ASCA Santa Clarita
Sponsors:
Frequently Asked Questions about Adult
Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) program and
meetings

Please see
http://ascasupport.org/faqs.php for
ASCA and the Morris Center FAQs

ASCA Support Group Meeting FAQs
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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
    Thriver" manual.
  • Co-dependence .... loss of identity - out of touch with our feelings,
    needs and desires
  • Offender Behaviours ... violent, cruel or abusive behaviour
    towards others
  • Narcissistic Disorders ...insatiable craving for love, attention and
    affection (sex/love addictions)
  • Trust Issues ...always on guard and in control leading to control
    addictions
  • 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
    right woman
  • Intimacy Dysfunctions  ... fear of abandonment and/or fear of
    engulfment
  • Non-disciplined Behaviors  ... dawdles, procrastinates, rebels,
    self-willed, stubborn, poor impulse control, rigid, obsessive,
    overly controlled, obedient, people pleasing, ravished with
    shame/guilt.
  • 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,
    compulsive perfectionism
  • 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
  1. 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
    childhood trauma.
  • see section 6 above for possible symptoms of childhood trauma.
  1. 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.
  2. 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
    our lives.
  • validate - What you said makes so much sense.  I can really
    appreciate how you are feeling.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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
    released.
  1. How do I get training to be a co-facilitator at the support group
    meetings?  
  • 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.
  1. I live too far away to attend a meeting.  Can I call in via phone and
    participate?
  • 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
    program.
  • 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
    survivors.
  • 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
    http://ascasupport.org/
  1. 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.
  1. 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  
    numb/panicked/discombobulated/disconnected/broken/ etc.  
    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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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
    recovery.
  • 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
    experiences.
  • 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.
  1. 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
    processing.
  1. Peer (telephone) support FAQs and Tips