Where Can I Find Additional Support for My Experience with Being Sexually Abused as a Child? Which Organizations Can I Trust?
There are hundreds of support groups, free programs, and nonprofit organizations that help survivors of sexual abuse. Here are some suggestions on how to find the best one for you.
Are There Sexual Abuse Hotlines or Helplines That Can Help Me When I am in Crisis?
Many hotlines facilitate the immediate needs of survivors of child sexual abuse.
- National Suicide Lifeline: If you are suicidal, you can call the National Suicide Lifeline 24/7 at 800-273-8255.
- Report Child Abuse: If you want to report suspected abuse of a child or if you were abused as a child, contact ChildHelp: The National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child. ChildHelp has trained counselors answering the phones 24/7 to guide you through the process of reporting. They also take calls from survivors of sexual abuse.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline – RAINN: If you were sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at RAINN (Rape and Incest National Network) at 1-800-656-4673. They will refer you to your local rape crisis center.
Are There Any Support Organizations That Help Survivors of Abuse in the Catholic Church?
Yes, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s largest and oldest support group for men and women abused in the Catholic Church.
They have expanded and now help survivors from many different faith backgrounds and institutions.
Is There a Support Group That Addresses the Unique Needs of Male Sexual Abuse Survivors?
Yes, MaleSurvivor.org and OneinSix are two excellent organizations that address the unique needs of male survivors. Both offer online group support.
Are There Support Groups That Help Survivors of Sexual Abuse from Other Institutions Besides the Catholic Church?
Yes. SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) has expanded its mission to help survivors of many faiths.
In addition, there are groups that help survivors of all religious denominations, cults, and splinter groups. The Enough Abuse Campaign has created a detailed support list that can help guide victims of sexual abuse in the right direction to begin their journey to healing.
Survivor support group resources are growing steadily, and we suggest that you talk to a therapist and conduct independent research to determine if any of these support groups are a good fit for you.
Are There Places Where I Can Volunteer and Help Abuse Survivors?
Yes. There are many survivor support groups such as SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), 1inSix, and MaleSurvivor who may have opportunities for you.
While many nonprofits that help survivors of child sexual abuse only use trained volunteers, there are many simple things that you can do right now to help survivors.
- You can write letters to the editor of your local, regional, or national media outlets in support of survivors of abuse, especially when stories about abuse and cover-up are in the news.
- You can speak to your local lawmakers and discuss how they can make laws more child-and victim-friendly.
- You can look up your statewide coalition against sexual assault (most states have one) and see where they need your voice and energy.
- Finally, you can reach out to and support survivors when they do come forward. The more survivors are supported, the more we can stop the cycle.
What Questions Should I Ask a Survivor Support Organization When I am Looking for Help?
Be honest with yourself and the organization. If you are in crisis, tell the group you are struggling, so they can address your needs and help you effectively.
Ask about the group’s rules of confidentiality. If they cannot guarantee that your identity is safe in the group, look elsewhere.
Ask what services they offer. Be open to talking about where you are in your healing journey so that they can make recommendations.
Attend a support group meeting and follow the rules for that meeting. Do the attendees “click” with you?
Find out who financially supports the organization – they may have scholarships for therapy.
Take your time. You don’t need to share everything – only what you feel comfortable sharing.
Remember: it is always okay to say no if you don’t feel comfortable with the organization or their requests of you.
How Do I Protect my Safety and Privacy, or Remain Anonymous When Coming Forward About my Abuse?
Civil and criminal laws across the country protect victims of sexual violence, especially when those victims were or are children. Even if the predator is still in your life, you can take measures to continue to protect yourself and your family.
In many states, there are laws that allow survivors of child sex abuse to file lawsuits without disclosing their identity. This protects your privacy and allows you to engage in the civil process in a safe and confidential way.