Assault victims group comes back

Support program open to domestic, sexual violence survivors

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What: Advocates-Crisis Support Services Women's Support Group

When: Noon to 2 p.m. Tuesdays. Noon to 1 p.m. is for English speakers, and 1 to 2 p.m. is for Spanish speakers.

Where: Location is given after going through a screening process by phone.

Call: 824-9709.

For someone who has gone through the trauma of domestic violence or sexual assault, talking about the experience can be difficult enough.

Talking about it in a group setting, even more so.

"We've had people who thought they could never talk in a group find it really helpful. : I think people who try it might be really surprised," said Pat Tessmer, executive director of Advocates-Crisis Support Services.

Tessmer, has been with Advocates since 1990. The nonprofit, local group was designed to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes.

The group is re-launching its services Tuesday.

The Women's Support Group is for both English- and Spanish-speaking domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.

The group will meet Tuesdays - English speakers from noon to 1 p.m. and Spanish speakers from 1 to 2 p.m. - at an undisclosed location.

"If a person is interested in coming, they have to call and we do an intake on the phone," said Tessmer, citing the group's confidentiality and Advocates' desire to protect participants' privacy.

The Support Group was an Advocates staple from 1991 to 2007. Waning participation, the relocation of the group's therapist and other factors caused its brief service interruption.

Community interest led to its revival, Tessmer said.

"There have been requests for it, and we feel it's a necessary component to our service, to meet a community need," the executive director said.

Tessmer will lead the English-speaking group, and Patty Maradiegue, Advocates' Latina outreach coordinator, will lead the Spanish-speaking group.

"We talk about all kinds of issues - relationships, family, jobs," Tessmer said. "There is a lot of discussion about relationships and refining old patterns, so a person can go onto a different type of relationship."

In its run from 1991 to 2007, Tessmer said the group usually had five to 12 participants and that she's looking for similar numbers from the new group.

She believes that most participants are helped by talking in the group.

"I think that people, including myself, got a lot out of it," Tessmer said. "I think it was valuable to people."

For more information, call Advocates at 824-9709.

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