Mayo based charity SHARE, which provides support to adults who were sexually abused during childhood, is getting ready to open a support group in Castlebar at the end of September. The group, which started out in Ballina, is moving to a more central location in Castlebar.
Nick Groom who set up SHARE, explained that following the work done by the group in Ballina, a move to a more central location such as Castlebar would provide the opportunity for people from a wider area to avail of the support on offer.
“Since we started SHARE 18 months ago we have seen a steady growth in the number of people contacting us,” he said. “We have also noticed that people are contacting us not just from this part of Mayo, but from Sligo, Galway, and Roscommon too, as well as nationally. Obviously we can only provide support for those who are able to travel to the meetings.”
Mr Groom recalled that just three years ago he felt he could no longer hold on to his own past trauma and sought help. “I had never spoken about my own abuse, because the emotional pain was too great, and like many who have been sexually abused, there is the feeling that somehow I was to blame. So that, together with the immense misplaced feelings of shame and guilt, meant that instead of talking about the terrible things that happened to me as a child, I was holding on to them, trying to bury them down.
“Even when I started seeing a psychotherapist, I felt that somehow I was alone in this; that although it is estimated that in Ireland and the UK, one in three women and one in five men have experienced some form of sexual abuse before they were 18, I felt as if I was the only one. It was like I had a neon sign on my head that said ‘freak’,” he added.
After finding that there was no support group where he could talk to others who, through their own abuse, would understand, Mr Groom founded SHARE at the beginning of 2013.
The group is run on a purely voluntary basis, and funded from private donations. Nick Groom will continue co-facilitating the meetings with Dervilia Culloty, who came to the group looking for support when it first started 18 months ago. “Thanks to SHARE and my own one to one therapy, I am now in a position to provide the same support that I received from Nick and the other facilitators,” she said.
Ms Culloty, who has previous experience with the Mayo Rape Crisis Centre’s helpline, takes over the co-facilitator role from local psychotherapist Jannah Walshe, who has moved into a consulting role in order to concentrate on developing her own therapy practice.
The weekly support group is open to anyone, male or female, over 18 years of age. Anyone wishing to find out more about the group or make a financial contribution should speak to Nick Groom or Dervilia in confidence on 087 1027604.