International Women’s Day is a global celebration of women’s achievement happening annually on the 8th of March

This year the theme is Choose To Challenge –  “a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let’s choose to challenge” (IWD 2021)

At Quetzal, we want more people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to be alert and know that we are here to support female survivors of childhood sexual abuse aged 16 and above living in the region.

We invite you to celebrate with us female survivors of childhood sexual abuse’s achievements and commitment for change as well as all our volunteers, trustees and staff supporting this cause and this by:

for more female survivors to build better lives for themselves and their families by breaking free from the psychological barriers of trauma.

Below, we are sharing with you ideas to share online to celebrate female survivors and make our world more alert to the needs for change.

#ChooseToChallenge – Celebrate Female Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Achievements and Commitment for Change

Quetzal began its journey as a support group to female survivors in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland 30 years ago. Over the years, it evolved to offer specialised counselling services to support women recover from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.

In 2020, despite the governmental restrictions forcing Quetzal to conduct its counselling online and through the telephone, more than 200 women reached out for support to understand better their trauma, get their voice heard and acquire the tools to help build better lives.

They committed themselves to engage with one single session, longer-term counselling or group counselling, as well as sign up for our check & chat emotional support calls. We’ve delivered more than 1100 counselling sessions in 2020 – this number excludes the delivered single sessions.

They also shared their stories with us. They participated in case studies. They shared their testimonies. They answered surveys and interviews so that as a charity supporting female survivors, we can do better. They donated and expressed their gratitude. We even had a survivor participating in a radio interview, raising further awareness about the needs of female survivors going through the criminal justice system.

As part of the Breaking the Silence Initiative,  South Asian female survivors engaging with counselling wrote stories of change and testimonials to develop short movies to raise awareness in South Asian Communities living in Leicester and beyond about the work we do to support survivors.

Here is an excerpt of one story change:

When I first started counselling, I had no expectations. I felt nervous, mainly because I knew I would have to talk about painful things from my past. […] After a few session, I felt comfortable enough to truly open up and let my therapist into my world. […] I found my voice and was able to speak up for the little girl in me and finally be able to tell her truth. When I first came to quetzal, my intention was to find a way to make sense of what happened to me and to deal with it privately, but in the last few months, I have done some of the hardest things I have ever done, from disclosing to my family to going to the police. I’m so grateful I had my therapist to talk to during these moments, and even though my journey with quetzal has come to an end, I’m feeling optimistic about my future and the next chapter. ♥️ [Participant – Breaking the Silence]

Female survivors of sexual abuse commit to challenging their trauma, feelings, and emotions, and they share their stories with you all.

Celebrate them by amplifying their voice

Find below a few resources to share

#Choose To Challenge – Celebrate Volunteer Counsellors for their achievements in supporting female survivors in their journey towards recovery

Quetzal has approximately 25 volunteer counsellors who received specialised training about childhood sexual abuse.  In 2020, they increased their caseloads to support more female survivors dealing with the stress and isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic. They conducted all the counselling online and through the telephone. Quetzal delivered more than 1100 counselling sessions in the last year.

Some of our volunteer counsellors have been with Quetzal for more than 15 years. Over the years, we had volunteers counsellors joining our board of trustee, amplifying further female survivors’ needs.

Read Anne story sharing her experience volunteering for Quetzal – Share it with other trainee counsellors so they can join us for their placement.

#ChooseToChallenge – Celebrate Volunteer Community Connectors and supporters for their achievements in increasing awareness about the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and the value of counselling across communities.

Quetzal created the Volunteer Community Connector role to support the Breaking the Silence Initiative, which aims to measure the effectiveness of a community-based approach to raise awareness in South Asian Communities across Leicester.

Volunteers are trained to understand the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and the work we do. They then use their initiative, network and creativity to voice female survivors’ needs and wants to communities.

We need to thank them and in turn, the organisations, groups and communities that give us a platform to speak on.

Recently, the volunteers had the chance to contribute to Student Volunteering Week by showcasing all the work they’ve done throughout the year and speak on the DMU Sikh Society Instagram page.

One of our volunteers, Zoe, is currently training for the Landmark marathon and fundraising for Quetzal – Please support by donating and share the words.

Here are few resources to inform you of the amazing work of our volunteer community connectors

#ChooseToChallenge – Celebrate Quetzal’s commitment to supporting female survivors of childhood sexual abuse in their journey towards recovery

We are marking almost a year since we first experienced the coronavirus governmental restrictions. Despite all challenges, Quetzal continued to support female survivors. They launched a new website, a self-help guide, appeared on various radio shows, delivered online awareness-raising sessions and other interventions in various groups, recruited and trained new volunteers, and welcomed 7 new trustees.

We continue to challenge our practice by engaging with diverse communities through the Breaking the Silence Initiative.

A big Thank you to all the community groups, partners, media, institutions and individuals engaging with us to raise further awareness

On Wednesday 10th of March 1-2pm, we are inviting people in Leicester to join Samantha Woods, Senior Officer a TCV for an online session about gardening at home and across Leicester, and learn in turn about Quetzal ongoing work to engage with communities to make them more trauma-informed

Yes, Quetzal goes far and beyond to challenge itself, this is a story to share