When Laurie Dixon was sexually assaulted two years ago by a massage therapist, she found herself suddenly immersed in the confusing, drawn-out world of the criminal justice system.
She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t find someone who fully understood what she was going through. She watched her case inch its way through the court system until her attacker was finally sentenced this past February for the 2013 assault.
The toll it took on Dixon convinced her she had to do something, so in February she launched a support group to help survivors of sexual assault navigate the court system, and find comfort among others going through the same thing.
“I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” Dixon said of her experience with the courts. “No one understood how devastatingly long it took.”
The group meets on the second Monday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Kenwood Therapy Center, 2809 S. Wayzata Blvd., Minneapolis. The next meeting is June 8.
Dixon found support among family, friends and a victims advocate in Hennepin County, where the case was prosecuted, but said she felt the absence of a network that could identify with her experience.
She worked with her therapist, Scott Jacoby, to launch the support group, which is peer-led and confidential. It’s free and open to anyone who identifies as a woman, cisgender, transgender, gender queer or non-binary and is over the age of 18, whether or not their court case is active.
Dixon said that men who are survivors of sexual assault are also welcome, but will meet separately. The group’s first meeting drew three women with active court cases.
“We were all strangers to each other, but immediately you could feel that support and care and understanding,” Dixon said.
She was the only one at the second meeting.
“Even if no one shows up, I will still be there waiting,” she said. “I will be there because I know it’s hard to come, because it was hard for me to come and it was my group.”
For more information, call Kenwood Therapy Center at 612-377-9190.