New support group aims to empower

New support group aims to empower

A new support group for student survivors of sexual assault to begin holding sessions this fall.

By Rosie Hales

September 25, 2014


The Psycho-Educational Group for Survivors of Sexual Assault (PEGaSUS) will hold its first sessions this term aimed at providing support to students who have experienced adult sexual assault.

“PEGaSUS is a 10-week program designed to increase participants’ emotional stability and understanding of their response to sexual assault and the impact it can have on their lives,” says Hagar Akua Prah, Outreach Counsellor and Student Life Advisor in the John Deutsch University Centre.

Ms. Prah will co-facilitate the group with Nadia Sawaya Fehr, Outreach Counsellor (Residences).

“This group is about breaking the isolation that can accompany the aftermath of sexual assault,” Ms. Prah says. “Sessions aim to provide students with what they need to work towards self-empowerment, while succeeding academically.”

Each session lasts an hour and a half and focuses on a different topic each week. Session topics include:

  • Understanding the effects of sexual assault/violence
  • Recognizing emotions
  • Developing and using coping skills
  • Exploring issues of trust and healthy relationships
  • Building self-esteem, self-confidence
  • Positive body image
  • Recovering a sense of hope and self-empowerment.

Ten to 12 participants and a facilitator will open each session with an introduction period followed by a discussion of the featured topic. Students are encouraged to engage in a dialogue with one another about the topic.

“We are so pleased about this new initiative that will offer students a safe and supportive space open to all genders and a chance to connect with others through mutual support and group education,” says Arig al Shaibah, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Chair of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group, a network of students, faculty and staff that convenes to mobilize efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault on campus.

PEGaSUS will run on Thursdays from 4-5:30 pm. The fall term group will run from Sept. 25 to Nov. 27 and the winter term group will run from Jan. 22 to March 26, 2015.

To join PEGaSUS, students can send an email to with their name and preference for the fall or winter group. They will receive the meeting location once they have checked in with the facilitator. Please note that the groups are open and can be joined at any point.

PEGaSUS was funded by the Eilidh Balkwill Fund through the Division of Student Affairs.

PEGaSUS is one of many initiatives in place at Queen’s to address the issue of sexual assault. Other active initiatives include: the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group; specific training for Residence Dons; consent and masculinities workshops for first years; awareness campaigns; public presentations by experts in the field; bystander intervention training for students; a network of emergency phones and beacons; the Walkhome service offered by the Alma Mater Society; and Campus Security and Emergency Services’ Safe Walk program for all members of the campus community.