We’re here to help, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
HELP receives calls for help all hours of the day and night and our specialist counsellors are on on-duty for when these calls come through.
When someone has made a police report of sexual assault, our counsellor will meet the survivor at the police station or the hospital and support and advocate for them at what can be an extremely difficult time. A counsellor will explain processes and procedures and answer any questions the survivor may have.
The survivor will also receive follow up support from our Crisis Support Service in the days afterwards.
Many people never tell the police about sexual assaults, but sexual abuse and rape are crimes so you have the right to make a complaint to the Police. HELP can you support you through this.
For some, making this complaint can be a really important part of healing from what happened, and of feeling safe again.
There are specially trained Police officers who investigate these crimes so they have experience working with people who have been through these traumatic events. You can also request to speak to a female officer if you want to.
What Happens When I Contact the Police?
If you decide to do this, you can either call or go into your local Police station. If it is an emergency situation where you feel in immediate danger, or you have injuries that need immediate attention, call 111.
Initially the Police will want a brief account of what happened to you. They may suggest a forensic medical and help you to access this. They may also want to collect some evidence from where it happened.
Soon after, often the next day, you will be asked to do a formal interview. If you are under 17, this is likely to be with specialist interviewers at Puawaitahi. If you are 17 or over, this is likely to be with a Detective at a police station, with a specialist HELP counsellor there to assist you.
Following the interview the Police will start their investigation.
The Police should explain the process and keep you informed about what is happening. If you feel that they don’t keep you informed, talk to them or tell us and we can talk to them on your behalf.
Speaking to the Police does not automatically mean that the offender will end up in court.
Sexual abuse or assault are hard crimes to prove because often there are no other witnesses and the person who did it can just say something different to your story.
Even though the Police believe you, if there isn’t enough evidence to back up what you say, then the case won’t go forward.
If there is a court case, HELP can provide a range of support and helpful information during this process through its Justice Services.
What If I Change My Mind?
If you initially talk to Police but change your mind soon after, you can withdraw your complaint.
However, the longer the Police have been investigating and the closer to the Court process it is, the harder this will be.
The Police may choose to go ahead with the case, even after you withdraw, if they think that there are significant risks to other people if the perpetrator is not held accountable.
You are able to make a complaint to the Police at any time after experiencing sexual abuse or rape so it is OK to speak to them later, even if you initially decided that you didn’t want to make a complaint.
People have reported to the Police weeks, months, years or even decades after the incident happened. However, the sooner a complaint is made the more likely it is to be effective as evidence is harder to gather after time has passed.
Following a sexual assault, it is good to get specialist medical care.
In Auckland, this is available at the Pohutukawa Clinic at Greenlane for adults, and Puawaitahi in Grafton for children and young people.
Call us, and we will assist you to access these services. We can also support you through the process, and you can bring a parent or friend with you for support.
There are two types of medical examinations that can take place:
A forensic medical has two purposes — to attend to your physical well-being and to collect any forensic evidence that may be on your body as a result of the assault.
You will need to give your permission for this evidence to be handed over to the Police.
If you are unsure about going ahead with a complaint to Police at the time of the medical, you have the right to withhold permission until you have made your decision.
It is good to do a forensic medical as soon as possible after an assault and before you have showered or changed your clothes, though it is still useful up to seven days after the assault.
A therapeutic medical is all about your physical well-being.
The doctor will not collect any evidence, they will just check for injuries or symptoms and provide any necessary medical care, including the Emergency Contraceptive Pill and antibiotics to stop any infections.
Generally this medical is carried out if you don’t want to go to the Police, however, you are still able to make an official complaint about the assault later, if you change your mind.
It is important to remember that all of these services are optional. While it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor if you have any worries, you don’t have to use these services.
If you are in the middle of the medical and wish to stop, skip a part of it or take a break, you are able to do so and should not experience any pressure from the Police, doctors, nurses or your own support people present.
If you have a HELP counsellor with you, we can advocate on your behalf. You’re calling the shots here.
"If you want to know what it's like to survive hell and still come out shining brighter than the sun, just look into the eyes of a woman who has survived intense damage and refused to allow it to destroy her softness."