CADA offers support groups for students 

Before the age of 18, one in five girls will experience sexual abuse. According to estimates, 734,630 people in the U.S. experienced rape in 2018 — including threats, attempted and actual rape. 

Committee Against Domestic Abuse (CADA) is a South Central Minnesota nonprofit   that aims to help victims of those grim statistics. 

CADA helps victims of relationship abuse, sexual violence and other forms of assault. Development and Communications Director Kristen Walters said  CADA got started after there was “a need for women experiencing abuse at home to leave and have a safe place to go.” 

“It grew out of the feminist movement at the time and seeing a need. This was when a lot of other shelters were starting,” said Walters. “A group of RAD badass women in Mankato got together and made a shelter. It was a house on Second Street, and it grew from there.” 

Walters said some women had never lived in a shelter before, and when they came to CADA it was a different experience. She also said living in a shelter is different for everyone. CADA provides hasadvocates on site 24/7 as well as hygiene products. 

“It’s kind of like dorm living. We have some common areas like the living room or kitchen, and every individual or family has their own bedroom,” said Walters. “They can cook for themselves. They can come and go as they please. We do have a curfew for safety. But it’s a locked facility with cameras and a safe, secure place.” 

Students are welcome at CADA. They offer two support groups, including one for sexual harm that meets Tuesday nights. A licensed therapist facilitates the groups. 

“We have a support group for survivors of, we say, sexual harm, because some people that’s rape, some people that’s sexual harassment, sexual assault within a relationship; any kind of sexual harm,” said Walters. 

CADA’s advocates facilitate a  domestic violence support group. It is held over Zoom and last’s 10 weeks. Meeting are held during the day or night so people can access it when they can. 

For those skeptical about going to support groups, Walters said, just go and see what it’s like. She said the support groups are nonjudgmental, no one will be forced to talk, and what is said during that time is confidential. There are guidelines to them, and Walters said everyone there understands and respects them. 

“Healing is an act of communion. There’s a quote by Bell Hooks, and it’s on the flier we use. ‘But rarely, if ever, any of us healed in isolation,’” said Walters. “We firmly believe that connection is a huge part of healing. And even if you’re not sure, just sit and connect with people.” 

Walters said the CADA website is a great way to connect with someone. There is a chat feature, a 24-hour helpline and their email. 

“If it’s 2 a.m. and someone needs something, we have someone who can either talk on the phone or chat online. We help people if they need a safe place to go. We can do safety planning for folks if they’re trying to figure out what their next steps are,” said Walters. “We can help folks do protective orders. So, if they need a court order, we can help with that. 

Walters said that if students or anyone needs any help, they should reach out to CADA, and they will get whatever they need. 

“It’s a really tough thing to navigate especially when people have been isolated from their friends and family,” said Walters. “Students who maybe are living away from home for the first time, and it’s just nice to have someone helping you figure out what to do and have someone on your side.”

Photo caption: Committee Against Domestic Abuse (CADA) is a South Central Minnesota nonprofit   that aims to help victims of those grim statistics. (Courtesy Kristen Walters)

Write to Lauren Viska at

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