Dancing in the Shadows by Laura Bryannan

Chapter 4


Issues of leadership often make women uncomfortable, but a decision about how your group will be facilitated should be made before you begin working together. The exercises in this book require someone willing to introduce the ideas, and explain the processes to the group; the meditations and visualizations require someone willing to read them out loud. Questions such as How many weeks will we meet? Where will we meet? How long will each session last? Will there be a cost to participate? and Who is responsible for buying supplies? should be addressed.

If you have created a group in which the women do not know each other, you will probably want to assume the leadership role yourself. This can be done informally if you choose, with you participating in each process along with the group. As I mentioned earlier, your group can provide a real service to survivors even if you are not an expert on group facilitation or sexual abuse. Chances are, your own personal work on this issue has given you enough "expertise" to facilitate a group and do just fine! Let the women who inquire about your group know that you are not an expert but a seeker like themselves and you'll avoid any misunderstandings.

If you're working with a group of friends, you may be able to share leadership. Each participant can decide which exercises they would like to facilitate, and then take responsibility for leading the group that day. Since few women have had the opportunity to be the point of focus in a group situation, experiencing oneself as a leader can be a healing experience for those participating. However, this work is about abuse recovery, not self-assertiveness training, so those uninterested or unwilling to lead the group should not be forced to do so.

In addition, if you are sharing leadership, one person must be willing to take responsibility for where the group will meet. Issues of emotional safety are very important for survivor work. Meeting in a different place each week will make it much harder for the group feel secure and protected. Thus, make sure the group has a permanent home for the number of weeks you decide to work together. Whoever is "tending hearth" should promise to make sure the space is reasonably clean, quiet, and protected from the eyes and ears of mates, children or other non-participants when the group is meeting there.

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Last Updated: 1 feb 99
Laura Bryannan