ASCA Santa Clarita
Frequently Asked Questions about Adult
Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) program and
Please see http://ascasupport.org/faqs.php for
ASCA and the Morris Center FAQs
ASCA Support Group Meeting FAQs
- I am not ready to talk yet. Can I just attend and listen to the other
survivors share? Absolutely - yes. You can keep coming and never
share if you don't want to.
- I am not ready to see anyone. That's ok too. You can work through the
"Survivor to Thriver" manual on your own as it's designed for self-help.
And if you feel you can benefit from the support of other survivors, you
can do so online through the meetup groups or other survivor forums
which are available online. Please see resources section.
- I can come for 1 or 2 meetings but cannot commit to attending all of
them consistently. Absolutely. You are welcome to come and go as
you please. It is complete your decision and we are not going to
pressure you either way.
- What is the difference between a support group vs therapy group.
- leadership - therapy groups rely on the guidance and expertise
of a trained therapist. Members look to the therapist for help,
generally paying a fee for this service. The leadership, authority
and expertise in support groups reside with it's participants.
Members look to each other for help. Facilitators adopt their
roles on a volunteer basis.
- self-help based - therapy groups are modeled on the
assumption of "illness" - participants therefore need "treatment".
Support groups presume that participants are fundamentally
healthy and able to help themselves and each other.
- focus - therapy groups focus on emotional insight and growth.
Support groups can shift focus as needed from sharing
emotions to exchanging information to social support.
- methodology - therapy groups focus on examining the past and
looking at root causes. Support groups goal is social support
and empowerment through unification and information. Sharing
and self-disclosure among participants can lead to the by-
product of emotional insight, change and growth.
- support groups can be therapeutic without being therapy.
- How is ASCA support group different from other groups?
- authority - decision making regarding "appropriate" problem
resolutions always resides with the individual participant. We
consider our collective experience as the most powerful teacher
on a topic.
- empowerment - the realization that the source of "authority" and
healing resides within the participants themselves. The primary
role of the facilitator is to make it easier for the participants to
help each other make this discovery.
- I'm not sure if I'm a survivor, it wasn't that bad. The abuse does not
have to be severe for it to have an impact on us. Unresolved childhood
trauma can contaminate our adult lives in the following ways(excerpt
from John Bradshaw's "Homecoming" Reclaiming and championing
your inner child"). Also read the early chapters in the ASCA "Survivor to
- Co-dependence .... loss of identity - out of touch with our feelings,
needs and desires
- Offender Behaviours ... violent, cruel or abusive behaviour
- Narcissistic Disorders ...insatiable craving for love, attention and
affection (sex/love addictions)
- Trust Issues ...always on guard and in control leading to control
- Acting Out/Acting In Behaviors ... reenacting childhood trauma
on others or on ourselves.
- Magical Beliefs ... if I have money I'll be ok, if my lover leaves me I
will die, waiting for the right man, searching endlessly for the
- Intimacy Dysfunctions ... fear of abandonment and/or fear of
- Non-disciplined Behaviors ... dawdles, procrastinates, rebels,
self-willed, stubborn, poor impulse control, rigid, obsessive,
overly controlled, obedient, people pleasing, ravished with
- Addictive/Compulsive Behaviors ... constant state of craving,
insatiable neediness. alcoholism, drug addictions, activity
addictions - work, shopping, gambling, sex, eating, religious
rituals. Cognitive addictions - thinking obsessions. Feelings
addictions - rage, fear, sadness/grief, joy. Object addictions -
money, cars, houses, jewellery etc
- Thought Distortions ... absolute - all or nothing thinking,
nonlogical - emotional reasoning, egocentric - personalising
everything, awfulizing - abstract hypotheses about the future,
- Emptiness (apathy, depression) ... a hole in one's soul, low
grade chronic depression, life is dull and meaningless,
loneliness, suicidal, self-absorbed with our pain
- I'm not sure I am a survivor - I cannot remember the abuse because I
was still a toddler when it happened.
- John Bradshaw's book "Homecoming - reclaiming and
championing your inner child" has a good questionnaire that can
help you determine if you have repercussions from your
- see section 6 above for possible symptoms of childhood trauma.
- What is cross-talk? Cross-talk is when a participant may refer to
another's share with a comment like "I was really inspired by how you
took action ....". This may seem natural, empathetic and harmless. So
how can cross-talk threaten group safety? Referring to another
person in the group can trigger feelings between participants -
intentionally or unintentionally which they cannot easily resolve during
the meeting. The person referred to may feel misunderstood or
misrepresented. Someone not referred to may feel overlooked. Other
participants may feel anxious about that kinds of remarks may be
directed toward them after they share their "most vulnerable secrets".
There is no format in the meeting to handle this kind of emotional
response between participants. Left without a means of clarification,
these emotional responses may cause people to avoid the meeting.
That is why cross-talk threatens the safety of the group as a whole.
- What are some examples of supportive feedback?
- empathy - What you have described must have been difficult and
painful for you. I feel sad that you had to go through all that junk.
- nurture - I think you were courageous to do what you did. I think
are you just great.
- encourage - I think you are doing a great job. I have confidence
in you. Just keep on doing it.
- affirm - I agree with you. It takes a lot of hard work to transform
- validate - What you said makes so much sense. I can really
appreciate how you are feeling.
- What are the statistics of adult survivors of child abuse? There are
currently no statistics for adult survivors of child abuse, however, there
are 39 million survivors of sexual abuse in America. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in
6 boys WILL BE sexually molested before they are 18 years old -- which
means 1 in 5 of America's youth, or 20% of the population !! We can
assume that this number will be higher for physical and emotional
abuse. More statistics from various sources on child abuse.
- I would like to participate in the shares but don't know how to start.
