New support groups for those in the LGBTQ community healing from sexual violence are now available in Red Deer.
The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre has partnered with Red Deer Queer Community Association to offer virtual support groups for youth and adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, and other.
“If anyone is feeling like they want to see someone that has been through similar things that they have, we absolutely welcome them. It’s for everyone. We’re here to support you to get through it,” said Rhys Pugatschew, chairperson with the queer community association.
The adult support group launched May 6, and youth group started May 8.
He said about 10 people participated in each session so it was a good start to program that the association has been wanting to develop with the support centre.
“It’s been a goal for quite some time and we’re glad we got to do it.
He said the focus is on healing from trauma, learning different coping mechanisms, and how to deal with discrimination. Arts and crafts activities will be part of the program in the future to help participants learn different ways to express their emotions.
“I think the only thing we’re missing is that human presence of being in a room with another human. But it’s the best it can be. Zoom is an awesome platform,” said Pugatschew about the virtual sessions.
Support groups give survivors of sexual violence an opportunity to feel accepted, heard and understood.
“Sexual violence can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on any survivor regardless of race, religion, age, or gender,” said Patricia Arango, support centre executive director.
“Overall, the survivor support groups allow young women and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals affected by sexual violence to discover new ways to cope and link with other survivors to develop a sense of community which survivors might be missing in their lives.”
Arango said the groups are designed to encourage individuals who have been affected by sexual violence to regain their voice in a space of healing.
“We are giving them the ability to take back their power.”
For more information, or to sign up, contact the support centre at 403-340-1124, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The support groups are funded through the Fund for Gender Equality which is a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and the Equality Fund, with support from the Government of Canada.