A new sexual abuse survivor support network aimed at providing a holistic, all-encompassing community of allies for survivors and mentors is launching in Nova Scotia.
The initiative focuses on survivors of sexualized violence, community supporters of survivors, and professionals from organizations that want to train and manage volunteers who can provide mutual aid to fellow survivors of sexualized violence.
The project is being led by the Survivors of Abuse Recovering (S.O.A.R.) society, based in Kentville, NS. S.O.A.R.’s mandate is to provide free peer support services to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
“There are so many incredible groups out there, all with a mandate to help survivors of sexual abuse,” said S.O.A.R. board chair Cathy Vey. “This new network brings us all together as one powerful multi-disciplinary team to provide the best supports possible to those who need it the most.”
In creating the network, one of the main goals was to gather resources from multiple sources in the Annapolis Valley to create a practical working model to deliver mutual aid to sexual violence survivors. The other focus of this project was to include an education and training component for mentors and volunteers.
The project is entitled, “Enhancing Organizations’ Capacity to Provide Mutual Aid Services to Survivors of Sexual Violence and Other Trauma,” and is funded by the provincial Department of Health and Wellness.
The project created a strong network of nine agencies committed to working together to create a community of peer supporters for survivors of sexual violence. It also enhanced S.O.A.R.’s peer supporter training program, shared it with the network, and conducted four 48-hour training sessions. Throughout the planning stages it was recognized there is a need for a new peer mentorship program to support the peer supporters. The provincial funding helped create that new model.
The nine agencies committed to working together to create the Sexual Violence Peer Support Network (SVPSN) include:
S.O.A.R. (Survivors Of Abuse Recovering)
Women’s Place Resource Centre, Annapolis Royal (serving Annapolis & Kings County)
Open Arms Shelter, Kentville
Shelburne County Warm Line, serving Nova Scotia
Wanda Finnigan, Bear River Mi’kmaw Community
Mi’kmaw Legal Services, serving Nova Scotia
Mardi Burton, Community Champion (formerly of Nova Scotia Health)
Red Door, serving Annapolis Valley
Tri-County Women’s Centre, serving Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne counties
The website is https://www.safesvpeersns.com. As one member put it: “I think we’ve accomplished a lot given COVID-19, and the pressures on our organizations. I feel I can come to SVPSN with a question and members will share openly and I really value that
One survivor commented on the efficacy of the peer support training and peer mentor programs: “My peer supporter helped normalize my feelings and ground me because she knew what I was going through. To a survivor, feeling like you are not alone is paramount. In addition to the support I received from my peer supporter, I was taken care of by the peer mentor. “
If you or someone you know has been affected by childhood sexual abuse, please contact us at 902-679-7337 or .
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