The Lotus flower has its roots in the deepest mud, and grows far away from the sun, but sooner or later it reaches the light and becomes a beautiful flower.
Welcome to the Lotus programme, the unique alternative to traditional weekly counselling for those who have experienced and survived Childhood Sexual Abuse. The Lotus programme brings together individual counselling, group-work and specialist workshops under the umbrella of an intensive, interactive and integrated programme of residential therapeutic support. Set within a safe and confidential environment, the Lotus programme aims to provide the opportunity to look at Childhood Sexual Abuse and the consequences of the trauma it has caused and how this influences adulthood. Lotus will explore a range of coping strategies which can be used and employed to manage and conquer the negative impact the trauma has had. By gaining an insight into your trauma you will emerge a stronger, better equipped and more self-confident individual, armed with an understanding of what happened to you and with a tool bag of strategies with which you can move forward and feel more positive about what the future holds.
After your time with us, and in order to evaluate and improve the Lotus programme for future participants, we always ask for and receive feedback from those who have attended. Participants may also wish to send us their own “testimonials” (click here to see what people have said about the programme).
What you need to consider before applying to join the Lotus residential programme…the three Rs.
We live in a world dominated by continual commitments, energy-sapping expectations and stressful situations and it is becoming increasingly harder to switch off and Relax. If you had the chance of getting away from it all for just a few days, to escape from the daily demands and regular routines of your life to focus on your needs, would you take it? Not, would you like to take it, but could you say “this week-end is for me and I am going”?. Could you set aside time without the fear of letting anyone else down, leave commitments to people and pets behind – and relax?
We live in a world dominated by Technology, a fact. The internet invasion now seems to motivate and manage all our daily actions and interactions. Whether through tablets, PCs, laptops, or mobiles we no longer seem to be able to go through the day without them. Hours spent on Google, Twitter, Whats App, Texting, Facebook and Instagram, to name but a few. The Lotus programme is a haven from technology. So, ask yourself – “could I go for a few days without looking at or logging into a device and forget the latest tweet, post or notification – and retreat?’’
We live in a world dominated by the here and now, the quick fix , the must have and move on society. We want to solve our issues and problems instantly, the internet to be just a few seconds quicker, the queue to go down a bit faster. Difficulties that take time become things to ignore, to short-circuit or side-step. Being able to successfully deal with real issues, especially deep-seated ones, involves slowing down and being able to reflect, not deflect, to step back, and not step around. Are you ready to listen, learn and look at things differently–and reflect?
During the programme we will help and support you to reframe what happened to you, how to put your unwanted experiences into a different context. Your abuse happened to you as a child and you dealt with it as a child, but you are now an adult. Reframing what happened after the abuse will lead to positive ways of coping with the impact of the sexual trauma that you experienced as a child so that it no longer dominates your adult life. To see relationships as potential avenues of intimacy and pleasure and not as cul-de-sacs of pain, mistrust and disappointment.
We will look at ways of restoring what you have lost – your self-determination, your self- confidence and your self-esteem, so that you may lead your life the way you want to, and might have done, had you not been living with, and under, the cloud created by what happened to you and the trauma that followed. We look to restore positive feelings and emotions such as pride and joy and an overall feeling of positivity about all you do, all that you are, and all you can become.
The Lotus programme is not the end of the journey, but provides a significant step on the road towards recovery. Recovery from sexual trauma comes in many forms and can take many months or even years and is different for everyone. You may find you want to address an issue that has been bothering you for some time – a relationship issue, a work issue or a negative coping strategy that you use, such as a reliance on alcohol or substance misuse. You may decide you want to re-enter education and make up for lost time, or try something new.
There are many roads to recovery and there are often bumps in the road. Whatever your recovery plan it will evolve, change and develop over time and will not always go as planned, but it will eventually lead to you becoming the person you could have been, should have been and want to be.
As we say, “You cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can START from where you are and change the ending “
To find out more about the Lotus programme, without any commitment, just contact us and we will get back in touch to discuss the programme in more detail. As our motto says – ‘’START…it’s never too late.’’
Sharon joined START in April 2021. She qualified in Humanistic Integrative Counselling in 2000 and has worked ever since in the area of rape & sexual abuse, initially working for South London RASAC and then more recently for BRASACC.
She is currently our LOTUS Coordinator.
If you wish to discuss anything around the Lotus programmes you can talk confidentially to our Lotus co-ordinator by calling 01962 678882. Sharon will call you back, so please leave a message.
Diane joined START in November 2021, she trained as a counsellor whilst a researcher at Harefield Hospital and moved to Hampshire to run the BA Hons in Counselling & Psychotherapy at the University of Southampton.
She also runs an eclectic assortment of workshops such as Dream Analysis, Effective Supervision; Animal Assisted Therapy and the use of Complementary Therapies.
Jessica is a survivor of CSA and one of the Friends of START team and a START mentor.
Jessica runs the Art in Motion sessions on the Lotus programme.
Charmaine’s love for yoga began over 10 years ago, when she went along to her first class having no idea what to expect and was immediately hooked.
In 2020, she embarked on her teacher training journey, initially to enhance her own practice, but soon she realised she wanted to share her love of yoga with others and Sangat Yoga was born.
Jo joined START originally in 2017, she is a qualified person centred counsellor, with a background in mental health.
She supports Adult survivors in one to one sessions and is one of our Lotus project facilitators.
Rob is the Lotus caterer and provides for all dietary needs for anyone attending Lotus whether they be vegetarian or vegan, and including gluten / dairy free options.
