FAQs

General Audience

1. Is HerSpace pro or anti-sex work?

HerSpace supports women in their right to choose any type of work, including sex work. We are committed to women’s wellbeing including their occupational, health and safety. We have no view on legal or political aspects of sex work.

HerSpace is established to help alleviate the mental distress for women who believe they have been impacted by “experiences” of sexual exploitation. It is our understanding that these experiences of sexual exploitation can happen anywhere, including within consented sex trade. 

2. What kind of support does HerSpace offer?

As a trauma-informed mental health service, HerSpace offers women two therapeutic services: HerPathway and HerHealing. HerPathway helps support women’s mental wellbeing needs when they first enter HerSpace by creating with her a wellbeing plan. HerHealing is a free counselling service that a woman can choose to have as part of her wellbeing plan.

 

Women

3. I feel I am impacted by experiences of sexual exploitation but I am not sure if I meet the criteria. What happens if I don’t? What can I do?

The HerPathway service is there to offer support to every woman from a trauma-informed mental health worker. Together, you will create a wellbeing recovery plan based on the understanding of your mental health needs, which are unique to your circumstances and experiences of trauma. The plan might result in receiving our counselling service and/or identifying other specialised services to support your recovery plan.

4. I believe I’ve been affected by experiences of sexual exploitation and I’m interested in receiving counselling. However, I can’t afford it. What can I do?

HerSpace therapeutic services are free of charge for women aged 16 years old and over who self-identify as being affected by experiences of sexual exploitation.

5. Do I need to give HerSpace my personal details in order to receive counselling?

All personal information is treated as private and confidential and will never be disclosed to anyone outside of HerSpace. Internally, we create and use identifiers to protect our service users’ privacy while still being able to track therapeutic processes and follow-up on feedback. 

HerSpace has and will support women’s privacy should she express a desire to choose an alternate identity to help her feel safe.

6. What information do I need to share with HerSpace to receive counselling?

Once we receive your self-referral, you will be talking with a HerPathway professional to help understand your mental wellbeing needs, the experiences that have caused you harm and distress, as well as your support network. HerSpace will listen, respect and accept any concerns around information sharing that you voice to us in every conversation we have.

7. It is hard for me to share with anyone what happened to me and I am worried I might have to talk about it in counselling.

You don’t “have to” talk about your story if you don’t want to. 

Our trauma-informed mental health services are created to prevent women from getting re-traumatized by forcing them to tell us their story. You will be invited to share the pieces of your story that are relevant to help us understand your wellbeing needs only once – with your HerPathway professional. 

Our model of counselling service is created on the understanding that experiences of trauma impact on our body, emotions and heart. All our counsellors will integrate talk therapy with therapeutic modalities (art, body work, dance movement) to help you recover from your symptoms of trauma, which can happen without them knowing the details of your story. 

8. I have been to lots of counselling services before and they always made me sign forms that I wasn’t comfortable with. What forms do I have to sign to receive counselling from HerSpace?

HerSpace believes that consent (verbal or written) requires mutual understanding from both parties (counsellor and service user), which may require more than one session for both parties to come to a collaborative agreement. We have ensured that every woman who is eligible to receive our counselling service will be able to try out a few sessions before deciding if she wishes to enter into a signed counselling agreement.

9. I do have suicidal thoughts, but I don’t want to sign the self-harm or suicide forms. Will my counsellor make me do that?

That is a tricky question to answer, as we care about your wellbeing. We carry only one consent form called the “counselling agreement” to help us deliver the best mental health service for you while upholding the mandated mental health laws. Here are a couple of scenarios to help you relate to what’s pertinent to your situation:

9a) The HerPathway service is there to offer support to every woman from a trauma-informed mental health worker, when we receive a self-referral. The HerPathway professional will listen and understand with you, the strength of the suicidal thoughts you carry and its effects on your daily wellbeing. Through this engagement, you and the HerPathway professional might come to a verbal agreement to try out our counselling service or they will help find the best service to help support your recovery needs. 

