By Marie Lefebvre

Who are we?
Quetzal is a charitable organisation that offers professional counselling services to women survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Our team is made up of qualified and trainee female psychotherapists, that have all received specialist training in working with those who have faced childhood sexual abuse trauma. The passion and integrity that our therapists bring to the work we do has helped hundreds of women aged 16 and over to break the psychological defences and destructive behaviours caused by their traumatic experiences.

What do we do?
Quetzal provides long term and crisis counselling to women aged 16 and over, who reside in Leicester City, County and Rutland. Counselling is offered through face-to-face appointments at our city-centre offices as well as at our outreach venues in Loughborough, Coalville and Hinckley. We also provide remote counselling services via telephone or online appointments.

We pride ourselves in offering a confidential and discreet service, which enables our clients to feel more secure and protected while they travel the road to their recovery.

What is Quetzal Breaking the Silence (QBS) initiative?
Our psychotherapists work with women from all cultures and backgrounds. Childhood sexual abuse is prevalent across all communities and backgrounds, with 11% of women (from 20,582 adults) surveyed by the Crime Survey for England and Wales in 2016 reporting child sexual abuse before the age of 16.

Childhood sexual abuse is one of the most under-reported forms of abuse as the perpetrator is usually known to the child, making it the ultimate betrayal of trust. One of the communities that consistently under-reports childhood sexual abuse is the South Asian Community. Shame and honour have been instilled into people who are brought up in these cultures; this makes taking the first step to access help even more difficult and dangerous.

We have received funding from The Tampon Tax Fund through the co-partnership of Comic Relief and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for developing and implementing a community-based approach to raise awareness of childhood sexual abuse and to increase engagement within the South Asian community in Leicester. Through the Breaking the Silence initiative, we hope to engage residents from Leicester City and set up pathways for women survivors to access our service without compromising their privacy and safety.

We will be collaborating with community groups and other agencies to tailor the approach that will give the power for recovery back to the women survivors without them having to leave the safety of the areas they reside in.

How is your involvement central to the success of the QBS initiative?

The QBS initiative is designed to engage women who are at different stages of their recovery. For women who are not yet ready to talk about the impact their childhood trauma has had on them, we are launching a downloadable support package that will help them work through some of the initial feelings and restrictions that could be stopping them from accessing the help they need. For women who feel they are ready to start talking to someone, we are setting up venues to offer counselling sessions within their local areas limiting their need to travel to the city centre or any of our other venues.

We are identifying venues that can create places of safety and privacy for these vulnerable women, which will then enable us to offer our much-needed service to them. We feel that collaboration with us could support the creation and identification of those places of privacy and safety for both our therapists and women from the South Asian Community to start looking at the impact childhood sexual abuse has had on them.

Your involvement is central for the success of the initiative as it is through our collaboration that hard-to-reach women communities will be informed of the available services to them, as well as encourage and support them to take the most crucial first step of getting in touch with Quetzal.

How would you benefit from the QBS initiative?

Quetzal is compiling evidence on how effective and replicable a community-based approach is to reach South Asian women in Leicester. Quetzal will share the results of the project so that you can benefit from the key learning point to develop your organisation, empower your community with the knowledge and understanding of how best to support women from BME background who are recovering from childhood sexual abuse.

How can you get involved and support the QBS initiative?

1. By sharing this content with communities and venues that you know and inviting them to get in touch to obtain more information about the initiative.

2. By getting your community involved in having a group discussion with Quetzal on some of the opportunities and barriers to raise awareness about child sexual abuse in South Asian communities in Leicester.

3. By providing some rooms for free in your venues so that women can access easily and confidentially a counsellor for support.

How do you get in touch with Quetzal?

Send an email to info@quetzal.org.uk with the subject title Breaking the Silence

Call 0333 101 4280 and ask for the facilitator for Quetzal Breaking the Silence initiative

Follow Quetzal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching @LeicQuetzal

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