You are Enough™ peer support groups for parents whose child has fallen victim to sexual violence
Updated: Oct 2
In 2021, Protect Children developed manualized You are Enough™ peer support groups for parents and guardians whose child had fallen victim to sexual violence. The groups have been extremely valuable to enhance parenthood in a long journey of healing from traumatic experiences. Protect Children is now piloting and implementing the peer support groups across Europe within the EU funded project 2KNOW.
Supporting the supporters
At Protect Children, we believe that crimes of sexual violence against children are violence against the entire family. Due to traumatic stress caused by these heinous crimes, parents and guardians often become overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation. They might face difficulties getting help for their child and seldom have resources or energy to think about their own well-being. Without adequate support, guardians are under a huge pressure. They often feel left alone to take a responsibility of their child’s mental health while communicating with different authorities, police, legal advisors, child protection and other professionals.
To support guardians and families, Protect Children developed You are Enough™ peer support group model in 2021. The groups aim to improve the capability of guardians to cope with the difficult and traumatic situation and parent their child during long years of criminal processes. The peer support groups provide a safe space for guardians to share their feelings of pain as well as hope for healing with other guardians in similar traumatic life situations.
In addition to peer support, You are Enough™ groups provide guardians with psychoeducation and trauma-informed care combined with evidence-based CBT methods enhancing their recovery. This also indirectly facilitates their child’s healing. It is vital for a child victim as well as their siblings to have a safe presence, understanding and support from those who look after them 24/7. Evidence shows that perceived care from guardians is the most significant protective factor against revictimization for child victims of sexual abuse (Scoglio et.al., 2021). Guardians being supported, and therefore being able to support their child, reduces possible severe and long-lasting impacts of childhood sexual abuse.
Protect Children has held six You are Enough™ peer support groups in Finland since 2021. The groups take place online to ensure an easy accessibility for all. The groups are formed based on the proximity of the offender – intrafamiliar, extrafamiliar and online. One group includes five to eight participants and two expert therapists who facilitate the discussions.
Pre and post surveys conducted for participants in You are Enough™ peer support groups demonstrated that 75% of guardians feel that them joining the group had a positive effect also on their child’s well-being. The participation enhanced their parenthood and ability to notice and address their child’s trauma symptoms or seek additional support when needed. All participants found their own wellbeing improving due to finding it easier to deal with their own challenging emotions and therefore better respond to their child’s complex needs.
Results of the preliminary evaluation of You are Enough™ peer support groups were presented at the International Congress for Evidence-Based Parenting Support (I-CEPS) 2023 and published in the I-CEPS Book of Abstracts.
Enhancing support of families EU-wide
Having gained profound experience of organizing You are Enough™ peer support groups and having verified its effectiveness, Protect Children is spreading the licensed group model beyond Finland. In 2022, the European Commission expressed support to this initiative by providing significant funding to Project 2KNOW. In this project, Protect Children, in strong collaboration with partners – the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the University of Eastern Finland work together to, among other things, strengthen support for guardians and families of child victims of online sexual violence EU-wide. The You are Enough™ online crimes peer support groups will be piloted in Sweden (Barnahus Linköping) and Ireland (CARI & Barnahus Tusla). Collected data will be evaluated to further develop the group model. Within the project, we will also develop support guides for parents and guardians.
For more information about the You are Enough™ online peer support groups please contact:
Project 2KNOW is funded by the European Commission’s Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV) under the 2022 call for proposals to prevent and combat gender-based violence and violence against children (CERV-2022-DAPHNE).