Starting from International Women’s Day we are going to share a series of blogs from members of our staff team describing a typical day. Today we are looking at a day in the life of an East London Rape Crisis counsellor.
It is 8.30 am on a Friday and as the morning bustle starts the staff are turning on their computers and setting up the digital counselling space. Tens of women and girls will be supported today, at various stages of their healing from abuse and violence.
As Habibah* enters the centre, she is greeted warmly by her counsellor Sonal* for the first time. The space is friendly, welcoming and safe. Habibah has experienced male violence and abuse running through generations in her family, first with her grandfather, then her father and ex-boyfriend. Reminders of her trauma are everywhere she looks, but not here. She feels relieved and reassured that she does not have to worry about it here and can relax. The counsellor confirms this, reminding her of the boundaries in place to support her, and that she is in control and can use the counselling space at her own pace. This is what will makes it possible for Sonal to feel safe enough to work through her trauma.
The pictures on the wall celebrate female survivors working and living together, and the staff and volunteers are all women. The place radiates a sense of sisterhood, reminding Sonal she is not alone in what she’s experienced, and will not be alone in her journey of healing. Sonal is relieved and is able to feel positive and open to what’s coming.
Sonal’s last session is with Maria* who has been attending counselling for a year now. It is their last session together and Maria felt the need to write a letter of gratitude, “You have taught me how to value and be compassionate with myself. I am a very different person today.”
*This excerpt is fictional, though based on the everyday events in the service, and all names are characters are made up.
If you would like to donate to support nia’s work with women, girls and children who have been subjected to men’s violence, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/niaproject