For those who experience abuse—physical, sexual, or emotional—the consequences can be devastating, and the road to recovery may be a long and challenging one. Some survivors of childhood abuse may repress memories until later in life; others may carry the memories with them their entire lives.
Abuse affects several facets of a person’s well-being, from the ability to cope with stress to the ability to hold down a job, maintain intimacy in relationships, and handle the many emotional ups and downs of life. Depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, sleep disturbances, panic, sexual dysfunction, and issues with self-esteem are just a few of the challenges someone who has survived abuse may experience on a regular basis. Support and guidance during the healing and recovery process is essential to move forward and find peace amid the inner chaos.
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best websites for survivors of abuse in 2013—GoodTherapy.org excluded. As with our previous top 10 lists, our selections are based on quality and depth of content, presentation, and functionality.
- Joyful Heart Foundation: The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is “to heal, educate, and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.” The site focuses its resources and information on healing and wellness, education and awareness, and policy and advocacy. Its approach centers on mind-body-spirit healing, and it offers an assortment of day and multiday retreat programs for survivors as well as a “Heal the Healers” program and training workshops for health professionals who work closely with survivors.
- ASCA: Adult Survivors of Child Abuse: Created by the Norma J. Morris Center for healing from child abuse, the ASCA program was designed to offer self-help support and resources for adult survivors of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect as a child. The site encourages victims to make the shift “from survivor to thriver” with the help of workbooks and support groups.
- MaleSurvivor: This not-for-profit organization caters to boys and men who have been sexually abused or victimized. It emphasizes that although the male experience of abuse does not receive a great deal of attention, statistics indicate that one in six men endures sexual abuse before the age of 16. To facilitate hope and healing for male survivors of various ages, the organization provides resources and information, support group links, weekend recovery programs, discussion forums, personal stories of recovery, and a national program called Dare to Dream. Educational materials also are available for parents and professionals working with survivors.
- Violence Unsilenced: When visitors land on this site, they are met with powerful stories of surviving abuse in the form of domestic violence and sexual trauma. Women who have experienced both share their stories in full, and the site encourages others to share, too. The concept behind Violence Unsilenced is to give victims and survivors a voice, so telling stories of abuse and survival is the primary focus. Links to hotlines and other resources are also provided.
- SafeHorizon: The goal of this site is to help “victims of violence” transition from “crisis to confidence.” As the largest victims’ services agency in the United States, SafeHorizon works with those who have experienced domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, rape and sexual assault, and homelessness in youth to offer resources for support, hope, and recovery. It primarily serves the New York City area, but also helps those outside of NYC to find the support and resources they need.
- isurvive: Created by survivors for survivors, this site offers resources and online support for people primarily in the United States, Australia, and Europe. Becoming a member of isurvive provides access to an array of forums on a variety of abuse-related topics. Addictions, self-harm, and unhealthy coping strategies; childhood abuse survivors; incest and sexual abuse survivors; male survivors; and issues surrounding intimacy and relationships are just a few of the forums available. Members also have the opportunity to share their artwork, collages, pet pictures, and “photographic thoughts” on the site once they join.
- The Northwest Network: For survivors of abuse who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, The Northwest Network offers connection and community support. The hope of this organization, founded by lesbian survivors in 1987, is to “build loving and equitable relationships” with others who have had similar experiences. The goal in doing this is to empower victims of abuse to strengthen their sense of social connectedness and eliminate abuse from their lives.
- RISE: Roots for Individual & Social Empowerment: Featuring a blog with personal stories shared by survivors of childhood sexual abuse as well as information on the legal aspects of dealing with the perpetrators of abuse, this site empowers abused individuals to rise above their experiences and find the strength to recover. The general message is for survivors to find their voices and speak out in the hopes it will inspire others to do the same.
- Overcoming Sexual Abuse: Created by Christine Enevoldsen and Bethany Ruck, a mother and daughter who survived sexual abuse at the hands of their fathers, this site aims to help women embrace “a new life.” The founders share their personal stories and continue to write about recovery via blog articles, and they encourage other survivors not to let the abuse define them or determine their futures. They offer a discussion forum where victims of abuse can share their stories, post poetry and other “heart musings,” discuss the physical, mental, and emotional effects of abuse, and talk about the “healing tools” they find helpful.
- Survivor Manual: The founder of the Survivor Manual, Angela Shelton, is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She strives to bring other survivors together to heal and “lead joyful lives.” She welcomes visitors with a charismatic video explaining her vision and desire surrounding the issue of sexual abuse. She also is the director of a documentary called Searching for Angela Shelton, which chronicles her journey of discovery and healing, as well as her search for other women survivors who share her wounding and longing to be well. She sees herself as having made the shift “from victim to victor” and inspires others to do the same with her website, videos, and workbooks, and offers useful resources and information regarding various healing techniques, mental health issues, and crisis centers.
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