After the meeting
Guidelines for ASCA Member Interactions After & Outside the Meeting Environment
Safety First: The ASCA Manual states that safety is a critical ingredient for recovering from childhood abuse and should always come first. ASCA meeting guidelines maintained by the co-facilitators create and ensure safety during our meetings. These guidelines ensure safety after and outside our meetings.
Unscripted interaction can challenge members in different stages of their recovery. While it is rare, unsuitable persons may attend our public meetings.
Anonymity: Participation in ASCA is on an anonymous basis, and the anonymity of ASCA members must be preserved. When getting to know members, it is best to use only first names. Exchanging more detailed information can be done if and when both members decide that they are comfortable doing so.
If you encounter another member outside the meeting, please try to be sensitive to obvious cues - they may not want to acknowledge you for purposes of privacy and anonymity. Please do not take this personally. However, if the other member seems open to being acknowledged, you can say hello and see what transpires. You might want to leave it at that, or follow up if both parties are willing. If others are present and the question of how you know each other arises, try something general like “we met awhile ago through mutual friends”. Most people will be perfectly satisfied with such a response.
Confidentiality: The contents of members’ shares or comments must never be repeated outside of a meeting. Confidentiality is a extremely important part of ASCA. Everything discussed during an ASCA meeting is confidential and private.
Interactions After the Meeting and Outside the Meeting
● Feedback: Remember that members often feel very vulnerable after a meeting, and their boundaries about discussing their share after the meeting must be respected. Ask permission first before discussing their share. Do not offer unsolicited advice or attempt to psychoanalyze them.
● Touching: Also, please do not extend a supportive touch or attempt to hug another member without their permission. Although well-intended, it should not be taken as a personal rejection if the other member says no. Asking for permission before extending a hug or touch ensures the comfort level of both members, and prevents misunderstandings from occurring.
● General: If you are unclear how to interact with others, the safest approach is the conservative one. Please err on the side of caution with interactions that may be sensitive, such as one-on-one physical or verbal exchanges. Ask a co-facilitator if you are uncertain and need clarification.
Establishing Personal Relationships Outside the Meeting Environment
● Initiating Contact: Establishing regular contact with another ASCA group member can be an extremely rewarding and supportive experience, but must be satisfactory to both members. To establish regular contact with a member outside of the meeting, always ask for their permission first. Establish boudaries, such as how often you will make contact, what methods of contact are acceptable (phone/email/text/ voicemail message), and/or whether you wish to meet in person. These issues must be agreed upon by both members, and each member must respect the boundaries and privacy of the other member. Remember, contact information from the phone list may be used only for that week unless you obtain specific permission from the other member.
● Beyond Friendship: The intensity of feelings brought up in ASCA, and the vulnerability felt by members as a result, should be considered when deciding whether to move beyond friendship with another member. The safe ASCA environment cannot be ensured outside our meeting space. Members are encouraged to keep these issues in mind when deepening a relationship with an ASCA members, and to exercise careful and considered judgment when doing so. Some recovery groups say each party should be in recovery for a year before starting a relationship, SF Castro ASCA does not.
● Ending Relationships: Please respect a member’s decision to discontinue regular contact outside of the meeting. Situations change, and members should always be free to decide if they wish to be contacted by another member. Do not contact members who no longer attend meetings. It is up to each individual member to decide if they will attend a meeting.
Further Considerations: SF ASCA is an evolving community-based support group that needs and values your feedback. Dealing with problems effectively may seem challenging. Please refer to our guidelines for effective problem solving and assertive communication. Be compassionate as we learn boundaries and practice assertiveness. Give fellow members the benefit of doubt as they may not have intended to offend.
Note: This document was developed to protect members by extending ASCA meeting guidelines to the “outside”, including how to preserve anonymity when meeting members in public and recommendations for safe interactions outside the meeting.