SACA is about fifteen years old. It grew from an organisation that began around 1997 in the South of Hertfordshire.
In response to a need for professional support for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse who had been targeted by a paedophile ring, a support group was started. This developed into a service called SACCAA (The Sexually Abused Children’s Counselling and Advocacy Agency). This was run by a group of professional people who wanted to improve the quality of what was currently being offered to Survivors, which was very little.
They offered a professional counselling service that was unique in that it was for Survivors by Survivors. The Advocacy part of the service ended after a few years, so the service became SACCA.
During 2009 it was decided to redevelop and expand the service and to rename it SACA, since having the word children in its name had led to it being wrongly identified, and SACA’s client group stretches to all ages.
We are now a vibrant and developing organisation with Qualified Counsellors throughout the county dedicated to providing and developing a professional service to all survivors of childhood sexual abuse who request it. Our unique aspect is that all our Counsellors are themselves survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Why SACA Began
Evidence of the long term serious psychological effects of childhood sexual abuse are well researched, documented, and generally accepted by mental health professionals. Yet it is clear to SACA that there continues to be growing inequality in the provision of appropriate mental health services within Hertfordshire. Lack of access to appropriate professional help and support for this vulnerable group of people is a cause of great concern to us.
We also think it should be a major cause of concern for statutory providers at all levels who are legally committed to the Government’s initiative of Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). Prior to the change in the Statutory Law of Limitation in 2008, survivors were customarily ignored following their disclosure, or told to forget about it. Yet as a fundamental part of their recovery, abuse survivors need their life experience to be recognised, validated and respected.
Whilst the ongoing damage experienced from living with the effects of abuse is now taken more seriously, it is still taking too long for those who need help to get it. This is why SACA came into being, to provide appropriate help. Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse themselves.