm not sure if it would easier to speak before a mixed group, or an all male group in that scenario.
 
Very early in my recovery from CSA, when I was wondering what I remembered and not sure of myself at all, I had the chance to attend a group specifically for male survivors of abuse. It was organized by the YWCA and, although that can rightly be thought of as a women's organization, and although the group was facilitated by two women who were professional counselors, the whole environment and attitude was entirely supportive of men. The sign outside the building said, "You are not alone" and they meant that message to be for everyone. I wondered how it was going to work with women leading the group specifically for men, but I think it was ok...except not enough men attended. It was for any kind of abuse, childhood or current, sexual, physical, emotional, etc. Still, the most we ever had was 3 men, and once or twice I was the only one there--with 2 facilitators. That was not sustainable, but I am very grateful for the occasions we did meet. I guess in a way that was a mixed group and it wasn't, since both genders were in the room. With that and the individual counseling they offered, the Richmond, Virginia YWCA was a tremendous help to me as a male survivor, with all of the help coming from women. I admit, it was hard at first for me as a guy to go into the YWCA, but, once I did that, I never regretted. Every single person, starting with the receptionist, was nothing but supportive and helpful. I've followed their videos since, and I've noticed that in their public statements about sexual and domestic abuse, they use gender neutral language consistently, one of the only organizations I've seen do that. They are just great. Having said that, I don't think they are typical, sadly. I will never forget the time I called a state hotline for help and the woman at the ohter end, hearing a male voice, said, "We don't offer assistance to perpetrators." That still gets to me. I know now and I knew then that she was very wrong, but that could have put me off getting help altogether. Basically, my experience is that women can be very supportive. In media statements, etc, I've generally seen that organizations specifically for survivors are kinder to male victims/survivors than feminist groups that take on abuse as a political issue.
 

MACH123

Registrant
Hi can you post a link? I'm at the point of potentially starting a group or looking around for someone to help me start one.

Mostly I've gotten my help from women because I don't go around the men. So I'm really interested in this thanks for your post. There is a YWCA around here.

My therapist runs WOR for women. I always told her I'd go to one of those, I just won't go to the men's lol.
 
@learning2remember - I'm so glad you had a good experience with the YWCA. That was heartwarming to read.
I will never forget the time I called a state hotline for help and the woman at the ohter end, hearing a male voice, said, "We don't offer assistance to perpetrators."
That organization should be burned to the ground.
I've generally seen that organizations specifically for survivors are kinder to male victims/survivors than feminist groups that take on abuse as a political issue.
I'm not sure about that. It may be true with sexual assault and abuse, but it is definitely not the case with organizations that deal with domestic violence. The Violence Against Women Act allows organizations to discriminate against men in their programming, and most do.

The group I'm attending is at a rape crisis center that accepts men. They don't like to, necessarily, but they do. There's no indication from any of their materials or their website that they accept male clients and I find that's pretty usual. These places don't advertise they serve men, so no men bother showing up and they're fine with that.
 
I have been asked to share briefly tonight at 12-step group (large group mixed-gender - 200-400 people) - will divulge my CSA status (talking about my healing from the "hyper-vigilance") - I know of a few CSA-ers there but I am sure I will be meeting more after sharing (many smaller "share groups" so I do not know the stories of most there)
What kind of 12 step group has so many members?
 
What a lovely concept Kal. It is said often at the OA meetings I attend that "it is a shame not everyone is in a 12 Step fellowship." It seems you've found one that does permit everyone to celebrate recovery. Hope your share with that group goes well.
 
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