From the co-facilitator training manuals - ASCA Speaker and Share
Guidelines. Whatever you find has been particularly helpful in your
recovery may be just the message that someone else finds helpful too.
Shares are most effective when you speak about yourself. If you need to
reference someone else, try to focus on the impact that the other person
had on you. You are the person we care most about hearing from. The
following are some ideas on what you might consider sharing.
- How you work the step.
- What you do when you need some hope to go forward in working
that particular step.
- Your success stories and strategies related to this step.
- Problems you are facing as an adult that connect to this step.
- How you nurture your inner child and deal with your feelings
about the step.
- Recovery strategies to deal with shame, self-doubt, and self-
sabotage about being able to work this step.
Whatever you decide to share, please present it in a way that
people can hear it and understand it. If what you are saying stirs
up strong feelings, try to put those feelings into words rather than
expressing them by shouting, acting out, or using inflammatory
or abusive language. Remember that ASCA meetings need to
be a safe place for survivors. ASCA's strength is the unshakable
conviction that we can and will recover, if we work the steps.
- What is the difference between the long share (15 mins) instead of
the shorter tag shares? The long share provides the speaker with the
opportunity to receive supportive feedback from the group. Long shares
are only done for Rotation B or Rotation C meetings. Tag shares are
shorter and there is no feedback provided. There are numerous
benefits in volunteering to be the long share speaker -
- opportunity to delve into a particulate aspect of our recovery and
to enjoy, even luxuriate in some positive feedback from a caring
and supportive community.
- preparing our opening 15 minute share can enhance the
rewards we reap in terms of insights gained and emotions
- How do I get training to be a co-facilitator at the support group
- read the co-facilitator training manual which is available free
online at http://ascasupport.org/
- after you have read the manual, sign-up for the 2 phone training
sessions which are usually held on Saturday morning.
- I live too far away to attend a meeting. Can I call in via phone and
- Safety and security is of primary concern for our survivors. And
so we do not allow participation via phone. This is because we
cannot ensure that the person on the other side of the phone is
who they say they are, that there are no other people listening in
on the shares, or that no one is recording us.
- you can still work through your healing and recovery with the
"Survivor to Thriver" manual as it is designed to be a self-help
- you can also join one of the online resources groups (see
resources section) eg: http://isurvive.org which has an active
forum, or http://naasca.org which is an internet radio show you
can phone in to participate and receive support from other
- if possible, schedule a trip to attend an ASCA support group
meeting. I recommend calling the co-facilitator first - try to find a
support group that has a larger number of participants on a
regular basis to maximise your experience in a shorter amount
of time. San Francisco and New York/New Jersey area has
multiple meetings during the week.
- consider starting a support group in your local area. The training
and information for starting your own group is available online at
- The meeting topic is on Step x from the "Survivor to Thriver" manual
but I am not on this step yet. Am I allowed to come to this meeting?
- of course you are welcome to come to this meeting.
- it is great to benefit from the 'reading ahead concept'. and
hearing how other survivors are working with a particular step.
- healing and recovery is not linear. It may leap-frog around,
revisiting previous steps but at a much deeper level or jumping
ahead. You might get some new insights or inspiration when
listening to shares which may lead you to another step.
- it's perfectly OK not to share if you don't feel like it or don't think
you are ready. If you want to share about something else that is
off-topic, that's OK too. It's also OK to share your feelings about
how a particular step is affecting you eg: triggering, scary,
confusing, not applicable etc.
- I keep wanting to share but I just don't know where to start. There is
so much going on in my head it's impossible to begin.
- it's perfectly ok not to share if you do not wish to. that is also an
important part of healing, to learn to listen to your feelings and to
honor them especially if you were forced to 'speak' on demand
by your abuser(s).
- it's also ok just to share that "you don't even know where to start"
and state your feelings eg: that you feel
Part of sharing is just learning how to express your feelings at
the moment, something which many survivors were never
allowed to do as a child.
- Is there a men's only group or is there a woman's only group? I get
triggered by the opposite sex (or it could be same sex depending on
the sex of the abuser(s)).
- ASCA support groups are co-ed. Sometimes depending on who
turns up, it could be all women, or all men except for the co-
facilitator who is female. There is a men's only survivor group
which is not part of ASCA - Los Angeles Male Survivors of Sexual
Abuse survivor group (http://www.lamalesurvivor.org/).
- Some survivors were triggered by members of the opposite sex
when they first started attending our support group. Over time,
the presence of the opposite sex and their continued support
has helped heal this trigger for the survivor(s).
- Enlist the support of the co-facilitator as there are many creative
ways to help ease the anxiety and facilitate healing.
- I am afraid that what I want to share is going to scare everyone
and/or trigger them.
- survivors have found solace in that they are able to share very
difficult material and have found our survivors supportive
listening, to be healing and therapeutic. This helps break the
silence of the 'secret' and facilitates the beginning of healing and
- you can also ask the group first if you wish to share something
that you think may be very triggering. Everyone has always said
yes because we all want to support each other. Even when it
has been difficult, we have found our inner strength in being
present, as witness and supportive listeners to each other's
- the support group is your safe place, everyone in the room is
another survivor. Many will relate to your experiences, are able to
understand and empathise with your challenges and fears as
they are either currently going through it or have found a way to
heal and resolve the challenges.
- the only share restrictions are: not to talk about past or present
perpetrator-type behaviour, or use language that is considered
derogatory concerning race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual
orientation or other minority status.
- What if I have a panic-attack at a meeting?
- we have a pre-arranged signal so that if you feel you need to
leave the room because the anxiety level is too overwhelming or
you feel a panic-attack approaching, one of the co-facilitators will
step out of the room with you and will support you with your
- Peer (telephone) support FAQs and Tips