The Ironwood Project Support Groups
New groups welcoming new members will begin shortly.
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I know you are scared. I was scared too.
My wife can attest to just how difficult it was to get me to the first peer support group for childhood sexual abuse survivors I ever attended. I am sure I found a thousand different reasons to not call. A thousand different reasons to put it off. They were good reasons too. Life gets busy and we had a lot going on and I had responsibilities and things that just couldn't wait.
‘ I will go next month.’ That was what I told myself, because I was scared. And I had every right to be scared. I had been keeping secrets for the better part of four decades and to me, keeping those secrets, protecting myself from what had happened, that was what had kept me alive all of those years. I was quite comfortable wearing that armour and I was pretty sure they were going to try to make me take it off, and the thought of taking that armour off was terrifying. ‘I will go next month.’
Eventually I went. And I was scared. And it changed my life.
They never tried to make me take my armour off. They didn’t even try to make me tell my secrets. They didn’t make me do anything. They just gave me a safe place, a safe place with people who understood and who could relate. A safe place for me to be with my fellow survivors. It changed my life. And now I am not as scared.
The Ironwood Group is not about telling your secret. It isn’t about therapy or counseling. It is simply about a safe place for survivors to gather. It is an opportunity to gather and talk about things that maybe you feel you can’t talk about anywhere else. It is an opportunity to share as much or as little as you are comfortable with. It is a place to explore topics like isolation, fear, and anger with people who are looking for some of the same answers you are. It is a place to hear what has and what hasn’t worked for your peers and to maybe start to figure out what could work for you.
Your peers. If you are anything like me those two words jumped out at you. Your peers. I spent decades alone. Isolated. Sure that I was the only one. Terrified of anyone finding out because it had only ever happened to me. Your peers. They are out there. I am one of them. You are not alone. And there is strength in numbers.
My life changed the first time I saw understanding in the eyes of one of my peers. That is what I am hoping to bring to these sessions. A chance for understanding and change.