If you want to help a person who’s been sexually harmed the best thing you can do is be someone they can trust and not make any judgements.
It can be really difficult for someone to talk about what’s happened to them. They may be distressed, self-blaming or angry, or they could appear calm. Everyone reacts differently and can go through a range of emotions.
They might want to report what’s happened to the Police, or they may not be ready to talk to anyone.
Do you want to help someone?
How you respond to them can make a difference. Here is a list of things you can do which will help them get the right support.
- Aim to give comfort and support, rather than advice.
- Listening can be more important than talking.
- Let them know you believe them.
- Avoid victim-blaming. Don’t question them about what they were wearing or how much they had to drink. Don't ask any other questions that could make them feel at fault.
- Be patient. It can take some time to deal with an assault. Don’t expect them to ‘get over it’ quickly.
- Set aside your anger about the situation while you support them.
- Support them without pressuring them.
- Give them information about what help is available.
- Offer to make the first contact with specialist agencies if that’s what they want.
- Offer to accompany them if they want medical treatment, to report the assault to the Police, or other support they might want.
- Get support for yourself without breaching their privacy.
Our trained specialists are available to discuss what’s happened and what support is available.
Supporting someone making a Police complaint
- Make sure they have breaks during their interview.
- Help them deal with any emotions.
- Find a safe place for them to be once they leave the police station.
- Organise contact with friends and family, but only if that’s what they want.
You can find more information about the police process on our Get help for yourself page or call us.
Support for a child or a young person?
Any sexual activity that involves a child or young person under 16 years old is child abuse and against the law. This includes touching in a sexual way or using a child for sexual gratification.
Children younger than 16 are not considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity.
It is up to adults to protect children. If you are worried that a child is at-risk of abuse, contact the Police or the Ministry for Children - Oranga Tamariki.
You can also contact one of our trained specialists to discuss your concerns. If you are affected by abuse that you may have experienced as a child, help is available.