Rob is proud that all the meals and cakes catered for are all home cooked.
Lexi is the Lotus pet therapy companion, he meets with us on the programme each time, and likes treats and pats and cuddles.
Summar rejoined START in February 2022, having previously worked with us back in 2020. She has a BA (Hons) in Counselling & Psychotherapy.
She has a wealth of experience working with young people, having worked at both No Limits and with CAMHS.
Marion joined START in August 2020. She is a qualified humanistic integrative counsellor.
She has worked with Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service and has worked extensively with young people.
Claudia joined START in August 2022. She is our Aromatherapist.
Elizabeth is a survivor and has written poetry books including “Silhouette of a Songbird” as part of her journey towards recovery from her trauma experience.
Elizabeth tells her own story and explains how journaling was her salvation.
If you live outside of Hampshire, you can still apply for Lotus if you self-fund your place. To apply, please find our Lotus Referral Form on the Contact page.
Someone from our Lotus team will contact you to discuss the programme in more detail and arrange an initial meeting with you to see if the programme is suitable for you.
The programme runs from 9am on a Saturday morning, with arrivals before this time, and finishes by 3pm on the following Monday.
The programme will be run at a discreet location in the New Forest area of Hampshire.
You will need to pack as if you were going away for an all-inclusive weekend, maybe a few personal toiletries but we provide food, drinks (non-alcoholic), bedding, slippers, a dressing gown, and will cater for all special diets.
We will take emergency contact details from you so we can contact someone for you should there be a need. We will give any emergency contact you may have a 24/7 contact number in case there is an emergency while you are with us. The idea is that you are free from all distractions and influences and if we get a call from home asking something like “ where are the toilet rolls kept” we will not pass this on!
Each programme will consist of no more than 6 survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse and each group will be single sex. We will be running specific week-ends for other groups such as students, LGBT+, depending on the number of referrals received.
You are free to leave the programme at any time, but once you leave you will not be allowed to return. If during a session you need a short “time out” then that is acceptable, as for some people, we expect certain sessions may be harder than others to sit through without a few minutes respite.
Not really. The 3 evenings you will be with us will be catered for in terms of arranged activities and are included in the programme.
No, they will only know what you tell them. You will all be survivors of CSA, have had similar experiences and be suffering from sexual trauma as a result of the abuse. Some of the group may want to share their story but this is not part of the programme (except in the individual counselling sessions).
Yes. A post programme monthly group get together will be organised so you can keep in touch and reflect on where you are a month on from the programme and, if you want to, you can swap contact details upon completion of the Lotus programme.
No. There is no requirement for you to discuss your abuse or its impact speak during the programme outside the counselling sessions. However, some may find this easier to do and want to speak out, but, if you so choose, you can just sit and listen.
Yes, you will be seen at least 3 times over the 3 days for one-to-one counselling and with the same counsellor, plus a follow-up counselling session a week after the end of the programme to see how your recovery plan is going.
You will be able to leave the session and go and talk with a counsellor who will help you calm down, using a range of well-known techniques. You can then decide to remain or leave the programme and we can arrange to take you home or have you collected if you prefer.
We will need to know exactly what medication you are on, how it needs to be taken and how it might affect you, so we can make a risk assessment regarding whether the programme is right for you at this time.
You can access the venue by car and securely park any vehicle for the weekend but please be aware that there is no close by public transport.
A taxi from the nearest town is approximately £20 per journey. If you are having problems with transport please discuss this with us.
Yes. Anyone wanting to come on the programme will have an initial assessment meeting with one of the team to make sure you are ready for the programme and answer any questions you may have. This team will be the ones meeting you with the transport.
No. For many survivors of CSA, alcohol has associated bad memories or the abuse has led to a dependence on alcohol as a negative coping mechanism. Anyone who brings alcohol will be asked to leave the programme.
Don’t worry. We will be offering a range of non-physical and optional evening activities which the group can decide upon – such as a karaoke night, an outside BBQ (weather permitting) or a games night, amongst others, so no need to bring your running gear unless you want to!
Yes, you will be supported regularly by one of the Lotus counsellors both during the 3 day programme and afterwards while you await longer term counselling with one of the START counsellors.
No. There are no written assignments or written work so no need to worry. We do ask you to write down your own thoughts and feelings, or do this through drawings, in a Lotus journey journal which we will provide for you at the outset of the programme. This will belong to you, and you will take this away with you at the end of the programme.
Remember you will be with other survivors, so not really true strangers as you already have a common bond and most likely common thoughts, feelings and similar experiences, and they will most likely feel exactly the same as you – apprehensive, worried and a little uncertain, but wanting to attend regardless of these fears.
Sadly, we can only offer every survivor one free programme but we will consider offering a refresher Lotus programme as a follow up to those groups that really gel and feel this would be useful. There would need to be a small cost for this refresher programme.
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’ve been struggling with my trauma for over 6 years and Amanda has been so supportive and comforting in how she approached my recovery. She’s taught me how to rediscover myself and work on how to change the way I acknowledge what happened to me and how I am able to change the way it is affecting me in everyday life. I’ve put her advice into action and I’m overwhelmed with the results. Amanda is a true credit to RASAC and I’m eternally grateful for her help."
"Counselling at RASAC has helped me to feel more confident in myself and that I am a worthy person in this world."
"The counselling was exactly what I needed. I found the whole experience very eye opening and can now walk away with a whole new level of confidence and happiness."
"I have gained a new understanding of what happened to me. I am feeling better and my thinking is more positive."
"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