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Open Secret

Confidential support for survivors of childhood abuse and trauma


Our highly specialised services work to a community development model where our goal is for survivors to be empowered to move forward from the impact of trauma. Our core team involves our skilled management team and specialist trauma trained counsellors delivering the service to survivors. We utilise the skills of volunteer counsellors, most of which are either fully qualified or they are studying for their Diploma or Doctorate and carrying out a placement with us.

Our adult services are holistic and they offer a range of services as we are aware that everyone will have different needs. As well as our core service of counselling and advocacy we offer befriending, group support (including gardening, art/ crafts, fundraising, writing and therapeutic groups). Survivors told us they wanted to be involved in campaigning and this has been very successful thanks to their ongoing commitment. Our EMDR/ EFT service has been very popular with survivors in assisting them with traumatic memories and flashbacks. Funding from Awards for All enabled Sarah Nelson, a distinguished researcher to work with us to develop a pack for survivors informing them about physical health issues.

Open Secret have been providing services within prisons for almost 20 years and our prison manager has experience of personally working within prisons, with her work being highly regarded and evidenced. We won the tender to deliver services to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Sadly the statistics have been extremely high as this reflects the scale of childhood sexual abuse and the impact which can lead to negative coping strategies and time in prison. However, as can be seen by our evidence, recovery from the trauma can lead to a different future for survivors.

Open Secret Campaigning

Open Secret are committed to campaigning for improved services for survivors.  Many survivors do not achieve justice as many cases reported to the police are unable to progress to a trial due to lack of corroboration.  Abuse rarely has a witness.  We can campaign for abuse prevention and we have developed a prevention helpline where a survivor can name the perpetrator.  We regularly comment in the press regarding the rights of survivors to ensure their voices continue to be heard.  Survivors are actively involved in campaigning and we have a campaigning team made up of staff and survivors.

Open Secret offers the following range of support for survivors:


Offering you a safe place to explore your thoughts and feelings around how your past experiences are affecting your daily life. You will decide what you wish to talk about and what changes you would like to make to improve your wellbeing and quality of life.


You will be linked with a befriender who will meet with you regularly to help you rebuild your self-esteem and improve your confidence in establishing new relationships and dealing with new situations in your local community. Your befriender will work with you to identify social, educational or recreational activities you would like to take part in, build your confidence and attend activities with you.


Sometimes practical issues can be a barrier to enabling you to have the time and space to explore other issues which are causing you difficulties. We can support you to identify and access appropriate help and support to resolve practical issues which you may feel are getting in the way of your recovery.


Many people find it helps to share their experiences with others and find it really empowering to support one another. Our groupwork offers you a safe space to share experiences with other survivors. Groupwork offered varies depending upon what survivors tell us is helpful to them but has included writing groups, art groups, women or male only groups, relaxation groups, gardening groups.



“All types of relationships in my life have become so much more positive now that I feel confident and in control of my life.”
“I have certainly benefitted from the service and would recommend it for improving survivors’ lives greatly.”
“I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel thanks to Open Secret.”
“In going through this process, I have become stronger, happier and much more confident in myself...I’ve learned to take control.”
“Open Secret isn’t just life changing – it’s life saving.”
“I feel as each week goes on I learn something new to help me cope. There are a lot of things I didn't understand, like how to deal with the flashbacks or grounding, I also understand for the first time in my life that this wasn't my fault.”
“I feel that I am more understanding of my feelings. I have felt it extremely helpful to have someone to talk to as I used to feel I had no one. Thanks to my counsellor I feel I can be more open about my feelings to express my opinion to other professionals.”
“In working with my counsellor I have felt my feelings from the past coming up but have been able to understand them and use the techniques I have learned to cope with them in an appropriate and safe way.”
“I had my court case and felt very alone and unsupported. I came back to OS for help and a top up. It has helped a great deal I have learned that it was not my fault and have ways of coping. I feel like a weight has been lifted.”