Most Rape Crisis Centres offer free one-to-one counselling to women who have experienced rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and other types of sexual violence.
Some also provide counselling for girls, men and boys.
What is counselling?
Counselling gives you a safe, confidential space to talk about your feelings and concerns.
A counsellor will help you explore how you might have been affected by your experiences. They can help you understand and deal with upsetting feelings, issues and problems.
Rape Crisis centres provide specialist, trauma-informed counselling. This means all the counsellors have training in sexual violence and the impact of trauma. This type of counselling can be more effective if you’ve experienced rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse or another type of sexual violence.
(Counselling is also sometimes called therapy. There are also different types of therapy available.).
What can counselling do for me?
Trauma-informed counselling aims to help you feel better and more in control, and to heal from trauma.
But, experiencing sexual violence can affect you in lots of different ways. So, your counsellor will work with you to understand what you want to get out of counselling.
For example, this could include:
- Understanding your feelings.
- Coping with strong or upsetting feelings.
- Dealing with or reducing the number of flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive thoughts.
- Reducing shame and self-blame, and improving your self-esteem.
Your counsellor will always be guided by you and you can take it at your pace.
Will counselling make me feel worse?
Lots of people are nervous about starting counselling. Or, you might feel like if you start to talk about painful memories, you won’t be able to cope.
Your Rape Crisis counsellor will never force you to talk about anything you're not ready to. All counsellors are trained to make sure you stay safe during the session and can cope afterwards.
When you work with a counsellor who is right for you, you should feel understood and supported. You'll be encouraged to express your feelings in safe and appropriate ways.
At the same time, counselling is not always easy or comfortable. It will involve remembering and feeling memories and emotions that can be painful and difficult. This is a usual part of the counselling process and it will get easier.
But, if you are not ready for counselling, your local Centre might offer different support that might work better for you at this time.
If you do start counselling, you and your counsellor will review whether you feel the counselling is meeting your needs on a regular basis.
If you contact your local centre, be aware that there may be a waiting list for counselling.
Your local Rape Crisis Centre will have more information about the services it provides.
Most Rape Crisis counselling is woman-centred and provided by women counsellors in a women-only safe space. Some Centres can also offer services to parents, partners or other supporters.
Some of our member Rape Crisis Centres provide counselling services to male survivors, and/or to male partners, parents etc., often within a separate space or on different days/at different times. They might also have male counsellors available.
Some Rape Crisis Centres have lower age limits for their counselling service. For example, they might provide counselling to young women and girls.