The Significance of Community and Belonging
Written by: Jasleen Chadha, The Gatehouse Placement student, Social Service Worker Diploma Program
Community and belonging play a significant role in our lives. A community can come together in many ways and that can include having shared experiences (Foregeard, 2022). This is exactly what happens at The Gatehouse when survivors sit with one another and experience “me too” moments in a group. For many, it is the first time they feel seen, heard, and validated in their lives. Peer support is a powerful healing community.
It is important for an individual to be able to share their emotions with others alongside being valued and supported by their peers. This basic human need allows them to feel connected with others which also allows them to build new relationships and associate with new people every day. Connection and belonging can be rooted back to before being born, an infant will need care from their parents or caregiver, this allows both the baby and guardian to connect and belong. Throughout the early stages of life, the individual will be connecting with different people, this will allow them to associate with different groups allowing them to find where they belong. These connections could be permanent, or they may come and go but it allows the individual to learn and grow. (Allen, 2019). For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, trust is violated and it can make it extremely difficult to learn to trust others, and sometimes oneself.
Many survivors long for belonging and community. Not having a connection or only being limited connection and trauma can bring out negative outcomes which can affect someone’s social skills, emotional regulation, coping skills, and mental health issues. These connections give an individual the opportunity to follow the social norms and it helps guide behaviour. The early stages and years of a person are crucial for developing skills that can help deal with tragic experiences and losses. Schools and education permit a proactive approach, allowing children to adapt positively as an adult (Allen, 2019).
Being a part of a community gives us the opportunity to share new information with peers around us who would be interested in that topic. Finding a community that accommodates certain interests. Some other ways that a community can be beneficial to someone is it allows for the opportunity to be inspired, to feel supported, and again build meaningful relationships and have a sense of belonging. It helps stabilize your mental well-being by being able to stay connected, decreasing the feeling of isolation (Foregeard, 2022).
Allen, K.-A. (2019, June 20). The importance of belonging across life. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/sense-belonging/201906/the-importance-belonging-across-life
Forgeard, A. V. (2022, March 25). Why is community so important. brilliantio. Retrieved from https://brilliantio.com/why-is-community-so-important/