The Friends of START came about through two routes. Firstly, we wanted to involve survivors much more in helping us monitor what we do, how we do it, how we might do it better and in helping us plan any future developments and direction. Secondly, a number of survivors who had been involved with START wanted to know if they could help support us in any way, whether with fundraising, providing help with policies and procedures, or in looking at better ways of promoting our image and services, including being ambassadors championing the service.
The current Friends of START, which we call the Friends team all come from a range of backgrounds, ages, and types of music they like! They all have relevant personal experiences, and between them have an enormous array of skills which they bring to the team, contributing in their own but complementary ways – the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
If you would like to know more about what the Friends do or want to contribute to START financially please get in touch with us (email or Contact page), or maybe if you can just offer some occasional time to help with a specific event without the commitment of regular meetings you can become an associate Friend – you can never have enough Friends.
Victoria works in the UK Armed Forces, loves to travel and believes you can never have too much culture in your life. She was unfortunately a victim of rape and if it wasn’t for START, she doesn’t know where she would be today. When she was given the chance to become part of the Friends of START team she grasped the opportunity with both hands. “Just the thought that little old me could make a difference and save one person who has walked in my shoes, well I could never have turned that down”. Being part of a fantastic team and helping to fundraise gives Victoria an enormous sense of purpose.
Like all of us that have suffered sexual trauma it’s hard to open up to anyone and it’s an emotional journey but its how we deal with it that makes a better future. At the end of my counselling I said I wanted to help others like me and that’s why I became a Friend of START. We are a great team and raise funds for START so that others can get the professional help that I had and then like me end up in a much better place where the past doesn’t rule the future.
Molly works in Marketing and having previously worked in the non-profit sector has always had a passion for helping people. She had always wanted to volunteer for a charity where she could really make a difference and she knew that was exactly what she could do when she heard about START. Molly spends her free time with friends, family and her fiancé, she loves music and appreciates a good gin!
I am on the road to recovery from survivor to thriving and undergoing START counselling has meant my journey has progressed in leaps and bounds. I believe in the power of healing through counselling but also passionately believe in healing through non-verbal therapies including Art, Drama and Music and as aged active rocker (see my photo) I know it works!
As a Friend of START I feel one of my main contributions will be in assisting and arranging fund raising projects and using my network to arrange and help at START events. START helps males, females and all gender groups and I am really pleased to be able to be part of the Friends of START team.
Elliot is currently studying Film Production BA(Hons) as a mature student at the University of Winchester. He would like to help START promote itself to enable and encourage other survivors to come forward and seek the help they need and deserve.
I am a keen ambassador for lifting the taboo around incestual sexual abuse and historic child sexual abuse. Since my time with START, I have joined the Friends of START and have raised money for the charity both personally and as part of a group. I have been part of a feature in Cosmopolitan magazine to encourage people to report rape and sexual abuse. I have contributed to the IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) and attend IICSA Forum events. I am a mentor for a victim/survivor of childhood sexual abuse and am keen to get involved with moving the conversation forward.
We recognise that it is hard to make that first step and either pick up the phone or even e-mail using our on-line pro forma referral form if you feel you need some help, especially if the sexual trauma you experienced was some time ago. The Friends team have all been in your position and can offer anyone who wants to consider counselling a listening ear and just talk through your fears and concerns about taking that first step and about seeing a counsellor for the first time.
Talking with someone from Friends team could offer you some reassurance, guidance and provide the answers to some questions you might have about the initial counselling process and all from a from a survivors perspective. They can discuss about what you might be feeling or experience including things like panic attacks or that you will clam up not be able to say anything once you arrive. While such things can be frightening, they are not uncommon and are to be expected but can be overcome.
The Friends team will support in whatever way is best for you and help you see that it is possible for you to move from a place where you are just surviving to a place where with support you can be thriving. If you think a listening ear might be helpful to you please contact us via email and we will ask one of the Friends to contact you.
Call our Advice & Support Line on 01962 868 688 or 01962 864 433
Anonymous SMS Text helpline service: 07860 027 793
Available 24 hours
"I am now in control of my thoughts and my life. I have gained self-confidence in so many ways and I am no longer haunted by the past."
"I have been given the tools to cope with everyday life. Without counselling I would have continued to deny my situation and feelings which was having extreme detrimental effect on myself, family and friends… RASAC has saved me from self destruction without the support I would have crumbled – a true life saver."
"My RASAC counselling has completely changed my life… I am a better mother, a more involved member of the community and I am able to keep myself safe."
"I was counselled for almost a year. I had a wonderful counsellor who helped me through a very difficult and unpleasant time in my life. It has been a process of healing by revisiting past places which at one time felt unimaginable. The journey has been raw and unnerving but slowly I came to see how I was repairing my damaged self. I finally accepted ownership of what had happened to me and was able to let go of my guilt and shame. My counsellor understood my outlook on life and created a connection with me that was very special. I eventually looked forward to my session as a weekly debrief rather than a purge. I am as happy and confident as I have ever been and I tell people about what I have learnt to help turn their negativity into positivity. Fear can be a very powerful emotion and prevent us from moving on in our lives but once it is confronted the clouds separate and you can focus on that hint of sunshine."
"Thank-you for the support, for the first time since talking about the sexual abuse to someone it is really helping me."
"Thank you so much for all your time and support while I was working through all of the stuff that happened - I really couldn't have done it without your help and input." Male client - June 2021
"The support, understanding and guidance that I've received from START has been life-changing. The whole process has been crucial for me to understand some of the trauma I'd experienced during my childhood. Who I've become as a consequence, who I am today, and how I process some of my thoughts, feelings and emotions." - April 2023
"I cannot thank Sarah at START enough for the counselling I received. I was a bit sceptical of the EMDR therapy I was offered at first but it really has helped me a great deal and I'm grateful for having the opportunity to go through it." - April 2023
"I'd like to thank everyone involved at START. You're doing a phenomenal job. I can't stress how important this journey has been for me. It's been a life altering experience." - April 2023
"Thank you for the Lotus week end, my life is taking a turn for the better and my new journey begins now." - July 2023