LOTUS sessions return to empower survivors

LOTUS%2C+a+support+group+tied+to+ACCESS%2C+will+meet+weekly+on+Mondays+for+survivors+of+sexual+assault+and+domestic+abuse.

Lyn Keren/Iowa State Daily

LOTUS, a support group tied to ACCESS, will meet weekly on Mondays for survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse.

Living Our Truths as United Survivors (LOTUS), a support group for students who are survivors of sexual assault or domestic abuse returns this semester for the first time since COVID-19.

LOTUS is organized by Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support (ACCESS), an organization that offers fully confidential and free services such as individual counseling, support groups and shelter services to clients in various counties.

Meetings occur at 6 p.m. every Monday in the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity.

The session is organized by Breanna Diaz, the sexual assault campus prevention and outreach advocate from ACCESS.

“[LOTUS] started before COVID and had since been put on a pause,” Diaz said. “I was given the opportunity to bring it back to campus and absolutely jumped at the chance to do so.”

LOTUS is open to all survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, Diaz said. However, the group does not require people to disclose that information to join sessions.

The sessions are confidential, and Diaz said those who attend should uphold confidentiality for people who share during the sessions.

The program began as a way to empower and inspire survivors while allowing them to gain more knowledge about sexual assault and domestic abuse.

The sessions create a safe space to share and feel connected to an advocate who can provide resources and emotional support, Diaz said.

“Many students don’t seek help for various reasons,” Diaz said. “One of which is the lack of resources or the lack of knowing about resources.”

The goal, Diaz said, is to give students the tools they need and be able to more easily access resources.

“It is important to note, however, that not all of these resources provided by Iowa State are confidential, which is why ACCESS can be incredibly useful to students,” Diaz said.

LOTUS will cover a range of topics including what sexual assault and domestic abuse look like, dating violence and warning signs of dating violence.

“I think it is important for survivors to process how they’re feeling and be acknowledged,” Diaz said. “It is absolutely valid to be angry and sad.”

Along with weekly sessions, Diaz said LOTUS will host a book club. The book she chose is “How to Love the World.” Diaz said it includes various poems that highlight the positives of everyday life.

“It is also very important that we can provide hope and empowerment to survivors,” Diaz said.

Some sessions will focus on coping with stress, identifying the positives in daily life, identifying strong support systems and making plans to help move forward.

“I was an Iowa State student, and I had always made it known during my time here that I wanted to make a positive impact on this community,” Diaz said. “I am very grateful I am able to continue to do so now.”

To learn more about the program or advocacy, reach out to Diaz at [email protected]