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The Power of Social Connection

PowerOver the past year, the Center and NCCASA (North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault) have collaborated to develop The Power of Social Connection: Developing and coordinating sustainable support group programs for survivors of sexual violence, a support group manual and training program that will help rape crisis centers and other human service organizations learn how to create, improve, and manage support group programs.

With limited support group opportunities in North Carolina, we hope that this manual and training program will greatly expand healing services for survivors of violence across the state. Monika Johnson-Hostler, Executive Director of the NCCASA, said, “NCCASA is proud to partner in creating this comprehensive resource that sets the standard for support groups not only in North Carolina but across the country. As one of the three partners of the National Resource Sharing Project, we will share the manual with other state coalitions.”

In recognition of this partnership, Laurie Graham, Programs Director for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, was given the Peer Support Award at the biannual state-wide NCCASA Conference in honor of her dedication to ending sexual violence. In accepting this award for her work on the manual, Laurie stated, “Without a collaborative approach to ending sexual violence, we won’t get very far. With that in mind, I hope to support other anti-violence advocates in any way I possibly can, just as so many have helped me to learn and grow.”

Laurie worked for nearly a year to develop this manual, which was provided to over 80 North Carolina rape crisis centers and domestic violence programs. She will offer training sessions for professionals working with sexual violence survivors beginning this month. All manuals and trainings are free of charge courtesy of a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women. Laurie and a representative from NCCASA also delivered a presentation at the National Sexual Assault Conference in August 2013 about the nature of collaboration between local agencies and coalitions, using the example of this project.

Additionally, the Center was also one of four programs in the nation featured in a white paper distributed by the National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project. This white paper describes holistic healing methods available for survivors of sexual violence. Laurie said, “Holistic healing programs are a great alternative for survivors who are hesitant to receive individual therapy. Support groups that incorporate a focus on holistic healing can be a doorway to beginning the healing process. Groups that use alternative healing modalities can give survivors the support they need when therapy is not available or desired.”

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