UNA Women’s Center partners to create a sexual assault support group

Life Editor Chandler Mordecai

UNA’s Women’s Center and the Shoals Diversity Center will partner to start a free adult sexual assault support group for students and the public.

The Shoals Diversity Center will house the group off campus at the Shoals Diversity Center 220 W Tennessee St, Suite 205. It will be an adult cisgender women’s and transgender women’s group open to students and the community. It is for victims/survivors of sexual assault of any kind.

“To start, the group will meet monthly, and then the group will decide on how often to meet.

“If there is a need, a cisgender men’s and transgender men’s group will be instituted as well,” said Rebecca Lopez, president of the Shoals Diversity Center.

Emily Horn Kelley, coordinator of the Women’s Center, said the idea of a support group began when a student approached her asking if UNA had a sexual assault support group.

“My response to her was that the Women’s Center did not have one, but I will try to find you one,” Kelley said.

“I called the Shoals Diversity Center and asked if a support group would be something they would be interested in and they agreed to start one,” Kelley said.

The Shoals Diversity Center will house the group, as well as help sponsor and support it

The Shoals Diversity Center is a 501c3 nonprofit established June of 2017 with the mission of being a safe space for the empowerment of the LGBTQ+ community of the Shoals and all minorities in northwest Alabama.

“Having a confidential, supportive, inclusive, and caring environment where survivors can openly share about their experiences could foster a healthy sense of community and connection throughout one’s journey towards healing,” said Madeleine Frankford, CFLE, education and prevention coordinator.

Lopez and the Shoals Diversity Center are in the process of interviewing several for the role of facilitator of the group. This would be a pro bono position, since the group is free to those attending.

“As President of the board of directors at The Shoals Diversity Center, I want to state that we are honored by the collaboration and support of The Women’s Center in this project and look forward to providing help to these sexual assault survivors brave enough to share their experience,” Lopez said.

The goals of the group are to give support and understanding to victims and survivors of sexual assault. As the group gets secured and comfortable, it will plan local awareness events for the community.

“The Women’s Center will act as a founding and supporting member of the group and will continue to publicize the group’s services,” Kelley said.

There is not a set first meeting for the group yet, however, meeting times will be at 7-8 p.m.

For further information on the specific dates and times, please check the Shoals Diversity Center’s Facebook, Facebook.com/shoalsdiversitycenter and website, www.shoalsdiversitycenter.org.