We are all social beings by nature – connectedness and community are necessary if not vital to our wellbeing. The very existence of positive social relationships can be a source of healing for many psychological wounds. Because sexual abuse and sexual assault occurs in relative secrecy – in a state of disconnection between people – reconnecting and building trust are often at the core of healing from sexual violence. Some survivors turn to peer-support initiatives to build connection and heal.
The life experience of the peer-support-worker creates common ground from which the trust relationship with the person is formed. Empowerment, empathy, hope and choice along with mutuality are the main drivers in purposeful peer support work. There is a great deal of strength gained from knowing someone who has walked where you are walking and now has a life of their choosing. In this way it is different from support work, it comes from a profoundly different philosophical base.