Stígamót - Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence
Free individual counseling for survivors of rape, sexual molestation, sexual harassment, pornographic exploitation and prostitution. Service is for women and men. Services for children are offered by Children’s Protective Services (Barnahús).
Teenagers under the age of 18 are welcome once a report has been filed with the Children’s Protective Services. In the event a report has not been filed, please be aware that according to Icelandic law we must report any instances of sexual abuse of a minor, suspected or otherwise. Questions can be sent by email or information requested by phone.
Services are also extended to family members and loved ones of survivors. We do not identify ourselves as providers of traditional therapy, but rather as a support and counseling service for those seeking to learn and engage in self-help. Often people seek support many years after they were violated. It is never too late to begin the healing process.
Political and Social awareness
Stígamót is aware of the importance of education and prevention work. We regularly offer presentations at schools, social groups and to the public. Furthermore, we actively seek out international presenters to ensure ongoing and up to date information.
Stígamót has been responsible for international conferences in the area of sexual violence.
Stígamót hosts field trips for smaller groups and also offers educational presentations for a slight fee. Our website contains a data bank of available presentations.
Stígamót is aware of the importance of data gathering to keep services up to date, and to become more aware of the prevalence and nature of sexual abuse. We encourage academic research in the area and offer our help in any way we can.
Without abusers, our work wouldn’t be needed. Statistics show that for each survivor there exist at least three abusers. Approximately 20% of abusers are under the age of 20. It appears younger abusers commit more violent offences.
The connection between drug/alcohol use and sexual offending is not as prevalent as previously thought. According to studies, more than half of the abusers were clean and sober when they offended (H.M and K.E. 2006).
Abusers come from all walks of life, from different backgrounds and have various forms of education Less than 10% of the cases brought to the attention of Stígamót went through the legal system and only a fraction of those led to conviction
Politics Stígamót takes a clear stance when it comes to sexual abuse and violence. We accept no excuses or justifications. The responsibility always lies with the abuser.
Stígamót works toward legal reform, increased justice, and coordination in the social service sector, education, research and efficient and informed service to those who seek out help.
From Letters to Stígamót:
“When I lived in Reykjavík I visited Stígamót frequently. I will never forget and I will never be able to thank you for all you did for my broken spirit. I especially remember the first visit. I went with a negative attitude and really didn’t want to go, but my social worker encouraged me to try one visit. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to go back. I reluctantly agreed. When I left after that first visit, I looked up to the sky and remember thinking that the sky was bluer and the sun shone brighter. That is a feeling I will never forget.”
“I am hopeful that these visits will help me reach my true potential.”
“I have never felt better than after I went to Stígamót. It saved my life.”
“I wish Stígamót got the public and professional recognition they deserve.”
“I have finally found a place where someone understands me and I am not afraid to say what I’m thinking and allow myself to feel long gone emotions. I have seen various counselors and psychologists since I was 12 but never felt it was the right place for me.”
“Six years ago I was facing fear and darkness. I went trembling to my first visit at Stígamót. Today I am graduating from University.”
“I don’t feel as alone.”
“I only wanted to enjoy motherhood, but couldn’t because I was afraid. After meetings with the staff at Stígamót I can look at my son and enjoy being a mother.”
“I didn’t know how to be myself, because I was lost. At Stígamót I found my voice again.”
“After my sessions and group work at Stígamót, at the age of 28, my life started to change from black and white to color; from surviving the day to enjoying it. What I learned there will most likely serve as a guide throughout my life.”
“One of the first things I learned at Stígamót was to give myself permission to surrender my feelings. There was nothing wrong with me; but the circumstances I was in as a child were terrible.
Self help groups
Self help groups have been the cornerstone of Stígamót from the beginning.The groups are closed groups with 4-6 members led by a trained group leader. Group members must commit to attend each meeting and vow complete confidentiality. The group meets 15 times for 3 hours each time and the meetings are arranged in a series of topics.
Initially members share their experience. Together the group then works on topics that relate to shame and guilt, anger, sex, self awareness, forgiveness, parents and finally the abuser. In addition, an art therapist works with the group for one session.
Once the group is over, members have the option to participate in a 12 step program, specifically designed for survivors of sexual abuse.It is in the group work where people find the greatest growth. Members learn valuable life skills that they say enrich their lives.
Quality Assurance claim:
Increased self image
Increased ability to set boundaries
Better self awareness
More positive attitude towards sex
Increased emotional awareness
Better understanding of emotional expression
More positive body image
Better control over life
*According to study done in 2001