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Sexual Trauma & Abuse Restorative Therapies

Advice & Support Line
01962 868 688
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START provides support for females of any age who have been affected by unwanted sexual experiences at any time in their lives, which has resulted in sexual trauma.

We do not provide services for females where:

  • the main issue is not sexual trauma.
  • they have committed a sexual offence or are on, or have been on, the sex offenders register.
  • couple or partner counselling if requested – we do not offer this service.
  • other counselling is being provided elsewhere at the point of contact.
  • an immediate crises response is needed – there is a dedicated female helpline which will take messages out of office hours, but for 24 hrs response, contact Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre (Rape Crisis South London) 0808 802 9999.
  • the contact’s post code (address) is from outside our geographical area. For female services outside our area visit the The Survivors Trust website for more information instead.

Where we operate which services

We provide face-to-face counselling and therapeutic support at our offices in Winchester, at The Bridge in Andover and at The Orchard in Basingstoke. Females can access our female- specific, monthly, Peer Support groups called STEPS, which are available across most of Hampshire.

If you live in our area (your postcode can be found on our website), and want to access our services yourself – please fill in our self-referral form via our Contact page.

Please note: While the demand for our services is high, we try and keep the waiting time for counselling to a minimum (although you can ask about private counselling with us).

The START Step-by-Step Approach

We run STEPS Peer Support groups specifically for females. Self-referrals to these groups can be made through our website’s Contact page. These groups meet monthly and are led by female facilitators.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when I come for an initial assessment?

You will be seen by one of our assessment team to suit your gender preference. The person seeing you will do a risk assessment and a support plan with you to see who we can best help you. The assessment is very much a two way process.

What happens if I just can't face coming into the START offices to see someone for counselling?

Once we receive your referral, we will contact you, via email, to arrange an appointment. We recognise that taking that next step is very difficult and, if you prefer, we can carry out the appointment via a telephone call, to talk through any concerns you are experiencing and ways in which we can help you to overcome them. If you want to speak to someone who has had similar experiences to yourself, before talking to a counsellor, we can arrange for one of our female Friends of START to contact you.

Do you offer telephone help for Females?

Yes, we have a daily help and advice line specifically for females (telephone 01962 868688) which is available 10-2pm each week day. This is not an emergency line. We aim to return any calls left on the answerphone within 24 hours.

What happens if you feel you can't help me?

If we feel you need other types of help we will signpost you to other female services that we feel maybe better placed to support you. These will be discussed with you and could be either the statutory services such as mental health or other health services or other specialist voluntary agencies. We can contact them with your consent. There are some national, female-specific, helpful, support services to which we may signpost you, which can offer additional help and advice.

What happens while I am waiting for a service?

We will keep you regularly updated on where you are on our counselling Waiting List. While you are waiting for counselling, you can also attend one of our female-specific Peer Support groups and we may also suggest other services which can help you while you wait. The initial assessment will identify the support we feel might help you, including possibly contacting crises teams, as START is not an immediate crisis service. These will be services which can work alongside START services.

Can I bring my partner or friend with me?

Yes, to support you for the initial assessment, or for a session of face-to-face counselling, but not at Peer Support group meetings.

Do you have special entrances or facilities for females at your offices?

No, we do not discriminate between males and females. Everyone we see is a survivor of sexual trauma and is treated the same, regardless of gender. We have unisex toilet facilities at our offices in Winchester, but may have separate facilities for males and females at the offices we use in Andover and Basingstoke.

Do you have a drop in service?

No, we operate an appointment only system.

Do you offer support outside the counselling specifically for Females?

Yes, we run Peer Support groups specifically for females through our STEPS programme. Self-referrals to these groups can be made through our website’s Contact page. These groups meet monthly and are led by female facilitators.

How can I see how I am doing in counselling?

We use the RADAR issues and outcomes tool created by The Survivor’s Trust to record your presenting issues at assessment and to chart your progress through counselling. Progress will be reviewed every six weeks, with you and the counsellor completing a new RADAR form. You will have copies of each RADAR form so that you can see the progress that you are making, during the process and when the counselling sessions end.

What if I don’t get on with my counsellor?

While we try and match each individual with a compatible counsellor and will always ensure your gender preference is respected, in rare cases the counselling relationship doesn’t work as well as we would hope. Should this issue arise, you can raise it during your first three sessions and ask to have another counsellor. We will seek to find an alternative counsellor as quickly as possible.

Do you collect personal data?

Yes, we collect data using the details submitted on the referral form, adhering to current GDPR legislation. This information is used, anonymised, to support funder reporting and to determine trends and demands, which helps us in planning future service needs. Your personal details are kept on a secure computer database and once you end your contact with us, we destroy all personal records after three years as part of our GDPR policy.

Call our Advice & Support Line on 01962 868 688 or 01962 864 433


Anonymous SMS Text helpline service: 07860 027 793

Available 24 hours

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