Did you know SAFE has a program led by survivors, for survivors?

Written by SAFE

For many survivors of violence, being part of a community is a huge part of healing. That’s how it has been for Laia, who first reached out to SAFE at the beginning of the year.

Laia, who speaks Spanish and a limited amount of English, had experienced years of severe physical and emotional abuse–she had recently left her violent ex partner and her home country. When our Survivor Peer Support staff met her, she told us she was trying to navigate the immigration challenges of getting a VISA while living with the traumas of an abusive relationship.

Right away, we let her know that she wasn’t alone. Peer Support staff are survivors themselves. A Spanish-speaking member of the Peer Support team met with Laia and listened to her needs, validating her feelings. Laia was afraid of her ex tracking her down. She was confused by the immigration system. And she felt like she didn’t have anyone else in her life.

After a few months of meeting with Peer Support staff and other survivors in the program, Laia said she feels like part of a community. With encouragement and support, she has learned how to move around the city, giving her a sense of freedom. She has experts helping her navigate the immigration process. And she told us that she’s living with less fear now because she knows she isn’t alone.

That sense of empowerment and liberation is an integral part of SAFE’s Peer Support program. Our staff walk alongside survivors, exploring different ways of healing, sharing life experiences, growing confidence, and learning about community resources while building supportive networks.

The program is designed to invite survivors to better connect with themselves, others, and reclaim their personal power. Survivors on staff are individuals who have experienced violence and are reclaiming their own personal power. We are living both with—and beyond—the effects of trauma. The Peer Support philosophy is based on mutual connection and equity.

What survivors have said about Peer Support

“This was exactly what I didn’t know I needed.”

“This is the one place I can talk about all of my feelings. We get mad, we cry, and we laugh. There really isn’t any topic that is off the table.”

“Nuestro grupo me hace sentir muy bien. Hablamos de todo, nos apoyamos unas a otras, y le agradezco mucho a SAFE por darnos un espacio asi.”

“I have learned so much about myself and the world being in diverse spaces. I feel like I am a more whole person now than I was maybe even before what happened to me. I can never be the person I was before I was raped, but I think I wasn’t being my whole self then and being in group has helped me embrace my brave. I am learning that I am adventurous and courageous. I am laughing again, more fully than I ever have in my life.”

What Survivor Peer Support can offer

Survivors in the program facilitate groups, provide individual support, assist in navigating systems, conduct healing centered workshops, participate in client advocacy, and assist in goal planning. Peer Support staff also refer survivors to groups in the community if the group dynamics fit survivors’ needs.

Our staff can help provide:

  • Emotional support
  • A place to talk about the hard things including navigating challenging systems with folks who have had similar experiences
  • Multiple perspectives in diverse spaces
  • Reframing negative self-talk activities
  • Help in learning to love ourselves as we are
  • Problem solving exploration
  • Tips on navigating challenging systems, often with people who have had to navigate them
  • Tips for custody and CPS challenges including for parents fighting for or without custody due to abuse
  • Connection with other programs at SAFE (including programs that directly help navigate CPS, legal concerns, and housing or basic needs)
  • Connection with other resources in the community
  • And much more

If you’d like to learn more about SAFE’s Peer Support program for yourself or someone you care about, contact the SAFEline by phone at 512.267.7233, by text at 737.888.7233, or online chat at safeaustin.org.

More information about Survivor Peer Support here.