Beginning on Feb. 3, a new group’s weekly meetings on campus will provide a student-based support system for survivors of sexual assault.

The new group is one of many that will be offered this semester on campus at the Psychological Counseling Center. Other groups that will be offered again this semester include the Eating Disorder Recovery Group, the Living with Grief and Loss group and the International Student Support Group, as well as several others which can be found listed on the PCC website. 

According to the description on the PCC website, the group will “provide a safe and confidential space for individuals who have experienced sexual violence to discuss the impact of their experiences on their lives and relationships with others.”

The survivor support group will be run weekly by Kristin Huang, a psychologist and trauma specialist at the PCC, and Joy von Steiger, the center’s senior associate director and clinical director.  

Huang also works with the Office of Prevention Services on campus to coordinate programming to address issues related to sexual violence.

The new group will provide a different kind of support system than individual therapy typically offers, according to Huang. 

“Group therapy provides an opportunity for members to receive support from others who have similar experiences,” Huang wrote in an email to the Justice. It “goes a long way in helping people remember that they are not alone,” she added. 

Huang wrote that the group is also beneficial because it “enables members to give valuable support to others, which can be empowering and healing in its own right.”

Huang wrote that she has been working closely with student leaders and with Sexual Assault Services and Prevention Specialist Sheila McMahon, who recently returned from academic leave, to develop a Rape Crisis Center on campus. The RCC will open shortly, she wrote, but did not specify an exact date.

Huang wrote that “students should be aware that they have lots of options. Sometimes it is helpful to pursue a course of individual therapy prior to joining a group that addresses a trauma-related topic,” Huang wrote, while in other instances, “people feel more comfortable starting with a group.” Students can gain benefits from both courses of treatment, but what path they choose to take can vary.

The group will meet every Tuesday afternoon throughout the remainder of the semester.

Students who are interested in being a part of the survivors’ group need to schedule a time to meet individually with von Steiger or Huang before joining.