Therapy for survivors of 'honour'-based abuse

by Allan Eves in Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom

Therapy for survivors of 'honour'-based abuse
Not quite
Unfortunately this project was not successful.

To pilot specialist 'honour'-based abuse therapy and support for survivors and those at risk of 'honour'-based abuse and harmful practices

by Allan Eves in Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom

Savera UK

Savera UK is a ground-breaking organisation that has worked to make ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices visible issues across Merseyside and beyond. 

We have done this by raising awareness and engaging with services and agencies, ensuring they are discussed at the highest level. Many cases of HBA and harmful practices go unreported to the police or other statutory agencies, mainly due to mistrust and fear of the consequences for example family/community censure, involvement of Social Services, a sense of upholding the 'honour' of the family or the community, fear of being sent back to home countries, 'honour'-based abuse (HBA), divorce and subsequent poverty. 

However, Savera UK has managed to tackle these fears and is able to support individuals and families who want to break from both the silence and the continuance of abuse by those who love them most.

‘When I first came to Savera UK, I couldn’t even comb my hair. I couldn’t put on dress. Now I can. Before I met them, I could not speak, I was choked with the feelings inside of me. When they came to see me, I keep pouring and speaking’- Savera UK client.

Our Project

Historically, mainstream services have failed to address specific cultural and religious needs, which, alongside institutional biases, racism and discrimination, can hamper positive outcomes. Language, cultural and family barriers further impede access to basic entitlements, making many - particularly those from marginalised groups and for who HBA and harmful practices are a factor - fearful to engage with generic services as they are seen of complex or do not have the right training and understanding to engage. 

Savera UK is experienced in working with clients who, if not all, the majority are affected by mental health and even trauma, this including their children. 

Many of Savera UK’s clients experience conflicting emotions about not wanting to disobey their families, and anxiety and upset that they are perceived by their families as “bad” for exercising their rights.

Survivors’ journeys move both forward and backwards because of the impacts of abuse, loss and grief, ongoing or renewed threats from perpetrators and long-term trauma. This is challenging for services and organisations that do not have an in-depth understanding in this area, and in particular when clients also understand very little about talking therapy and do not fully have the trust to enable them to open up.

This pilot project will help us as an organisation to bring range of specialist therapies, which are informed by an in-depth understanding of HBA and harmful practices, cultural sensitivity and all aspects of our clients’ needs   

We want to use modern approaches which are culturally sensitive and also work well around trauma and attachment, especially between parent and child as this relationship might be negatively impacted by harmful practices.

“I’m so honoured that I have found someone who understands and wants to hear from me, really sometimes you just need someone to speak to and then your heart and mind is at peace…” – Savera UK client.

With traditional models of therapy in clinic and hospital settings being a barrier to many of our clients we want to allow the client to be seen in a non-clinical setting and to use a wide range of creative and trauma focused therapies and also including it as part of their in-house holistic support that we already provide, this can, including:

Theraplay – This form of therapy helps with attachment and involves the parent and child being in the same room with a trained therapist who guides the parent to develop positive attachments.

Art, Music and Drama Therapy – This form of therapy has been proven to be useful in helping clients explore difficult trauma memories through the use of these mediums to help them talk and heal. This form is also very good at helping people develop a more creative side to themselves and don’t always need English as the first language. It is an excellent approach for parents and children.

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