9b) You are receiving our HerHealing counselling service and throughout those sessions, you start experiencing suicidal thoughts that you might share with your HerHealing counsellor. As it is important that we do our best job to serve you, your counsellor will be talking with you to develop a self-care plan to mitigate harm. This plan, if deemed necessary by both the counsellor and you, will be supported with a signed agreement and will be shared with other specialised services that can join in to support your recovery plan.

Our responses under questions 6, 7 and 8 might also help answer your query about signed consents.

 

Loved Ones

10. I’m worried about my friend / family member / partner, who I believe has been affected by experiences of sexual exploitation. What can I do to help? How can HerSpace support her?

Our HerPathway service has also been set up to offer information and support for loved ones. You can contact HerPathway via email to referrals@herspace.org.au for advice and guidance on ways to support your loved one. Based on what you share with us about wellbeing concerns, we will provide you with relevant information on our services and how these might be part of a wellbeing plan of support and/or we will connect you with the right services to help receive support. 

11. I believe HerSpace can help a friend / family member / partner who I’m worried about but she doesn’t want to reach out for help. What can I do? Can I connect you with her?

The simple answer is ‘No’. Here are our reasons why:

We understand that it is very difficult for you to not be able to help your loved one, but we also understand that when a woman suffers from mental distress and harm from experiences of sexual exploitation, she will feel betrayed by her loved one for taking away from her, her ability to “choose”. 

We do not wish the relationship to be broken or damaged due to your worry, but we are happy that your loved one has someone like you to be worried enough to reach out for support. 

Our HerPathway service has been set up to offer support for loved ones. You can contact HerPathway via email to referrals@herspace.org.au. Once you make contact, a HerPathway professional will help understand your worries for your loved one and together develop a way for HerSpace to be introduced to both you and your loved one together. 

 

Service Providers

12. I’m worried about a woman I’m working with, who I believe has been affected by experiences of sexual exploitation. Can I refer her to HerSpace?

The simple answer is ‘Yes’, and we have created a referral form for services, available on our website. 

HerSpace has set up processes that will reduce systemic trauma for women, particularly around choice and consent. The HerPathway service is there to help support other services when they refer a woman to receive our counselling service.

13. What happens when I make a referral to HerSpace?

The HerPathway professional will contact you, acknowledging the referral, helping answer queries about our service operation and also gaining an understanding of your client’s mental health needs, unique to her circumstances and experiences of trauma. Here are some outcomes once a referral is made: 

  • An introduction to HerSpace is facilitated by the HerPathway professional with you and your client present, and the client chooses to engage with HerSpace without any systemic support. 
  • An introduction to HerSpace is facilitated by the HerPathway professional with you and your client present, and the client chooses to engage with HerSpace while requesting systemic support to help her attend counselling and support with other wellbeing needs. This would result in service collaboration.
14. How soon will my client be able to start counselling with HerSpace?

How long is a piece of string? 🙂 This is, again, a tricky question to answer as every woman comes to us with her unique experiences, needs and vulnerabilities. Counselling service commences only after a wellbeing plan is created by the woman with her HerPathway professional. 

15. How many sessions do you offer and are they free?

Women can access HerHealing for free. 

As a grassroots organisation, our service is sustainable to help offer more sessions for women such as your client, if referring organisations can afford to pay a fee for service. So we do inquire with referring services, if they have a capacity to support their client’s wellbeing needs with a fee for service.

16. Do you provide any mental health reports from your counselling service?

The simple answer is ‘No’. We do not provide any formal reports from our counseling service. Our trauma-informed mental health service is set up to help alleviate trauma symptoms for women who often come to us with diagnosed mental health conditions. We collaborate with specialised services to help inform a holistic mental health assessment for the woman to receive the right treatment plan for any presenting condition.