New support group open to victims of sexual assault

By Tierra Carpenter, @Tierramc_

Victims of sexual assault have a new resource on campus.  

Counseling and Psychological Services now offers a free support group for sexual assault survivors who are students at SIU and are eligible for Student Health Services. The department has offered group therapy before, but never anything as specialized as this, said Jaime Clark, director of Counseling and Psychological Services.

The group, which first met last week, gathers from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays in the CAPS office on the second floor of the Student Health Center. 


Staff psychologist Abigail Bilderback said the service wanted to implement group therapy so students could work toward their goals together in a structured and safe environment, something previous students have asked for.

“Survivors are impacted really individually and have many different responses, but there are some themes individuals may go through that can be helpful to process in a group setting,” she said.

Bilderback said they discuss topics such as the impact of sexual assaults on relationships, coping, rebuilding relationships and self care, to name a few.

Group therapy, which consists of nine students, isn’t for everyone, but it is the treatment of choice for some, she said. 

“It really depends on where the student is in their healing process and what their presenting issues are,” Bilderback said.

Clark said she encourages students to share their ideas about needed services so they can possibly be implemented into the program.

“It is our goal and mission to provide the most comprehensive and well rounded services to the students especially after going through such a traumatic event,” she said.


Students hoping to join the group are required to complete a screening, which should be made by appointment at 618-453-5371.

Tierra Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.