Two graduate students hold SSG for NDSU students who have experienced sexual assault or abuse
Andrea Doyon and Dana Conzemius, Counseling Psychology Doctoral students from the University of North Dakota, started the Survivor’s Support Group for students at North Dakota State University.
SSG is a safe space for NDSU students who have experienced sexual assault or abuse to speak with peers who may share similar experiences.
“With the help of Megan Talcott and the counseling center, we started the Survivor’s Support Group because we noticed a need through working with student survivors,” Doyon said.
According to the students, sexual assault and domestic violence affects approximately one in four women throughout their life time. Women who experience sexual assault are also at increased risk for experiencing mental health concerns like PTSD, anxiety and depression.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network finds that 13% of all students (among all graduate and undergraduate students) experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.
“These startling statistics were pivotal in our drive to create a safe space for students to receive support and discuss sexual assault,” said Doyon. “Support groups can be extremely beneficial in forming relationships with other survivors while processing the aftereffects of unwanted sexual experiences.”
The goals of the SSG program are to provide a safe space and guided peer support, to share coping strategies and means of processing with one another and for survivors who have experienced unwanted sexual experineces to know they are not alone.
Currently, the group consists of only female-identifying members, but they strive to run a group for male-identified survivors as well as trans, non-binary or gender nonconforming students.
“We hope this program has the opportunity to grow and reach more survivors on NDSU’s campus who might not realize there are support networks available to them,” said Conzemius. “We also hope to expand the group and create additional support groups for LGBTQ+ identified students who have experienced sexual assault, as individuals within the LGBTQ+ community experience sexual violence at increased rates.”
“It has been fantastic seeing SSG members support one another and heal through building these relationships with one another,” said Doyon. “Co-facilitating this group with Dana has been incredibly rewarding and has allowed me to feel confident in the work we’re doing to address sexual assault of college campuses.”
“I second Andie and the sense of camaraderie that has been established within this group,” said Conzemius. “This group has continued to reiterate for me the prevalence of sexual assault in college students. If you have experienced or are experiencing sexual assault or violence, you are not alone.”