To Change a Culture-It Takes All of Us.ally_Graphic_revised

Community and allied support for survivors is critical to their healing process. Chances are, you know someone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA). It is an issue that affects all of us at every level of society, including our families, offices, neighborhoods, schools, and places of worship. We need allies like you to stand beside survivors to break down the walls of silence around this issue. With your help, we can build healthy communities that speak, heal and thrive.

How Do I Become an Ally?

1. Learn more about the myths and realities about childhood sexual abuse and its impact on child victims. Create a space for the children in your life to be able to share any and all thoughts, feelings and concerns with you. Childhood sexual abuse thrives in systems of secrecy. Cultivate relationships in which everyone’s feelings are honored and all voices can be heard, valued and respected.

2. Understand the impact childhood sexual abuse makes on the lives of adult survivors, by knowing the common trauma symptoms they may be experiencing. You may be a bridge to someone else’s healing journey by letting them share their experience, validating that it is important, and being able to suggest that there are resources that can help. (Please remember that boundaries are very important, and it is helpful to make suggestions, while a survivor’s decision to pursue counseling, group support, or other resources is totally up to them. Rescuing is not helpful for anyone.)

3. As an ally or loved one of a survivor, realize that your life may be impacted by the childhood sexual abuse that your friend or loved one experienced. Become aware of your own self-care needs, so you can stay healthy, and also be supportive for the survivor(s) in your life.

4. In general, stay up to date about the issue of childhood sexual abuse, and indeed, all forms of sexual violence. Get involvedwith your state’s sexual assault coalition (every state has one), your local children’s advocacy center, sexual assault or domestic violence center. And/or – get involved with us at WINGS! Inform your state legislators that funding for these services must be among our highest priorities.

5. Use your voice – share with others what you know. Be willing to talk about these issues and demonstrate for people that there is nothing shameful about experiencing sexual abuse. There is strength in recognizing our vulnerability. There is power in admitting we might need help. The more we talk about the issue, the easier it will be to fight it.

And if you are a survivor or loved one needing services, know that: You are not alone. Healing is possible. WINGS is here to help. Please note: WINGS is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and currently, our support groups are primarily offered in this region. However, we are in the initial stages of nationalizing our services, to be able to better serve survivors and their loved ones nationwide. Contact us at jenny.stith@wingsfound.org if you would like to learn more or get involved.