Peer led organisation gather is offering a safe space for women to openly share experiences of sexual trauma with people who share similar stories. The organisation started in July 2020, after founder Lily Journeaux noticed the lack of support for sexual trauma survivors in Penryn and started gather to encourage women to speak out about their stories.
“Sexual trauma can be really difficult to talk about to your friends and family to. [gather] is a space that women can come to where it’s already on the table… you don’t need to explain your story if you don’t want to, it’s somewhere you can just be with a group of women that understand what it’s like,” Jorneaux said.
The organisation is completely peer-led, offering both support gatherings (a much more casual and less clinical term than support groups), facilitated by founder Lily Journeaux, who has received training in trauma informed care, to guide the conversation.
“It’s really collectively run. [Attendees] all have a say in the structure and how the organisation is run. We have informal chats around the subjects of things that affect people – not always what happened to them. Sometimes people just need a place to talk about just how tough it is [getting through everyday].”
As support networks are exempt from Covid-related closures, support gatherings have continued to run throughout the pandemic, with a reduced capacity.
Attendees are free to join whenever they feel that support is needed, be it once or every week. Regardless of the length of time a person spends in the company of gather, they leave with a network of contacts and resources to guide them through the future.
This includes a Whatsapp group which has been set up after the murder of Sarah Everard. The conversation surrounding sexual trauma of any form can be triggering to those affected by it, so the Whatsapp group aims to offer resources that either distract survivors or support them through relevant podcasts and encouraging messages.
gather also offer trauma-informed restorative yoga that offers a safe space for survivors to exercise, led by a trained yoga instructor that understands the delicacy of subject. This should resume shortly as Covid restrictions reside, with the hope of also adding additional support gatherings to the organisations schedule.
gather runs entirely from donations and is currently crowdfunding to keep its resources open to all those affected by sexual violence. To donate visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gather