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Victims and Survivors of Crime Week: Part Two

Have you wondered what VSAC’s services are like? In this 4 part blog series for Victims and Survivors of Crime Week we explore services that VSAC provides to survivors of sexual assault. 

Support Groups

Courage, empowerment, hard work, and sometimes laughter. These are the words that VSAC Counselor, Shadi, uses to describe Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC)’s support groups. “Our groups are often the first significant step in a survivor’s healing journey.”

It takes courage for a survivor to walk through the doors of the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. Acknowledging the truth that you’ve been sexually assaulted can be painful and overwhelming. Survivors of sexual assault are often stigmatized by our society and the impact on survivors is often guilt and shame. Many survivors feel they do not deserve access to VSAC’s services. We are here to tell survivors that we believe you, you deserve support, and healing is possible.

Group counselling can create a very powerful experience for a survivor. 

Shadi, VSAC Counsellor, holds Noor the narwhal and Cinder the dragon, both gifted to them by clients who participated in groups.

Part of that experience includes: knowing one is not alone in their experiences; acceptance and compassion for and from others; sharing of wisdom from all members; support; learning lots of tools, skills and resources. Survivors will not have to open up about the details of their experience.

Groups focus on skills and information to help survivors manage troubling thoughts, feelings, and body responses to trauma; and to ensure they are solidly resourced before entering trauma counselling. Some of the skills covered include grounding, containment, distancing, developing resources and supports, and self-care.

There is also psycho-education about how our brain, nervous system, and body respond to trauma. Many survivors appreciate this information because it can help them better understand some of their triggers, why there are gaps in their memory, or why they may feel exhausted.

Group counselling helps survivors to rebuild their lives after trauma to not only survive but thrive. As a result of VSAC support groups, survivors begin to build confidence as they realize the strengths that they already have within them, recognize their own inner wisdom and resources, and recapture joy.

“There is always a tiny spark of hope. After all, they came here. All you have to do is fan the spark a little bit,” explains Shadi.

Want to learn more about options for counselling and groups? Find more information here.

For intakes to our counselling program call our Service Access Line: 250-383-3232 or email 

This blog is part of our 4 blog series for Victims and Survivors of Crime Week 2018. Please look out for our advertorial wrap on the Victoria News and Saanich News coming out on June 1st. Funding generously provided by The Department of Justice Canada.