Peer Support is comprised of survivors standing with other survivors of violence and abuse as we explore different healing modalities, share life experience, grow confidence, and learn about community resources while building supportive networks.
Our 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 personal power. We are living both with—and beyond—the effects of trauma.
When you enroll in SAFE’s Peer Support program, our staff can offer:
- 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
What some 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.”
“I love how everyone accepts me, doesn’t judge me.”
“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.”
“I thought I was the only one, that no one would understand me. Now I feel like I have a family of sorts. I am stronger knowing the other people in group. I know I can make it through this, that some days will be better than others and I am valuable.”
“I think it’s really cool that people listen to me and learn from me. I thought my ex was right. I thought I was stupid and that no one would like me. That isn’t true. In group, I give as much as I get and people thank me for supporting them. They tell me how amazing I am and how much they appreciate me. I never had that before and I didn’t know how much I needed it.”
What to expect as a Peer Support client
Once referred to the Peer Support program, you may be asked to complete intake paperwork. All services are free and you will not be turned away based on any demographic or financial information. The only requirement for accessing our services is that you are a survivor of violence or abuse.
After completing intake, you will be offered access to groups as well as the possibility of individual support. We understand new things are scary! You will be connected with a Peer Support Specialist who can explain the different groups and opportunities. We do our best to answer any questions, and set you at ease. Our staff specialize in specific areas, such as immigration, sexual assault, human trafficking, foster care, and domestic violence.
The Peer Support philosophy is based on mutual connection and equity.
Peer Support services
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.
SAFE’s Peer Support model encourages survivors to select opportunities that best meet their needs. Peer Support is person-centered. We find creative ways to help you with whatever it is you’re struggling with on a given day. For clients struggling to access a living wage, we can provide leadership opportunities at group or help edit a resume, or provide referrals to SAFE-specific or community programs for job seekers. For clients aging out of foster care or supportive services, we can practice learning bus routes, reparenting through finger-painting, or coping mechanisms for not panicking at the DMV. Possibilities are endless!
The Peer Support program offers a variety of support groups. These groups are designed to meet the diverse needs of survivors. Some groups are open to all survivors and some are only open to survivors who identify with certain demographics, like queer, Black, and Latinx. If groups are exclusive, it is to ensure that all members feel safe to express themselves.
At the same time, the Peer Support team encourages survivors to “stretch” their comfort zones and collaborate with survivors of different backgrounds. In general, Peer Support healing groups and workshops are survivor led and driven. Meaning, the curriculum is designed in the moment by the survivors who make up the group.
Some standing activities include:
- Open groups discussing the dynamics of interpersonal violence
- Both anonymous and social-media based virtual support
- Safety planning
- Vision boards
- Survivor speaking and consultation workshops
- Participating in awareness events and Diva Day (building positive memories and reclaiming power)
In addition, we provide opportunities for direct client support in the form of peer counseling. This service is different than typical counseling as it is focused on holding space, sharing lived experiences, compassion, strength-based lens and feedback.
Each survivor’s appointment schedule is dependent on their needs, and staff availability. Some staff members meet with clients for structured appointments, others meet with survivors on an as-needed basis.
To learn more about SAFE’s Peer Support program, contact the SAFEline by phone at 512.267.7233, by text at 737.888.7233, or online chat at safeaustin.org.