Advocates to offer survivor groups starting July 7 |

Advocates to offer survivor groups starting July 7

Yesenia Robles

If you go

What: Advocates-Crisis Support Services women's support groups

When: 3 to 4 p.m. for Spanish speakers, and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for English speakers, every Tuesday beginning July 7

Where: Call for location

Call: Advocates' Karen Aragon at 824-9709. For a 24-hour hotline, call 824-2400.

After several delays, Advocates-Crisis Support Services will be adding support groups to its list of services.

Officials from Advocates, a nonprofit organization designed to help women who have been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, had been thinking about starting support groups for a while, but they said things never came together.

At first, time constraints, and a lack of organization and interest from the community held the program back. Eventually, women started calling in to ask about the support group, and now, plans have been made for those groups to begin next month.

Two separate groups have been established. One will be in Spanish and another in English. The groups begin July 7 and will take place every Tuesday after that launch date.

“We felt that, based on our clients, it was necessary to have the two,” said Karen Aragon, interim executive director for the English-speaking group.

Last year, Advocates helped more than 400 clients in the area.

It is common for the number of women coming forward to be under-reported, officials said, but with this new service, Advocates hopes to be able to reach more women who need help.

In addition to the new support groups, Advocates provides a safe house, a 24-hour hotline, referral services and counseling.

Aragon said she seeks to help more women than she works with now, especially on a long-term basis.

“People are affected by domestic violence, and even sexual assault, for a long time,” she said. “There are a lot of issues that can be worked out.”

Aragon said Advocates is hoping to start with about eight people in each group.

The first couple of meetings will be about getting to know the women and becoming familiar with their specific needs, she said. Each week after that, she expects to focus discussions around a particular topic, such as self-esteem.

Ideally, when participating in the group, women will be able to understand that other people also are dealing with the same problems, Aragon said.

“It’s amazing what a group of people coming together who understand how people feel can do,” she said.

As an organization surviving on grants, further expansion is not in the plans.

“At this time, we’re really focusing on strengthening the services we already offer,” Aragon said.

She said the organization is, however, planning on adding a children’s advocate to its staff.

For confidentiality reasons, the support groups will take place at a location that will be disclosed only over the phone to women seeking to participate.

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