Opportunity House gauging interest in peer support group for adult survivors of child abuse

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BUCKHANNON – The Opportunity House is aiming to start a peer support group for adult survivors of child abuse.

Matt Kerner, executive director of the Opportunity House, Inc. said this group is something the organization has been interested in starting for some time now.

“It’s something that we have bounced around for a long time,” Kerner said. “We know that this is a really big void in the community because there isn’t really anything for the survivors of child abuse.”

Kerner said West Virginia ranks second in the nation in child sexual assault and first in familial sex trafficking.

“The impacts of those sorts of things, along with physical abuse and other types of emotional abuse, don’t go away,” Kerner said. “What happens is people are abused as children, and they don’t have ways to resolve that later in life and it stays stuck inside of them and it can lead to maladaptive patterns of behavior.”

Maladaptive coping mechanisms may include addiction to controlled substances.

Finally, the pieces have been coming together with people coming together to help facilitate the meetings, Kerner said.

“John Carter recently moved to Buckhannon from Richmond, and he has an extensive educational background with a master’s degree from Old Dominion and Shauna Jones at the high school has agreed to help,” Kerner said. Jones is the dean of students at B-UHS.

The group will base its format off an organization called Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. Read more about the organization here.

“We chose this format because it’s evidence based, and it’s been proven that it works,” Kerner said. “It is a peer-based mutual aid organization, so hopefully that will help people feel more comfortable with other people in the group who are also child abuse survivors.”

Kerner said they have not set a time or date for the meetings to begin; however, they will post updates on their Facebook page.

The organization is currently gauging interest in such a support group, so if interested, message the Opportunity House on Facebook or call Kerner at 304-613-1178.