No. There are many formats of meetings: speaker meetings, where a speaker does most of the talking; topic meetings, where discussion is open but directed toward a specific topic and all are invited to participate and Literature meetings where some official SIA literature is read and discussed. At a small number of meetings, people are called on to speak, but even then a member can ALWAYS pass on that option. At other meetings the floor is open to anyone wishing to speak, but no one is called on. You can choose not to speak. If you are in a group that rotates the discussion and you do not wish to speak, just say “I pass” so that the next person can begin. No one has to speak at discussion meetings, but everyone is encouraged to speak. As survivors, we have had to keep the sexual abuse secret so many of us come in uncomfortable talking about it. That’s fine. Listen, keep coming, and give yourself time.

You may find that, as a result of the abuse, even though the abuse ended long ago, it still affects your life today. Some of us come to this program full of anger at our perpetrators and hurting. We find that by breaking the silence and telling the secret, and then talking about the things in our lives that were and still are affected, we can begin a long, slow, glorious process of recovery. Generally, in a discussion meeting each person (time permitting) is given an opportunity to speak. Some groups allow cross-talk (brief, positive feedback), but no advice is ever given. We encourage you to be respectful of the number of survivors that are sharing the meeting time. Some large meetings may time the sharing of each member to assure time for every member.

When you do share, it is suggested that you limit your comments to your own experiences. Keeping our sharing focused on our own experiences, using “I” statements (first person), and avoiding political issues and outside causes, keeps us in line with our primary purpose. Generally, if you’re a newcomer or an old-comer in crisis and have a burning need to get something off your chest, it is a good idea to speak early in the meeting so that there is time to reflect on the issue. Most groups will begin and end at a specified time. As survivors we often have problems with limits and work on these issues. If your questions don’t get answered in the meeting, ask someone to speak with you, get phone numbers of other members afterward. Many things will only begin to make sense given time. Just keep coming back.