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:
START believes that is it crucial in operating services to involve those it provides services for and the START Consultative and Advisory Panel has female survivor representatives who regularly meet with the START team. If you are interested in knowing more please click here and how it is involved in service development check out our news items here.
Please note: We do not provide a counselling service where the the sexual abuse relates to online issues such as grooming, or control and cohesive control. We do however offer educational advice and guidance on such issues.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, for the initial needs assessment, but the person will not be allowed in the session but will need to wait in the waiting area. For weekly counselling we cannot always offer a waiting space for any support.
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.
No, we operate an appointment only system.
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.
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.
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.
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
"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