Welcome to SIA

Survivors of Incest Anonymous
for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse

About Us

The SIA World Service Office serves both the many independent SIA support groups around the world, as well as individuals who contact us. We: publish and offer literature for sale; maintain the Directory of Meetings and keep current a list of members; maintain an SIA information phone line; issue quarterly Newsletters and offer speakers for outreach and education opportunities.

SIA, started in 1982, is a 12-Step, self-help recovery program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. There are no dues or fees. Confidentiality and anonymity are essential to our program. SIA is for men and women, 18 years and older, who were sexually abused as children. You will not be rejected because you think your abuse was “too horrible,” or you think your abuse wasn’t “bad enough to count.”

The only requirement for membership is that you were sexually abused as a child and you want to recover. The activities of SIA’s World Service Office are funded by the sale of downloadable literature and through your contributions. We depend primarily on the contributions of SIA groups and individuals. The SIA office is staffed exclusively by volunteers. Its need for financial support is ongoing and is particularly acute at this time. No donation is too small.

Our best wishes to you in your recovery. Recovery is difficult, but at least we now know that we are not to blame, and we are not alone.

Mission Statement

We empower those who have survived childhood sexual abuse (who are not abusing any child), who want to become survivors and thrivers.

Using our experience, strength and hope, we do this by:

Explanation of the Logo

(As Told by the Graphic Designer)

The image I designed brings harmony to the basic concepts of SIA program; it speaks to survivors about the continuity of life; ladder, Jacob’s ladder, speaks of twelve steps to revelation and hope; the tree, a universal symbol of the passage of time, of strength and growth; the heart, our emotions, ragged but still intact, at times naïve, our heart now has wings.

Conceptually, the logo mirrors the idea of changing the perspective of self, from the self, formed in the days of incest, mirrored in the roots of the tree, to the present day, healing self, or heart with wings, It’s not medical, austere or restrictive. It asks you, as a survivor, to allow yourself to hope again, to change your patterns of dealing with your inner circle of family and friends and your new, wider, global circle-your fellow survivors.

It subtly tugs on the sleeve of the world: “we are here. Listen. We help ourselves through change. We are ready to help others.”

Our Approach & Definitions

We define incest very broadly as a sexual encounter by a family member, or by an extended family member, that damaged the child. By “extended family” member we mean a person that you and/or your family have known over a period of time. This may be any family member, a family friend, clergy, another child, or anyone who betrayed the child’s innocence and trust. We believe we were affected by the abuse whether it occurred once or many times since the damage was incurred immediately. By “abuse” we mean any sexual behavior or contact with the child. Sexual contacts may include a variety of verbal and/or physical behaviors; penetration is not necessary for the experience to be defined as incest or sexual abuse.

The SIA membership has decided and current laws have made it necessary to clarify that current perpetrators of child sexual abuse are not allowed in any SIA meeting. We have traditionally defined a perpetrator as, “a family member or trusted individual who violates that position by seducing or otherwise manipulating a child with overt or covert sexual behavior.”

SIA is the place to work on survivor issues. There are other programs and avenues available for help with perpetration issues. (Note: as children, some survivors were forced, either physically or emotionally, to abuse other children. Because they were forced, the SIA membership does not consider them to be perpetrators. The adults who staged the abuse were 100% responsible.)

Whenever possible, SIA policy is determined by surveys sent to all registered SIA groups and voted on by the membership.

Conceptually, the logo mirrors the idea of changing the perspective of self, from the self, formed in the days of incest, mirrored in the roots of the tree, to the present day, healing self, or heart with wings, It’s not medical, austere or restrictive. It asks you, as a survivor, to allow yourself to hope again, to change your patterns of dealing with your inner circle of family and friends and your new, wider, global circle-your fellow survivors.

It subtly tugs on the sleeve of the world: “we are here. Listen. We help ourselves through change. We are ready to help others.”

Our History

One January evening in 1982, at a kitchen table in Baltimore, three women sat together and spoke about the unspeakable: childhood sexual abuse, perpetrated by family members (father, mother, brother-in-law) on each woman decades before. Using the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step recovery model, they admitted to being powerless over their histories, asked for help from a Higher Power so that they might make peace with their past and began to heal and thrive in the present. They began casting off shame and self-blame, living their lives unencumbered by the legacy of abuse. That evening, a new mutual-help, 12-Step program was born: Survivors of Incest Anonymous.

Now — in houses of worship, medical centers and other meeting places located around the country and in a dozen foreign countries — women and men 18 years through their 70s and beyond sit together and speak about the unspeakable: their own reality of childhood sexual abuse. Guided by the 12 suggested Steps of the program, everything said in the meetings and member to member is held in strict confidence. Survivors facilitate the groups; mental health professionals do not work in the meetings, and SIA is not intended to replace therapy or any other professional service when needed.

There is no typical SIA member profile; members are of all racial, ethnic, religious and political backgrounds, with varying marital statuses, sexual orientations, and degrees of ability/disability. The abusers in their lives may be any family member, family friends, clergy, another child or teenager, or anyone who betrayed the child victim’s innocence and trust. We define incest very broadly. Many of those who attend SIA meetings share their struggles with explosive anger, depression, addictions and compulsions, perfectionism, isolation, thoughts of suicide, and troubled relationships with family, spouses/partners, and authority figures. In SIA, we find hope and healing with self-confidence and self-esteem.

Each year, as SIA celebrates its birthday, we look back on an exciting history: a 1984 letter published in “Dear Abby” mentioned SIA and caught the attention of a national audience. Members of SIA made anonymous appearances on the national talk shows of the 1980s and 1990s including “Donahue,” “Geraldo,” “Sallie Jessie Raphael,” and “People Are Talking,” to name a few.

Board of Trustees

SIA’s headquarters, the World Service Office (WSO), now a virtual office, operates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The daily operations of the WSO are overseen by the Board of Trustees. It helps survivors to connect with one another and carries a message of recovery to those who still suffer. The WSO operates an email and phone information line staffed exclusively by survivors, helps connect survivors to local SIA groups, assists individuals in starting new groups, provides literature, a quarterly newsletter, and other helpful materials developed by survivors for survivors,  and manages a speakers’ bureau.

The Board of Trustees PURPOSES: To encourage, assist and serve incest survivors in dealing with the incest and its consequences; to disseminate information in relation thereto; and to conduct and participate in any other service to assist survivors of incest in dealing with their related problems, except those services which support survivors who are perpetrators as adults. To do this we: Coordinate policy among the SIA Fellowship in cooperation with WSC; Assist SIA groups in the conduct of their activitiesin cooperation with WSC ; Provide Survivors of Incest with information about the principles and traditions of SIA and locations of the SIA Fellowship; Publish literature of interest to the SIA Fellowship in cooperation with WSC ; Bring the SIA Fellowship to the attention of the concerned public in cooperation with WSC Supply literature, information and other assistance to persons for whom regular attendance at meetings of SIA is difficult or impractical; Establish and maintain national and international public relations; and Establish and maintain policies for the work of the World Service Office.

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