Survivor Support

If you need immediate assistance, please call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE or dial 911.

In September 2021, we will be launching “Awake Survivor Circles.”

These groups will invite those who have experienced sexual abuse in the Catholic Church to connect with one another for community and support in the context of safe, structured, consistent online gatherings; you do not need to live in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to participate. Each circle will meet once a month on Zoom for 75 minutes, and group size will be capped at 10 so that we can get to know one another better over time. The fall session will begin in late September and continue through mid-December.

Awake Survivor Circles are designed for adult men and women who have experienced sexual abuse by a person in leadership in the Catholic Church, whether that abuse happened during childhood or during their adult years. Gatherings will include a simple introductory question to help participants get to know one another, as well as open conversation about a monthly topic. These gatherings will include gentle prayer and, on occasion, honest discussions about faith, in a way that respects the complicated and painful relationship that many survivors have with God and with the Catholic Church.

Our Friday afternoon Survivor Circle will be open to all who have experienced sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, while Sunday evenings will be set aside for women only and Tuesday evenings will be specifically for those who were abused as adults.

In addition to these Survivor Circles, we will be hosting a circle on Monday late afternoons for family and close friends of abuse survivors (sometimes referred to as “Secondary Survivors”), who are also often in need of understanding and support.

If you are interested in this opportunity, or if you just want to connect or share your story, please contact Sara Larson at saralarson@awakemilwaukee.org


We also recommend these virtual support groups facilitated by friends of Awake:

  • Victim/survivor restorative justice support groups hosted by our friend Paula Kaempffer, Outreach Coordinator for Restorative Justice and Abuse Prevention for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Virtual offerings include a general group for all victim/survivors of sexual abuse, a group specifically for those sexually assaulted by clergy as adults, and a group for family and friends of victims of clergy sexual abuse. More information is available at www.archspm.org/restorative-justice-groups or by contacting Paula at kaempfferp@archspm.org
  • Independent support groups facilitated by our friend Jim Richter, M.D. on Zoom. These groups include a survivor peace circle on the third Tuesday of each month and a group on the fourth Wednesday of each month specifically for men who have been sexually abused by clergy or religious. For details, contact Jim at 773-412-0909 or jrichter316@gmail.com.

Some survivors have also found these resources helpful: